Mary Maguire

Mary Maguire

Mary Maguire, c. 1937
Born Hélène Theresa Maguire
22 February 1919(1919-02-22)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died 18 May 1974(1974-05-18) (aged 55)
Long Beach, California, USA
Years active 1935–1942

Mary Maguire (22 February 1919 – 18 May 1974) was an Australian actress who briefly became a Hollywood and British film star in the late 1930s.


Childhood and Career in Australia

She was born Hélène Teresa Maguire [1][2] in Melbourne, Australia, to Michael "Mickey" Maguire, footballer, racehorse owner, hotel proprietor and former Australian welterweight champion [3] and Mary Jane Maguire (née Carroll).[4] Nicknamed "Peggy" by the family, she was the second of five sisters. She grew up in Melbourne and Brisbane, her father managing the famous "Bull and Mouth Hotel" in Bourke Street Melbourne,[5] and later the iconic "Bellevue Hotel" in Brisbane.[6] In Melbourne she attended the Academy of Mary Immaculate in Fitzroy. She began acting when she was cast in the film Heritage by director Charles Chauvel at the age of 16. Elsa Chauvel, in her 1973 memoirs, wrote; "This lovely child was brought to our notice by a Brisbane publicity man...fresh from a Queensland convent."[7] Changing her name to Mary, Maguire then starred in The Flying Doctor, an Australian-British co-production which was filmed in Australia by director Miles Mander, and which also starred American actor Charles Farrell.[8]

Hollywood 1936–1938

With encouragement from Miles Mander, Maguire and her family moved to Hollywood in September 1936,[9] and Mary made her U.S. debut in That Man's Here Again, followed by B movies Alcatraz Island and Sergeant Murphy with Ronald Reagan.[10] In 1938, after appearing in Mysterious Mr. Moto, she moved to Britain, where she appeared in a few British films.[11] As one of only a handful of Australian actors working internationally in film at the time, her career attracted considerable attention from Australian newspapers between 1936 and 1946.[12]

Maguire's reasons for leaving Hollywood in 1938 are unclear. There is some evidence that she had originally intended to travel to Britain in 1936.[13] On the other hand, in November 1937, a newspaper reported she had "mutinied," and been temporarily removed from Warner Brothers payroll, because she wanted "dramatic roles" rather than ingenue roles.[14]

Marriage to Robert Gordon-Canning and end of Career

In 1939, while in a wheelchair recovering from an injury sustained on the set of An Englishman's Home, she married Captain Robert Gordon-Canning MC, a First World War veteran, thirty years her senior.[15] Gordon-Canning was active in the British Union of Fascists and the Link[16] and amongst his fascist publications had written disparagingly of the influence and tone of Hollywood films.[17] Although he was interned in July 1940,[18] a son, Michael Robert, was born in February 1941.[19] Maguire's last film was This was Paris made in 1942 in England; ironically a story of the activities of fifth columnists in Paris before its fall.[20] By 1945 the marriage to Gordon-Canning was over, Maguire describing it as a "closed chapter" in her life. She attempted to restart her Hollywood career, but although still aged only 26, her efforts were to no avail.

Her second marriage was to Philip Henry Legarra, a US Engineer.[21]

She died at Long Beach, California, in 1974.

The Marrying Maquires

Elsa Chauvel claimed the Maguire sisters were known as "The Marrying Maquires", because they took "London by storm" when they arrived there, making "spectacular marriages."[7] The oldest Maguire girl, Patricia, married Peter Rudyard Aitken, the son of Lord Beaverbrook and was the mother of the current 6th Baronet Green of Wakefield.[22] The third Maguire daughter, Joan, acted on stage in London under the name Joan Shannon.[23] Carmel Maguire, married John Wodehouse, 4th Earl of Kimberley and was the mother of the current Earl.[24] The youngest of the girls, "Lupe" (actually christened Mary), married British hire car "king," Godfrey Davis, also having appeared in a minor part in The Man in Grey (1943).[25]


  • Diggers in Blighty (1933) (Extra)[26]
  • Heritage (1935)
  • The Flying Doctor (1936)
  • That Man's Here Again (1937)
  • Confession (1937)
  • Alcatraz Island (1937)
  • Sergeant Murphy (1937)
  • Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938)
  • Keep Smiling (1938)
  • The Outsider (1939)
  • Black Eyes (1939)
  • An Englishman's Home (1940)
  • This Was Paris (1942)


  1. ^ A .W. Simpson (1992) In the Highest Degree Odious; Detention without trial in wartime Britain. p.215. Oxford University Press. ISBN 019 8259492
  2. ^
  3. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 7 June 1950
  4. ^ The Peerage[1] National Library of Australia scrapbook compiled about Mary Maguire (senior)]
  5. ^ The Argus, Melbourne, 19 November 1924
  6. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 6 February 1941
  7. ^ a b Elsa Chauvel (1973)My Life with Charles Chauvel. p. 60 The Shakespeare Head Press, Sydney. ISBN 0 85558 062 3 The convent was, in fact, Academy of Mary Immaculate in Melbourne
  8. ^ Australians in Hollywood: Mary Maguire, National Portrait Gallery (Australia).
  9. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 17 September 1936
  10. ^ Vaughn, Stephen (1994). Ronald Reagan in Hollywood: Movies and Politics. UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521440807. 
  11. ^ The Argus, Melbourne, 18 May 1938
  12. ^ See digitized Australian newspaper collections online at
  13. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 3 August 1936
  14. ^ The Argus, Melbourne, 5 November 1937
  15. ^ Herald and Weekly TImes photo of the marriage
  16. ^ Gordon-Canning was also the great grandson of the poet Lord Byron. See further details at British National Security Archives
  17. ^ Thomas Linehan, Brunel University, "A Dangerous Piece of Celluloid? British Fascists and the Hollywood Movie See Gordon-Canning's writings including Mind Britain's Business and The Holy Land, Arab or Jew? (1938)
  18. ^ The Argus,Melbourne, Friday 12 July 1940
  19. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 6 February 1941 However, the son died in early 1942, and was interned at a church in the Gordon-Canning's ancestoral seat of Hartpury. See [2]
  20. ^ Turner Classic Movies entry
  21. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 12 March 1946
  22. ^ The Peerage website
  23. ^ The Evening Post, New Zealand, 11 July 1940, P.18
  24. ^ Obituary of 4th Earl of Kimberley
  25. ^ The Argus, Melbourne, 11 November 1937, reports an effort by Carmen and Lupe to break into pictures
  26. ^ The Queenslander 21 June 1934

External links

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