Woman Crush Wednesday: Maureen O’Hara

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Recently, we lost one of the most well-known actresses of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Maureen O’Hara’s impressive body of work spanned several decades and gave us many historical costume films to salivate over. Let’s take a look back at some of our favorites in tribute to the Queen of Technicolor!

 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) – Esmeralda

Costumes by Walter Plunkett.

Maureen O'Hara in the Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1939. Costumes by Walter Plunkett. Maureen O'Hara in the Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1939. Costumes by Walter Plunkett.

 

How Green Was My Valley (1941) – Angharad

Costumes by Gwen Wakeling.

Maureen O'Hara in "How Green Was My Valley" (1941). Costumes by Gwen Wakeling Maureen O'Hara in "How Green Was My Valley" (1941). Costumes by Gwen Wakeling Maureen O'Hara in "How Green Was My Valley" (1941). Costumes by Gwen Wakeling

 

The Black Swan (1942) – Lady Margaret Denby

Costumes by Earl Luick.

Maureen O'Hara in "The Black Swan" (1942). Costumes by Earl Luick Maureen O'Hara in "The Black Swan" (1942). Costumes by Earl Luick Maureen O'Hara in "The Black Swan" (1942). Costumes by Earl Luick Maureen O'Hara in "The Black Swan" (1942). Costumes by Earl Luick

 

Buffalo Bill (1944) – Louisa Federica Cody

Costumes by René Hubert.

Maureen O'Hara in "Buffalo Bill" (1944) . Costumes by René Hubert Maureen O'Hara in "Buffalo Bill" (1944) . Costumes by René Hubert Maureen O'Hara in "Buffalo Bill" (1944) . Costumes by René Hubert

 

The Spanish Main (1945) – Contessa Francesca

Costumes by Edward Stevenson.

Maureen O'Hara in "The Spanish Main" (1945). Costumes by Edward Stevenson. Maureen O'Hara in "The Spanish Main" (1945). Costumes by Edward Stevenson. Maureen O'Hara in "The Spanish Main" (1945). Costumes by Edward Stevenson. Maureen O'Hara in "The Spanish Main" (1945). Costumes by Edward Stevenson.

 

Sinbad, the Sailor (1947) – Shireen

Costumes by Dwight Franklin and Edward Stevenson.

Maureen O'Hara in "Sinbad, the Sailor" (1947). Costumes by Dwight Franklin & Edward Stevenson. Maureen O'Hara in "Sinbad, the Sailor" (1947). Costumes by Dwight Franklin & Edward Stevenson. Maureen O'Hara in "Sinbad, the Sailor" (1947). Costumes by Dwight Franklin & Edward Stevenson.

 

The Foxes of Harrow (1947) – Odalie ‘Lilli’ D’Arceneaux

Costumes by René Hubert.

Maureen O'Hara in "The Foxes of Harrow" (1947). Costumes by René Hubert Maureen O'Hara in "The Foxes of Harrow" (1947). Costumes by René Hubert Maureen O'Hara in "The Foxes of Harrow" (1947). Costumes by René Hubert

 

Baghdad (1949) – Princess Marjan

Costumes by Yvonne Wood.

Maureen O'Hara in "Baghdad" (1949). Costumes by Yvonne Wood.

 

At Sword’s Point (1952) – Claire

Costumes by Edward Stevenson.

Maureen O'Hara in "At Sword's Point" (1952). Costumes by Edward Stevenson Maureen O'Hara in "At Sword's Point" (1952). Costumes by Edward Stevenson Maureen O'Hara in "At Sword's Point" (1952). Costumes by Edward Stevenson

 

Against All Flags (1952) – Prudence ‘Spitfire’ Stevens

Costumes by Edward Stevenson.

Maureen O'Hara in "Against All Flags" (1952). Costumes by Edward Stevenson. Maureen O'Hara in "Against All Flags" (1952). Costumes by Edward Stevenson. Maureen O'Hara in "Against All Flags" (1952). Costumes by Edward Stevenson.

 

Lady Godiva of Coventry (1955) – Lady Godiva

Costumes by Edward Stevenson.

Maureen O'Hara "Lady Godiva of Coventry" (1955). Costumes by Edward Stevenson. Maureen O'Hara "Lady Godiva of Coventry" (1955). Costumes by Edward Stevenson. Maureen O'Hara "Lady Godiva of Coventry" (1955). Costumes by Edward Stevenson.

 

Do you have a favorite Maureen O’Hara film? Tell us about it in the comments!

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About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Website

Sarah discovered her dual passion for history and costume right around the age of twelve. Dragged kicking and screaming to her first Renaissance Faire at Black Point, she was convinced she was going to hate it, but to her surprise, she fell head over heels in love with the world of reenactment and dress up immediately. Her undergraduate degree is in Clothing & Textile Design, and she has a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture. When she’s not hauling crap to SCA events and ren faires, Sarah enjoys reading true crime books, writing fiction, and sewing historical clothing from the Middle Ages through the 20th-century. One of these days, she might even start updating her old costuming blog again.

18 Responses

  1. MoHub

    I’m missing The Quiet Man and McLintock!. Only Maureen O’Hara could make me watch a John Wayne film.

    Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      “The Quiet Man” doesn’t have exceptionally fabulous costumes, though! And the same goes for most of the Westerns. If we were just looking back at her entire body of work, it would be remiss, but I wanted to pull a selection of some of the fabulous costume flicks she starred in. In fact, it wasn’t until I started digging through her IMDB page that I realized she had so many with really great costumes. Everything else that discusses her work focuses on “Miracle on 34th Street” or John Wayne, but leaves off the OTT stuff like “The Spanish Main” and “Against All Flags”.

      Reply
  2. mmcquown

    O’Hara brought out the best in Wayne, who never took himself too seriously as an actor. When some director gave him a complicated expression to do, Wayne turned his face one way, them another, saying something to the effect that those were the only expressions he had to choose from. I think O’Hara got more out of him than that.

    Reply
  3. Karen Lavoie

    Sarah, thanks for posting these. Some of those fabrics were great, especially that blue brocade in The Swan. From the time when women were great ladies and fabrics were luscious. . . .sigh.

    Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      You’re welcome! I feel like I’m going to need to do a more in depth look at “The Black Swan” (because TYRONE POWER, please and thank you) and “Against All Flags” and “The Spanish Main.” The costumes in all 3 of those were worth a lot more examination. That Edward Stevenson got quite a bit of business in the late 40s!

      Reply
  4. Donna

    My favorite film of hers is not an historical costume drama … but I can recite nearly the entire script from memory … Miracle on 34th Street :-)

    Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      From a costuming standpoint, “The Quiet Man” just didn’t stand out as “OMG LET’S TALK ABOUT THE COSTUMES”. But that’s just my humble opinion! ;)

      I agree it’s a great film, though. So many of the films I didn’t include because the costuming was nothing special or they were set in contemporary times were some of her best work. But we’re a costuming blog, so… Gotta go with our bread and butter!

      Reply
      • MoHub

        But you could have done McLintock!. Late 19th century Western, and the best part is O’Hara playing her age and still coming off as the sexiest woman on the screen.

        Reply
  5. Kathleen Norvell

    Was there some reason why so many of the costumes outlined or emphasized her breasts? Was she noted for her um, attributes?

    Reply
    • Michael

      That was just the practice at the time. Almost every historical film made during the 30s, 40s and 50s has costumes with bodices cut to conform to the breasts, Regardless of the era depicted. I suppose it was to make them seem more attractive, or to display the actresses chest. Maureen didn’t need that anyway, she was a great actress.

      Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      To be fair, she had a great figure… But I think, like Michael said, it’s more to do with the sexy red head image as a selling point in her films.

      I need to pick up her autobiography. Apparently she spends some time discussing her issues with the way women and minorities were portrayed in the films she starred in, which would be interesting to read. Someone recommended it to me recently and said it’s a really good insight into how she grappled with being a working actor versus being a decent human being.

      Reply
  6. Julie Bless

    There are actually some lovely costumes in “The Parent Trap” as well as the film “The Foxes of Harrow”. Her costumes in “How Green was My Valley” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” are also worth taking a look at.

    Reply
  7. Therese

    The Quiet Man (love her green floral in the rain) Miracle oh 34th Street (knockout 40’s fashion) and The Parent Trap (especially after her makeover) RIP Sweet Maureen. And she was just born for Technicolor costume dramas!

    Reply
  8. mmcquown

    Loved her musketeer outfit! No matter how you dressed her up, she couldn’t be mistaken for a boy. And yes – the ‘sweetheart neckline,’ the cut that defied any historical period.

    Reply

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