Maureen O'Hara & John Nicoletti
Simon & Schuster, 2004 (2004)
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
aureen O'Hara's autobiography is as much a biography of director John Ford as it is the story of her own life. Born Maureen FitzSimons, her name was changed because it was too long for a marquee. She had the ideal childhood in Dublin, one that most of us would have liked to have had - loving, talented parents who were as much in love with each other as they were with their six children; a good relationship with her siblings. She was accepted at the famed Abbey Theatre in 1934 at age fourteen. From there, Hollywood was the natural next step. Her account of the goings on behind the scenes are not scandalous, but rather the actions of immature actors with an inflated sense of importance.
had trouble with the fact that she stayed with an alcoholic husband for ten years. But that was her problem, not mine. John Ford's actions would have had me banging my head against the wall. Ford undeniably was a very talented man, but, according to this account, he took cruel and malicious delight in harming in any way he could those whom he thought crossed him. To work in Hollywood, everyone had to accept his despicable behavior, including O'Hara. That said, she loved that vicious old man she called Pappy. As she also loved her best friend Duke Wayne. Theirs was an enduring friendship that lasted over forty years. Even the great John Ford couldn't destroy that relationship, though he tried.
'Hara sounds like a very likable, but strong and determined, woman who had an unbendable backbone. Her life, I'm sure, wasn't any harder than most of our own, but we get to read about hers. She takes the glamour and pretense out of Hollywood and replaces it with human feelings.
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