|Born||Maureen Paula O'Sullivan
17 May 1911
Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland
|Died||23 June 1998
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||John Farrow (m. 1936–1963; his death; 7 children)
James Cushing (m. 1983–1998; her death)
O'Sullivan was born in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland, in 1911, the daughter of Mary (née Frazer) and Charles Joseph O'Sullivan, an officer in the Connaught Rangers who served in World War I. She was of Irish, English and Scottish ancestry. She attended a convent school in Dublin, then the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton (now Woldingham School), England. One of her classmates there was Vivian Mary Hartley, future Academy Award-winning actress Vivien Leigh. After attending finishing school in France, O'Sullivan returned to Dublin to work with the poor.
O'Sullivan's film career began when she met motion picture director Frank Borzage who was doing location filming on Song o' My Heart for 20th Century Fox. He suggested she take a screen test. She did and won a part in the movie, which starred Irish tenor John McCormack. She traveled to the United States to complete the movie in Hollywood. O'Sullivan appeared in six movies at Fox, then made three more at other movie studios.
In 1932, she signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. After several roles there and at other movie studios, she was chosen by Irving Thalberg to appear as Jane Parker in Tarzan the Ape Man, opposite co-star Johnny Weissmuller. She was one of the more popular ingenues at MGM throughout the 1930s and appeared in a number of other productions with various stars. In all, O'Sullivan played Jane in six features between 1932 and 1942.
She also starred with William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man (1934) and played Kitty in Anna Karenina (1935) with Greta Garbo and Basil Rathbone. She appeared as Molly Beaumont in A Yank at Oxford (1938), which was written partly by F. Scott Fitzgerald. At her request, he rewrote her part to give it substance and novelty.
She played another Jane in Pride and Prejudice (1940) with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, and supported Ann Sothern in Maisie Was a Lady (1941). After appearing in Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942), O'Sullivan asked MGM to release her from her contract so she could care for her husband who had just left the Navy with typhoid. She retreated from show business, devoting her time to her family. In 1948, she re-appeared on the screen in The Big Clock, directed by her husband for Paramount Pictures. She continued to appear occasionally in her husband's movies and on television. However, by 1960 she believed she had permanently retired. In 1958, Farrow's and O'Sullivan's eldest son, Michael, died in a plane crash in California.
Actor Pat O'Brien encouraged her to take a part in summer stock, and the play A Roomful of Roses opened in 1961. That led to another play, Never Too Late, in which she co-starred with Paul Ford in what was her Broadway debut. Shortly after it opened on Broadway John Farrow died of a heart attack. O'Sullivan stuck with acting after Farrow's death: she was the Today Girl for NBC for a while, then made the movie version of Never Too Late (1965) for Warner Bros.. She was also an executive director of a bridal consulting service, Wediquette International. In June and July 1972, O'Sullivan was in Denver, Colorado, to star in the Elitch Theatre production of Butterflies are Free with Karen Grassle and Brandon deWilde. The show ended on July 1, 1972. Five days later (on July 6, 1972), while still in Denver, deWilde was killed in a motor vehicle accident.
When her daughter, actress Mia Farrow, became involved with Woody Allen both professionally and romantically, she appeared in Hannah and Her Sisters, playing Farrow's mother. She had roles in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and the science fiction oddity Stranded (1987). Mia Farrow named one of her own sons Satchel Ronan O'Sullivan Farrow for her mother.
In 1994, O'Sullivan appeared with Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers in Hart to Hart: Home Is Where the Hart Is, a feature-length made-for-TV movie with the wealthy husband-and-wife team from the popular weekly detective series Hart to Hart.
O'Sullivan's first husband was Australian-born writer, award-winning director and Catholic convert John Farrow, from 12 September 1936 until his death on 28 January 1963. She and Farrow were the parents of seven children: Michael Damien (1939–1958), Patrick Joseph (1942–2009), Maria de Lourdes Villiers (Mia Farrow, born 1945), John Charles (born 1946), Prudence Farrow, Stephanie Farrow and Theresa Magdalena "Tisa" Farrow.
A widow for twenty years, O'Sullivan was married to her second husband, James Cushing, from 22 August 1983 until her death in 1998.
Maureen O'Sullivan died in Scottsdale, Arizona of complications from heart surgery on 23 June 1998, at age 87. O'Sullivan is buried at Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery, Niskayuna, New York, her widower's hometown. She was survived by her six surviving children, 32 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Michael, her oldest son, was killed in a plane crash in 1958.
O'Sullivan has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6541 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California, facing the star of Johnny Weissmuller. A black plaque marks her home on Main Street in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland. Just around the corner from there, opposite King House, is a tree, ceremonially planted by O'Sullivan to mark her return to her birthplace.
- So This Is London (1930)
- Song o' My Heart (1930)
- Just Imagine (1930)
- Princess and the Plumber (1930)
- A Connecticut Yankee (1931)
- Skyline (1931)
- The Big Shot (1931)
- Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)
- The Silver Lining (1932)
- Fast Companions (1932)
- Skyscraper Souls (1932)
- Okay, America! (1932)
- Payment Deferred (1932)
- Strange Interlude (1932)
- Robbers' Roost (1932)
- The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble (1933)
- Tugboat Annie (1933)
- Stage Mother (1933)
- Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
- The Thin Man (1934)
- Hide-Out (1934)
- The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)
- David Copperfield (1935)
- West Point of the Air (1935)
- Cardinal Richelieu (1935)
- The Flame Within (1935)
- Woman Wanted (1935)
- Anna Karenina (1935)
- The Bishop Misbehaves (1935)
- The Voice of Bugle Ann (1936)
- The Devil-Doll (1936)
- Tarzan Escapes (1936)
- A Day at the Races (1937)
- The Emperor's Candlesticks (1937)
- Between Two Women (1937)
- My Dear Miss Aldrich (1937)
- A Yank at Oxford (1938)
- Hold That Kiss (1938)
- Port of Seven Seas (1938)
- The Crowd Roars (1938)
- Spring Madness (1938)
- Let Us Live (1939)
- Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)
- Sporting Blood (1940)
- Pride and Prejudice (1940)
- Maisie Was a Lady (1941)
- Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941)
- Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942)
- The Big Clock (1948)
- Where Danger Lives (1950)
- No Resting Place (1951)
- At Sword's Point (1952)
- Bonzo Goes to College (1952)
- All I Desire (1953)
- Mission Over Korea (1953)
- Duffy of San Quentin (1954)
- The Steel Cage (1954)
- The Tall T (1957)
- Wild Heritage (1958)
- Never Too Late (1965)
- The Phynx (1970)
- Too Scared to Scream (1985)
- Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
- Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
- Stranded (1987)
- Hollywood Extra: The First Step (1936)
- Hollywood - The Second Step (1936)
- Unusual Occupations: Film Tot Holiday (1947)
- Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Shower of Stars (1955)
- Mandy's Grandmother (1978)
- Jukebox Jury (1953)
- Crossroads as Mrs. Day in "The Man Who Walked on Water" (1957)
- The Today Show (Today Girl, 1963–1964)
- The Great Houdini (1976)
- All My Children (cast member in 1981)
- Morning's at Seven (1982)
- Guiding Light (Miss Emma Witherspoon in 1984)
- Search for Tomorrow (cast member in 1985)
- Good Old Boy: A Delta Boyhood (1988)
- With Murder in Mind (1992)
- The Habitation of Dragons (1992)
- Hart to Hart: Home Is Where the Hart Is (1994)
- Maureen O'Sullivan genealogy, showing mother's true maiden name
- Film Reference profile for Maureen O'Sullivan
- Biodata, imdb.com; accessed 12 March 2014.
- Child, Ben (28 December 2011). "Chimp claimed as Cheetah from the Tarzan films dies". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 8 January 2012.
- Remembering Brandon.net/A Word on the Elitch Theatre
- McLean, Patrisha, All Fall Down, The Brandon deWilde Story c. 2012, Faces, Incorporated, pp. 170, 173; ISBN 978-1936447121
- California Births 1905-1995
- O'Sullivan was the matriarch of a large and growing family
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Maureen O'Sullivan.|
- Official website
- Maureen O'Sullivan at the Internet Movie Database
- Maureen O'Sullivan at the Internet Broadway Database
- Maureen O'Sullivan as "Jane" Photo Gallery
- Photographs of Maureen O'Sullivan