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Larry King Live Weekend

Maureen O'Hara Discusses Her Life in Film

Aired October 28, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a legendary actress with a movie career spanning 60 years. John Wayne called her one hell of a dame.


KING: Oh, she says no. The one and only Maureen O'Hara joins us for the hour and she's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

OK, what a show we're going to have tonight -- an hour with one of the great ladies of the American screen, Maureen O'Hara. She will appear next in "The Last Dance," a CBS movie airing Sunday night and she received the Career Achievement Award from the Heartland Film Festival. We'll talk about that and a bunch of other things.

But he never said that?

O'HARA: No, he didn't.

KING: What did he say?

O'HARA: He said I was one hell of a guy.

KING: Dame was a better compliment.

O'HARA: No, when you're talking about John Wayne, I'd rather be his guy.

KING: What was he like?

O'HARA: One of the most wonderful people you could know, gentle, kind wonderful man. Tough and strong and by God, don't fight with him, because -- well, when I fought with him I broke my wrist.

KING: What happened? What movie was that?

O'HARA: That was in "The Quiet Man." I was very mad.

KING: Good movie.

O'HARA: It was wonderful, but I was mad at him. I was furious. I wanted to kill him.

KING: Because?

O'HARA: And John Ford as well because they were nagging me to death.

KING: Ford directed it?

O'HARA: Oh, yes.

KING: They were bugging you?

O'HARA: They were both bugging me. And I had to do the scene where I was in the kitchen cleaning it up for his arrival, the Yank to arrive, and he caught me and kissed me and I had to haul off on sock on the jaw. And I thought, I'm going to break his neck. I'm going kill him and I hauled back and I let him have it. But he saw it coming and it's in the film. He put his hand up like this, and my hand snapped against the tip of his fingers, and I broke a bone in my wrist.

KING: Get back to John Wayne and a lot of other things. Let's begin from the beginning. You were born in Ireland.

O'HARA: Yes, in Dublin.

KING: And what brought you to the states?

O'HARA: Charles Laughton did, to make "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." I grew up in the theater. My mother was an opera singer and our whole family, we were theater people.

KING: And where did Laughton see you work.

O'HARA: He didn't see me work. He heard about me and I was asked to go to England to make a test. And my father said no, because I was 16 and my mother being an opera singer. That was her love and her life, the theater.

KING: So she said yes.

O'HARA: She said yes. So anyway, my mother and I we went to England and we went down on the set to make this test and they put me in a gold lame gown that when I lifted up my arms I had like wings and then they put a mata hari make up on me which was absolutely hideous, particularly at my age, and I went down on the set and they said, now walk into the room, go that table, pick up the phone then put it down. Then go to walk out. Then go back. Pick up the phone again, and then pick up the phone again. Then go back and pick up the phone again and slam it down and walk out. And I thought, my god. This is movies? I don't want to have anything do with it. I'm going to get back to Abbey Theater as fast as I can. So that was it. That was my test.

KING: And he hired you?

O'HARA: No, I was then headed back with my mother to Dublin to go back to the Abbey Theater where I was working and the agent -- you always have an agent. I don't know how you have one or where they had come from but you do, you have an agent.

KING: Out of woodwork. O'HARA: Yes, and he said I want you to meet somebody before you go back to Ireland. And I was taken to an office to met Erich Pommer, who was the great head of Ufa in Germany, and magnificent producer and Charles Laughton. I was thrilled because I was such a fan of Laughton's and a what a person -- wonderful person. Of course, half- Irish so he had to be wonderful.

KING: Naturally.

O'HARA: Naturally, and he handed me a script and he said, would you please read a few lines. And when you're at that age you're cocky and smart and you're sure of yourself and where you're going and I said, well, Mr. Laughton I can't read something that I don't know anything about. I don't know what it is. But if you let me have the script I'll be happy to take it home, read it, and come back to you tomorrow and read whatever you want. And he said no, no, that's all right. that's al right. And then he asked whether there was any film on me. Is this getting too long?

KING: No. It's fascinating.

O'HARA: So they were told there was film just shot that afternoon,

KING: The phone.

O'HARA: This dreadful thing. So, he got in his car. He told his story on TV once. He went out to the studio, saw the test, and he said, it was really awful. But he got back in his car, disappointed because he admitted personally there was something about me he liked. And on his way back in to London he said all he could remember were my eyes.

KING: How can he forget them?

O'HARA: Well, thank you. When he got back to London he called Erich Pommer and he said, oh, she's wonderful, we better sign her quickly before someone else grabs her.

KING: And you did "Hunchback"?

O'HARA: No, no, no. Pommer went out that night to see this great piece of film and the same thing happened to him. He was furious with Laughton to send him out at night to see this dreadful piece of film, so he got back in his car drove back to London and the same thing happened to him.

KING: Your eyes.

O'HARA: And he could only remember -- and he called Laughton up and said, you're right. She's wonderful. Let's sign her.

KING: And they brought to you the United States to do what movie?

O'HARA: "Hunchback of Notre Dame." KING: And you did that?

O'HARA: I did it, but I did one in England before. I did my first movie, "Jamaica Inn," also with Laughton.

KING: Did you like movies right away or did you prefer theater.

O'HARA: I preferred the theater.

KING: Because it's immediate?

O'HARA: No. I just liked a live audience in front of me and I liked changing and doing things -- with the vibration you get from an audience is wonderful.

KING: You can make a character grow each night, right?

O'HARA: Grow.

KING: Or change.

O'HARA: Or say hell, let's get home as fast as we can.

KING: At least it begins at the beginning and ends at the end.

O'HARA: Yes, yes.

KING: We'll be right back with the wonderful Maureen O'Hara. You'll next see her Sunday night on CBS. We don't see her often enough. Her last movie was back in 1991 -- it was one of my gems of a movie. It's called "Only the Lonely" and it starred John Candy and Maureen O'Hara and Anthony Quinn. We'll talk about that and a lot of other things.

Don't go away.


JOHN WAYNE, ACTOR: Martha, it's been a long time. It's good to see you again.

O'HARA: You've changed, Jacob.

WAYNE: Not you. You're as young and lovely as ever.

O'HARA: I called you Jacob because your grandson has been kidnapped. You didn't know you had a grandson? You have, by your son, Jeffrey, and Jeffrey has been badly wounded by the kidnappers.

WAYNE: Will he live?

O'HARA: This is the ransom note. The blood on it is Jeffrey's.

WAYNE: Will he live?

O'HARA: Yes. I would not contemplate otherwise. (END VIDEO CLIP)


KING: We're back with Maureen O'Hara.

All right, now you're here. You made one movie in England, now you make "The Hunchback." Do you stay in the United States?

O'HARA: Well, we were supposed to go back to London to may "The Admirable Crichton." And Laughton was going to play Crichton, I was to play Lady Mary, and Elsa Lanchester, his wife was to play the other part...

KING: Wonderful Elsa.

O'HARA: ... war broke out, and none of us ever went back. We stayed in the United States.

KING: And what was your first -- was it -- what was your first big American hit for you?

O'HARA: "The Hunchback" was a big hit.

KING: Yes, but it didn't make Maureen O'Hara famous, did it?


KING: It certainly was Laughton's.

O'HARA: Well, no, I won the newspaper critics' award for that picture as the most likely to succeed of all the new people in...

KING: Oh, it did? But I'm remembering you...

O'HARA: "How Green Was My Valley."

KING: With Greer Garson...


KING: ... with -- in....

O'HARA: I was never "with" anybody other than a man.

KING: "Mrs. Miniver" was Greer Garson. "How Green Was My Valley" was your big hit, though, right?

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: You starred in that?

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: With?

O'HARA: Walter Pidgeon...

KING: That's right.

O'HARA: And again with John Ford.

KING: He directed it.

O'HARA: Yes, I made five movies with John Ford.

KING: What was it like to suddenly be a star?

O'HARA: Do you want the truth?

KING: Yes.

O'HARA: I never, ever from the time I was born ever felt any different. I always knew I was going to be a success and give something and be somebody in the world. And I have an older sister who's a nun, and she won a scholarship to L'Escala Milan as a lyric soprano, which she turned down to go to her other love, which was the church, and she became a nun.

And when we were kids, we used to sit in the garden and talk about what we were going to do. And she always used to talked about how she was going to be this wonderful, influentious, kind and fabulous nun. But I said, I'm going to be the greatest actress in the world. And when the world falls down at my feet and admits that I am, I will retire in all my glory -- I'm still working.

KING: But you had drive, right?

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: And zest.

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: And you loved -- obviously loved doing it.

O'HARA: I surely did.

KING: Why? What about it do you love?

O'HARA: I guess I'm a ham.

KING: You like being other people?

O'HARA: I like meeting people. I like talking...

KING: But do you like being other people? When you're an actress, you are other people.

O'HARA: Oh, gosh, yes. Oh, yes. You love portraying different roles and different types of people and different characters. It's really very fulfilling and very wonderful.

KING: You also knew, did you not, that you were a beauty object?


KING: Come on?

O'HARA: No, I didn't. I didn't.

KING: You had that dark hair and those eyes. What color are those eyes? Green?

O'HARA: Green, or my passport says hazel, so...

KING: They're beautiful.

O'HARA: You don't argue with...

KING: But you didn't think you were beautiful?

O'HARA: No, not until I saw a closeup in "Jamaica Inn," and I thought, wow, I'm not bad looking. But before that, you've got to realize, my other love was sports. I was a soccer fan, a fight fan.

KING: Tom boy.

O'HARA: I was a tom boy.

KING: Really?

O'HARA: And I loved punching all the boys. And they used to call me horrible names. They used to call -- I don't know why, they always called my Ginger.

KING: Do you still like sports?

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: So if there's a sporting event on television, you'll watch it?

O'HARA: Particularly -- I'm not a wrestling fan, but oh, boy, I love the fights. I used to leave to watch Joe Louis. He was a boxer. He wasn't a slugger, he was a boxer.

KING: He could hit, too, though.

O'HARA: Oh, yes. Well, a boxer is -- has to hit if he's going to knock out his opponent.

KING: Did you like the attention? Did you like being famous?

O'HARA: No, not really. To be...

KING: I mean, life in the '40s for a major actress in this town must have been phenomenal.

O'HARA: When the town was phenomenal. And to be part of it was wonderful. It was the town. It was not the people in the town, it was the town that was wonderful.

KING: Hollywood and bright lights?

O'HARA: Yes, but to be famous is, if you like privacy, it invades your privacy and takes that away from you. And there are many times where you'd go out to go shopping in the supermarket or something and you think, oh, to hell with it, I'll just put a scarf on and go. And then always somebody spots you and says, oh, you're so and so. And you think, oh, why did I do that? Why didn't I take the time to dress properly and look properly. And that's what you lose.

KING: Another thing that always worked for you was that the wonderful Irish brogue, right? You didn't lose that.

O'HARA: Well, you know, I think that basically the accent in United States of America came from the Irish immigrants if you really listen to it. And then, of course, it's got a little touch of German and a little touch of French and a little touch of Spanish and everything.

KING: It's a wonderful lyrical sound.

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: We'll be right back with Maureen O'Hara and how she selects her roles. We'll talk about the one you're going to see Sunday night, other television movies she's done as well, actors she's worked with.

Don't go away.


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

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I am no saint, but I have a duty toward you. Let me do it.


KING: She worked a lot for John Ford, including "How Green Was My Valley," of course, on "The Quiet Man." She also did "The Long Gray Line" -- that was that great West Point movie with Tyrone Power...

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: ... one of my favorite all-time movies -- "Rio Grande," "The Wings of Eagles."

By the way, do you have children?

O'HARA: I have one daughter.

KING: How old?

O'HARA: She's now in her 40s.

KING: And what does she do?

O'HARA: She writes music and lyrics. She teaches Spanish, and she's a bookkeeper, too. She's a very fine, fine young lady and very beautiful.

KING: As beautiful as you were, as talented as you were, did you have relationships with any of your leading men?


KING: Never?


KING: You worked with some pretty...

O'HARA: I worked with -- everybody asks me, did I have a relationship with John Wayne. No, no way.

KING: Well, it's natural to assume, because they associate the two of you together so much.

O'HARA: Oh, I used to have an old lady stop me in the street and say, I saw your children today, and they were all Duke's kids.

KING: Back to Duke.

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: What was special about him? You mentioned his -- he was very political, right, very opinionated on things?

O'HARA: Yes, yes.

KING: Loyal?

O'HARA: Oh, his greatest fault was his loyalty to people.

KING: Too loyal?

O'HARA: He was too loyal. He was loyal to a fault. But he was a wonderful person.

KING: Now he was...

O'HARA: He was a great friend of my husband's, Charlie Blair's. They used to play chess together all the time. And you would say, what would you like for dinner? Steak. Well what do you want with the it? Potatoes. And he...

KING: He was so huge, John Wayne...

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: ... so larger than life. How good an actor was he?

O'HARA: Well, you don't become the No. 1 star and the No. 1 favorite person of the entire world unless you're damned good. People -- you can't fool people, and he couldn't have fooled, not just people, he couldn't have fooled the whole world if he wasn't a fine actor.

KING: And he was?

O'HARA: He was.

KING: Tyrone Power?

O'HARA: A wonderful, wonderful performer. I loved him very much.

KING: Died suddenly, didn't he? Heart attack?

O'HARA: Heart attack while fencing.

KING: What was he, 40-something?

O'HARA: Something like that. It was very, very tragic.

KING: Handsome?

O'HARA: Super handsome, and Irish, too.

KING: I saw him on Broadway in "John Brown's Body."

O'HARA: Yes; he was a great, great friend of mine. And when we first worked together I was very young and I didn't know little, off- color stories. I didn't really know what they meant; and he used to say to me, let me tell you a story and go tell it to the director, he'll love it. And me, like a fool, I would do it.

KING: You worked frequently with Anthony Quinn, in fact, you're last feature film, although you've done two television pieces, was "Only the Lonely" with Quinn.

O'HARA: Yes, great, great friend.

KING: Now, we were talking, before we started, about John Candy. You thought he was a great actor.

O'HARA: I thought John Candy didn't realize how really fine and good of an actor he was. And if God had spared him he would now be, hopefully, remaking all of the wonderful Laughton movies from -- the great movies that he made.

KING: "Witness for the Prosecution."

O'HARA: Oh, wasn't that wonderful!

KING: With Tyrone Power.

John Candy was underrated as an actor, but a beautiful person.

O'HARA: Beautiful person and really, when he had his 40th birthday I was with him and Rose, his wife, and two his kids; and he was being very grumpy and I said, what in God's name are you being grumpy about, this is your birthday? And he said, Maureen, I'm on borrowed time. Everybody, all the men in my family have had heart problems around my age now, so I'll probably have a few more years, but not much more.

KING: You think it was genes?

O'HARA: Genes, yes.

KING: We'll be right back with the wonderful Maureen O'Hara. You'll see her Sunday night in "The Last Dance." We're going to ask about that and other things.

Don't go away.



O'HARA: I'm an old woman, I can't be expected to wait on you hand and foot for the rest of my life. I'm sick and tired of doing your laundry, ironing your shirts, cooking your meals. I've lost gallons of sweat and buckets of blood all for you.

You've been nothing but a ball and chain of heartache and hurt hanging around my neck for too many Godforsaken years. It will be good riddance to you.




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

O'HARA: Don't you use that tone of voice with me; we're not married anymore, remember?

KEITH: But this is my house and you're not going to go running around in it dressed up in that thing.

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

KEITH: Maggie, I'm warning you for the last time; now go on upstairs and put on some clothes.

O'HARA: Now don't try force on me. I lammed you once and I can do it -- stand back.

KEITH: Maggie, Maggie don't start that will you. Come on.

O'HARA: Keep your hands off me. Let me alone.



KING: We're back with Maureen O'Hara.

A couple of other people you've worked with -- Anthony Quinn, maybe the most with him, right; five movies?

O'HARA: No, I made five with John Wayne, three with Jimmy Stewart, five with John Payne, three with Tyrone Power, three with Brian Keith, and it goes on.

KING: Brian Keith, a suicide -- hard to believe.

O'HARA: I don't believe it. No way. Brian and I had an appointment with his new parish priest the following week because I had gone over to have lunch with him and he told me about this wonderful new priest and great stories and he's dying for the two of us to get together and just chat and chat and chat. And I said fine, OK. And when I left dinner that night we were supposed to get together the following week. Now, I have to say something. He was in agony from cancer.

KING: Pain.

O'HARA: And he'd sit and be talking to you and suddenly he would go like this, and you knew he couldn't stand the pain; it was terrible and he was in a wheelchair. Also he was a gun nut. He loved guns and rifles and everything.

KING: Do you think it was an accident?

O'HARA: I think it was an accident. I really do. Nobody could defend him.

KING: Was he too religious to kill himself?

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: That could be a reason -- Catholics....

O'HARA: Yes, and he could have been cleaning one sitting in the wheelchair, cleaning one of these guns that he loved like babies and had a spasm attack of agony and the gun went off. I don't believe he did. I don't think God believes it either.

KING: You're a believing person, obviously.

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: Quinn had a great zest for living -- has a great zest for living. O'HARA: He has about 14 kids.

KING: And he marinates a role, as Jackie Gleason once said. What was it like working with him? Because he is a perfectionist.

O'HARA: Yes, he is a perfectionist. He's also a loud, noisy Mexican from Chihuahua. But did you know his father was from Ireland?

KING: Everything comes back to the Irish with you. By the end of the show I'm going to be Irish.

O'HARA: We might baptize you, make you Irish.

But his father was a cameraman in the west of Ireland and he always said he was going write the book about it. And his father came to the United States of America, migrated across the United States taking photographs -- he was a cameraman -- and drifted down into Chihuahua and met Tony's mother, a Mexican Indian lady and fell in love with her.

KING: Quinn is an Irish name.

O'HARA: Yes, Quinn is an Irish name, did you ever think of that?

KING: No I -- in all these -- I know him and I've interviewed him, and I think of him as Mexican; and he acts like a Mexican, you know, and he has that...

O'HARA: Well, he acts a little bit like a fisherman from the Aran Islands. They're the same.

KING: But now that I think of it, Quinn is his name, that's Irish.

Jimmy Stewart, what was he like to work with?

O'HARA: A quiet, gentle, very nice man. If he was doing a scene and he didn't quite like what he was doing, he would stumble and stutter and stop so that he'd get to do it again. It was wonderful working with him.

KING: So it was a gimmicky thing then? He could use that.

O'HARA: A little bit. He used it. We all have gimmicks we use; I'm sure you do.

KING: Little tricks of the trade?

O'HARA: Little tricks of the trade. But he was a charming, wonderful man; adored his daughters. And when I first worked with him, the first couple of days he was a little, you know, he had to feel his way and find out what I was like. And then he started coming to me and saying, would you like to see these photographs I have taken in Africa when I was there on safari? And I thought, he's trying to make up to me.

KING: He stopped living when his wife died, don't you think?

O'HARA: Yes, it absolutely destroyed him.

KING: Our guest is the wonderful Maureen O'Hara, we're only halfway through. Ronald Reagan once said of Maureen O'Hara, "her spirit, charm and beauty have given everyone a glimpse of some of the Irish people's most special qualities."

We'll be right back.

Don't go away.


O'HARA: Now stop this at once. This is too much. Drop that gun. How dare you hit that man!.

JIMMY STEWART: He was going to shoot me.

O'HARA: Now, really, Mr. Burnett, you have a predisposition to violence of which I heartily disapprove.

STUART: Yes ma'am.

O'HARA: Now let's be on our way before you cause more trouble.

STUART: Yes ma'am.

O'HARA: Come along, Henry.

STUART: Yes, ma'am.



KING: All right, we will see you tomorrow night in "The Last Dance" on CBS, a television movie.

O'HARA: That's right. Yes.

KING: And you've done two other television movies since your last feature film.

O'HARA: Yes. I did "The Christmas Box" and we were number one in our slot three times and then we did "Captain Canada" and again we were number one in our time slot. And when I satisfy say we, the we includes our producer, Beth Paulsen one of the finest people.

KING: Is this her work Sunday night.

O'HARA: All of it is her work.

KING: What is "The Last Dance" about?

O'HARA: it's about an old Latin teacher, sick, has a heart problem, goes into the hospital, meets a young man and realizes he was one of her Latin students. She was a Latin teacher.

KING: You're her.

O'HARA: I'm her, and the last dance was the dance she was deprived of who was with her husband who was killed in a snowstorm and she has always lived hoping to have the last dance.

KING: It is a romantic, sentimental...

O'HARA: It's a very sentimental and if you looks at it...

KING: Bring your handkerchiefs.

O'HARA: Bring a box of Kleenex. The hell with the handkerchief. A handkerchief isn't enough. You really weep and hopefully love it and all the stories it has to tell and particularly how today we don't pay school teachers the honor and respect they should have because school teachers have raised the children of the world. The parents raise the other half.

KING: We can make a case they're the most important profession, certainly the most underpaid.

O'HARA: A good teacher is worth a fortune.

KING: When you approach this kind of role, what do you -- do you think about it or are you instinctive? How do you deal with it?

O'HARA: Well, you do think about it a lot. Then you walk away from it and turn your back on your thoughts. And then you start tearing it apart in bits and pieces and start writing notes to yourself, remember in scene so and so you're going to do so and so, so set it up now. You do. You write every page of your script is full of little notes and I used to do mine in shorthand so nobody would know what I was up to.

KING: You know shorthand?

O'HARA: Pittman's, which is very old-fashioned. Nobody does that now.

KING: You are 80?

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: Do you feel 80?

O'HARA: No, not one second. I think my mother gave me the wrong birth date. I really do.

KING: You don't look it.

O'HARA: Well, I don't feel it.

KING: Is this woman supposed to be 80 in "The Last Dance" or is that? O'HARA: No, just ancient.

KING: Ancient. So, isn't it hard to get scripts?

O'HARA: Yes, for all of the people that I grew up with in the motion picture industry, the female stars, it's very difficult to get scripts. Some of the female stars I've worked with I get shocked with them. I want to take a whip and wallop them.

KING: What do you mean?

O'HARA: Because they let themselves go. You don't do that.

KING: You mean let themselves what?

O'HARA: Get fat. You don't do that.

KING: You're not going name names, are you?

O'HARA: No, no way.

KING: But you get mad that they -- but don't you think it happens because they don't get scripts and they get kind of down?

O'HARA: Probably, but you shouldn't get that down. There's always something you can go out and do. You can volunteer and the one thing necessary today is people who are old and have retired and have nothing to do, why don't they go out and offer their time and teach the children today to read and write? It is so important, because all this computer stuff, children are not learning like they used to learn.

KING: Handy aids?

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: Do you -- now you live in St. Croix, and Ireland and here.

O'HARA: Yes, I visit here for my physicals and, of course, to work with Beth Paulsen, which is an honor. And I hope she enjoys working with me. She must or she wouldn't have hired me three times and there's a new script ready.

KING: Another television movie?

O'HARA: And I don't die.

KING: Will you do a feature movie again?

O'HARA: Yes, if there was a great script.

KING: Why St. Croix?

O'HARA: Because that's where Charlie Blair moved and lived, too, when he retired from the Air Force and from Pan Am.

KING: That was happy marriage?

O'HARA: Absolutely heaven.

KING: How many years?

O'HARA: Only 10.

KING: But worth it?

O'HARA: Oh, boy, worth everything, but I had known him from about 1947. We had been family friends. My brother met him when he did the fastest flight to London, a record which still stands. Nobody has ever tried to break it and when he won't over the pole.

KING: He was adventuresome, as is his wife, and Ireland you still go home to Ireland?

O'HARA: Yes, I go in June and stay until October. I just came back. And I go in June because the end of June I have my golf tournament. It's the Charles -- General Charles F. Blair Golf Tournament and the Maureen O'Hara Blair Golf Tournament. And one is for men and one is for ladies and we're sponsored by Murphy's Stout.

KING: The beer.

O'HARA: The beer.

KING: We'll be right back with Maureen O'Hara. She just got an award from The Heartland Film Festival. That and more after this.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Todd used to take me rock climbing.

O'HARA: What? And?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Now we're lucky if we have a cup of coffee together.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes, because now we have a lot of responsibilities.

O'HARA: What about fun?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, that will come. That'll come later. Right now we're saving up for the future.

O'HARA: And what about the present?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Mostly, I think about the mortgage, college fund for the kids, car payments, you know, the usual.

O'HARA: Do you mean to tell me that in your old age, you and Denise are going to reminisce about bills?


KING: I want to ask about another actor before we talk about this award and some other things. Henry Fonda?

O'HARA: Heaven to work with.

KING: Hank, as his friends call him.

O'HARA: Hank, perhaps one of the finest actors in the world and a gentleman, a wonderful, wonderful person and if you had a very sad scene or a very dramatic scene you had to do, all you had to do was look at his eyes and that, you were finished. You did a wonderful scene. That's the relationship between two performers. If you give to each other, you both have to be wonderful.

KING: Yes.

O'HARA: But if you steal from each other you both stink.

KING: Great acting, as Al Pacino says, is giving.

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: A great actor gives.

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: The poor actor doesn't, and you see it. The audience sees it.

With Jimmy Stewart you did "The Rare Breed."

O'HARA: "Rare Breed" and "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation."

KING: I love that movie. And you did "The Parent Trap" with Brian Keith -- funny.

O'HARA: And he was also in "The Rare Breed."

KING: And you did "Against All Flags" with Anthony Quinn.

O'HARA: No, Flynn.

KING: Now don't tell me he didn't try to date you.


KING: Errol Flynn?

O'HARA: No, no way. you've got to realize...

KING: He gave you the wallpaper.

O'HARA: Thank you very much, wallpaper!

KING: No, you're so beautiful, why wouldn't he -- Errol Flynn -- he was nice?

O'HARA: He didn't have a very good reputation, but he never came to the set without knowing his dialogue, without being prepared to do his job and I don't think I'm hurting his reputation or being mean about him, but by 4:00 in the afternoon.

KING: Gone?

O'HARA: Gone; so he was let to go home; and many of your great love scenes where you say "I love you" was to a white chalk mark on a black cloth.

KING: He drank all day?

O'HARA: Yes, it was a very sad. He was Irish, too, you know. Australian Irish.

KING: You appeared in a movie that's legendary, "Miracle on 34th Street," with Edwin Gwenn, right?

O'HARA: Oh, there was a sweetheart! We loved him so much by the end of the movie we really believed he was Santa.

KING: And that was with John Payne, another wonderful actor. They don't talk about him enough. You know, he's kind of been forgotten.

O'HARA: He was in that terrible accident in New York and he retired and he became a professor of English at the big university here. He gave up movies because of the accident.

KING: Did you know "Miracle on 34th Street" would be the kind of hit it was and become legendary?

O'HARA: Well, we knew it was going to be a hit. It had so much heart, it had to. But we didn't realize it was going to be what is it now, almost 60 years.

KING: 1947.

O'HARA: '47, '57, '67, '77, '87, '97...

KING: Fifty-three years.

O'HARA: Do you realize that next year will be 50 years since we made "The Quiet Man"? Time flies, you know.

KING: You were doing interviews when were you 14, right? You were hosting a show.

O'HARA: Yes; very well paid, too.

KING: What did you make?

O'HARA: One pound a week. At that time, I think it was worth three dollars. KING: Do you still get the same kick out of acting?

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: It's still as much fun as when you worked with Lawton and...

O'HARA: Oh, yes. And when you do a good scene you're so thrilled and so excited and it's so wonderful.

Like, for instance, in "The Last Dance," Eric Stoltz used to always tease about, why was I No. 1 on the call sheet? It was No. 1, Maureen O'Hara, No. 2, Eric Stoltz. And he made a fuss over it, and every day the crew loved it and waited for him to start making this fuss about why was I No. 1, why was he No. 2?

And then we did the scene in the hospital where they brought all of the people who had been in school and everything else to see her before she died instead of after she died. And when I did the scene, Eric stood up and he said, now, now, now -- he said, now you know why she's No. 1. And that -- I don't care who you are, if you say you weren't thrilled you're a liar, you're pretending that you don't have an ego. I was thrilled.

KING: Back with more of Maureen O'Hara right after this.


O'HARA: Chris.

EDWARD GWENN: I had to wait to tell you. I got your note. It made me very happy.

O'HARA: Oh, I'm so glad.

GWENN: We're having a big Christmas party at the bookstore tomorrow morning; breakfast, a beautiful tree -- I'd like to have you and Susan.

O'HARA: Oh, thank you. I can't think of anyone I'd rather spend Christmas with. Would you like to come to dinner tonight?

GWENN: Tonight? I can't. It's Christmas Eve.

O'HARA: Oh, I forgot.

GWENN: Good-bye.



KING: Maureen O'Hara received the -- she got the Heartland Film Festival Award, the career achievement award, for the integrity of her work; and it said, "to recognize and honor filmmakers whose work explored the human journey by artistically restoring hope and respect for the positive values of life."

Nice to get that.

O'HARA: Yes, but I must say that all my leading men, and you know, 90 percent of them are dead now, which is very sad; but they always wanted -- never wanted to do anything in a movie that was out of line, was not in good taste, that -- the good man didn't win even if we had one heck of a fight getting to that point, which was always wonderful.

Some of the movies had the greatest fights in the world; and I felt the same way. And perhaps, to illustrate something that -- when we were making "McLintock!" I had to wear a corselete and these awful bloomers with lace on the bottom of them. And I thought, oh, they're just so awful. And I thought, I don't have bad looking legs, why can't I show them and shorten those pants a little bit?

So I went to Duke, because Duke was always the boss; and I said, Duke, please, can't I shorten these -- and he turned on me. He said, Maureen, we make family pictures, not things we're ashamed of. No. You wear those pants in the proper length. So I did.

KING: Do you go to movies today?

O'HARA: I don't have time. I have too much to do, and not -- well, I'd like to live 22 more years, at least.

KING: You want to be 102?

O'HARA: Right.

KING: Why that particular age?

O'HARA: Well, my mother-in-law, Charlie Blair's mother, lived to be 102 and she was the oldest scout mistress in the United States of America. Also, she was Irish, of course. But she was a wonderful, tough, tough old gal. I thought she was terrific and I thought, by God I'd like to be a tough old gal and be 102 and carry a stick and thump it on the ground at all the kids.

KING: You're in good health?

O'HARA: Yes, thank God.

KING: What was it like -- I mean Charlie Blair was incredible.

O'HARA: He was.

KING: Died in a plane crash.

O'HARA: Yes.

KING: To hear that -- I mean, it's one thing to die, but when wondering to hear how you die?

O'HARA: Well, I was hysterical when I heard about it and I called Charlie's grandma Blair, Charlie's mother and she said to me on the phone -- she said, stop that nonsense. He died the way he would have wanted to.

KING: And that worked?

O'HARA: Yes, it did.

KING: And you became president of an airline, didn't you?

O'HARA: Yes; I was the first woman in the United States of America to be an elected president of a scheduled airline.

KING: Which was what airline?

O'HARA: Antilles Airlines in the Carribbean. it was called Antilles Airboats; they were all sea planes. We had 26 planes, we had 23 pilots and I loved every minute of it. The only thing that happened once in a while, dealing with men, you suddenly heard words coming out of the your mouth that were not lady-like.

And I though, this is not a woman's job. So Charlie had already started negotiations to sell the airline and I decided to go through with it so I didn't have to start swearing in my old age.

KING: Where did his plane crash?

O'HARA: Outside of St. Thomas.

KING: Was it one of his own aircraft?

O'HARA: Yes, yes.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Maureen O'Hara. She stars in "The Last Dance." You'll see it on CBS tomorrow night. Bring the kleenex.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): And then he went homeward with one star awake as the evening.



KING: OK, your goal is to live to 102.

O'HARA: Two.

KING: What is your immediate goal? Are you going another film?

O'HARA: I'm doing another film with producer Beth Paulsen and the script is all ready.

KING: Shoot out here.

O'HARA: I don't know. That's up to her.

KING: Have you ever turned down a role you regretted?

O'HARA: I missed roles that I really regretted.

KING: Like?

O'HARA: Harry Cohen was going to buy "My Fair Lady" for me, and...

KING: No kidding?

O'HARA: Yes, and a big company started bidding against him.


O'HARA: And he sent for me one day and he said, Maureen...

KING: Cohen was Columbia, right.

O'HARA: Right. Wonderful man.

KING: You were the one that liked him.

O'HARA: I loved him.

KING: Why did he tell jokes about people hating him?

O'HARA: He liked probably to cover up his soft heart.


O'HARA: I'll tell you -- if you have time I'll tell you a fabulous story about Harry Cohen.

KING: We've got a couple of minutes.

O'HARA: And they have never, ever printed it or done anything about it. I was under part contract with Columbia and I got on very well with Harry Cohen and he used to say she's the only dame that has the guts to come in and sit down and look at me and talk to me. But anyway, I did, because I liked him and I got a call one day from a secretary that I was to come in and see him that afternoon and I thought, oh, my God. What have I done now? I'm going get hell for something.

So I went in and he always gave me a kiss on both cheeks and he did and he said sit down, I wanted you to stay with me this afternoon and I thought stay with him, what for? And he said, Maureen you're the only person I know who understands Judaism and Catholicism and he said I know your whole background.

I've learned everything about you. I know your that your family was in the clothing business. You were Christians in the clothing business. I know your mother was a singer and he went through, my father was a sportsman, soccer, and he said, my boys and my wife are becoming Catholics this afternoon. Would you stay with me?

Well, every minute he was looking at the watch, looking at the watch and then the tears started to roll down his cheeks, this tough old boy, softy.

KING: What a story. They converted?

O'HARA: They converted and then suddenly he looked at his watch and said, all right. You can go now. And I got up and he gave me a big hug and a kiss on each cheek and he said thank you. Good-bye.

KING: When 3200 people came to his funeral and somebody asked George Gessel (ph) if he wasn't well-liked why did so many people come, and he said give the public what it wants and they'll show up.

O'HARA: He was a wonderful, kind man but he was a tough, tough businessman. But that's what he was supposed to be.

KING: So had bought "My Fair Lady" -- had he won the bidding you'd have been Eliza Dolittle?

O'HARA: And the other terrible disappointment in my life was Darryl Zanuck cast me in "Anna and the King of Siam" because I sing -- or I did sing and Lou Shriber was second-in-command at 20th Century Fox and Lou called me and said, Maureen I'm going into New York with your recordings to tie up the deal. Wish me luck because I have to see Rogers and Hammerstein. He went into New York. He saw Rogers and Hammerstein and he said Darryl Zanuck wants her to play Anna and they said, what, a pirate queen play our Anna? Never. And I didn't get to do it.

KING: "The King and I."

O'HARA: "The King and I," but years later I told them how I would have played it and they asked me, would I do it on Broadway in a revival and I said, you turned me down once. You don't get a second chance.

KING: You're tough.

O'HARA: That's me. No. I've got integrity.

KING: Why didn't you sing more in movies. You never got musicals, right?


KING: But you did play pirate queens?

O'HARA: Yes, and I loved it.

KING: Swashbuckling.

O'HARA: I outenced Errol Flynn. I was proficient with the sword. I was a fine talent with a bull whip. I could take a cigarette out of your mouth and toss it in the air and catch it.

KING: Would you go back to Broadway with the right play?

O'HARA: I'm too old. That's the only time I'll admit, because I don't think I could do it every night and two matinees.

KING: Thank you, darling.

O'HARA: You're very welcome.

KING: Maureen O'Hara. Need we say more? She's a very young 80. She's going make it to 102 and you'll see her tomorrow night in "The Last Dance" on CBS.

Monday night, more of Election 2000. We're only going to be, Jesus, 10 days away today from electing a president. Thanks for joining us and Good night.



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