A recently discovered letter to Irish screen legend Maureen O’Hara from Oscar winner John Ford reveals the depth of feeling the director had for his star.
O’Hara and Ford worked together successfully for decades. They made over 20 films together, including classics such as How Green Was My Valley and The Quiet Man.
However, their personal relationship was often far from perfect. Ford was 26 years older than O’Hara but seemed to have fallen for her.
However, it was a love that turned to hate on numerous occasions and even resulted in violence when Ford punched O’Hara on set.
O’Hara said that she didn’t know why Ford seemed to hate her so much, but she believed that he would often behave in terrible ways because he actually loved her.
A letter discovered in O’Hara’s house by her grandson Conor Fitzsimons in 2019 certainly suggests that Ford loved her.
In the letter, Ford says: “Oh Maureen, my darling, I love you so much! Thank you my love for the few months happiness you have given me. I miss you so much. God, I long for you. I dream of you. Your face is constantly in my dreams.”
The date of the letter is unknown, but it is believed to have been written around the time of the filming of The Quiet Man.
Ford takes issue with his maid as her tendency to close the door means he cannot see a photo of O’Hara when he eats his breakfast.
He said: “She insists on closing the hall door to the breakfast room so I can’t see your picture smiling mockingly at me – do you not know the picture? It kids me all the time up on the wall making fun of me.”
Fitzsimons believes that Ford was infatuated with his grandmother – but that his feelings were not reciprocated.
He said: “It’s unique in that there was an unspoken thing that Ford had a crush on her. I think only a few people like John Wayne and herself knew about it.
“He was in love with the look and the person she created. He gave her a look and her name (she was born Maureen Fitzsimons).
“She used to joke that Ford had a schoolboy crush on her, but she said that about a lot of men. I’m grateful that this letter is one of those things that did not get lost or thrown away.”
The letter is set to go up for sale at auction in November.
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling