Maureen Paula O'Sullivan (1911 – 1998) was an Irish-born American actress best remembered for her role as Jane Parker in the 1930s series of Tarzan films. She was also the mother of actress Mia Farrow. When told that Frank Sinatra was hoping to marry her daughter, she memorably quipped "At his age, he should marry me!"
Born in Boyle, and raised on Main Street, she was privately educated at convent schools in Dublin, and Roehampton (England) followed by finishing school in France. Age 18, O'Sullivan then returned to Dublin to work with the poor. Filming on location in Ireland, director Frank Borzage noticed her at a Dublin's International Horse Show dinner-dance. He had the waiter send her a note: "If you are interested in being in a film, come to my office tomorrow at 11 am", and subsequently he cast her as Eileen O'Brien in Song O' My Heart starring the tenor John McCormack.
In October 1929, she sailed to New York with her mother on the British steamer R.M.S. Baltic, to work for Fox Film in Hollywood. O'Sullivan appeared in six movies at Fox, then made three more at other movie studios. In 1932 she was signed to a contract by MGM and immediately cast as Jane in Tarzan, The Ape Man with the Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller as her co-star.
O'Sullivan was one of the more popular ingenues at MGM throughout the 1930s and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6541 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. Her career was a long and distinguished one, including performances in such major Hollywood films as The Thin Man, Pride and Prejudice, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Anna Karenina, A Day at the Races, The Big Clock, and later Hannah and Her Sisters, in which she played mother to her daughter Mia. In 1982, she was awarded The George Eastman Award for distinguished contribution to the art of film. Maureen O'Sullivan's handprints can also be found at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park (in front of The Great Movie Ride).
In 1942, she settled down to raise a large family. Maureen O'Sullivan became a US citizen on October 22, 1947 [Naturalization Petition #133033] and returned to films in 1948. In the mid-1950s she hosted a television show, Irish Heritage, but spent most of her time nursing Mia through a bout of polio. In 1958 her son Michael was killed in an aeroplane crash while taking flying lessons and in 1963 her husband died. O'Sullivan was working in theatre at that time, having opened in a hit comedy Never Too Late in 1962, for which she received the best notices of her career.
BOYLE REACHING OUT
Maureen returned to Boyle in 1988 to be honoured by the town. A black plaque marks her home on Main Street in Boyle, County Roscommon. Just around the corner from there, opposite King House is a tree, ceremonially planted by O'Sullivan to mark her return to her birthplace. There, she famously said:
“My life has come full circle. Today that circle has kind of closed and I am home again where I was born and where my happiest days were spent. I have lived in a great many places but the best part of me I owe to Boyle. Its influence, Lough Key, the countryside, has given me whatever poetry is in my soul, whatever love I have of God. Whatever it is, it comes from here”.
In 1998, Maureen O'Sullivan died of complications from heart surgery, age 87. She is interred at Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery, New York.
|Date of Birth||17th May 1911|
|Date of Death||23rd Jun 1998|
|Associated Building (s)||King House BOYLE|
|Mother (First Name/s and Maiden)||Mary Eva Lovatt (née Frazer)||VIEW SOURCE|
|Father (First Name/s and Surname)||Charles Joseph O'Sullivan, an officer in the Connaught Rangers who served in World War I.|
|Townland born||Boyle, Co. Roscommon|
|Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname)||John Villiers Farrow m. 12 September 1936 (widowed in 1963) James Cushing m. 22 August 1983 (until she died in 1998).|
|Number of Children||7|
|Names of Children||Michael Damien (1939–1958), Patrick J (Patrick Villiers Farrow, 1942–2009), Maria de Lourdes Villiers (Mia Farrow, b. 1945), John Charles (b. 1946) Prudence Farrow (b. 1948), Stephanie Farrow (b. 1949) and Theresa Magdalena "Tisa" Farrow (b.1951).|
|Place of Death||Phoenix, Arizona|