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For other people named Maureen O'Sullivan, see Maureen O'Sullivan (disambiguation).
Maureen O'Sullivan
Born Maureen Paula O'Sullivan
(1911-05-17)17 May 1911
Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland
Died 23 June 1998(1998-06-23) (aged 87)
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
Occupation Actress, Singer
Years active 1930–94
Religion Roman Catholic[1]
Spouse(s) John Farrow (m. 1936–1963; his death; 7 children)
James Cushing (m. 1983–1998; her death)
Children Michael Damien (1939–1958)
Patrick Villiers Farrow
Mia Farrow
John Charles (b. 1946)[2]
Prudence Farrow
Stephanie Farrow
Tisa Farrow

Maureen Paula O'Sullivan (17 May 1911 – 23 June 1998) was an Irish-American actress best known for playing Jane in the Tarzan series of films starring Johnny Weissmuller.

Early life[edit]

O'Sullivan was born in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland, in 1911, the daughter of Mary (née Frazer)[3] and Charles Joseph O'Sullivan, an officer in the Connaught Rangers who served in World War I.[4] She was of Irish, English and Scottish ancestry.[5] 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.

Film career[edit]

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.[6]

In Pride and Prejudice, 1940

She 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. After co-starring with the Marx Bros in A Day At The Races (1937), 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, while still in Denver, deWilde was killed in a motor vehicle accident.[7][8]

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 Ronan O'Sullivan Farrow for her mother. In 1994, she 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.

The handprints of Maureen O'Sullivan in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

Personal life[edit]

O'Sullivan's first husband was Australian-born writer, award-winning director and Catholic convert John Villiers 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 (Patrick Villiers Farrow,1942–2009), Maria de Lourdes Villiers (Mia Farrow, born 1945), John Charles (born 1946),[2] 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 became a US citizen on October 22, 1947 (Petition for Naturalization #133033), Los Angeles, California.[9]


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, Mr. Cushing's hometown. She was survived by six of her children, 32 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Michael, her oldest son, was killed at age 19 in a plane crash in 1958.[10]


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.

In 1982, O'Sullivan was awarded The George Eastman Award, given by George Eastman House for distinguished contribution to the art of film.


Feature films

Short subjects

  • 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)

Television work[edit]

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1941 Philip Morris Playhouse Night Must Fall[11]


  1. ^ "Maureen O'Sullivan, Movie Tarzan's 'Jane,' Dies at 87". The New York Times, June 24, 1998
  2. ^ a b California Births 1905-1995
  3. ^ Maureen O'Sullivan genealogy, showing mother's true maiden name
  4. ^ Profile, filmreference.com; accessed 22 September 2015.
  5. ^ Biodata, imdb.com; accessed 12 March 2014.
  6. ^ Child, Ben (28 December 2011). "Chimp claimed as Cheetah from the Tarzan films dies". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Remembering Brandon.net/A Word on the Elitch Theatre
  8. ^ McLean, Patrisha, All Fall Down, The Brandon deWilde Story c. 2012, Faces, Incorporated, pp. 170, 173; ISBN 978-1936447121
  9. ^ O'Sullivan Petition for Naturalization #133033, ancestry.com; accessed 22 September 2015.
  10. ^ O'Sullivan was the matriarch of a large and growing family
  11. ^ ""Playhouse" Star". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 18, 1941. p. 27. Retrieved July 21, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maureen_O'Sullivan — Please support Wikipedia.
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1097 news items


Thu, 29 Oct 2015 19:48:45 -0700

The brother of late Independent TD Tony Gregory has endorsed Christy Burke for the general election and not Maureen O'Sullivan, who considers herself the "Gregory candidate'". Noel Gregory has publicly supported the former Lord Mayor's bid for the Dail.

Irish Independent

Irish Independent
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 18:26:15 -0800

Michael Lowry, Michael Healy Rae, Noel Grealish and Maureen O'Sullivan are the names most mentioned in Fine Gael circles as solid types who would make an agreement and stick to it. Despite the ridiculing of O'Connor's warning, right now a single-party, ...

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 05:12:29 -0800

He and Natalie Portman, who plays astrophysicist and love interest Jane Foster, are like an updated version of Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan in the Tarzan movies: he grunts; she gets the message. Hemsworth appears relaxed in the role, only ...

WBAL Baltimore

WBAL Baltimore
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 11:22:52 -0800

The collection includes 17 rare Hollywood Golden Age posters with stars like Clark Gable, Maureen O'Sullivan, Jean Harlow and Jimmy Durante. The collection is worth an estimated $240,000. It includes a one-of-a-kind 1932 "Tarzan" poster that sold for ...

The Journal News | LoHud.com

The Journal News | LoHud.com
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 20:18:45 -0800

Fox Lane's 200 medley relay of senior Maureen O'Sullivan, freshman Margaret Kleinsmith, junior Jamie Lee and eighth-grader Noelle Kaufman lowered their Section 1 record with a time of 1:47.25. Clarkstown junior Kelly Malyszka, Horace Greeley senior ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Thu, 19 Nov 2015 05:00:05 -0800

Robert Basta, 56, and his two sons Bob and Dylan stumbled on a stash of 17 movie theater posters while renovating their home in southern Pennsylvania. They feature stars like Clarke Gable, Maureen O'Sullivan and Laurel and Hardy at the peak of their ...
Newcastle Herald
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 04:00:00 -0800

Dear Maureen O'Sullivan Davidson from Swansea (''Advantages to secular society'', Letters 20/11), I agree with you wholeheartedly. Fortunately religion is diminishing in power as people become educated and encouraged to think and foster ideas for ...

Ithaca Journal

Ithaca Journal
Tue, 17 Nov 2015 10:11:15 -0800

“Hannah and Her Sisters”: One of Woody Allen's mid-career finest, this pitch-perfect film begins and ends with Thanksgiving dinners. Allen, Michael Caine, Mia Farrow, Carrie Fisher, Maureen O'Sullivan, Max Von Sydow and Dianne Wiest co-star in this gem ...

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