The real life mystery of what Maureen O’Hara whispered to make John Wayne look so shocked

Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne

The set of The Quiet Man was the scene for one of the great secrets of the golden age of Hollywood – and Irish legend Maureen O’Hara was one of only three people to have known the truth.

It involved a famous scene at the end of the iconic 1952 movie.

In the scene, Maureen O’Hara’s character Mary Kate Danaher is stood outside by a stream with her husband Sean Thornton, who was played by John Wayne.

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Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne

They were waving goodbye to Michaeleen Óge Flynn, who had helped them to pursue their blossoming romance.

Mary Kate then turns to Sean and whispers something in his ear. What she says in inaudible as the soundtrack is playing over the action.

Sean is taken aback and Mary Kate turns to run back to the cottage with Sean chasing shortly after.

What Maureen O’Hara whispered to John Wayne in the scene is a secret that the stars have both taken to the grave.

What we do know is that director John Ford wanted to capture a genuine reaction from Wayne and asked O’Hara to whisper something ‘extremely suggestive’ as the scene was playing out.

O’Hara once said: “It was something very rude, and John Ford insisted I say it. I said I didn’t want to and he said ‘I’m telling you, you’re doing it. You must do it’.

“So, the agreement was that neither Duke, nor I, nor John Ford would ever, ever, ever tell what I said.”

O’Hara, Wayne and Ford have all passed away and none of them ever revealed what was whispered by O’Hara to make Wayne look so shocked.

It seems we will never know, which is perhaps how it should be. However, fans will probably never tire of speculating, which adds another layer of intrigue to the classic film.

Take a look at the video below.

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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcallingJoin our community