1974 was the 50th anniversary of MGM Studios and the year that Jack Haley Jr. produced  THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT .

For the premiere at the Beverly Wiltshire hotel in Los Angeles, there was  a gathering of stars, the like of which hadn’t been seen since MGM’s 25th anniversary legendary luncheon in 1949.


The amazing assembly of stars can be seen on You Tube, each introduced by Sammy Davis Jr. or Liza Minnelli. I counted 49, ranging from June Allyson to Keenan Wynn.

As the first of the three That’s Entertainment films concentrated on MGM musicals, most of the performers were from that genre. It was marvellous to see Adele Astaire followed by her brother Fred (though Adele never made a movie). Plus the Nicholas Brothers and Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly.

A surprise too to see Merle Oberon, Myrna Loy and Gloria Swanson.

Sadly, only 6 are still alive today – Russ Tamblyn, Margaret O’Brien, Marge Champion, Nanette Fabray ,Shirley MacLaine and George Hamilton.

But so many MGM stars were not there. Reasons could include illness, being out of the country, working elsewhere, unwilling to attend- or not invited!

A shame Joan Crawford was missing, and Lucille Ball and Eleanor Powell. So many who could  have made the line-up even larger – Ann Miller,Esther Williams,Leslie Caron,Kathryn Grayson,Vera-Ellen, Allan Jones.

Jane Powell was in New York on Broadway in IRENE.

Considering Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Bing Crosby  and Mickey Rooney were presenters in the film, I guess there must have been pressing reasons why they didn’t attend.



I guess THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT will always be special to me because I saw it the year of its release in the cinema. It was a magical two hours which I’ve never forgotten. Repeated viewings are great, but that first time……wow!!!!


The 1949 rota.

14 responses »

  1. Can vividly remember buying the double album soundtrack as an American import in London at the time of the film’s release – and the delight in all the wonderful performances: not so keen on TE-2, but loved TE-3 – it had so many MGM rarities in it. Loved seeing those cut musical outtakes.

  2. Vienna! I’m not as huge a fan of MGM as you are but, that aside, I have one question. Why the heck is Shirley MacLaine in that photo? She was not an MGM star by any stretch of the imagination.

  3. Bob- I get your point – but that’s stretching it a bit. Those MGM group shots over the years were always of MGM contract players exclusively. When she started out, MacLaine was under contract with Paramount. She was loaned out, as most contract players were, and made a couple films for MGM (“Ask Any Girl” being the other one) and one for U.A. (“The Apartment”) during the early years of her movie career Anyhow, that would be like me posing for a photo with The New York Times staff just because I worked for years as a journalist (but for other papers) and because I once wrote a freelance piece for the Times. And, Vienna, I agree – what’s George Hamilton doing in there? True, he made “Home from the Hill,” “Where the Boys Are” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart” for MGM, but that’s three out of 100-plus films that he made elsewhere. Personally, I always resented MGM taking credit for Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby in its “That’s Entertainment” vanity films. Crosby was a Paramount star for decades and Astaire was with RKO. They eventually made films for MGM but, the fact is, they were never “MGM players.”

  4. I think the idea was to gather as many of the musical stars featured in the film as possible.
    Astaire made most of his films in the 40s and 50s for MGM.

  5. True, Vienna. Astaire, who appeared in about 40 theatrical films, made nine movies for Metro during the 1940s and ’50s, his last being “Silk Stockings” there. He also made “Funny Face” for Paramount” “Daddy Long Legs” for Fox during the ’50s. But his style and personality were inarguably ormed at RKO, although while under contract there in the 1930s and ’40s, he made two with Rita Hayworth at Columbia. But back to MacLaine. I assume that she’s in that MGM group shot because footage from “Sweet Charity” (a Universal film) was included in “That’s Dancing.” That still doesn’t explain Hamilton or, as you astutely note, Merle Oberon.

    • Oberon was in the MGM musical “Deep in My Heart”.
      Hamilton was in MGM’s last B&W musical “Your Cheatin’ Heart “

      • I still don’t think of them as MGM musical stars. But it’s great that so many stars turned out for the premiere.

  6. Vienna! Your last comment says it all. I wholeheartedly agree about the attendance. Great. Oh, and apologies if it seems as if I monopolized this dialogue with my comments, driven largely by my general dislike of MGM. Warners is my studio of choice. That said, I’m out of here! Thanks, Vienna. -J

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