Customer Reviews: 'Tis Herself: An Autobiography
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VINE VOICEon August 21, 2006
After reading "Tis Herself," I have more respect for Maureen O'Hara than ever before. I realize now why John Wayne held her in the very high regard that he did for over 39 years and how she came to be his very best friend during that period. John Wayne was part Irish and they both had a tremendous work ethic; likewise, during filming - it was strictly business while the cameras were rolling and they always knew their lines.

Throughout the book, I kept waiting; kept expecting to encounter signs of personal ego and pettiness in Maureen O'Hara that a few reviewers have described here. I found their criticisms to be so unjust. Frankly, I'm wondering if they read the book at all or had their own personal agendas! For Maureen O'Hara was anything but petty! The book is an honest and revealing account of many events that went on in Hollywood, but in many instances - she did not "name names." And think of how she could have destroyed some of these careers if she had spoken while they were still alive?! She was generosity in itself. At the height of Hollywood's Golden Age, she was a huge star - and she remained surprisingly down to earth.

I had always presumed that Maureen O'Hara had been this beautiful Irish lass that was discovered by a Hollywood agent, traveling in Ireland, and that she became an overnight star. Actually, she was discovered by Charles Laughton of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame fame;" she came from a theatrical family; and she took music, dance, and drama lessons six days a week from the time she decided that she wanted to be an actress at the age of six. She trained herself to be very disciplined from a very early age.

Likewise, I don't believe many readers can understand what it was like in the late 30's and 40's for a young, inexperienced Irish woman, who had been protected all her life. There weren't any televisions in Ireland at that time to expose her to the sophistications of Hollywood and how some men can often be deceitful before marriage. She spent her youth either taking drama, music or dancing lessons or else was with her family. She was raised in a catholic school (with probably lots of guilt encouraged by the nuns daily) and she was rushed into an unconsummated marriage by an older man when she was about 18.

Maureen O'Hara had the marriage annulled - only to discover that her next husband was an alcoholic. So is it any wonder that in an age where divorce was still somewhat frowned upon, she was expecting a child, and image was everything in Hollywood, that she held off on the second divorce? Plus, I imagine that with the very long hours and back to back movies and promotions that she was required to do, that she didn't have to endure her husband's company that often.

I am glad that she found happiness with Charles Blair. Ironically, we purchased an albatross from her after his death. I never met her, but I probably would have just ended up talking about John Wayne anyhow! LOL We restored the plane and I know that her husband would have loved to see how the plane was outfitted with jet skis. In the book, she mentions that her husband was killed due to certain knowledge that he had from working with the CIA. Given what I personally know about the organization during that period, I wouldn't be surprised one bit.

She endured such maliciousness from John Ford that I was appalled. In our present times, his behavior would have landed him in a lawsuit! And yet, she forgave John Ford in the end as well. He was a creative genius and yet - so often I feel that it isn't good for anyone to have that much power as they begin to push people more and more in an attempt to have boundaries set. And it made me wish that Duke had knocked Mr. Ford on his can just once when he berated Maureen! I'm sure that he would have liked to!

I think if Maureen O'Hara had one fault - it was that she was too trusting. She allowed her financial manager to continue handling her money - even after he handled it so badly when she was married to her second husband. (However John Wayne fell victim to allowing his funds to be mismanaged as well, so I suspect that many actors were prey to this at that time.)

And did you know that it was Maureen O'Hara who first pitched the idea of Mary Poppins to Walt Disney? Again, I would have had everything in writing! (Disney probably made the movie just to get back at her!) Walt Disney was a genius in many ways, but he was noted for disregarding contracts and paying his employees very poorly. If her contract stipulated that she receive top billing in "The Parent Trap," it was only right that Disney do so. Good grief, it had nothing to do with her relationship with Hayley Mills - she liked her, but it had everything to do with business. Do you think that Julia Roberts wouldn't expect the same thing today?

I honestly could not put the book down and read it in about 4 hours. I literally wept when I read about her final days with John Wayne. I remember watching her on television when she petitioned Congress to award him the "John Wayne - American" Congressional Medal of Honor. What wonderful words! She knew that those three words would mean more to the Duke - than any flowery speech. In fact, I would bet that those three words inscribed on it meant as much to him as the medal itself. I was so in love with John Wayne - a little girl as a 6th grader with a huge crush on a man 50 years older, but throughout my life he has remained the image of what a true man represents.

I came away from "Tis Herself" knowing exactly why the Duke considered Maureen O'Hara his best friend. She was beautiful and feisty and down-to-earth....and still a lady. Is it any wonder that Charles Blair, John Wayne, Charles Laughton and so many others have worshipped the ground she walks on?
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on January 4, 2005
'Tis Herself is just that...Maureen O'Hara wrote what she wanted her readers to know...I liked reading the book and I found it amazing in parts...yes, she had a difficult life and we must remember the time she is writing about were very much in control of almost everything...we should not put our values on what she did or did not do...we do not like people doing that to us. I always liked her roles and her chemistry with her leading men...especially John Wayne. I was a bit surprised that she wrote so much about her "problems" with John Ford. The photos she included were great and the sections on John Wayne were the best...her last meeting with him a few months before his death had me in tears. Her chemistry with "the Duke" was perfect I could watch their films together daily. Her book is worth reading. It will be re-read by me many times...I placed in my bookcase with my John Wayne books.
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on March 1, 2004
I've had to good fortune to meet with Maureen O'Hara on several occasions and knew a great deal about her before this book was published. That being said, the book sheds a whole new light on her, what she has gone through and what she has accomplished. It is fascinating, revealing and provides a whole new perspective, sometimes shocking, on O'Hara, the film industry, and many of the icons of the movie world, as well as the political rat race of that "glamorous" industry.
Maureen O'Hara is one of the most talented, beautiful, and genuinely nicest, friendly people whom I've ever met. I'm delighted that she finally decided to write this book and set the record straight about a number of actors, actresses, events and her marriages.
I couldn't put the book down once I started reading it.
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on April 17, 2004
Born into a fairly affluent family of six children in Dublin, Ireland, Maureen FitzSimmons's stage-acting career was launched at an early age. Her film last name, O'Hara was given to her by Charles Laughton because her nee would not fit the movie billboard. Ms. O'Hara gained fame in a Alfred Hitchcock directed film, "Jamaica Inn", co-starring the great Charles Laughton. It is the aforesaid movie that Ms. O'Hara is accorded with: "...entered the premiere as an actress and left as a 'star'," and dubbed as "the girl with the black-cherry eyes."
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" was also a triumph for Ms. O'Hara, again co-starring Charles Laughton (remembered for his role in "Mutiny On The Bounty", extraordinaire classic). The reader cannot help but chuckle about an 'event' that occurred on the set of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" -- heavily-accented director Dieterle had asked for 200 priests/monks to be available for the set; what he got was 200 monkeys!
Among many film credits are Ms. O'Hara's performances in "How Green Was My Valley"; "Miracle on 34th Street" with child actress Natalie Wood; "The Quiet Man", filmed in Ireland, co-starring John Wayne (the 'Duke'). O'Hara candidly speaks of her long-time friendship with John Wayne, and her tormenting, tragic loss of her husband, record-breaking, famed-pilot, Charlie Blair.
Just as there was no safety from the power of studio politicos 'trading' the star to another studio -- to her credit, and perhaps to the surprise of some readers, Ms. O'Hara performed her OWN STUNTS without the aid of harnesses and other safety devices. The latter performance strength of Ms. O'Hara shines in the swashbuckling, fencing movie scenes where she skillfully showed her fencing training and knowledge (again including her own stunt-work). Also of note is Ms. O'Hara's stamina to stand up to the politics in the industry, including her successful lawsuit against a tabloid, putting them out of business.
What baffles this reader is learning of Ms. O'Hara's 'weakness' in some not-thought-through life decisions and relationships, specifically the continuation of her marriage to Will Price, a rough, alcoholic, abusive, philandering spouse. And, by her own admission, making the quick choice to wed (more than once) to men she was not in love with. More baffling is why she stayed in the situation(s) for so long, considering husband Price was spending her earned money by living lavishly, purchasing mansions without her knowledge until the 'deed was done', via simply using her name.
From Ms. O'Hara's book, 'TIS HERSELF, the reader picks up hints of bias here and there; her "chip-on-the-shoulder" brazenness, bragging, pomposity and naivete, albeit at times with added wittiness. Readers might forgive and indulge Ms. O'Hara's aforesaid eccentricities, allowing that the book includes earlier film years and the effect World War II had on all film studios and staff. Ms. O'Hara's memoirs are rich with stage and film including recorded singing and dancing talents on TV specials (such as the Dinah Shore Show and Perry Como Show); along with movie studio and film history, and many personages who are part of film history -- be it singers and dancers, actors, producers, writers and directors. And, worthy are the descriptive words used to carry the reader through incidents, actions and events, which transpired during filming, and history of stage, film and TV.
Overall 'TIS HERSELF is a good read of historical information, but the reader can't feel bad for some of Ms. O'Hara's predicaments she got herself into, and being ever - so - slow in getting out of them. Why? The reader may wonder...?!
Other Recommended Reading: GIRL SINGER by Rosemary Clooney
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on March 12, 2004
Don't miss this opportunity to become acquainted with Maureen FitzSimons Blair (aka Maureen O'Hara) in her absolutely wonderful autobiography "Tis Herself". She is one strong, talented, feisty Irishwoman who lets us in on her charmed life. Follow Maureen on her journey--from her beginnings in Ranelagh, Ireland, her motion picture career in the Golden Age of Hollywood and beyond, her disastrous and abusive marriage, to at last finding her "gradh ma croidhe", Charlie Blair, only to encounter heartbreak once again. Maureen handles every chapter of this book like she handles her life - HEAD ON. I absolutely adore Maureen O'Hara, and this book is a treasure for her fans and those who are just discovering Herself. No one will be disappointed with this read.
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on February 21, 2013
As one reviewer cited, O'Hara's life was one of contradictions. She prides herself on being feisty and independent; however, that seems to apply only to her screen personna. When it came to the men in her life, both husbands/ lovers, and actors/directors, she collapsed completely within herself. I've never read the life of someone so enabling and acquiescent. She's full of excuses why she never spoke up to the abusive, alcoholic men who used and berated her, particularly director John Ford and her second husband Will Price. Even her Catholic background and the era in which she lived cannot fully answer the question that she often poses concerning the helplessness she had when confronting domineering males. She seems to be resigned to the fact that like her lifetime good friend John Wayne, she failed to achieve true happiness outside the movies. That being said, there still remains one of the most beautiful and entertaining actresses that was ever captured on film.
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on June 13, 2014
John Ford gay? Duke drinking too much? One tuff lady very candidly describes her life with no holds bared.

Her love for the art , her disdain of Disney , her passion for Ford films and the cast as well as her failures and wins in love and life.

Lucille Ball said she lost every role she competed with her at RKO. . "Maureen could walk out of a hurricane and still look like a million"

It's a very comfortable read and i read it all over two days.

I really enjoyed it!
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on February 26, 2013
Maureen O'Hara is one of my favorite actresses. This book was exceptional. I couldn't put it down. She took you through her life and every story was amazing and entertaining. Answered all those questions and details about her career and the men in her life.
What an enjoyable read.
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on January 17, 2014
The inventor of Technicolor dubbed Maureen O'Hara "my Queen of Technicolor." Her photo on the cover illustrates how beautiful she was. Unfortunately, her beauty tended to obscure her acting ability & singing talent & get her typecast into adventure films. She got an impressive start in films thanks to Charles Laughton casting her as Esmeralda in the classic "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," & her collaboration with John Ford began with a major role in his classic "How Green Was My Valley." This is one of the best autobiographies by a movie star that I have read. Some stars's autobiographies are so self-centered that one laments the omissions of what it was like working with equally great stars & making classic films. O'Hara writes vividly of her experiences in Hollywood during the Golden Age making movies & working with fabulous actors & directors. She knew director John Ford well & paints an extremely complex portrait of him, offering insights into his often baffling behavior. She tells the story of the genesis of "The Quiet Man" & why it took so long to be made. John Wayne & she were best friends; she has much tell about him. It is astounding how much talent Ireland, in Irish or Irish-American actors, contributed to Hollywood's Golden Age; John Ford's "Irish mafia" included only some of them. Offscreen, O'Hara's marriage to an aviation pioneer turned into an amazing story, involving the CIA.
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on June 2, 2013
If you are a fan of Maureen O'Hara you will love this book!! She is very honest with many details of her life. I always have loved her feistiness. She was such a great role model growing up..I loved the strength she showed in her characters. Surprising her first two husbands, did not appreciate her. But so glad she finally did find the love of her life for a sad how she lost him. As I was reading it, I thought what a shame someone doesn't do interview shows of so many of our golden stars that are still alive, with so many stories they could share...I hope she is doing well, and if she ever gets to read these reviews, I would tell her thank you for all her great films, especially the ones with John Wayne!! I can watch them over and over and still enjoy them...
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