Margaret O'Brien Remembers Judy Garland and
BY Jeremy Kinser
December 13 2011 5:00 AM ET
“It will go on for years from now, long after we’re gone,” says actress Margaret O’Brien. The 74-year-old, who reigned as Hollywood’s most popular child star of the World War II era, is talking about 1944 musical Meet Me in St. Louis (out on Blu-ray today), in which she played the comically morbid Tootie Smith. It's a genuinely beloved film, and O'Brien's is a still-impressive performance that would win the 7-year-old a special Academy Award as outstanding juvenile actress of 1944.
Although the film developed a reputation as required viewing each December, the story about a close-knit family whose happiness is upended by the father’s decision to move to New York City, isn’t technically a holiday film. It is, however, one of the undisputed crown jewels among the many classics MGM and its legendary Arthur Freed unit produced during its fabled golden age. While it might be unfair to say the colorful movie is permeated with a gay sensibility, as its director, Vincente Minnelli, didn’t identify as gay, it’s certainly a film that continues to resonate with LGBT audiences.
Part of the appeal is obviously its star Judy Garland, emotional and winsome in one of her most popular roles as love-struck teen Esther Smith. Garland, photographed lovingly by future husband Minnelli, here originated several songs with which she would become synonymous, including the melancholy holiday standard “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
Despite Garland’s reputation as an off-screen tragedienne, O’Brien remembers the actress as particularly lighthearted during filming. “When we weren’t working, Judy would get down and play games and joke with me,” O’Brien recalls. “She was really a happy person. What happened to Judy through the years was money problems and tax problems and marriage problems and things that brought on depression. And, of course, the studio overworked her, but not on Meet Me in St. Louis. Vincente Minnelli wouldn’t allow that. That’s why she said it was one of her happiest movies and she was always on time to be on the set."
- Op-ed: What People Don't Get About Dismay Over Jared Leto
- Anne Rice Announces New Vampire Chronicles Novel
- The Striking Muxe: Mexico's Third Gender
- Op-ed: Pope Francis: One Year In, Door Slightly Ajar for LGBT People
- The A-List Interview: Chris O'Dowd
- Op-ed: In Boston, an Ugly St. Patrick's Day Tradition Continues
- Print Issue The Striking Muxe: Mexico's Third Gender 2 hours 44 min ago
- Current Issue Editor’s Letter: April/May Issue 5:01 AM
- Parenting Is Mr. Peabody & Sherman About Adoption by Gays? 4:00 AM
- Media Former Fox Sportscaster Claims Anti-Antigay Discrimination March 10 2014 9:37 PM
- Women Lorde Takes Down Idiot DJ Who Implies She and Taylor Swift Are Lesbians March 10 2014 9:01 PM
- Women WATCH: Trailer for New Lesbian-Themed Series #Hashtag March 10 2014 7:54 PM
- Travel Sydney Mardi Gras: A Post-Mortem March 10 2014 7:47 PM