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Actor Maureen O’Hara once admitted to the undeniable chemistry that she had with John Wayne on the screen. However, this is something that both actors acknowledged after seeing their own performances at the time. They shared romantic energy that audiences simply swooned over. O’Hara once broke down the “erotic chemistry” that she shared with Wayne on the silver screen.

Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne co-starred in ‘Rio Grande’

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara embracing one another while kissing.
L-R: John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

O’Hara and Wayne co-star in 1950’s Rio Grande, the third installment of director John Ford’s cavalry trilogy. It follows Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. The story follows Lieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke (Wayne) when he heads for a cavalry post on the Texas side of Rio Grande. He has the goal of defending settlers against Apaches raiding from the Mexican side of the river.

Kirby’s estranged 16-year-old son (Claude Jarman Jr.) suddenly shows up as a new recruit, resulting in the lieutenant colonel treating him extra harshly. However, the tension comes to a new high when the boy’s mother, Kathleen (O’Hara) arrives to take her son home.

Rio Grande is far from Ford’s most celebrated works, but it especially earns extra points for its conclusion in the calvary trilogy. Wayne and O’Hara fans get the opportunity to see where all of their chemistry truly came from.

Maureen O’Hara described her ‘erotic chemistry’ with John Wayne

According to O’Hara’s ‘Tis Herself: A Memoir, the two actors didn’t initially develop their close friendship until after working on Rio Grande together. However, O’Hara and Wayne would later discover that they have an undeniable “erotic chemistry” on the screen that is very memorable. As a result, audiences truly connected with it.

“We were very friendly, but not yet the closest of friends,” O’Hara wrote. “The seeds of that deep friendship were planted on Rio Grande and grew naturally over time, and while making four more pictures together. We loved working with each other. From our very first scenes together, working with John Wayne was comfortable for me.”

O’Hara continued: “We looked like a couple who belonged together. We both had an inner core of strength, and we were both gutsy! Did I know we had that special erotic chemistry together that would be so magical on-screen while filming Rio Grande? No, I did not; neither of us did. There were no kinetic sparks from which to duck. But when we saw ourselves together on-screen for the first time – oh yes, we knew.”

‘The Quiet Man’ earned high marks for its romance


‘Rio Grande’: John Wayne’s Temper Could Only Be Controlled by 1 Female Co-Star

Wayne and O’Hara would share the screen again in the future after Rio Grande. Perhaps their most celebrated work together is 1952’s The Quiet Man. The film earned two Oscars for Best Director and Cinematography out of its seven nominations. However, neither of the lead performances earned a nomination.

Nevertheless, audiences around the world continue to swoon for Wayne and O’Hara in The Quiet Man. They share one of the most passionate kisses ever captured on film in the rain, which continues to make its way into popular culture.