Way before the recent sexual harassment scandals spurred conversations about women in Hollywood, legendary screen star Maureen O’Hara was calling out sexism in the industry in 1945.
British pianist James Rhodes tweeted a newspaper clipping from The Mirror Saturday in which the Irish star revealed she was ready to quit acting because both producers and directors reportedly claimed she was “a cold potato without sex appeal" after she refused to sleep with them.
O’Hara, who was nicknamed “The Queen of Technicolor,” appeared in major blockbusters, including 1941’s “How Green Was My Valley,” 1947’s “Miracle on 34th Street,” and 1952’s “The Quiet Man” opposite John Wayne.
“I am so upset with it that I am ready to quit Hollywood,” said the then-25-year-old. “It’s got so bad I hate to come to work in the morning. I’m a helpless victim of a Hollywood whispering campaign. Because I don’t let the producer and director kiss me every morning or let them paw me they have spread word around town that I am not a woman – that I am a cold piece of marble statuary.”
O’Hara added, “I guess Hollywood won’t consider me as anything except a cold hunk of marble until I divorce my husband, give my baby away and get my name and photograph in all the newspapers. If that’s Hollywood’s idea of being a woman I’m ready to quit now.”
That wouldn’t be the last time O’Hara spoke out about the price of fame. Back in 2004, O’Hara told The Telegraph she never regretted standing up to the men who ran Hollywood’s most notable studios.
“I wouldn’t throw myself on the casting couch, and I know that cost me parts,” she explained. “I wasn’t going to play the whore. That wasn’t me.”
O’Hara still had a lasting career as a leading lady. By the 1960s, she was ready for retirement. In 1968, she married Gen. Charles F. Blair and the couple lived in St. Croix.
“I was happier with Charlie than I’d ever been in Hollywood,” she recalled. “We had a great life.”
However, the romance ended in tragedy. In 1978, Blair died in a plane crash. O’Hara took over the duty of operating Antilles Air Boats, a small Caribbean airline that her late husband previously ran. She also chose to keep herself busy by taking on a few, selective film roles until 2000 when she made her last screen appearance in the TV movie “The Last Dance.”
O’Hara died in 2015 at her home in Idaho at the age of 95.