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Five Fun Facts: A Star is Born (1937)

Five Fun Facts: A Star is Born (1937)

a star is born janet gaynor

1) Pick a number, four or five…

So, how many versions of this movie are there, really? Well, most classic film fans would say a definite ‘four,’ end of story — which would be the 1937 film starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, the 1954 version starring Judy Garland and James Mason, the 1976 re-make starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, and the latest version starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in 2018. But, did you know that 1932’s What Price Hollywood? had a very similar storyline, aka the rise of an up-and-coming star and the fall of her alcoholic mentor, and that the plots were so similar that RKO almost filed a plagiarism lawsuit?


2) Whose on first?

Janet Gaynor and Fredric March were each nominated for an Academy Awards for this film (Best Actress and Best Actor) but did not win. However, did you know that Janet Gaynor won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Actress (in 1929, for her performances in 7th Heaven, Street Angel and Sunrise), and Fredric March was the first actor to ever win an Academy Award for a horror film (in 1931, for his performance in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)?

And, although it didn’t win, this 1937 version of the film was the first all-color film to be nominated for Best Picture.

janet gaynor oscar
Janet Gaynor and her Best Actress Oscar


3) Something borrowed

The Oscar that Janet Gaynor’s character receives in the film is her own Best Actress Oscar, which, as noted above, she won in 1929.


4) And the Grand Total is…

All told, the four versions of A Star is Born earned 25 Academy Award nominations, with three wins (1937 for Best Original Story, 1976 for Best Original Song “Evergreen” and 2018 for Best Original Song “Shallow”). The 1937 film also won an Honorary Award for W. Howard Greene for the color photography (not counted in the 25 because it wasn’t a competitive award).


5) You are my inspiration [insert name here]…

So, what real-life movie star couple is this movie based on? Well, I don’t know if we can really say for sure, but some believe that the 1937 version drew its inspiration from the marriage of Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay.

barbara stanwyck and frank fay
Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay


Well, those were my five facts. Would love to hear about any that you’d like to share 🙂

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

You can read more Five Fun Facts blog posts here.


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