Today, the Irish eyes aren’t smiling.
Maureen O’Hara, that spirited, feisty, unfathomably beautiful Irish icon of the cinema passed away at the age of 95. She was the crown jewel of Ireland, one of the most beloved screen actresses of all time, and a role model to women everywhere.
The loss is not a light one. For Maureen O’Hara is one of the very last of the surviving movie stars to come from Hollywood’s Golden Age of Cinema.
In her seven decade long career she gave us memories that have lasted from childhood, strong into adulthood: a feat only possible by the equally as strong, indomitable force behind those indelible characters. It wasn’t just her extraordinary, striking beauty that struck a chord with audiences–and O’Hara knew it. And O’Hara was adamant, from early on, to prove that she was ‘a bloody good actress.’ A fact that her fans–and any casual moviegoer fortunate enough to have caught her in any one of her 60+ films–are keenly well aware of.
[blockquote cite=”Maureen O’Hara” type=”center”]Above all else, deep in my soul, I’m a tough Irishwoman.[/blockquote]
Maureen O’Hara (all five foot eight, 36-26-36 of her) was more than an ethereal screen goddess. She was an extraordinarily strong and inspiring beauty– every inch the fighting Irish. And although the Academy did not bestow her with a competitive Oscar (she received an honorary Oscar at last year’s Oscar ceremony, joining the ranks of such legendary and incalculably influential women as Barbara Stanwyck and Myrna Loy to have received a similar conciliatory prize) she was a stirring force regardless.
Who else but a fiery redheaded Irishwoman would stand tall to John Wayne in The Quiet Man (and McLintock! and Rio Grande and The Wings of Eagles and Big Jake), remain steadfast in the face of small-minded gossip in How Green Was My Valley, speak out in defense of human dignity and disabled rights in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, serve hotty pants Tyrone Power a heaping helping of humble pie in The Black Swan, and show us all how to believe in miracles in The Miracle on 34th Street.
Few could, few did, and few ever will match what Maureen brought to the screen. Immediacy; intimacy; fierce intelligence– O’Hara was second to none. Especially her leading men.
[blockquote cite=”Maureen O’Hara” type=”center”]The older a man gets, the younger the parts that he plays. The older a woman gets, you’ve got to find parts that are believable. Since I’m not a frail character, it’s not that easy,”[/blockquote]
Twitter exploded with condolences at the news of O’Hara’s death:
And while we all mourn the loss of one of the most beloved film actresses of all time– and one of the last tangible links we had to that ever disappearing, bygone world of classic Hollywood– we at least have the comfort of knowing that she’s still with us.
Thanks to the everlasting, ever-loving magic of film.
Rest in peace, Maureen, o’ eternal queen of the Emerald Isles.