Margaret O’Brien Described Judy Garland As a ‘Big Sister’ on ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’

by Megan Molseed
(Photo by Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)

Former child star Margaret O’Brien enjoyed a successful and prolific career starring in a variety of popular films as a young girl. From roles in Jane Eyre and The Canterville Ghost, Margaret O’Brien’s performances on the big screen were widely praised by critics. Over the years, the eighty-five-year-old actress continued her work on the screen; portraying a variety of roles in television specials well into her adulthood.

O’Brien has certainly enjoyed a successful career building quite a catalog of accomplishments. However, she is probably most well-known for her role in the Judy Garland vehicle, Meet Me In St. Louis.

Her role as the little sister named Tootie to Judy Garland’s character, Esther, was one in which O’Brien has very fond memories. Among the moments Margaret O’Brien remembers fondly of the film are her moments with Garland, who O’Brien has said she looked up to as she would a “big sister.”

During a discussion with Page Six, Margaret O’Brien notes that the fact Judy Garland had a pleasant time filming the iconic film led to the pleasant experiences she had with the actress as a young girl.

Actress Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien in a scene from the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis” (Photo by Donaldson Collection/Getty Images)

“She was so sweet,” Margaret O’Brien says of her Meet Me In St. Louis costar.

Filming ‘Meet Me In St. Louis’ Brings Happy Memories To Margaret O’Brien

“This was a very happy time for her because she was working with [director] Vincent Minnelli who didn’t overwork her,” O’Brien explains. “We would have regular hours.”

This, of course, is in stark contrast to some stories we have heard about Garland’s experiences on other movie sets.

Judy Garland’s experience with fame has long been a Hollywood caution tale. There are multiple reports that the star was regularly questioned about her weight by studio big-wigs. The actress was also known to have been forced to put in some long and grueling hours on a movie set to keep the project on schedule. And, back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon for these same people to provide the talent amphetamines and barbiturates to control weight and keep energy up for the long hours on the set. This was not so while filming Meet Me In St. Louis, O’Brien says.

“She loved doing that movie,” Margaret O’Brien continues of Garland.

“She thought she looked the prettiest in that movie than any other movie,” the actress adds. O’Brien also notes that part of Judy Garland’s fondness for Meet Me In St. Louis is the fact that the actress was falling in love with the man who would become her second husband.

“And of course, she was falling in love with Vincent,” O’Brien adds.