At first glance, A Star is Born seems like a movie about a modern day romance. Except, it’s not. Yes – boy meets girl, and they fall in love, but not everyone lives happily ever after, such as Judy Garland. Because while the movie offers its audience a sneak peek into a celebrity couple’s grandiose life together, it also reveals some of the dark and unforeseen costs of achieving stardom.
Judy Garland: Wishing Upon A Star is Born
It’s no surprise that some fans think A Star is Born is based on a true story, but it’s not. A Star is Born is a fictional adaptation of the screenplay, “What Cost, Hollywood?” However, there are several elements of the story that makes it feel “real” to most audiences.
Overwhelming and Unpredictable Nature of Addiction
In the 1945 remake, actress Judy Garland starred alongside James Mason in the first musical adaptation of A Star is Born. Both actors delivered notable performances; some say one of Garland’s best, but then rumors began spreading about her having an addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol. Garland denied all allegations, of course; however, her unstable behavior made some people reluctant to work with her.
Despite all the rumors, a history of mental illness, and several suicide attempts, Garland still had many fans that stayed devoted to her and her career. But then her successful 45 year career ended in 1969, after she overdosed on barbituates.
Some years before Garland’s death, she wrote about some of her experiences while on set, and revealed the truth about her addiction.
“They’d give us pep pills. Then they’d take us to the studio hospital and knock us cold with sleeping pills… after four hours they’d wake us up and give us the pep pills again…
That’s the way we worked, and that’s the way we got thin. That’s the way we got mixed up. And that’s the way we lost contact.”Judy Garland | New York Times archive (1969)
Pushing Stress and Mental Health Too Far
Judy Garland wasn’t the only cast member from A Star is Born who suffered from addiction. In various interviews with musician and actor, Kris Kristofferson, he also admitted to drinking too much while filming the 1976 remake of A Star is Born. But fortunately, he recognized that he had a problem and stopped feeding his demons.
“I had a half-gallon of Jose Cuervo in my trailer and they never let it empty. They just kept coming back in and filling it up, same half-gallon bottle. I don’t know how much I was drinking, but it was a lot, and I had to quit it soon after.”Kris Kristofferson | The Guardian (2008)
“The Dark Side of Fame, Addiction, Loss, and Suicide…”
In 1999, Lorna Luft; daughter of the late Judy Garland, published a book called, “Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir. In the book, Luft shares her feelings about watching her family struggle while in the spotlight, and what it was like to grow up as one of Judy Garland’s daughters.
Judy Garland | Daily Mail UK (2014)
‘I tried my damnedest to believe in the rainbow that I tried to get over and I couldn’t. SO WHAT!’