CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!
Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Maureen O'Hara

Aired January 2, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight Maureen O'Hara one of Hollywood's classic beauties, but with the fire to go toe to toe with legendary leading man like John Wayne and Anthony Quinn. Oh, the stories she can tell, and she will.
The one, the only Maureen O'Hara is here next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening and welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. She's back, Maureen O'Hara. She was with us two years ago.

MAUREEN O'HARA, ACTRESS: Is it two years?

KING: Is it two years?

Anyway, she was such a hit, we invited her back the legendary actress. Movie career spanning more than six decades, over 50 feature films. Was John Wayne's favorite leading lady. Here vivid beauty earned her the Hollywood nick name the queen of technicolor. Did you make more technicolor movies than black and white?

O'HARA: Yes. In the beginning it was all black and white. "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Jamaica Inn." They were black and white.

KING: Why do you think technicolor liked you so much? Red hair, green eyes? Could that have been it?

O'HARA: No, they used to say it was my skin.

KING: Skin texture went well with technicolor.

O'HARA: Yes. And of course, I lived next door to Dr. Combs (ph).

KING: OK, tell me about the book you're working on. Called "Tis Herself." I think two years ago you said you were going to write a book. Why is this taking so long?

O'HARA: Well, my brother died, who was the chief executive of the Producer's Guild. And my sister died. And there were just all sorts of problems, and I just didn't get around to it. But now I'm working on it every day. My house here in L.A. is a disgrace. You go in the front door and you think you're going to be drowned in paper. Because it's all over the place.

KING: Doing it yourself. Not working with a ghost writer. O'HARA: No, I'm not working with a ghost writer. I'm working with a co-helper, a young man who's excellent.

KING: Going to help you frame the...

O'HARA: Well, there's so much research work to be done. And paperwork to be copied. And my living room now is full of all of his paperwork, his copy machines and everything else. And he's a good Italian boy, John Nicalette (ph)

KING: We may cover some areas we covered before, but a lot people are going to be seeing it for the first time, so forgive me if we delve into areas. You may have some answers that are maybe a little different now. Possibly.

O'HARA: No. Maybe.

KING: Maybe a certain love relationship? Never mind.

O'HARA: Love relationship.

KING: I don't want to get into that. I'm only kidding. Are you worried about how much you're going to tell in this book? How much do you tell?

O'HARA: Yes. Really and truthfully I am. There are very, very many stories that some not complimentary, some stories that people didn't know, and some things I'm the only person that knows. And I'm really honestly terrified about how much I should tell and how much I should still keep secret. And it's very difficult. I'd love -- because the bad things aren't so bad that the person would be damned to hell for them. It's just that well it's very hard. It's very hard.

KING: One rule of thumb is if they've passed on you won't.

O'HARA: Yes. I hate to tell you, most of them have. Almost all of my friends in the picture business have died. With the heads of the studios and the leading men and the other people I worked with.

KING: So if you want to sell books and really tell the story, you should tell. It might be painful, some it, but you should.

O'HARA: Well, do you know what I'm afraid of? I'm getting on a little bit in years, as you know. And I'm terrified about the day that I enter the gates of heaven and god says to me, just a minute. Where did you get permission to tell that story? What am I going to say to god?

KING: And you believe there is a god and you believe...

O'HARA: Oh, I sure do. How could you have had such a wonderful life as me if there wasn't a god directing?

KING: Tell me about these commentaries you've been doing for some DVD editions of films. They release a DVD and you appear on it to talk about it, John Wayne kind of movies?

O'HARA: Yes. There's one on "Rio Grande," which was the movie we did to raise the money to make "The Quiet Man," because we couldn't get finance. I think I have told you this before. And also on "The Quiet Man." So there's two DVDs out now. They're pretty good.

KING: I want to talk about John Wayne. We understand you're going to tell us something that you didn't tell us last time about what you whispered to him.

O'HARA: Oh, not on your life.

KING: You're not going to tell it now.

O'HARA: No. Never, never, never.

KING: Last scene of "The Quiet Man" Maureen's character whispers something in the ear of John Wayne's character. Whatever she said apparently shocked Wayne because his head jerked back and his eyes grows wide with disbelief. Wayne never told anyone what she said and John Ford the director never did either.

O'HARA: That was the deal. When John Ford said you are to say so and so To Wayne, I said, what? Me? No way. And he said, you're being ordered to do it. You do it. And I realized it was nothing I could do. When you try to battle with John Ford, you have to give in. And I said, well there's one stipulation. That you will never tell anybody what it is that you demanded that I say. And, John Wayne will never tell. And the three of us made the deal.

KING: So it was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to what you are. One can imagine it was sexual or cursing or both?

O'HARA: Little bit of both.

KING: And Wayne did not know you were going to say it?

O'HARA: No. Didn't you see the look on his face when he turns around.

KING: That's one of the most famous endings of movies ever, right. So that must have been the question asked of you. That movie was such a big hit.

O'HARA: Everybody asks me. Even my lawyer in New York asked me the day before yesterday. I said I'm tired telling you, never. Duke is dead.

KING: Was it nervous for you to say it?

O'HARA: It was awful. I hated it.

KING: Did you only have to say it once?

O'HARA: Only once. Not twice. Well, you wouldn't get the reaction. KING: Tell me about Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne and what was -- let's delve into this. What was special about the two of you. You made six movies together?

O'HARA: Five.

KING: Five; What was special? He was -- you were miss favorite.

O'HARA: I was tough. I was tall. I was strong. I didn't take any nonsense from anybody. He was tough, he was tall, he was strong and he didn't take any nonsense from anybody.

KING: Didn't many assume there was a romance?

O'HARA: Oh, yes. I get that all the time.

KING: It was logical to assume it though. Two strong handsome well-built sturdy people making movies together.

O'HARA: Yes, but there was a little thing that existed between us, respect. Believe me.

KING: He never even made a move on you?

O'HARA: No, never. And even as kids sometimes ask me, oh come on. I say, sorry, kids. Never. And it was friends with his wives. And, no, there never was.

KING: Did you like him?

O'HARA: As a man and a human being, I adored him. He was one of the most wonderful, kind, gentle, strong, tough, mean...

KING: Ornery.

O'HARA: ... Ornery. He loved doing stunts. So did I.

KING: We'll be right back with more of the delightful Maureen O'Hara. It's a pleasure to welcome her back to LARRY KING LIVE. More after this.


O'HARA: If she stays here. I am just as crude and as vulgar of all of this (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

JOHN WAYNE, ACTOR: And if she goes you way she will be all show and no stay.

No go Kate.

O'HARA: I hate you. Oh, how I hate you.

WAYNE: Half of the people in the world are women. Why does it have to be you stirs me. That's the story.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sanctuary! Sanctuary!


KING: Maureen O'Hara worked with every -- I guess every male legend of the '40s and '50s.

O'HARA: Right.

KING: You were a contract player, as they say.

O'HARA: Yes. I was brought to the United States of America by one of the greatest actors of all time, Charles Laughton. I was under contract to him, a seven-year contract. And he insisted that I play the lead in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," which was pretty lucky for me.

KING: Made you famous.

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: What was John Ford's greatness?

O'HARA: His ability to look through a camera and see what was out there and paint a picture. And be the meanest old devil that ever walked on two feet and -- he was the greatest director of all time. And I was very lucky. I made five movies with him.

KING: Difficult to work with?

O'HARA: Oh, God, yes.

KING: Yet you liked him?

O'HARA: Oh, yes. Duke loved him. I loved him. Ward Bond loved him. We all loved him and we all used to say, the old devil, are we ever going to tell the truth about him? And we'd say, well, maybe one day. And we just loved working with him.

KING: Tell me about Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne. You fought to get him a Congressional Medal of Honor. Even appeared before Congress. Even though he had never been in the service.

O'HARA: Well, there was a reason for that, but it's nobody's business.

KING: A medical reason, I guess.

O'HARA: It's nobody's business.

KING: Why did he deserve a medal?

O'HARA: Because to the whole world you have no idea -- I'm an immigrant of the United States of America. And I know what John Wayne meant and -- to the world. He was what they believed Americans were.

And when he spoke about the United States of America, they believed that that's what the United States was. He was one of the greatest ambassadors for the United States that ever lived.

KING: By the way, when Maureen appeared and lobbied Congress to get John Wayne a Congressional medal, she said in her testimony, "The medal should simply say, John Wayne, American." Not bad. Did you...

O'HARA: That was a terrible moment, because it had to be seconded to be accepted. And if it wasn't seconded, it would have gone by the wayside and I never would have got it.

I sat there and I prayed and said, please, please, somebody second it. Somebody second it. And a very fine Congressman seconded it. Oh, boy, it was heaven.

KING: Was John Wayne a very good actor? I say this because his personality seemed to overwhelm you. Some people said he was always John Wayne.

O'HARA: Well, what in God's name is wrong with that? You know?

KING: Feisty Maureen.

O'HARA: Believe me, I think John Wayne was a fine actor. He could not have been respected by the entire world for not just his Americanism, but for his portrayals on the screen if he wasn't a good actor.

KING: There's a story that you broke your wrist hitting Wayne in "The Quiet Man?"

O'HARA: Yes. Yes, I did.

KING: How did that happen? I thought in hitting scenes you're not supposed to strike.


KING: Aren't you supposed to miss?

O'HARA: No. Yes, there are times when you have to, and they have you hit on the upstage side.

But if you look at the film, at that time I was mad at Duke and I was really going to sock him...

KING: Mad at him off stage?

O'HARA: Off stage. OK. Accepted.

I hauled off to hit him and he, being fine stocked man and a boxer and everything else, he saw it coming. And if you look at the film, you'll see that as I came, he put his hand up and my hand snapped off of his because his hand was much stronger than mine.

And I was taken immediately to the local hospital near Republic Studios and I had cracked a bone in my wrist.

KING: Is it true that your arm was also broken by my friend Jackie Gleason?

O'HARA: It was more than my arm. We were doing a scene at night, late.

KING: What movie?

O'HARA: "How Do I Love Thee?" with Jackie Gleason.

We were doing it late at night. There was something wrong with the cushion on the garden bench that I was sitting on and so they removed it. I was sitting then on, you know, the crisscrossed wire, like you have under cushions in garden seats. And I'm sitting there and my hand was like this. And Jackie had had a few drinks.

KING: I know it well. Especially at night.

O'HARA: And he came in. He slipped and fell and he went plop right on top of my hand on the -- and part of my arm on the garden seat. You know that wire went like that. So my hand went like that. And I'll show you, I have only part of my first finger.

KING: Yes.

O'HARA: That part of that finger was removed in surgery.

KING: Did you not get angry?

O'HARA: How could you get angry with Jackie Gleason? It wouldn't do you any good. Wouldn't do you any good.

KING: He wouldn't have known if you were.

O'HARA: Maybe that particular night. But I had the cartilage removed from all of my fingers and part of my first finger removed.

KING: You had a lot of gutsyness. You liked to do stunts.

O'HARA: Yes, I loved it.

KING: Why? Did that come from your heritage?

O'HARA: No. I think it came from being a girl in a big Irish family and I loved sports. I loved soccer, football. I loved the fights.

KING: You were a tom boy?

O'HARA: I sure was. And so I enjoyed the stunts.

But many of the stunts, recently I have looked at some of them and they terrify me. I get sick to my stomach and think what kind of fool was I to have done that? I was an idiot.

KING: Where were you when John Wayne died, June 11, 1979?

O'HARA: I was in the Virgin Islands. But I knew because in the Virgin Islands we get a mist or fog from Africa at a certain time every year. And I had some people to dinner and the fog came in and I said, when the fog goes, it's going to take somebody. It's going to be Duke. And it was.

KING: We'll be right back with more Maureen O'Hara. Don't go away.


O'HARA: To the people of the world, John Wayne is not just an actor and a very fine actor. John Wayne is the United States of America. He is what they believe it to be. He is what they hope it will be. And I feel that the medal should just say one thing: John Wayne, American."





JOHN CANDY, ACTOR: How are you?

Ma, this is Teresa. Teresa, this is my mother.

SHEEDY: Pleased to meet you Mrs. Muldoon.

O'HARA: Rose. I'm Rose.


O'HARA: That's a lovely dress you're wearing.

SHEEDY: Thank you.

O'HARA: Even though it is a little big on top.


O'HARA: It is. You said so yourself.


SHEEDY: No, that's a problem I have. I'm not really that endowed on top.

CANDY: No, no.

O'HARA: You're built like a 13-year-old boy.

CANDY: Mom, would you please -- don't start.

O'HARA: It's a joke. I'm trying to make jokes here. I'm trying to lighten things up a little.



KING: Her name at birth was Maureen Fitzsimmons.

O'HARA: FitzSimons.

KING: FitzSimons. Now you were telling me before we started "Fitz" means -- it has a colloquial meaning.

O'HARA: It means recognized illegitimate of the latter name. Like "Fitzpatrick" is the recognized illegitimate line of Patrick.

KING: What do you mean by recognized illegitimate? That sounds contradictory. We recognize it...

O'HARA: No, it means with rights of inheritance. You know there had to be something to inherit.

KING: Who was Simons?

O'HARA: I don't know. I never found out.

KING: Do you think you're Jewish?

O'HARA: You never can tell. I've got the nose.


KING: Might you be Jewish?

O'HARA: Could be.

KING: Could be. All right.

Since last we spoke, we both lost a friend, yours much longer standing than me. Tony Quinn.

O'HARA: Oh, yes. Wonderful, wonderful half Irish, half Mexican.

KING: You did that great movie with him. Late in life for both of you.

O'HARA: I did six movies with him. The last one was "Only the Lonely." KING: You were his neighbor. John Candy was in the movie.

O'HARA: Another sweetheart. And Candy...

KING: Quinn said of you once, she was the most beautiful red headed young lady I have ever seen. Sometime when I looked at her, I forgot my lines.

Big compliment coming from a man who was as particular as Tony Quinn.

O'HARA: I must say I don't ever remember him forgetting his lines. He was a professional. Couldn't be better. And you know something? You teased me once about saying everybody was Irish, but his -- Quinn is an Irish name, and his father was from the West of Ireland.

KING: Mother was Mexican.

O'HARA: Mother was Mexican Indian lady from Chihuahua.

KING: You two got along?

O'HARA: Oh, gosh, yes.

KING: And John Candy, too?

O'HARA: Yes. Candy was Canadian-Irish.

KING: That's right.

O'HARA: You know? And he didn't die from overeating or anything like that. He knew he was going to die and he told me one time at his 40th birthday. He was being, you know -- I said what the hell are you behaving like that for? He said, well, Maureen, I'm on borrowed time.

KING: But maybe because of his eating and his overweight.

O'HARA: No. All the men in his family died at that same time.

KING: Whether they were overweight or not?

O'HARA: Overweight or not. It was very sad. He was a fine actor. He didn't know how really good he was. He was better than he knew.

KING: You wanted theater more than film, didn't you?

O'HARA: Yes. I grew up in the theater.

KING: You sang, too, right?

O'HARA: Yes. Yes. And danced ballet atrociously.

KING: Did you ever go to Broadway?

O'HARA: Once. I made a Broadway show called "Christine." A musical.

KING: Didn't do well?

O'HARA: No, but it wasn't our fault. I, thank God, I got wonderful reviews. Not just for my performance, but for my singing. I was so happy about that, because that's what I really, really wanted to do. I really wanted to be an opera soprano.

KING: The truth -- true or false, that Hollywood wanted to change your looks? They wanted to change your nose? They wanted to change your teeth.

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: They wanted to change your teeth.

O'HARA: Yes. This tooth here. I don't know if you can see it.

KING: You have a crooked tooth.

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: I like that tooth. Yes, it is crooked.

O'HARA: They wanted to remove that and put a false tooth in. And they said my nose was too big and they wanted to bob my nose. I said, sorry. If that's what you want, buy me a ticket and I'll go home.

KING: Now, most people with a chance at a film career would say, do it. Whatever it takes.

O'HARA: Not me. You know I'm stubborn.

KING: So you weren't going to let them do it?

O'HARA: Not in 1,000 years. I've still got my own nose.

KING: Now, tell me the story of taking a train trip from Los Angeles to New York with almost no money early in your career.

O'HARA: Yes. Well very early in my career I went from Los Angeles to New York, and I was put on the train by the agency that was run by Lou Wasserman, MCA. They took care of everything. The seat was this, everything was perfect. But nobody thought to ask me, do you have any money? And so the train started off and...

KING: How much did you have?

O'HARA: Five bucks. And I knew that at the end of the trip I would have to tip the porter. And I didn't even...

KING: Did you pay for the meals in route?

O'HARA: You paid for the meals in route. I had no money to pay for the meals. I had a bottle of vitamins. And I took all the vitamins, one after the other.

Finally I wound up with such a pain and stabbing hunger, it was just awful, I was so hungry. And finally the pain was so awful and there were no more vitamin pills left in the bottle and I went out into the corridor. I walked up and down and up and down trying to ease the pain.

And finally a woman came around the corner from the connecting room on the train and she looked at me and she said, oh, Maureen O'Hara. Oh, my favorite. Oh. And she went on. I thought oh, no. Please, God, don't have this happen to me. I'm in such pain. I'm dying. She said, would you do me the honor of having lunch with me?

I beat her to the lunch car. And I ate and ate and ate and ate. And then there was a lot of bread left in a round bowl on the table. And I started putting the bread in my purse.

KING: Maureen O'Hara is doing such a thing.

O'HARA: I was starving. We had a couple days to go on the train. But you know something? I have often wondered what that woman told her relatives about that dreadful...

KING: Maureen O'Hara just doesn't stop eating. And she steals bread.

You had frustrations in your career. For example, you were annoyed. You didn't get a lot of great acting parts, right? They wanted you as more the decorative co-star?

O'HARA: Yes, but when you think about it, starting with "Hunchback" in the United States, then shortly after that, I had two stinkeroos. Then I had "How Green Was My Valley?" And I had all the wonderful -- you know. So I'm very lucky I had some wonderful -- really had some wonderful movies.

KING: So you don't think you were only cast because you were pretty?

O'HARA: I hope to hell I wasn't.

KING: I mean, Hollywood was that kind of place, wasn't it, in the '40s?

O'HARA: Yes. Yes, it was. Well, I did get a lot of roles that just required...

KING: Were you a pinup girl for the boys in service?

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: In a bathing suit?

O'HARA: No -- I don't know. I honestly don't know.

KING: My crack research department will look it up. O'HARA: OK.

KING: We'll be right back with the gutsy side of Maureen O'Hara, as if you didn't think there was one already. Don't go away.


WALTER PIDGEON, ACTOR: When I think I'd start to kill, I saw white come to your hair, 20 years before its time.

O'HARA: Why? Why would you start to kill? Are you a man or a saint?

PIDGEON: I am no saint. But I have a duty towards you. Let me do it.




O'HARA: And it shocks me to realize the availability of this magazine and this type of literature on practically every news stand in the United States. To our children not only to purchase, but to have that well-known old American free read if they want to. And I don't think that we can even begin to measure the damage that this type of magazine, this type of literature does to the minds, the morals and the behavior of our children.


KING: Before all these tabloids came along "The Star" the other star, whatever, there was one great tabloid -- not great, not deserving of that, called "Confidential." It was a magazine in the '50s. Came out once a month, I think, with blazing stories about Hollywood stars. And stories about people in the news.

There was a major story about Maureen O'Hara, saying that she had cuddled in the theater with a Latin. She not only denied it, she sued him, was a star witness in the case. And a great moment came when her passport was produced proving that on the day they said she was cuddling in the theater, she was not in the country.

What happened then when you read this?

O'HARA: Well, when I read it, you can imagine how furious and how mad I was.

KING: "Confidential" destroyed careers.

O'HARA: They sure did. They sure did. Knowing what they did to me, how many other people did they do the same thing to?

KING: So you sued them? O'HARA: I sued them. And at that time Liberace was one of the people who was going to sue. And last minute they dropped out, which means that...

KING: You were alone?

O'HARA: I was alone. And I went ahead with it. And sued them. And I went down to my church, you know, I'm Catholic, and I talked to the parish priest about it. He said, Maureen, don't do it. We know it's not true. You know it's not true. Your family knows it's not true, so what does it matter? And I said, well, no, I have to do it. And then George Murphy called me me.

KING: Became a senator, tap dancer, and Reagan's best friend.

O'HARA: And he told me they had been checking my background for quite a number of months and that the motion picture industry felt that I was clear and clean and nobody could hurt me and would I represent the picture industry in going ahead with the suit? And, of course, you know, being an actress and -- or an attempt attempting one, I thought, I saw myself as Joan of Arc.

So I said, of course I will, of course I will. And so I did. And then just before I went into the court, George called me and he said, Maureen, they're not backing you like they should. You're on your own. To hell with them. I said, don't worry. I'll go by myself. And I did, because I knew that when they gave the dates of when I was supposed to be there, I was making a movie in Spain. And...

KING: It was suits like that that helped put them out of business?

O'HARA: I think I get the credit for having done it.

KING: You deserve it. What were the big studio days like? You worked for Zanuck, Darryl Zanuck.

O'HARA: Wonderful, wonderful producer, head of his studio, tough. They had to be. But they weren't just money men. They were producers. They knew what side of a script to open to read it, which I'm afraid a lot of the people today I don't think they know which way to read the script, upside down, sideways or backward.

KING: They're called the suits. That's what they call them, the suits. They're accountants.

O'HARA: Yes. But Zanuck was a wonderful, brilliant man to work with. And was a showman, which is -- you know, I came out of the theater, so show biz meant a lot to me and he was a showman. And he ruled his studio and everybody obeyed him. But...

KING: Did some great movies.

O'HARA: He sure as hell did. But, there's a lot of things that people don't realize. I had a couple run-ins with Zanuck. We were strongly disciplined under a seven-year contract, and your studio was like your home. Like your club that you belonged to. And they looked after you. They protected you. And if you had to go somewhere, the studio sent a representative with you. You were sent in a limousine. And you were taken care of.

KING: And you rooted for each other to do well in films.

O'HARA: Yes. Yes. We were friends, and if anybody had a chance at some wonderful script at another studio, we'd root for them. Every time you'd go to a party, you'd say something.

KING: What was your argument about?

O'HARA: My arguments with Zanuck? I had a few.

KING: You said you were going to tell me about one.

O'HARA: We were all checked on the clock. I used to come in the Santa Monica Gate, which at that time was part of 20th Century Fox. It's now Century City. And when you'd come in, the man on the gate, the officer, would check your -- you'd be clocked in.

KING: Had to come in at a certain time?

O'HARA: Oh, yes. And then you drove over, I think it was Olympic Boulevard to get to the main part of the studio and you'd get to the star dressing rooms. And at the star dressing rooms, the matron would clock you in. But there was tremendous discipline because Zanuck used to say, time is money, and I demand that everybody's on time.

KING: So what argument did you get into with him?

O'HARA: Quite a few. We were all checked in and out of the toilet. True. Clicked. And one time I was taking a little too long in the toilet and Mr. Zanuck sent for me. And he said, what are you doing that takes so long? I said, Mr. Zanuck, you never stop preaching about time, and time is money.

And I was trying to save you time by going to those dirty filthy toilets you have on the back lot, which is now Century City. And I said, I got ring worm on my leg. So every time I go, I have to wash my leg, dry it and put the medicine on it that I was given by the doctors. So that's why it takes such a long time. He didn't bother me any more.

KING: Clocked in the toilet. Maureen O'Hara is our guest. Another delightful hour with a great lady. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just go on upstairs and put some clothes, that's all.

O'HARA: You don't use that tone of voice with me. We're not married, remember. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But this is my house. You're not going to run around in it dressed up in that thing.

O'HARA: I'll do anything I darn well please. And don't start ordering me around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maggy, I am warning for the last time. Now, go on upstairs and put on some clothes.

O'HARA: Don't try force on me. I lambed you once. I can do it -- stand back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't start that, will you? Come on.

O'HARA: Get your hands off me. Let me alone. I am warning you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you have to do that?

O'HARA: Mitch, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you have to get so physical?



KING: Our crack staff has checked on your pinup pictures for World War II. No bathing suits. Sexy dresses though. Some cleavage maybe.

O'HARA: What's wrong with that?

KING: Nothing wrong. Those beautiful eye. That haunting nose. Soldiers loved it. You had your first husband, George Brown, production associate. That ended early. Second marriage was very difficult. But then you had the love of your life.

O'HARA: First marriage was never consummated. I was married. I was pushed into it. I went from there to the boat for the United States of America.

KING: Second marriage was very difficult. Husband drank a little. But the third marriage becomes the love of your life. Famed business man Charles Blair.

You had known each other for a long time, right?

O'HARA: Yes. But we're great family friends. I met Charlie in 1947 when I first went back to Ireland when the government gave permission to the immigrants, or foreigners or the people that we just had paperwork saying we could be here. And I met him on the flight back to Ireland.

KING: Was he married at the time?

O'HARA: Yes. KING: So you knew his wife?

O'HARA: Loved her. And she lived long after him.

KING: They were divorced then?

O'HARA: Right.

KING: So how did it turn into romance?

O'HARA: No, they weren't divorced when I met him.

KING: When they were divorced, how did it turn into romance between you and your friend?

O'HARA: Well, every time Charlie Blair flew into L.A., he would call my brother, Charlie, and they would go off and have dinner.

KING: He was an aviator supreme.

O'HARA: He sure as hell was. And a man supreme.

KING: How did it turn to love?

O'HARA: Well, they were divorced. And Charlie Blair came out to L.A., and my brother Charlie, he called him and said, are we having dinner tonight before I head on around the world?

My brother said, I can't tonight but Maureen's in town, so why don't you call her up and she'll go to dinner with you. I told my brother, I said, no, I won't. What did you do that for? He said, go and have dinner with him. So I did.

KING: Did you feel inklings of romance that night?

O'HARA: No. No, we just talked about our lives and what had happened. And his children and were they were going to school and my daughter.

KING: So when did it blossom?

O'HARA: Well, then he started calling me every time he'd come into town. And eventually...

KING: One thing led to another. How did Charlie die?

O'HARA: In a plane accident.

KING: He was the pilot?

O'HARA: But I have -- I have never felt it was really an accident.

KING: What do you mean?

O'HARA: Shortly afterwards -- I was in Ireland when he was killed. And I came right back. And I was just getting over cancer. Thank god I'm over it. But I reached the Virgin Islands with all the kids and everything else, getting ready for the funeral. And my phone rang -- and three times. And three times it was three different voices.

KING: Saying?

O'HARA: Saying, will you please give us the true story of the assassination of General Charles Blair.

KING: Do you think the plane was rigged to crash?

O'HARA: I don't know. I called somebody quite important in that part of the government and he said, Maureen, don't ask, shut up and keep your mouth shut. It won't do you any good, and it won't bring Charlie back. And so I have lived with that all these years.

KING: Where did his plane go down?

O'HARA: Just outside of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

KING: Everything revolves around the Virgin Islands with you. John Wayne, your in the Virgin Islands. Your husband is killed near the Virgin Islands. Did you take it very badly?

O'HARA: Ask a silly question and you'll get a silly answer.

KING: By that I mean, when you're married to an aviator, it's like being married to a cop. You may not expect it...

O'HARA: But it happens.

KING: When it happens, hey, they're risking their day.

O'HARA: He was Air Force as well as Pan Am senior pilot.

KING: So you knew there was risk every day?

O'HARA: Yes. Yes. Well, there's a risk when we step off the curb into the street.

KING: So you're convinced something shenanigans was going on?

O'HARA: Something happened. He was a general in the Air Force. He had a lot to do with the small nukes. I don't know.

KING: But the government guy's saying, don't ask, is pretty indicative.

O'HARA: yes.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Maureen O'Hara. Boy, it's going to be some autobiography "Tis Herself."

Tell what you whispered. Do it.

We'll be back after these


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have got the best rifleman in Texas with me, that means in the world. With luck, I say at 200 yards, maybe we can kill every one of those animals before they hear the shots that did it. I think it's worth a gamble.

O'HARA: That's very daring. Yes. Yes, I'll chance it. What do you think, Jacob?

WAYNE: Suit yourself, Martha.

O'HARA: I was asking your opinion, Jacob.

WAYNE: No, you made up your mind. You made your decision alone, you live it alone.

O'HARA: I was wrong. You haven't changed, have you, Jacob McCandles?

WAYNE: Not one bit.




EDMUND GWENN, ACTOR: I don't suppose you even want to talk to me.

NATALIE WOOD, ACTRESS: Something about a present.

GWENN: Yes, I know. I'm sorry, Suzy (ph). I tried my best, but -- but...

WOOD: You couldn't get it because you're not Santa Claus. That's why. You're just a nice old man with whiskers, like my mother said. And I shouldn't have believed you.

O'HARA: I was wrong when I told you that, Suzy. You must believe in Mr. Kringle and keep right on doing it. You must have faith in him.

WOOD: But he didn't get me the -- that doesn't make sense, mommy.

O'HARA: Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.

WOOD: Huh?

O'HARA: I mean, just because things don't turn out the way you want them to the first time, you've still got to believe in people.


KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Maureen O'Hara the legendary actress. Always a great pleasure seeing her.

You get younger. How old are you?

O'HARA: 82.

KING: Do you feel 82?

O'HARA: No, I don't. I had a sister who said something and it's true. She said, Old age is a terrible thing, particularly when it strikes you when you're so young.

KING: You still go back and forth to Ireland?

O'HARA: Oh, yes. I just got back in October. I go every June. And I have the General Charles F. Blair golf tournament. And the Maureen O'Hara-Blair Golf Tournament, end of june, beginning of july. Then I have the big aviation affair in August.

KING: Does your faith, and you're a very strong Catholic...

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: you through grief periods? Like you say, you've lost your brother. You've lost a sister, lost a husband. Lost a great friend in John Wayne. Lost Tony Quinn. All of your contemporaries, you say, are gone.

O'HARA: Yes. Jimmy Stewart and Brian Keith. I could go on.

KING: Does your faith help you?

O'HARA: Yes, it does. Absolutely. And, also, your belief in God, which it doesn't matter what religion you follow. The important thing is your belief in God.

KING: And you've never waivered in that?

O'HARA: Nope.

KING: Do you still see script? You did "Only The Lonely" in the '90s. You did a TV movie called "The Last Dance, " which was wonderful by the way.

O'HARA: Thank you.

KING: Do you still see scripts?

O'HARA: Yes. Yes, I do.

But, you know, it's awfully hard to find a script for an 82-year- old woman. And a tough old 82 at that. But -- well, I've read a script right now. It's called "Mrs. Warfield's Christmas," and we're hoping that it will be financed. And if it is, I will be at it again. KING: You were in the most famous christmas movie of all. "Miracle on 34th Street." Now they think Jimmy Stewart movie "It's A Wonderful Life" is the most wonderful christmas movie. But it wasn't one because it didn't do that well. It didn't do well, "It's A Wonderful Life." And it came and go -- it gets shown a lot at Christmastime.

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: But "Miracle on 34th Street."

O'HARA: Gets shown all the time.

KING: Did you like that script right away?

O'HARA: Well, there was a bit of a problem about it. I was on my way back to Ireland for the first time after the war was over. And I arrived in Dublin and was enjoying spending few minutes with my mother and father when the phone rang and it was 20th Century Fox on the phone. They said, You're to come right back to new york because you're going to start a movie called "Miracle on 34th Street."

And I was absolutely livid. I was going to go tell them to go jump in the lake. But I had to go. I was under contract. If you didn't do what you were supposed to do...

KING: Time in the toilet.

O'HARA: Yes. But anyway, I went back and the minute I read the script, I knew it was going to be a big sentimental hit.

O'HARA: Then, of course -- of course, I loved Natalie Wood. She was a sweetheart of mine. And John Payne.

KING: Wonderful guy. Edmund Gwenn.

O'HARA: Edmund Gwenn. It was just wonderful working with them. And we started to believe that Edmund Gwenn really was Santa Claus.

KING: Some great scenes in that movie. The court scene, of course, will go down forever.

O'HARA: Forever.

KING: They remade it, not as good.

O'HARA: They remade it three times. And it's terrible to say, I'm sorry for the actors that were in the remakes, but as one of the original people, I was delighted they didn't make it.

KING: Natalie Wood was extraordinary, wasn't she?

O'HARA: Oh, she was wonderful.

KING: She was a kid at the time of that, right? O'HARA: Yes. And she was a wonderful child. And she had a wonderful mother. I have read so many times people say nasty things about the mother. I thought she was wonderful. She was good to Natalie. She disciplined Natalie. And saw to it that Natalie knew her lines. And I thought she was wonderful.

KING: when you watch that movie, everyone in it is gone, right? Payne is gone. She's gone. Gwenn is gone.

O'HARA: When -- so many of the movies. When I look at "The Quiet Man," they're all gone.

KING: You said last year in some interview, you're going to live to be 100? Believe it?

O'HARA: One-hundred and two.

KING: One-hundred and two?

O'HARA: Because Charlie Blair's mother lived to be 102. And she was a tough, tough old gal, half Irish, of course.

KING: Wonder what attracted you to him? Thank you, Maureen.

O'HARA: Well, maybe that.

KING: Great seeing you again. May I kiss the shorter finger?

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: Great story.

O'HARA: Oh, it's true. Look.

KING: Maureen O'Hara, another delightful hour with the legendary actress. And when her took comes out "Tis Herself," herself will be back here. Thanks for joining us.

O'HARA: Thank you. Thank you. I accept.

KING: You're invited.

Stay tuned for "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown. I'm Larry King. Good night.


© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.