Most moviegoers remember John Wayne for his roles in war films and westerns. His legacy is that of a big-screen cowboy and soldier. However, the Duke was not a one (or two) trick pony. In fact, he took on a variety of roles during his long Hollywood career. One of those was a role in the 1952 romance/drama/comedy The Quiet Man. The film features Wayne as a retired Irish-American boxer who returns to his birthplace in Ireland. While there, he falls in love with a local woman.
The most interesting thing about The Quiet Man isn’t the fact that it features John Wayne playing against type. In fact, that’s the least of it. The really intriguing thing about this film is the mystery surrounding one of its final scenes.
In that scene, the female lead, Maureen O’Hara, whispers something in John Wayne’s ear before running away. The Duke does a double-take and gives his co-star a look of utter shock before giving chase. No living soul knows what she said to him to get that kind of reaction.
Why What Maureen O’Hara Said To John Wayne Was Kept Secret
John Ford, the director of The Quiet Man, wanted to get a look of genuine shock from John Wayne. According to Ireland Calling, Ford told O’Hara to whisper something “extremely suggestive,” into the Duke’s ear. However, she didn’t want to do it.
In her words, what she said was “very rude,” and she argued with Ford over the line. Then, he finally told her that she was to deliver the line and that was the end of it. She agreed under one condition – no one could ever know what she said to him. Ireland Calling notes that O’Hara said, “So, the agreement was that neither Duke, nor I, nor John Ford would ever, ever, ever tell what I said.”
Whatever she said, it obviously rattled John Wayne. The legendary actor looks utterly shocked in the scene. Wayne was a pretty tough guy. That, added to the secrecy surrounding the line makes it all the more interesting. Whatever it was, it must have been pretty spicy. Watch the video below and look at the Duke’s face.
There is a good chance that no one will ever know what Maureen O’Hara said to John Wayne. O’Hara, Wayne, and Ford were reportedly the only people who knew what she said. John Ford died in 1973. A few years later, the world lost the Duke in 1979. Maureen O’Hara outlived both of her fellow secret keepers. However, she passed away in 2015.
When O’Hara died, so too did the knowledge of what she said to John Wayne in the final moments of The Quiet Man. That’s exactly how she wanted it.