End Credits #36: Cinema's 2015 Lost Treasures Maureen O'Hara, Joan Leslie
These are some of Cinema's sad departures of 2015 taken from my personal notes soon after the events took place:
One of Hollywood’s biggest names and brightest stars of yesteryear has mournfully left us: Irish born Maureen O’Hara at age 95. Charles Laughton was enamoured with Maureen after seeing her screen test, changed her last name (from FitzSimons) and put her under contract, effectively launching her career at the top where throughout it, she remained. In 1939 she starred with Laughton in Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn, and alongside him again as Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She subsequently co-starred with some of motion picture’s biggest stars (John Wayne, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, John Garfield, Alec Guinness) and worked with prestigious directors (John Ford, Carol Reed, Henry King, Jean Renoir and Nicholas Ray). Her spirited and strong characters inhabited some of cinema’s most beloved classics including How Green Was My Valley, Miracle on 34th Street, Rio Grande and The Quiet Man. She was equally adept at comedy (Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, McLintock!) as she was at drama (A Woman’s Secret, The Deadly Companions). An outgoing and athletic individual from a young age, she often performed her own (sometimes dangerous) stunts. She had a fiery personality that suited her ravishing red hair, gorgeous green eyes, dazzling smile and was pronounced “the queen of Technicolor”, but at no time was her incredible talent considered less than her beauty. Maureen O’Hara (August 17, 1920 - October 24, 2015) R.I.P.
Sadly, another of Hollywood's golden era of stars has fallen. The gorgeous and talented Joan Leslie has passed away at age 90. She elevated many fine films with her endearing presence such as her auspicious first credited film debut as Velma, Humphrey Bogart's subject of adoration in Raoul Walsh's 1941 film noir High Sierra. She went on to make memorable appearances in Sergeant York with Gary Cooper, Yankee Doodle Dandy with James Cagney, The Sky's the Limit with Fred Astaire and a whole host of stars in each of two Warner Bros musicals, Thank Your Lucky Stars and Hollywood Canteen. She gave strong performances in a couple of sizzling film noirs, Repeat Performance and Born to be Bad, and starred in three westerns: Opposite Randolph Scott in 1951's Man in the Saddle, Sterling Hayden in next year's Hellgate and John Russell in 1954's Jubilee Trail. She was a supremely fine actress and will be sorely missed.