Monday, September 27, 2010

Maureen O’Hara Jumped Out of the 'Saddle'

When RKO Radio Pictures began promoting its upcoming films for the 1944 season, Maureen O’Hara was announced as John Wayne’s Tall In The Saddle co-star (this ad spread from the studio's exhibitor book confirms it). But by the time shooting began, O’Hara was out and Ella Raines was in as the female lead. Tall, shot partially on location in Sedona, would have been the first teaming of the soon-to-be legendary screen couple; they eventually made five films together, starting with Rio Grande in 1950 and ending with 1971’s Big Jake.––Joe McNeill


  1. I don't know where the author secured this information but I've known Maureen O'Hara for over 16 years, am her archivist and design and edit her official website "Maureen O'Hara Magazine" - but I have NEVER heard that she was to initially co-star with Duke in "Tall in the Saddle." She was supposed to co-star with him in "Rooster Cogburn" and Ford also wanted her for Ava Gardner's role in "Magambo" opposite Clark Gable. She had prior film commitments. She didn't even mention this in her autobiography, nor did any biographer on John Ford (and there are many) mention this casting change.

    She was also cast by Zanuck for the lead in "The King and I" and was replaced with Deborah Kerr. Supposedly Richard Rodgers said, "No pirate queen is going to play my Anna." Too bad, Maureen had a beautiful soprano voice as well.

  2. Junebug, the ad from the 1944 RKO exhibitors book speaks for itself so I stand by my post.

    I can't tell you why the information about Ms. O'Hara's casting in "Tall in the Saddle" has not been published before. The exhibitors book is easy to find in the collections of film archives; I first came across a copy years ago.

    I'm sure you're aware that many announced film projects and castings don't actually happen. As case in point, the same 1944 exhibitors book trumpets RKO's production of "The Robe" and that film didn't hit theaters until 1953––made by Twentieth Century–Fox.

    When you next speak with Ms. O'Hara, please ask what she recalls of the announcement of her casting in "Tall in the Saddle." I'd love to hear what she says, so please forward her comments!