Sunday 25 August 2019

‘I am so upset with it that I am ready to quit Hollywood’ – Maureen O’Hara called out sexual harassment in film industry in 1945

She said she was vilified for refusing to let directors and producers 'paw' her

Maureen O'Hara
Maureen O'Hara
Actress Maureen O’Hara in the early 1950s (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Maureen O'Hara
Maureen O'Hara died at the age of 95
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Legendary Irish actress Maureen O'Hara took a stand against sexual harassment in Hollywood in 1945.

The Hollywood star was just 25 when she spoke publicly about being harassed by film directors and producers and said she was ready to "quit" over their behaviour.

In the wake of the furore over the allegations against modern day Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, a newspaper article quoting O'Hara at the time serves as a reminder of just how long harassment has been endemic in the film industry.

The 1945 article, which was shared by pianist James Rhodes on Twitter and has gone viral, reads, "Irish film star Maureen O'Hara to-day charged Hollywood producers and directors with calling her 'A cold potato without sex appeal' because she refuses to let them make love to her, says the Mirror New York correspondent."

O'Hara, who died in 2015 at the age of 95, is quoted as saying, "I am so upset with it that I am ready to quit Hollywood.  It's got so bad I hate to come to work in the morning.

"I am a helpless victim of a Hollywood whispering campaign.  Because I don't let my producer and director kiss me every morning or let them paw me they have spread the word around town that I am not a woman - that I am a cold piece of marble statuary. 

"I guess Hollywood won't consider me as anything except a cold hunk of marble until I divorce my husband, give my baby away and get my name and photograph in all the newspapers.  If that's Hollywood's idea of a woman I'm ready to quit now."

In 2004 O'Hara told the Daily Telegraph that she refused to sleep with her The Quite Man director John Ford as well as co-stars Errol Flynn and Howard Hughes and she says it cost her parts.

"I wouldn't throw myself on the casting couch, and I know that cost me parts. I wasn't going to play the whore. That wasn't me," she said.

'The Quiet Man' was filmed in Co Mayo
'The Quiet Man' was filmed in Co Mayo

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