Today we celebrate the birthday of two of Hollywood’s fiestiest females, Maureen O’Hara and Mae West. Maureen was known for playing strong-willed ‘fiery’ characters and Mae for her outspokenness and sharp wit, a seductress who pushed the boundaries of censorship with her revealing costumes and scandalous one liners.
She was known as the “Queen of Technicolor” because of her flaming red tresses and mesmerizing green eyes. And being quite athletic ( she grew up as a tomboy), actually performed many of her own movie stunts!
Irish lassie Maureen FitzSimons began her film career in the Alfred Hitchcock movie, Jamaica Inn, which, as an avid Hitchcock fan, I watched again this week! Charles Laughton, her co-star , is credited with discovering the redhead after seeing one of her screen tests. He also encouraged her to change her surname to something he thought would look better up on a marquee, hence the O’Hara we now know.
She went on to star in many more films, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame(1939), How Green Was My Valley (1941), which won an Oscar for best picture, The Black Swan (with Tyrone Power, 1942) and Sinbad the Sailor (with Douglas Fairbanks, 1947). But she is best known for her role in the classic film Miracle on 34th Street(1947) and for her on screen chemistry with long-time friend, John Wayne, appearing with him in Rio Grande(1950), The Quiet Man(1952) and Wings of Eagles(1957).
Maureen worked with some of Hollywood’s most illustrious costume designers, including Edward Stevenson, Adele Palmer and Yvonne Wood.
This lovely ladylike frock from the Quiet Man, was designed by Adele Palmer.
Edward Stevenson, who designed costumes for many famous films including Citizen Kane, Gunga Din, Cheaper by the Dozen and It’s a Wonderful Life, put Maureen in this gorgeous green satin number for her role in Redhead of Wyoming(1953)
Though a black and white image, this is actually another green satin beauty. Designed by Yvonne Wood, for Maureen’s character in Baghdad(1949). It seems designers loved putting her in green, probably because it complemented her ivory complexion, red hair and emerald eyes!
Ms. O’Hara is celebrating her 93rd birthday today with a party in her honor, including a marathon of her films in her current hometown of Boise, Idaho.
Our other birthday gal today is the sultry Ms. Mae West. A controversial actress, singer and playright, this buxom babe made a name for herself with her risque double entendres that often had studios in an uproar. She liked to ad lib her lines and while this sometimes caused a problem with the censors – it delighted the audiences!
She appeared in many box office successes throughout the 1930s, including Academy Award nominated She Done Him Wrong (with Cary Grant, 1933), I’m No Angel (with Cary Grant, 1935) in which she purred her famous line “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?” and Klondike Annie (1936) a film covering hypocrisy and religion that so enraged William Randolph Hearst, who felt it was sacriligeous, that he refused to allow any advertising of the film in any of his newspapers.
West often worked with famous Hollywood costume designer Travis Banton. He is credited with creating her distinctive “sex goddess” look. Banton said he stuck to a simple formula when dressing West, “Diamonds – lots of ’em and huge hats, feather boas, fox stoles, and vertical panels of light material or brilliants, with darker side panels to slim her down.”
Both of today’s birthday gals played a pivotal role in creating a place in Hollywood for strong, independent and sexy women who weren’t afraid to speak their minds!
Do you have a favorite Maureen O’Hara movie or Mae West quote? Please feel free to share
Have a glamourous day!