Maureen O'Hara: The Biography

By Aubrey Malone | Go to book overview

9
Reality Bites

There are no second acts, they say, in American lives. Are there in Irish American ones? The penchant for escapism that had gripped Hollywood immediately after World War II had more or less abated. This meant that O’Hara’s decorative, exotic roles were largely a thing of the past. Angry young men—and women—were fashionable now, along with gritty urban dramas dealing with issues of the day. You couldn’t really “do” neorealism in a flouncy skirt and a bonnet.

The Confidential imbroglio didn’t help. Sometimes it seemed that even winning a legal case had undesirable undertones, or even overtones. It was one thing to bite the hand that feeds, but O’Hara had bitten the one that poisons. (Unfortunately, in Hollywood’s murky underbelly, sometimes the two were well-nigh indistinguishable.) The fact that the case had wider ripples than she anticipated was evident in certain small but significant details. For instance, the poster for Everything but the Truth was altered so that its tagline read: “They Were Caught with Their Scandals Showing”— the only concrete indication that O’Hara’s lawsuit had some connection to the lack of work coming her way.

But she didn’t let the hiatus get her down; nor did she sit waiting for the phone to ring. “The Irish,” she announced ambivalently, “although they sink into the depths very easily, are basically happy people. Very few Irish people go to psychiatrists because whatever happens to them, they accept it.”1 (Is this true? Hardly then, and certainly not now.) To fill the gap, she embraced the world of television, where she got to show off her singing ability. (She often said she regretted not singing professionally for a living. She sang briefly in The Quiet Man, Bagdad, The Foxes of Harrow, and How Green Was My Valley.) In 1958 she appeared on The Dinah Shore Show and later with Ernie Ford. Other engagements followed, and her affable Irish charm was a hit with people like Perry Como, Bob Hope, and

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Maureen O'Hara: The Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Young Girl in a Hurry 7
  • 2 - Maiden Voyage 21
  • 3 - The Old Son of a Bitch 29
  • 4 - Saluting Uncle Sam 45
  • 5 - Civvy Street 71
  • 6 - Sojourn in Cong 95
  • 7 - Back to Bread and Butter 111
  • 8 - Keeping Things Confidential 135
  • 9 - Reality Bites 145
  • 10 - Love in the Air 159
  • 11 - A Streetcar Named Retire 175
  • 12 - Ready for Her Close-UPS 185
  • 13 - Grande Dame 203
  • Acknowledgments 211
  • Filmography 213
  • Notes 215
  • Bibliography 235
  • Index 249
  • Screen Classics 265
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