Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Britain is a country where old men say "Happy Birthday" to Maureen O'Hara whose beauty beguiled them as boys and their fathers as men
Maureen O'Hara, Irish film actress and singer is 91 years old today.
Things you possibly didn't know about Maureen, that she :
* was born in 1920 in Dublin, where her father was in the clothing business, her mother was a former operatic contralto and at the age of 10, began to work in amateur theatre in the evenings.
* had an unsuccessful film screen test which was later seen by the actor Charles Laughton who, despite her overdone makeup and costume, was intrigued, paying particular notice to her large and expressive eyes and offered her a contract with his company, Mayflower Pictures.
* starred in her first major film 'Jamaica Inn', directed by Alfred Hitchcock, seventy two years ago in in 1939 and Laughton was so pleased with her performance that he cast her in the role of Esmeralda opposite him in 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame.'
* was directed by John Ford, as Angharad in 'How Green Was My Valley' in 1941 and in in 1946 became a 'naturalized citizen of the United States' and in 1947,
starred in 'Miracle on 34th Street', which, despite being released in May, has become a perennial Christmas tv classic.
* is remembered for her on-screen chemistry with John Wayne and made 5 films with him between 1948 and 1972.
The Quite Man :
* at the height of her career, was considered one of the world's most beautiful women.
Film clips :
So "Happy Birthday" Maureen, you were making films before I was born and brightened my life in the cinema and 'in colour' in the grey Post Second World War pre-tv 1950's when I was a boy.
The 'Gaumont' cinema in Lewisham, London, where my Dad took me to see Maureen's films.
An earlier posting I did about Jude Law and myself, both born in Lewisham :