Maureen Paula O'Sullivan was an Irish actress who was considered Ireland's first film star.
O'Sullivan was born in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland, the daughter of Roman Catholic parents Mary Lovatt and Charles Joseph O'Sullivan, an officer in The Connaught Rangers who served in The Great War. She attended a convent school in Dublin, then the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton in London. One of her classmates there was Vivien Leigh. After attending finishing school in France, O'Sullivan returned to Dublin and began working with the poor.
O'Sullivan's film career began when she met motion picture director Frank Borzage, who was doing location filming on Song o' My Heart for 20th Century Fox. He suggested she take a screen test. She did and won a part in the movie, which starred Irish tenor John McCormack. She then traveled to the United States to complete the movie in Hollywood.
O'Sullivan appeared in six movies at Fox, then made three more at other movie studios. In 1932, she signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. After several roles there and at other movie studios, she was chosen by Irving Thalberg to appear as Jane Parker in Tarzan the Ape Man opposite co-star Johnny Weissmuller, with whom she had a brief affair during the early 1930s. Besides playing Jane, she was one of the more popular ingenues at MGM throughout the 1930s and appeared in a number of other productions with various stars.