The beloved author of “My Friend Flicka,” was born Mary O'Hara Alsop, on July 10, 1885, in Cape May Point, New Jersey. She was the third child of the Reverend Dr. Reese Fell Alsop, an Episcopal clergyman, and of Mary Lee Spring. Her siblings were an older sister Elma; followed by older brother Reese; and younger sister Bess. Mary O'Hara was named after her maternal grandmother, Mary O'Hara Spring (nee Denny).
Mary O'Hara grew up in Brooklyn Heights, New York. In 1905 she married Kent Kane Parrot and moved to California where she became a screenwriter during the silent film era. Her second marriage to Helge Sture-Vasa, in 1922, brought her to Wyoming where she wrote the three classics about the range country under the name of Mary O'Hara, “My Friend Flicka” (Lippincott, 1941), “Thunderhead” (Lippincott, 1943), and “Green Grass of Wyoming” (Lippincott, 1946). Several motion picture films have been produced from these books. “My Friend Flicka” was filmed by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1943; followed by a sequel, “Thunderhead, Son of Flicka,” in 1945; and “Green Grass of Wyoming” was filmed by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1948. An ABC-TV series was also based on “My Friend Flicka” in 1957. The book “My Friend Flicka” has been translated and published in several languages.
A year after divorce in 1947, Mary O'Hara returned to the East and made her home in Monroe, Connecticut. At this time she had her maiden name restored as her legal name. Finally, in 1968, she settled in Chevy Chase, Maryland where she resided until her death on October 14, 1980.
Other books by Mary O'Hara include: “Let Us Say Grace,” (Christopher, 1930); “The Son of Adam Wyngate” (McKay, 1952); an autobiographical work, “Novel-in-the-Making” (Mckay, 1954); “Wyoming Summer” (Doubleday, 1963), based on her diary of sixteen years; and her autobiography, published posthumously, “Flicka's Friend” (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1982).
Mary O'Hara was also a gifted pianist and composer. In 1961 her folk musical “The Catch Colt” was performed at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and at the Lincoln Theatre in Cheyenne, Wyoming. In 1963 the musical was leased out by the Dramatists Play Service of New York, and was eventually published in 1964. In 1966, the author wrote a book about writing, composing and producing the musical, entitled, “A Musical in the Making,” published by Markane Company, Inc. The musical later inspired Mary O'Hara to write a novella under the same title, published by Methuen in 1979. It was for the promotion and production of the musical that Mary O'Hara and her son Kent Kane Parrot, Jr., formed Markane Company, Inc., in 1960 (see Folder 1:1). Her great love for the piano also inspired Mary O'Hara to compose many pieces for that instrument including, “Esperan” (1943), “Green Grass of Wyoming” (1946), “May God Keep You” (1946), and “Wind Harp” (1954).