Maureen O'Hara, born as Maureen FitzSimons, is an Irish film actress and singer. The famously red-headed O'Hara has been noted for playing fiercely passionate heroines with a highly sensible attitude. She often worked with director John Ford and longtime friend John Wayne. She published her autobiography, Tis Herself, in 2004.
O'Hara was born on the Lower Churchtown Rd in the Dublin suburb of Churchtown, Dublin 14, Ireland. She was the second oldest of six children by Charles Stewart Parnell FitzSimons and Marguerita Lilburn FitzSimons. Her father was a Dublin businessman and part owner of Shamrock Rovers Football Club, whom she has supported since childhood. Her mother, a former operatic contralto, was a successful womans' clothier. Her siblings were Peggy, the oldest, and younger Charles, Florrie, Margot and Jimmy. Peggy dedicated her life to a religious order, Sisters of Charity, and the younger children all went on to receive training at the Abbey Theater and the Ena Mary Burke School of Drama and Elocution in Dublin. O'Hara's dream at that time was to be an opera singer like her mother. O'Hara was raised as a Roman Catholic and educated at the Augustine St. John School for Girls near Thomas Street in Dublin's Liberties Area.
O'Hara's father was a very practical man and did not entirely support her theatrical aspirations. He insisted she learn a skill so that she would have something to fall back on to earn a living in case her experience in the performing arts was not successful. She enrolled in a business school and became a proficient bookkeeper and typist. Those skills proved helpful many years later when she was able to take and transcribe production notes dictated by John Ford for the screen adaptation of Maurice Walsh's short story The Quiet Man.
She did well in her Abbey training and was given an opportunity for a screen test in London. The studio adorned her in a "gold lamé dress with flapping sleeves like wings" and heavy make-up with an ornate hair style. Reportedly, her thoughts concerning the incident were, "If this is the movies, I want nothing to do with them!" The screen test was deemed to be far from satisfactory; however, actor Charles Laughton later saw the test and, despite the overdone makeup and costume, was intrigued, paying particular notice to her large and expressive eyes.