Maureen Paula O'Sullivan (17 May 1911 – 23 June 1998) was an Irish-born American-based actress best known for playing Jane in the Tarzanseries of films starring Johnny Weissmüller.
O'Sullivan was born in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland in 1911, the daughter of Mary Lovatt (née Fraser) and Charles Joseph O'Sullivan, an officer in the Connaught Rangers who served in World War I. She attended a convent school in Dublin, then the Convent of the Sacred Heart atRoehampton (now Woldingham School). 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.
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.
in Pride and Prejudice
She also 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. 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 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 (on July 6, 1972), while still in Denver, deWilde was killed in a motor vehicle accident.
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 Satchel Ronan O'Sullivan Farrow for her mother.
The handprints of Maureen O'Sullivan in front ofThe Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World'sDisney's Hollywood Studios theme park.
In 1994, O'Sullivan 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.
O'Sullivan's first husband was Australian-born writer, award-winning director and Catholic convert John Farrow, from September 12, 1936 until his death on January 28, 1963. She and Farrow were the parents of seven children: Michael Damien (1939–1958), Patrick Joseph (1942–2009), Maria de Lourdes Villiers (Mia Farrow), John Charles (born 1946), Prudence Farrow, Stephanie Farrow and Theresa Magdalena "Tisa" Farrow.
In November, 2012 Farrow's youngest son, John Charles Villers-Farrow, was charged with sexually abusing several children near his home inEdgewater, Maryland.
A widow for twenty years, O'Sullivan was married to her second husband, James Cushing, from 22 August 1983 until her death.
Maureen O'Sullivan died in Scottsdale, Arizona of complications from heart surgery on 23 June 1998, at age 87. O'Sullivan is buried in the Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Niskayuna, New York, her widower's hometown.
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.