Maureen O'Sullivan

Actor, Writer
This petite, brunette Irish colleen was discovered by ace Hollywood filmmaker Frank Borzage at the International Horse Show in Dublin in 1930 and subsequently enjoyed a lengthy career in film, TV and onstage. After ... Read more »
Born: 05/16/1911 in Ireland

Filmography

Actor (62)

All My Children 1969 - 2011 (TV Show)

Actor

Tarzan: The Legacy of Edgar Rice Burroughs 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Jean Harlow: Platinum Bombshell 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

MGM: When the Lion Roars 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Happy Birthday, Hollywood! 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Stranded 1987 (Movie)

Grace Clark (Actor)

Hannah and Her Sisters 1986 (Movie)

Norma--Hannah's Mother (Actor)

Peggy Sue Got Married 1986 (Movie)

Elizabeth Alvorg (Actor)

Traveller 1982 (Movie)

(Actor)

Too Scared to Scream 1981 (Movie)

Mother (Actor)

The Phynx 1969 (Movie)

(Actor)

Never Too Late 1965 (Movie)

Edith Lambert (Actor)

The Lux Video Theater 1950 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

Matinee Theater 1955 - 1958 (TV Show)

Actor

Cavalcade of America 1952 - 1957 (TV Show)

Actor

Crossroads 1955 - 1957 (TV Show)

Actor

The Tall T 1957 (Movie)

Doretta Mims (Actor)

Wild Heritage 1957 (Movie)

Emma Breslin (Actor)

All I Desire 1953 (Movie)

Sara Harper (Actor)

Hollywood Opening Night 1950 - 1953 (TV Show)

Actor

Bonzo Goes to College 1951 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Day at the Races 1936 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Devil-Doll 1935 (Movie)

Lorraine--Lavond's Daughter (Actor)

Anna Karenina 1934 (Movie)

(Actor)

David Copperfield 1934 (Movie)

(Actor)

Hide-Out 1933 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Thin Man 1933 (Movie)

Dorothy (Actor)

Just Imagine 1929 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Yank at Oxford (Movie)

Molly Beaumont (Actor)

Cardinal Richelieu (Movie)

Lenore (Actor)

Good Old Boy (TV Show)

Actor

Hold That Kiss (Movie)

June Evans (Actor)

Let Us Live (Movie)

Mary Roberts (Actor)

Maisie Was a Lady (Movie)

Abigail Rawlston (Actor)

Mandy's Grandmother (TV Show)

Actor

Port of Seven Seas (Movie)

Madelon (Actor)

Pride and Prejudice (Movie)

Jane Bennet (Actor)

Skyscraper Souls (Movie)

Lynn Harding (Actor)

So This Is London (Movie)

Elinor Worthing (Actor)

Song O' My Heart (Movie)

Eileen O'Brien (Actor)

Sporting Blood (Movie)

Linda Lockwood (Actor)

Stage Mother (Movie)

Shirley Lorraine (Actor)

Tarzan Escapes (Movie)

Jane Parker (Actor)

Tarzan Finds a Son! (Movie)

Jane (Actor)

Tarzan and His Mate (Movie)

Jane Parker (Actor)

Tarzan's New York Adventure (Movie)

Jane (Actor)

Tarzan's Secret Treasure (Movie)

Jane (Actor)

Tarzan, the Ape Man (Movie)

Jane Parker (Actor)

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (Movie)

Henrietta Barrett (Actor)

The Big Clock (Movie)

Georgette Stroud (Actor)

The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble (Movie)

Mollie Kelly (Actor)

The Crooked Hearts (TV Show)

Actor

The Crowd Roars (Movie)

Sheila Carson (Actor)

The Emperor's Candlesticks (Movie)

Maria (Actor)

The Great Houdinis (TV Show)

Actor

The Habitation of Dragons (TV Show)

Actor

The Voice of Bugle Ann (Movie)

Camden Terry (Actor)

Tugboat Annie (Movie)

Pat Severn (Actor)

West Point of the Air (Movie)

Skip Carter (Actor)

Where Danger Lives (Movie)

Julie (Actor)

With Murder in Mind (TV Show)

Actor
Production Management (1)

A Rock 'n' Roll Summit 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Line Producer

Biography

This petite, brunette Irish colleen was discovered by ace Hollywood filmmaker Frank Borzage at the International Horse Show in Dublin in 1930 and subsequently enjoyed a lengthy career in film, TV and onstage. After being convent-educated near London and sent to a finishing school in Paris, O'Sullivan accepted Borzage's offer, signed with Fox Studios and soon found herself in Hollywood cast opposite legendary Irish tenor John McCormack in the early sound musical, "Song o' My Heart" (1930). The film was poor and McCormack didn't catch on with filmgoers, but the lovely ingenue soon found herself in the bizarre science-fiction musical "Just Imagine" (1930) and supporting Will Rogers in a fun version of "A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court" (1931).

O'Sullivan was signed by MGM in 1932, where she would remain for the next decade. She soon played--for the first of six times--the most famous role of her career, the demure but scantily clad Jane, saved by and later wed to the king of the jungle in "Tarzan the Ape Man" (1932). The other five films O'Sullivan made with former Olympic swimmer Johnny Weismuller ranged from the superior "Tarzan and His Mate" (1934) to the odd "Tarzan's New York Adventure" (1942) before O'Sullivan retired for six years to raise her family by director John Farrow, whom she had married in 1936.

Remarkably prolific in the 30s, O'Sullivan wasn't quite a top star, typically playing leads in "B" films and programmers, and ingenue second leads in bigger productions. Examples of the former include the punchy gangster saga "Okay America" (1932), the spicy pre-Production Code dramas "Skyscraper Souls" (1932) and "Stage Mother" (1933), the superior horror film "The Devil Doll" (1936), the amusing comedy "The Bishop Misbehaves" and the fine suspenser "Woman Wanted" (both 1935). Always in gentle, sympathetic roles, O'Sullivan handsomely supported major stars like Norma Shearer in "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" (1934, very touching as the helpless Henrietta), Marie Dressler in "Tugboat Annie" (1933), Ann Harding in "The Flame Within" (1935), Greta Garbo in "Anna Karenina" (1935), and William Powell and Myrna Loy in "The Thin Man" (1934, as a damsel in distress). She provided the requisite romance in the Marx Brothers farce "A Day at the Races" (1937), dallied with Robert Taylor in "A Yank at Oxford" (1938), and was particularly fine as the spirited Greer Garson's sweet, more conventional sister in "Pride and Prejudice" (1940).

Returning to acting after six years, O'Sullivan played prominent but somewhat incidental romantic leads in two good noirs directed by Farrow, "The Big Clock" (1948) and "Where Danger Lives" (1950). Too old for ingenue roles and working in a Hollywood whose dominant Irish female was the more fiery Maureen O'Hara, O'Sullivan alternated standardized leading lady roles with supporting turns in good second-tier films like Douglas Sirk's "All I Desire" (1953) and Budd Boetticher's "The Tall T" (1957). Occasional clinkers like "Bonzo Goes to College" (1952) paled beside good TV work on the dramatic anthologies "Fireside Theater", "Matinee Theater" and "Star Stage". She also hosted a syndicated TV anthology for the young, "The Children's Hour" (1951).

After Farrow died in 1963 and her seven children (including actors Mia and Tisa Farrow) grew into adulthood, O'Sullivan increasing busied herself with stage work, which, over the next several decades included revivals of "The Front Page" and "Morning's at Seven". The Broadway hit "Never Too Late" had O'Sullivan sweetly amusing as a middle-aged expectant mother, a role she recreated for the 1965 film version. TV work picked up in the 70s and beyond with a season on the daytime soap "All My Children" and dignified roles in the TV-movies "The Crooked Hearts" (ABC, 1972), "Mandy's Grandmother" (syndicated, 1980) and "With Murder in Mind" (CBS, 1992). A handful of feature roles cropped up too: O'Sullivan proved anew that a sensitive actor existed alongside the persona of the likable, demure lassie with her striking work as the heroine's (Mia Farrow) drunken mother in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986).

Relationships

Charles Joseph O'Sullivan

Father

Mary Lovatt O'Sullivan

Mother

James Cushing

Husband
married on August 22, 1983 survived her

Mia Farrow Actor

Daughter

John Farrow

Husband
married from September 12, 1936 until his death on January 27, 1963 received papal dispensation to marry as Farrow was divorced he had served as the screenwriter for one of the "Tarzan" films she starred in, "Tarzan Escapes" (1936) later directed O'Sullivan in "The Big Clock" (1948) and "Where Danger Lives" (1950)

Prudence Farrow

Daughter
survived her

Stephanie Farrow

Daughter
survived her

Theresa Farrow

Daughter
has acted in features including "Homer" (1970) and "Winter Kills" (1979) survived her

John Farrow

Son
appeared in "John Paul Jones", directed by his father survived her

Michael Farrow

Son
died in a plane crash in 1958

Patrick Farrow

Son
survived her

EDUCATION

educated in convents in Dublin and London; attended finishing school in Paris, France

Milestones

1996

Was an interview subject for the A&E series "Biography" in episodes on Jean Harlow and Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs

1995

Was played by actress Heidi von Palleske in the biographical TV miniseries portrait of O'Sullivan's daughter, "Love and Betrayal: The Mia Farrow Story"

1994

Final screen acting role in the NBC TV-movie "Hart to Hart: Home Is Where the Heart Is"

1987

Final film role, "Stranded"

1986

Played mother of Mia Farrow in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters"

1981

Began appearing occasionally in features again after a decade absence: made only non-US feature credit other than "A Yank at Oxford" (1938), "Traveller", a film co-produced by Ireland and the UK

1972

First TV-movie, "The Crooked Hearts"; acted in support of Rosalind Russell and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

1969

Made a cameo appearance as herself, along with many other well-known personalities of the 1930s and 40s, in the film, "The Phynx"

1969

Appeared as Olive Whalen on the ABC TV daytime soap opera, "All My Children"

1965

Returned to films to play a prominent role in the adaptation of the stage comedy, "Never Too Late", reprising the role she had played on Broadway

1958

Again left films after "The Wild Heritage"

1951

Hosted the syndicated children's anthology series, "The Children's Hour", which presented hour-long films aimed at young audiences

1948

Returned to features as the female romantic lead in "The Big Clock", starring Ray Milland and Charles Laughton; film was directed by her husband John Farrow

1941

Made last of six screen appearances as Jane in the "Tarzan" series, "Tarzan's New York Adventure"; was also last film for six years; retired from the screen to raise family

1938

Journeyed to England to make an MGM film opposite Robert Taylor, "A Yank at Oxford"

1936

Made first of six films at MGM with journeyman contract director Richard Thorpe, "The Voice of Bugle Ann"

1932

Made first Tarzan film opposite Johnny Weismuller, "Tarzan the Ape Man"

1930

Was under contract to Fox Film Corp.

1930

Feature acting debut, "Song O' My Heart"

1930

Discovered by Hollywood director Frank Borzage at Dublin's International Horse Show

Acted in stage productions in the 1960s, including "The Front Page," "No Sex Please, We're British," and "Never Too Late"

Under contract with MGM, Culver City

Returned to Broadway to play a prominent supporting role in the acclaimed revival of Paul Osborn's 1939 play, "Morning's at Seven"

Briefly a member of NBC-TV's "Today Show" team as the "Today Girl" (date approximate)

Contributed short stories to various magazines

Bonus Trivia

.

O'Sullivan received the Lateran Cross from the Vatican in 1958.

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