A NEVER BEFORE SEEN CACHE OF LOVE LETTERS FROM JOHN FORD TO MAUREEN O'HARA, WRITTEN DURING THE PERIOD FORD WAS DEVELOPING THE SCRIPT TO THE QUIET MAN

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Lot 52
A NEVER BEFORE SEEN CACHE OF LOVE LETTERS FROM JOHN FORD TO MAUREEN O'HARA, WRITTEN DURING THE PERIOD FORD WAS DEVELOPING THE SCRIPT TO THE QUIET MAN

Sold for US$ 75,000 inc. premium
A NEVER BEFORE SEEN CACHE OF LOVE LETTERS FROM JOHN FORD TO MAUREEN O'HARA, WRITTEN DURING THE PERIOD FORD WAS DEVELOPING THE SCRIPT TO THE QUIET MAN
12 Autograph Letters Signed ("Sean," "Sean Aloysius," "Sean Aloysius O Feeney / John Ford" and "Pappy"), 33 pp recto and verso, various sizes (legal folio to 8vo), various places including Ireland, Korea, Maryland and Miami, November 19, 1950 to February 12, 1951, to Maureen O'Hara, on various stationeries, many with original autograph transmittal envelopes; 3 letters possibly incomplete.

In her autobiography, O'Hara describes how her professional relationship with John Ford, who had directed her in How Green Was My Valley and Rio Grande, took a strange turn once his long-time dream project, The Quiet Man, went into production. As O'Hara headed to Australia to film Kangaroo, Ford flew to Ireland with Ward Bond in tow to scout locations, seek inspiration, and flesh out the story. From on board the plane to Ireland, he began to compose the first of a series of what can only be called love letters that surprised and puzzled her. O'Hara's explanation is that, as Ford immersed himself in the story of Sean Thornton and Mary Kate Danaher, and as she was the only actress ever considered to play the part of Mary Kate, the director fell in love with his film's love interest, and by extension with his leading lady.
From the December 19th missive: "[Darling Maisin, I have a great need of you—a great physical urge—not the body but the heart—if I could only see you, just to hear you laugh] / I'm sorry about the mail business, the distance makes things tough, but I'm not expecting too much. You've a job to do—that comes first. You know my dear, that whatever you feel like doing or do is OK with me. I'm so grateful for the few weeks of happiness you've given me (few weeks! It was a lifetime!) You're still my darling loyal girl—come hell or high water & I'll always love & revere you. Please think kindly of me, not much—a little bit.
BUSINESS: I think honestly we're getting a great story. The girl's part is simply terrific! It's the best part I've ever read for a gal, dramatic, comedic, wistful, pathetic—yet full of hell & fire, passionate & sweet. For goodness sake & your family's sake, bend every effort to get it. This is my farewell to movies & I want it good. It will be only great if you play it for I [sic] written it—guided it—slanted it for you. As my last picture—if the shootin' war holds off. I can only force myself to enthusiasm if you & Duke are present—"

There may be more to the story than O'Hara lets on in her memoir, however, as the letters grow increasingly more urgent and affectionate, counting the days until the two are in the same town again. Ford's biographers have noted that the director maneuvered to have O'Hara's room next to his at Ashford Castle during the filming of The Quiet Man, and that everyone on set saw how besotted he was with her, though few believed that she returned his attentions.
Because of the personal nature of these letters, the FitzSimons family has asked Bonhams to publish in the catalogue only the text that has already appeared in O'Hara's autobiography, and to require all previewers of this lot to sign a non-disclosure agreement to not reveal the contents before or after the sale unless the signer is the winning bidder. The letters will be on site at both the Los Angeles and New York previews, but they will be viewed by appointment only. For more information, please contact the department directly.
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A NEVER BEFORE SEEN CACHE OF LOVE LETTERS FROM JOHN FORD TO MAUREEN O'HARA, WRITTEN DURING THE PERIOD FORD WAS DEVELOPING THE SCRIPT TO THE QUIET MAN
A NEVER BEFORE SEEN CACHE OF LOVE LETTERS FROM JOHN FORD TO MAUREEN O'HARA, WRITTEN DURING THE PERIOD FORD WAS DEVELOPING THE SCRIPT TO THE QUIET MAN
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