Actors John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara had undeniable chemistry on the silver screen. However, they also had a strong mutual respect that extended to real life away from the world of cinema. O’Hara certainly had a vigor about her that wonderfully translated into her performances. She once explained that it had a part to play in making her the only leading woman “tough enough” to act alongside Wayne.
Wayne and O’Hara starred in five movies over the course of their careers. It all started with 1950’s Rio Grande, which they made along with John Ford in order to get funding for 1952’s The Quiet Man. No movie studio would touch the drama, thinking that it would be a box office disaster. The movie would ultimately make serious waves across the medium, marvelously standing the test of time.
However, their work together didn’t stop there. The two actors once again teamed up with Ford for 1957’s The Wings of Eagles. They co-starred another two times, but these projects would exclude that filmmaker. Next up was 1963’s McLintock! and 1971’s Big Jake, ending their on-screen collaborations.
According to O’Hara’s memoir titled ‘Tis Herself, she wrote about making The Quiet Man with Wayne. She explained how she connected with her character in the movie named Mary Kate Danaher. O’Hara “loved the hell and fire in her,” calling her a “terrific dame” who didn’t allow anybody to walk all over her.
Additionally, the actor explained how no other leading lady had that innate nature required to work alongside the Duke convincingly. She criticized the performances of other actors who co-starred with the Western movie star over the years.
“I was the only leading lady big enough and tough enough for John Wayne,” O’Hara wrote. “Duke’s presence was so strong that when audiences finally meet a woman of equal hell and fire, it was exciting and thrilling. Other actresses looked as though they would cower and break if Duke raised a hand or even hollered. Not me. I always gave as good as I got, and it was believable.”
Nevertheless, Wayne collaborated with plenty of other women other than O’Hara over the course of his extensive filmography. But, he only co-starred with one other woman the same amount of times that he worked with his McLintock! colleague. Wayne also worked alongside Vera Miles five times in features such as The Searchers, The Green Berets, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
Some of the other women the Western movie star worked with included Joanne Dru, Donna Reed, Gail Russell, Patricia Nea, Lauren Becall, Susan Hayward, and Marlene Dietrich. There’s no doubt that he had the ability to charm many of the women whom he worked alongside over the years.
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