Maureen O’Hara, one of the last remaining stars from Hollywood’s golden age, died on Saturday at age 95.
The Irish-American actress was best known for her leading roles in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1939), “How Green Was My Valley” (1941), “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947), “The Quiet Man” (1952) and the original “The Parent Trap” (1961). Her longtime manager Johnny Nicoletti has confirmed that she died in her sleep at her home in Boise, Idaho.
“She passed peacefully surrounded by her loving family as they celebrated her life listening to music from her favorite movie, ‘The Quiet Man,’” said a statement from her family.
O’Hara was legendary for holding her own alongside some of the most formidable male stars of all time, including Errol Flynn, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda. Wayne once quipped that he preferred to act with men “except for Maureen O’Hara; she’s a great guy.” She has been most acclaimed for her work with legendary director John Ford. “She is equivalent to the male hero in a Ford film,” film historian Jeanine Basinger told the Washington Post. “She exudes a kind of pioneering strength of the sort that fits in his movies.”
She was born in Dublin and relocated to Hollywood in 1939. She became an American citizen shortly thereafter. O’Hara was dubbed the “Queen of Technicolor” because of her striking complexion, fiery red hair and distinct on-screen persona.
“As an actress, Maureen O’Hara brought unyielding strength and sudden sensitivity to every role she played. Her characters were feisty and fearless, just as she was in real life. She was also proudly Irish and spent her entire lifetime sharing her heritage and the wonderful culture of the Emerald Isle with the world,” said a family biography.
“I do like to get my own way,” O’Hara said in an interview with the Associated Press in 1991. “But don’t think I’m not acting when I’m up there. And don’t think I always get my own way. There have been crushing disappointments. But when that happens, I say, `Find another hill to climb.”’