A STAR IS BORN PREMIERE: HOLLYWOOD ON PARADE

Pantages Theatre

 

What a night it must have been – the premiere on Sept.29,1954 of A STAR IS BORN, at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles.

The enormous turn- out of stars was captured in a precious half hour live televised  event which can be seen as an extra on the DVD of the film, and on You Tube.

 

 

Jack Warner,Judy Garland,Sid Luft

Jack Warner,Judy Garland,Sid Luft

 

Judy’s first film in 4 years attracted an amazing array of Hollywood’s finest,many of whom were interviewed briefly for the TV cameras.

I counted 47 stars who said a few words . ( the presenters were George Fisher, George Jessel and  Jack Carson.)

 

Lucille Ball,Desi Arnaz

Lucille Ball,Desi Arnaz

Lucy said,”Judy and James and George  Cukor  are going to take all the Academy Awards.”

Several of the stars seemed to have seen the film already although this was the official premiere.

Dean Martin said. “We saw the picture and came right back again.”

 

 

Rosemary Clooney,Jose Ferrer

Rosemary Clooney,Jose Ferrer

 

Jack Carson was genuinely taken aback at the crowds and all the stars. He quipped, “You think Lindbergh had just got back from flying the Atlantic.”

Jack mentioned Oklahoma when talking to Gordon MacRea who said, “Don’t have any curls tonight.”

 

 

Doris Day,Martin Melcher

Doris Day,Martin Melcher with John Ericson and Terry Moore (?) in background.

 

Pat O’Brien said, “The old alma mater had pulled it off again.”

Greer Garson stole a chance to plug a picture she was making – “I’ ve been working on location in Tucson for the last six weeks.” (Strange Lady in Town.) She also said, “This is Hollywood at its most Hollywood.”

 

 

Marie Wilson, Joan Crawford,Cesar Romero

Marie Wilson, Joan Crawford,Cesar Romero

 

Jean Hersholt said, “After 42 years in Hollywood, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a premiere like this – that includes the Academy Awards.”

 

Janet Leigh,,Tony Curtis

Janet Leigh,,Tony Curtis

 

Others who spoke a few words included Gloria Grahame,Edward Arnold,Raymond Burr,Edward  G.Robinson, Donald Crisp,Virginia Mayo,Marilyn Maxwell,Katy Jurado,Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Wilding.

 

Lauren Bacall, Charlton Heston

Lauren Bacall, Charlton Heston

 

And Dennis Morgan, Debbie Reynolds,Kim Novak,Dorothy Lamour ( who said, “A star is re- born.”), Andy Devine,Ray Bolger,Mitzi Gaynor,Danny Thomas,William Bendix,Sophie Tucker,Jack Palance,Vera Ellen,Fred MacMurray,June Haver.

 

Kay Williams,Clark Gable

Kay Williams,Clark Gable (Not sure if they were married at this time)

 

Of the film’s cast, Tommy Noonan and of course Jack Carson were there. No sign of James Mason or George Cukor or Charles Bickford.

 

Judy’s return to the screen was a triumph. She was only 32. But she didn’t make another film till 1961, and it was very different from A Star Is Born – JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG.

Her final two films were in 1963 – A CHILD IS WAITING and I COULD GO ON SINGING.

 

Frank Sinatra,Judy Garland

Frank Sinatra,Judy Garland

 

 

Clark Gable,Judy Garland

Clark Gable,Judy Garland, Peter Lawford

 

 

Judy with Marlene Dietrich

Judy with Marlene Dietrich

 

 

Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall,Van Heflin

Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall,Van Heflin

 

 

Gary Cooper,Frank Sinatra

Gary Cooper,Frank Sinatra

 

 

George Jessel,Judy,Sid Luft

George Jessel,Judy,Sid Luft

 

I found a 14 minute film clip from British Pathe of the London premiere of A Star Is Born, some months after its Los Angeles screening.

It was held at the Warner  Theatre and lots of British stars attended  – Peggy Cummins,Kenneth More,Jack Buchanan,Kay Kendall,Ann Todd,Jack Hawkins.

The only American  in sight was Gene Nelson ( who was probably in town for one of these little B films American  stars were brought over for.)

There was no sign of anyone from the production. Judy, I understand, was pregnant  with her son Joey, but surely someone representing Warner Brothers should have been there.

 

 

Judy Garland

 

 

 

Tommy Noonan,Judy Garland

Tommy Noonan,Judy Garland

 

 

 

Esther learning her craft!

Esther learning her craft!

 

 

 

image

 

 

 

5 responses »

  1. Really enjoyed this post. I know Cukor was deeply upset that his film had not only been heavily edited, but whole scenes (the whole born in a trunk sequence) were added without his approval. He felt the film had been ruined. I imagine that’s why he wasn’t there.

    Despite this, it must have been amazing to be there that night.

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