O'Hara's film career began in 1938 after she was discovered by screen legend Charles Laughton. Among her most famous films are the Alfred Hitchcock thriller "Jamaica Inn" (1939), 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939), "How Green Was My Valley" (1941), "Rio Grande" (1950), "The Quiet Man" (1952), and — opposite the late John Candy — "Only the Lonely" (1991).
O'Hara is perhaps best-known for her roles in the holiday classic "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947) and as a divorcée tricked into reuniting with her ex by her meddling kids in the original "The Parent Trap" (1961).
Glamorous O'Hara at the height of her stardom [Credit: Hulton/Getty Images]
Her family remembered, "As much as Maureen cherished her privacy, she always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life. She especially loved it when children recognised her from her role in 'Miracle on 34th Street' and asked her: 'Are you the lady who knows Santa Claus?' She always answered: 'Yes, I am. What would you like me to tell him?'"
O'Hara in 2014 [Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]
Announcing her death today, a family statement read: "It is with a sad heart that we share the news that Maureen O'Hara passed away today in her sleep of natural causes. Maureen was our loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She passed peacefully surrounded by her loving family as they celebrated her life listening to music from her favorite movie, 'The Quiet Man.'"
The family noted O'Hara's movie career and her life's work, writing, "Her characters were feisty and fearless, just as she was in real life. She was also proudly Irish and spent her entire lifetime sharing her heritage and the wonderful culture of the Emerald Isle with the world."
O'Hara, a private woman, emerged last year to accept an honorary Oscar, given to her by Clint Eastwood and Liam Neeson, and to attend the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival. At that time, she granted a rare interview to TCM host Robert Osborne: