Actor Maureen O’Hara and movie star John Wayne both had a great deal of respect for one another. It ran deeper than their opinion of one another as working professionals with erotic chemistry. Rather, they had an appreciation for each other as people outside of the Hollywood scene. However, they didn’t always see eye-to-eye. O’Hara once went as far as to hide on the floor under a window to avoid having to go drinking with Wayne while filming McLintock!.
McLintock! tells the story of a mature rancher named George Washington McLintock (Wayne) who became wealthy through his own hard work. He doesn’t have to deal with financial issues, but he certainly has a slew of personal problems. Everybody wants a piece of his land, including corrupt government officials. Meanwhile, George continues to encounter difficulties with his stubborn wife, Katherine (O’Hara).
The press at the time thought that Wayne and O’Hara had a romance going on behind the scenes. However, they always denied any such allegations. Rather, they had a close working relationship and friendship that ran deep.
Ronald L. Davis’ book, Duke: The Life and Legend of John Wayne, asserted that Wayne always saw and treated O’Hara like “one of the guys.” He would often roughhouse with her and joke around with her to get more emotion out of her in performances, especially while filming McLintock!.
One night after working on the set, Wayne was going to go drinking with the stuntmen, but he wanted O’Hara to go along with them. She thought, “Oh, Holy God, I don’t want to go out with the cowboys and be out all night.” Therefore, she had to come up with some way to get out of the situation.
O’Hara told Wayne that she had to use the bathroom first and went back to the hotel, hoping that if she stayed in there long enough, he would go on without her. However, he waited around for quite some time until he came looking for her. O’Hara hid on the floor pressed against the wall under a window to avoid getting detected.
Wayne finally came knocking on the door wondering where she was, but she remained quiet. “I could see him,” O’Hara said. “And I thought, ‘Oh, God, if he looks down, I’m gonna be killed.” Fortunately for her, he couldn’t see her, and he ultimately went out drinking without her.
McLintock! wasn’t the first time that O’Hara and Wayne worked together. They starred in three movies previously, originally starting with 1950’s Rio Grande. However, they only made the Western to get financial support for 1952’s The Quiet Man, which truly solidified them as a powerful on-screen couple. Before they moved on to McLintock!, they starred in The Wings of Eagles in 1957. Their final picture together was 1971’s Big Jake.
The acting pair certainly had an on-screen relationship that differed quite a bit from how they felt about one another in real life. Their ability to switch between romance, drama, and comedy left a lasting impression on both critics and audiences.