Famed for playing fiery, feisty characters and the great beauty that would see her dubbed ‘Queen of Technicolor’, Irish actress Maureen O’Hara had a complex relationship with Hollywood.
On the one hand, she became one of the biggest stars of the 1940s and 50s thanks to gaudy swashbucklers and her frequent collaborations with director John Ford and lifelong friend John Wayne, with whom she starred in Ford’s 1952 classic ‘The Quiet Man’
However, she came to deeply resent being cast for her beauty and striking looks and longed for the serious ‘character’ roles of her early career, launched by English actor Charles Laughton, who had cast as Esmerelda in the 1939 epic ‘The Hunchback Of Notre Dame’
100 years on from her birth, Marie-Louise Muir explores how O’Hara fought against the men who controlled her life, took on the Hollywood gossip industry single-handedly – and successfully - and spoke out against the casting couch culture 70 years before the #metoo movement.
In Boise Idaho, Marie-Louise meets Maureen’s grandson Conor, who shares personal memories of his grandmother and some of his vast collection of memorabilia, including love letters from John Ford sent during the filming of ‘The Quiet Man’
In Los Angeles, O’Hara’s friend and biographer Johnny Nicholetti explains why Maureen was never afraid to fight her corner, even against some of the movie industry’s most powerful people, while author Cari Beauchamp frames O’Hara in the wider Hollywood story, which had once been a hub of creative, powerful women before 'the men with the money took over'.
Long-term friend Stefanie Powers, who starred in McClintock! (1963) alongside Maureen and John Wayne, remembers a woman fiercely proud of her Irish roots who had little time for the Hollywood life, while ‘Little Women’ star Saoirse Ronan reflects on Maureen’s legacy and influence on the current generation of young Irish actors.
Archive recordings of Maureen herself and extracts from her most celebrated films also appear throughout this Sunday Feature, a compelling new portrait of a true Hollywood icon 100 years after her birth.
Maureen O'Hara's journey from the Dublin suburbs to star of Hollywood's golden age.
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