When Lady Gaga took on her Oscar-nominated role of Ally in A Star Is Born, she was following a role previously held by Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, and Barbara Striesand. Each actress had her own spin on the classic Hollywood story and played the role in a completely different era.
Due to Judy Garland’s passing in 1969 at the early age of 47-years-old, she never knew her critically-acclaimed role would be revisited two times after her. Her 1954 take was a remake of the 1937 classic, long before reboots and reimaginings were frequently in Hollywood’s vocabulary.
It’s certainly would have been flattering for Judy Garland to see one of her roles -- now over 60-years-old -- is still relevant and being explored today. Not only that, the new Star Is Born was met with high praise from critics and $434 million at the box office worldwide. One of the biggest pop stars in the world took on the role, with Bradley Cooper, her James Mason, also helming the feature.
However, when Judy Garland took on A Star Is Born during her era, she played an actress and singer who starts making it on the stage with the help of James Mason’s Norman Maine. The story has since been switched up, now centering around a young singer who gets caught up in a love affair while on the road with a famous musician.
This aspect of the plot was changed with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson’s version in the ‘70s to match a generation obsessed with Bob Dylan, the Stones, and Bowie. The most recent remake has Gaga playing a pop star in the making, to better reflect the most popular acts of our age.
It’s interesting to see how pop culture has shifted with each of the four iterations of A Star Is Born. For example, they all deal with alcoholism as a central theme, but the 2018 movie was the first to really frame it as a mental health issue.
Although Liza Minnelli said her mother would be into the new Star Is Born, she isn’t sure how she feels about the upcoming biopic about her, titled Judy. Renée Zellweger is playing Judy Garland in a drama about her final show run, amidst dealing with drug addiction, her management, and marriage to Mickey Dean, six months before she died from an accidental overdose.
Liza Minnelli had previously made it clear that she does not approve of the film, but in her recent words she said: “I just hope they don't do what they always do.” Judy comes out on September 27.
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