Actress Maureen O'Hara Gets Star Billing in Two New Roles: Publisher and Airline Executive
In 1939 a freckle-faced Maureen O’Hara (née FitzSimmons) made her film debut opposite Charles Laughton in Jamaica Inn. She was 17. The Dublin-born actress has since heaved her treasurable chest in more than 50 films that still charm late-show insomniacs.
Now the 54-year-old O’Hara has two new careers. She is executive vice president of Antilles Air Boats, and six months ago she became the owner and only columnist of the Virgin Islander, a monthly tourist magazine sold in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.
Her airline job came in 1968 with her third husband, Charles F. Blair, a retired Air Force brigadier general and former Pan Am pilot who made the first solo flight over the North Pole in 1951. Over the past dozen years, Blair has built up a fleet of seaplanes which fly tourists among the Caribbean islands. His company employs 30 pilots.
In an at-home office that she shares with her husband, O’Hara works at a stand-up desk because of a bad back. “I fell off too many horses in my lifetime,” she explains. She has designed umbrellas, T-shirts, flight bags, place mats, yard goods and even watches with the corporate trademark that she hopes to sell on the company’s planes and in terminals. She oversees her magazine staff of five via the telephone and quick plane trips to the office on the nearby island of Tortola.
The Blair home overlooks the Christiansted Harbor on St. Croix. “We’re really recluses up here,” says O’Hara. But visitors do come, like Antilles stockholders Victor Borge and Lauren Bacall, and Maureen’s daughter Bronwyn and child. The only other permanent resident is the Blairs’ Belgian shepherd, Macgillicuddy.
Maureen, who made her last film in 1973, says she would consider a return to the screen in a romantic comedy. Blair, however, frowns at the very suggestion that his bride might appear in the arms of the likes of Cary Grant. “I’m very conservative and wouldn’t like that,” he says.