On August 17th, 1920 Maureen Fitzsimons was born in Ranelagh, Dublin. At the young age of 18 years after doing an unsuccessful screen test in London Charles Laughton saw her potential and arranged for her to co-star with him in Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn in 1939. She moved to Hollywood the same year to appear with him in the production The Hunchback of Notre Dame and was given a contract by RKO Pictures. From there, she went on to enjoy a long and highly successful career and acquired the nickname “The Queen of Technicolor”.
Maureen appeared in 53 movies in a career that spanned over four decades. She starred opposite all the top leading men i.e. Jimmy Stewart, Tyrone Power, Anthony Quinn, John Wayne, Douglas Fairbanks Jnr, Errol Flynn, Henry Fonda, Rex Harrison & John Candy. Her last major movie was ONLY THE LONELY in 1991 with John Candy, Milo O’Shea, Ally Sheedy.
Maureen was Ireland’s first major movie star in Hollywood, and it is said that The Quiet Man helped in selling Ireland as a tourist destination. Many states in the US had official Maureen O’Hara Days and we are now delighted to hold so many of the special awards presented to Maureen over the years.
O’Hara was honoured on “This Is Your Life” which was aired on 27 March 1957. In 1982 she was the first person to receive the American Ireland Fund Lifetime Achievement Award in Los Angeles. In 1988 she was awarded an honorary degree by the National University of Ireland Galway. She further received the Heritage Award from the Ireland-American Fund in 1991.
In 1985 she was awarded the Career Achievement Award from the American Cinema Foundation. O’Hara also became the first woman to win the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award for “Outstanding American of Irish Descent for Service to God and Country”. For her contributions to the motion picture industry, O’Hara has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7004 Hollywood Blvd. In 1993, she was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy And Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. She was awarded the Golden Boot Award.
In March 1999, O’Hara was selected to be Grand Marshal of New York City’s St Patrick’s Day Parade. In 2004, she was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish Film and Television Academy in her native Dublin. The same year, O’Hara released her autobiography ‘Tis Herself, co-authored with Johnny Nicoletti and published by Simon & Schuster. She wrote the foreword for the cookbook At Home in Ireland, and in 2007 she penned the foreword to the biography of her friend and film co-star, the late actress Anna Lee.
O’Hara was named Irish America’s “Irish American of the Year” in 2005, with festivities held at the Plaza Hotel in New York. In 2006, O’Hara attended the Grand Reopening and Expansion of the Flying Boat Museum in Foynes, Co Limerick as a patron of the museum. A portion of the museum is dedicated to her late husband Charles.
In 2011, O’Hara was formally inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame at an event in New Ross, County Wexford. She was also named the president of the Universal Film & Festival Organization (UFFO), which promotes a code of conduct for film festivals and the film industry.
In 2012, O’Hara received the Freedom of the Town of Kells, Co Meath, Ireland, her father’s home, and a sculpture in her honour was unveiled.
In 2014, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected O’Hara to receive the Academy’s Honorary Oscar, which was presented at the annual Governor’s Awards in November that year by Clint Eastwood and Liam Neeson.