In his book, Searching For John Ford, Joseph McBride wrote about the many delays in getting The Quiet man film up and running. He quotes Maureen O'Hara who, it is said, made a handshake deal with Ford to play the female lead:
"Each year we would hold the summer open and each year there was no money and we couldn't make the movie. The script was taken to Fox, RKO and Warner Bros and all the studios called it a silly, stupid little Irish story. "It'll never make a penny, it'll never be any good," they said. And the years slipped by. John Wayne and I used to go to the studio and say: "Mr Ford, if you don't hurry up I'll have to play the widow-woman and Duke will have to play the Victor McLaglen role because we will be too old."
Well, history shows that the little Irish story became a classic film, shown often on television and loved by many people across the generations. The cast is classic John Ford. John Wayne, Victor McLaglen, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond, a host of great Irish supporting characters and, of course, the wondrous Maureen O'Hara.
All the key players in The Quiet Man passed away long ago and, now, Mary Kate Danaher has joined them She made it to 95.
She was as great a movie actress as any you could mention, doing wonderful work on her own terms and playing perfect scenes with John Wayne, not only in The Quiet Man but also in Rio Grande, The Wings of Eagles, McLintock! and Big Jake. (If you look up her filmography on Wikipedia, there are some great quotations from her about her film CV.)
In 1999, she was asked in an interview if she got on well with Ford because they were of the same temperament:
"Frankly, I'm a bloody good actress and he let me use the talent I was born with. I was never happy with the things Hollywood made me do. I felt there were chains around me. But the first time I worked with Ford, the chains were gone. I could do any damn thing I wanted to and it was all right. He gave me freedom...... he was tough, very tough..... but between 'roll it' and 'cut' he was a pleasure to work with."
Like millions of others, I loved Maureen O'Hara. I have watched westerns for over fifty years and (pc alert!) I never really cared for actresses in jaunty stetsons cluttering up the action. Maureen O'Hara was different from all of them. She was a class act in terms of looks, screen presence and acting range. I liked the fact that she was Irish too. In cliche terms, she lit up the screen any time I saw her.
John Wayne called her: "The greatest guy I ever knew." She said of him: "I made John Wayne sexy. I take credit for that."
She was very special and a bloody good actress to boot.
RIP Maureen O'Hara (1920 - 2015)