Fans keep asking for Boise's Maureen O'Hara

broberts@idahostatesman.comDecember 24, 2013 

Screen legend Maureen O'Hara, seen at Boise's Egyptian Theatre on Aug. 17, 2013.

KYLE GREEN — kgreen@idahostatesman.com

My mail on Maureen O’Hara hasn’t stopped.

A year ago I spent an afternoon with the 93-year-old screen legend (absolutely NOT an overworked phrase in her case) and wrote a story about her moving from her native Ireland to Boise to be near her grandson Conor FitzSimons and his family.

I've covered just about every kind of issue in my journalism career, but I've never had a story that connected with readers like that one. I had more calls and emails than I can count.

I've heard from people hoping to get in touch with her, some dreaming of an autograph. One fan sent a snapshot photo of John Wayne, her most famous co-star, taken in what looks to be the late 1940s or 1950s.

Some mail came from America. Some from Ireland. The paper got a letter from Scotland.

I've also gotten numerous requests from people asking for an update, asking how she's doing.

This Christmas Eve, O’Hara is gathering with her family in Boise. They’ll watch "Miracle on 34th Street," the 1947 Christmas classic that starred O’Hara. On Christmas Day, the FitzSimons clan — O’Hara’s real name — will do a holiday Skype from around the world.

On Christmas night, O’Hara plans to watch “The Christmas Box,” a 1995 film in which she starred.

“She’s in very good physical condition and health,” said Johnny Nicoletti, her manager and biographer.

This was a busy year for O'Hara. She visited John Wayne's birth place, Winterset, Iowa, to celebrate the Duke's 106th birthday that included a Wayne-O'Hara film festival.

In August, she threw a birthday bash for herself to meet the Boise community and raise $10,000 for the Justice Alliance for Vulnerable Adults to fight elder abuse, Nicoletti said.

For a star so closely linked professionally and in the public imagination with the holidays, "this is a very special time of year," Nicoletti said.

From Christmas to New Year’s, we’re revisiting some of the stories from the past months and years to catch readers up on what’s happened since we last reported. Got a story you’d like to hear more about, send us an email (Subject: “Whatever”) at newsroom@idahostatesman.com and we’ll try to get it updated.

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