Category: Archive

Apologizing for the quiet, man!

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Eileen Murphy

Finally caught up with Grand Marshal Maureen O’Hara, though, alas, not in time for last week’s deadline. Just when we’d given up hope of speaking with the Hollywood legend, the telephone rang at 2 p.m. on Tuesday and, lo and behold (or is that faith and begorrah?), sure ’twas none other than Mary Kate Danaher herself.

O’Hara apologized for the last-minute nature of the call, explaining that she’d just received the two letters we’d sent requesting an interview. "Oh, I’m sooo sorry," she said. "I just picked up my mail this minute, and I have your letter in my hand, along with some other requests."

We didn’t want to bore her with all the details about how vigorously the Echo had pursued the interview, leaving messages for the parade chairman and various other handlers. One of our colleagues was finally told that Ms. O’Hara was in California, and that she was "unreachable" except via mail — hence the letter that sat unopened in her mailroom for days. No need to make her feel worse. After all, she wasn’t the one who was avoiding us . . .

Anyway, O’Hara was in fine form and looking forward to leading the march up Fifth Avenue. We chatted about her jam-packed schedule, which included visits to most of the week’s important dinners and galas. Then there was a reception with the Japanese ambassador, before flying off to California to record a voiceover narrative for "The Quiet Man," to help blind people enjoy the movie.

After that, O’Hara was scheduled to fly to Ireland for the annual golf tournament dedicated to the memory of her late husband, Charles Blair.

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"I don’t golf myself," she confided. "Not anymore. I injured my hand many years ago."

How? We wondered.

"Jackie Gleason sat on my hand," she replied, as though it were the most common of everyday occurrences. "My hand was resting on a soft fence, and Jackie sort of fell on it."

"Celebrities have different problems from the rest of us," we laughed.

O’Hara sounded rueful. "Oh, I think the problems are the same for everyone," she replied. "It was actually pretty serious. I lost all the cartilage in my hand, and I was in a cast for a month."

Whoops. Open mouth, insert foot. We steered the conversation to a cheerier theme.

"It’s going to be such a thrill for your fans to see you lead the parade," we ventured. "So many of them are fans of ‘The Quiet Man’ and ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’ "

"Yes, isn’t it amazing?" she said.

Good. We were back on safe ground.

"You know, I heard that a signed ‘Quiet Man’ movie poster — one signed by Duke and myself — was recently auctioned off for a lot of money," she said.

"Isn’t that great!" we enthused.

"Well, you know we don’t get a penny for those movies these days," she retorted.

Come again?

"We don’t get residuals for any movie made before 1963." she said. "And they show ‘The Quiet Man’ and ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ at least once a year."

She didn’t sound happy about that, but she was philosophical.

"Mickey Rooney tried to do something about that years ago," she said. "But nothing came of it. And we weren’t paid huge amounts like the stars are now," she laughed. "But what can you do?"

Lend us a tenor (or three)!

Our new favorite thing on TV is the "Irish Tenors," which is playing, almost incessantly, on PBS stations around the country (this being the time of year and all). We’ve never been much for the hoighty-toighty school of singing — our idea of belle canto is Bruce Springsteen rather than Andrea Bocelli — but frankly, we’re hooked.

John McDermot, Anthony Kearns and Ronan Tynan are terrific — each has his own, distinctive style and sound. We must confess to having a mad crush on McDermot, though we’re not sure if it’s his laid-back singing style, the deep voice or the rakishly curly hair. Couldn’t help swooning over his touching rendition of "The Voyage," which was even better than the recording by Christy Moore.

Kearns is terrific, and his teen idol looks will no doubt attract a following of sighing ex-Boyzone fans. His voice is rich and wonderful, and he even managed to bring tears to our rather jaded eyes when he sang that old chestnut "Grace."

The standout number in the show, however, is Tynan’s sublime performance of "The Town I Loved So Well." The voice was pure perfection, and his delivery was dramatic without being schmaltzy.

The nicest thing about "The Irish Tenors" is that the singers have reclaimed so many classic Irish songs. It’s easy to dismiss old standards like "Toora-loora-loora (An Irish Lullabye)" and "Danny Boy" when they’re sung by crappy singers. The tenors give these songs back their dignity, and give us something fun to watch.

Makin’ Whoopie

Caught the Oscar telecast Sunday night, and good Lord, was it boring. First of all, Joan "What are you wearing?" Rivers was banished from the red carpet, which meant no bitchy comments about people’s outfits. Plus, someone must have told the celebrities about Joan’s past snippy comments, because this year, everyone looked nice: all the women looked like they’d been to a sample sale at Vera Wang, while the men wore boring tuxedos. Where’s Cher in a beaded fright with a hideous straw hat when you need her?

Whoopie Goldberg was back as Oscar host, which only made us long to for the subtle comedy of Billy Crystal. Whoopie wasn’t bad — just kind of dull, although she livened things up considerably when she let the s-word slip out during one of her jokes. "This is probably my last time hosting," she laughed. From her lips to God’s ears . . .

But the weirdest moment (for us) came when she introduced presenter Liam Neeson. Whoopie went on about how sexy and good-looking he was, and practically purred his name as he walked toward the podium. Poor Liam, past Oscar nominee and serious actor that he is, looked slightly mortified as he strode out, hands clasped behind his back, a solemn look on his face. Or maybe that was just our imagination.

In more Liam news, we hear that the Ballymena babe’s height wreaked havoc on the set of the new Star Wars movie "The Phantom Menace." Since much of the background was created digitally, Rick McCallum. the producer, planned to build sets just six feet tall — this would just clear the tops of the actors’ heads. Then the strapping Neeson was cast — all 6 feet, 4 inches of him. Said McCallum, "We had to raise the minimum height. He ruined my budget."


If you’re in NYC on Saturday night, and looking for some good music to go with your pint, don’t miss Irish newcomer Sharon Murphy, who’ll be appearing with Black 47 at Connolly’s on 47th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues. We hear, on good authority, that she’s terrific. And of course, Black 47 are always fab-u-lous. Call Connolly’s (212) 867-3767 for information.

We hear that Sinead O’Connor has given sole custody of her daughter to the child’s father, Irish journalist John Waters. Those of you with long memories will recall that O’Connor and Waters were locked in a fierce public-relations battle a few months ago, over allegations of child neglect, which were found to be groundless.

Oasis bad boy Liam Gallagher is ever so excited about the band’s long-awaited new album — he’s told reporters that he thinks the songs are "awesome. It’ll frighten you when you hear it." (Gosh, he’s such a scary talent!) So, listen in groups, in well-lit rooms, in daylight only. You’ve been warned.

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