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.
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.)
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.