Maureen O'Hara was one of the favorite leading ladies in the 1940s and 1950s. Born in Ireland in 1920 as Maureen FitzSimons, she began acting professionally at age 14. Her first major role was in Charles Laughton's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) as the beautiful Esmeralda.
In 1941 Maureen caught the eye of director John Ford, who cast her in the classic, How Green Was My Valley, with young Roddy McDowell. Next year, Maureen starred across cinema heart-throb Tyrone Power in the pirate film The Black Swan. A string of not-very-memorable movies followed, until she was cast as the mother in a movie nearly all of us have seen: Miracle on 34th Street (1937). She tells little Natalie Wood that there is no Santa Clause, but in the end finds her heart quite changed on the subject.
In 1950, Maureen O'Hara starred in the first of her five films with the Duke — John Wayne — in Rio Grande. The pair's most famous collaboration came in 1952's The Quiet Man, about an Irish-American boxer who moves to Ireland and marries a beautiful red-head named Mary Kate. Her brother denies her dowry, but in the end John Wayne fights the brother, and all is well.
Maureen O'Hara last made a movie in 2000, her 80th year. If we're fortunate, perhaps she will make more movies yet.