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Never-before-seen love letters to Maureen O'Hara from John Ford realize $75,000 at Bonhams New York
The sale was led by John Ford’s obsessive love letters to O’Hara written whilst filming The Quiet Man. Photo: Bonhams.
NEW YORK, NY.- The Estate of Maureen O’Hara sale at Bonhams New York today (29 November) sold over 95% of her private documents, clothing, and memorabilia, reaching a total over $445,000. “The Irish style icon’s personal effects were volleyed between phone, internet and a healthy crowd of in-room bidders from Ireland, Europe, South America, and Asia,” explains Catherine Williamson, Director of the Fine Books and Manuscripts and Entertainment Memorabilia at Bonhams Los Angeles.

The infamous cache of love letters from Quiet Man Director John Ford sold for $75,000. Written during the run-up to filming Ford’s 1952 film The Quiet Man, almost all of them are in their original envelopes. After meeting on the set of How Green Was My Valley (1941) O’Hara and Ford began a long and often turbulent friendship colored by Ford’s obsessive – and sometimes violent – fascination with the red-haired siren, who he called his ‘Rosebud’. O’Hara later said of the director," for years I wondered why John Ford grew to hate me so much. I realize now that he didn't hate me at all. He loved me very much and even thought that he was in love with me.” Read more about the two’s famous relationship in Neil Lyndon’s Bonhams Magazine essay.

O’Hara is perhaps best known for her iconic portrayal of Mary Kate Danaher in The Quiet Man, opposite John Wayne. There was competitive bidding on items associated with the classic film, including O’Hara’s personal, heavily annotated The Quiet Man script (originally given to John Ford, with his name on the cover), which sold for $50,000. O’Hara’s clothes and jewelry also proved exceedingly popular. A tweed jacket she wore in The Quiet Man (estimated $5,000-7,000), sold for $16,250. Another highlight was O’Hara’s pair of Meissen porcelain floral encrusted covered vases, which sold for $31,250 against an estimate of $3,000-5,000.

Bonhams Director of Entertainment Memorabilia, Catherine Williamson, said, “It’s clear that O’Hara’s appeal is evergreen—she speaks just as much to young movie goers to those who saw her when her films first premiered. She had a fantastic sense of style and her clothing and accessories proved particularly popular, often selling for as many as 10 times their low estimates.”

Maureen O’Hara (1920-2015) grew up on the outskirts of Dublin. She joined Dublin’s Abbey Theatre in 1934 and spent three years training with the company. At 17, O’Hara was discovered by British actor Charles Laughton, who signed her to a contract with his Mayflower Pictures. Her first major film was the Alfred Hitchcock-directed Jamaica Inn (1939), co-starring Laughton. This was swiftly followed by her first Hollywood movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), which cemented her movie star status. Known as “The Queen of Technicolor” for her fiery red hair and emerald green eyes, O’Hara appeared in more than 60 movies and was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2014 for her contributions to the film industry.






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