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Friday 15 December 2017

Screen icon O'Hara to be honoured by legacy centre

New building will house memorabilia of feisty 'Quiet Man' co-star

ALISON O'RIORDAN

With the 82nd annual Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles in six weeks' time, an icon of Hollywood's Golden Age, the famously red-headed Maureen O'Hara has spoken out about having never received an Oscar.

"I never understood why I wasn't ever nominated for an Oscar. It's just the way it works, I guess, and life does not always give you what you want. I am content with the success I have achieved with 63 movies to my credit, so I do not dwell on what may have been but it would have been nice," she said.

But if the beautiful star of the Quiet Man has been neglected by the glitterati in LA, it's a different story in Glengarriff, Co Cork, where she has spent the last 40 years and where the memorabilia from her Hollywood years will eventually be put on display.

A Legacy Centre dedicated to Maureen is in the process of being built and will be completed by 2012, dedicated to her awards, costumes, and clothing displays including A Quiet Man display and a guest section to honour other Irish actors and actresses.

According to Maureen, one of the main quests of the museum is to have university accredited classes teaching all aspects of the film industry and drama classes.

Once considered one of the world's most beautiful women, Maureen celebrates her 90th birthday this August, after a long and illustrious film career. "When I look back at the movies I have made, the honours and awards I have received, the people I have met in the industry and loved, it all seems to blend into one big highlight. There are movies like The Quiet Man, which were some of the greatest movies that were ever produced, and that makes me so proud that I was part of them.

"However, my private life consisting of my daughter Bronwyn and the birth of my grandson, along with my marriage to Charles Blair are the major highlights," she said.

Noted for playing fiercely passionate heroines with a highly sensible attitude, the films she starred in always seemed to capture her feistiness, her passion, and her dedication to the personality of the heroine. However, it was her dream to become an opera singer first and foremost and then an actress.

"My voice was trained, but different opportunities came up and my singing dream never went where I had imagined it would. My mother had the most golden operatic contralto voice you ever wanted to hear. She sang at times with the Dublin Operatic Society at the Gaiety Theatre.

"I have never lost the desire to be an opera singer. It was always a real passion with me, but a passion that did not come to pass," she said.

Married three times, the greatest love of her life was her third husband, Charles Blair.

A few years after her marriage to Blair in 1968, O'Hara for the most part retired from acting. Tragically, Blair, a US pilot, died in 1978 when the engine of a plane that he was flying exploded.

"He was an incredible man," she said. "I felt privileged to have been a part of his life for the 10 years we had together. I was never so happy. Those were the happiest days of my life," added O'Hara.

However many talk of the on-screen chemistry with US actor John Wayne, whom she describes as her "best friend", having made five films together. "Our screen chemistry was a combination of us having the right strengths and being determined and gutsy."

Sunday Independent

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