Hollywood legend Maureen O’Hara has admitted she is heartbroken after launching a legal battle against her former PA.
A week after a woman who worked for U2 star Adam Clayton was jailed for seven years for embezzlement; Quiet Man star O’Hara lifted the lid on her own dispute with Carolyn Murphy, her former personal assistant.
The new dispute comes against a background of reports of elder abuse of O’Hara and a huge blow up between her family and Murphy.
Speaking at a press conference in a hotel near her West Cork home of Glengarriff, the flame haired beauty, now 91, almost broke down in tears as her legal team confirmed Murphy no longer works for her.
The conference also heard that Murphy’s power of attorney for the actress has been rescinded.
O’Hara then made a series of claims against Murphy and confirmed she has launched a full legal battle to secure access to her accounts and all deals involving her image rights and finances over the last three years.
Accompanied by her grandson Conor Fitzsimons and her New York lawyer Edward Fickless, O’Hara told journalists: “I am heartbroken.”
The damning statement from Maureen O’Hara, issued for public release at the conference, read:
“Recent situations, both in my personal life and the Maureen O’Hara Foundation have been the source of various rumors and false information. I therefore requested this press release to set the record straight.
“I trusted Carolyn Murphy, not only as my personal assistant, but also as my power of attorney for the past six years. I have recently made discoveries that give me grave concern regarding Carolyn Murphy’s handling of my affairs. I am astonished that she ignores pleas to provide the information we need to reconcile financial and personal property audits regarding those years.
“I recently revoked all aspects of the power of attorney, which I had formerly entrusted to Carolyn, and she is no longer my personal assistant. I also underwent testing to certify my own competence in conducting my affairs, and I am assisted by family members, trusted lawyers and accountants.
“Regarding the Maureen O’Hara Foundation, while that entity bears my name, I am not personally involved in its management or indeed operations. I am profoundly disappointed at how my original dream has been so distorted. I am praying and seeking guidance as to how I can bless my homeland, and all the Irish children, with the fruit of my artistic labors.
“I need answers to some disturbing questions because I feel like my trust has been violated. I want to know who holds the rights to my own name, image, likeness, movie memorabilia and signature. As for money and assets, my advisors must be provided the details of all documents and transactions – and there are many – done in my name over these past years.
“This is a very difficult time for me but in the midst of this turmoil, there is a silver lining – my family, previously isolated from me - is being restored! And for that, I am extremely grateful. As this investigation continues, I am confident my friends and acquaintances from all over will come forward with helpful information. I need your help, and your prayers.
Thank you! Maureen FitzSimons O’Hara B”
Already, the annual Maureen O’Hara film festival scheduled to take place in Glengarriff later this summer and organised by her foundation, has been cancelled.
O’Hara’s lawyer Fickless said his client had called the press conference in order to set the record straight with regard to reports circulating in the media in recent weeks.
He said: “The primary aim of the press conference is to quell rumours.”
Fickless also that confirmed Murphy’s power of attorney in relation to Ms O’Hara’s affairs had ended ‘around a month ago’.
Murphy and O’Hara had become close friends after meeting in Glengarriff in 1978.
A spokesperson for Murphy told reporters that she had been a true friend to Maureen O’Hara.
She said: “Carolyn Murphy has always acted in Ms O’Hara’s best interest and will continue to do so. She’s dealing with these unfortunate affairs in the appropriate way.”