AND THE WINNER IS…
Maureen O’Hara Receives
Honorary Oscar (Photos)
By June Parker Beck, Contributor
November 11, 2014
On November 8th, 2014 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Maureen O’Hara with their Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement, an extremely prestigious honor in American cinema.
Little did I know twenty-three years ago when I first began a website in tribute to Maureen O’Hara that I would someday be sitting front-row center in a posh Hollywood hotel ballroom watching her receive this coveted recognition by the movie industry.
Many fans feel this award is long over-due, and in a sense, that may be true – but why not now?
She has come full circle, all the while remaining an icon of feminist strength, acting and singing her way through the entertainment world for over 70 years. In between her many TV appearances and films she battled Cancer several times, endured the tragic death of her husband, General Charles Blair in 1976, and then took the helm to manage their Antilles Airboats commuter seaplane service in the US Virgin Islands.
Later she moved on, coming out of retirement in 1991 to make “Only the Lonely” for 20th Century Fox with John Candy and directed by Christopher Columbus).
Getting back to work was the best medicine for Maureen at that time and in 1995 she made her first made-for-TV movie “The Christmas Box” for Producer Beth Polson, followed by two more, “Cab to Canada” 1998 and “The Last Dance” in 2000.
Things are more challenging now, but she remains undaunted by it all. In her wheelchair she displays the courage that has kept her going. Holding her Oscar, Maureen mentions Charles Laughton as her mentor who found her through a screen test at Elstree Studios in the U.K. On Ralph Edwards “This is Your Life Maureen O’Hara” TV show in 1957 Laughton describes his discovery:
“I’ll never forget, I asked you why you wanted to be an actress and I cannot forget your reply, ‘When I was a child’ you said, ‘I used to go down to the garden and talk to the flowers, and then I’d pretend I was the flowers talking back to myself,’ and I figured it had to be a pretty nice girl, and a pretty good actress too, and goodness knows, you’re both.”
Although Maureen’s career was in the United States, her Irish heritage is the very fiber of her being. Her pride in her family and in Ireland brought her such contentment and purpose, it was a large motivation in her success.
So there she was on the stage at age 94 receiving a standing ovation from her peers in the movie industry; surrounded by her family and friends; holding her much deserved Oscar – there wasn’t a dry eye in house.
I could only think of her words to Johnny Carson when she and John Candy appeared to promote “Only the Lonely” in 1991. Johnny asked her what it was like to have so many classic movies to her credit and she quipped: “A hundred years from now, when I’m nailed into the box, you’ll still be seeing ‘The Quiet Man’ every St. Patty’s Day and “Miracle on 34th Street” every Christmas.”
And you know what?
She’s absolutely right! Her legacy is guaranteed. She’ll always be a winner.