Margaret O’Brien’s Mother Didn’t Want Her To Become Like Judy Garland

by Amanda Glover
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Turner)

Although Margaret O’Brien viewed Judy Garland as a big sister, O’Brien’s mother protected her from becoming like the late actress.

As much as O’Brien cared for Garland, she claims her mother is the reason she didn’t end up like Garland or many of her other peers.

The former child actress remembers positive experiences with Garland while on the set of Meet Me In St. Louis. Believe it or not, she is one of the last surviving actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

In an interview with Page Six, O’Brien discussed her time with the The Wizard of Oz actress. “I was very fortunate to have a mother that spoke up to [studio head] Louis B. Mayer. I think Judy’s mother was afraid to speak up and didn’t really speak as she should have for Judy. I’m not saying anything out of turn because Judy mentioned that about her mother.”

In 1944, Margaret O’Brien earned the Juvenile Academy Award as Outstanding Child Actress for her role in The former child actress remembers positive experiences with Garland while on the set of Meet Me In St. Louis.

As many know, Judy dealt with constant harassment about her weight by studio executives, was forced to take amphetamines and barbiturates to lose weight, and had to work painfully long hours.

O’Brien also discussed how her experiences in the industry were much different.

“When I came to the studio that was all taken away,” she says, referring to drugs. “The school teachers were on the lot, there were no pills, no diet pills or anything like that when I came in. Unfortunately, just before that, they didn’t know how bad diet pills would be for you.”

For the rest of her life, Garland struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction. She died of an accidental overdose at the age of 47.

Margaret O’Brien Wasn’t Pushed Into Hollywood

Judy Garland passed away in 1969. After so many substances were pushed on her at a young age, she couldn’t shake them.

Unlike Garland, Margaret O’Brien did not deal with overbearing industry workers. She happened to get lucky with her start in Hollywood. Her famous dancer mother helped with that.

While staring at a show with Rita Hayworth’s father, she needed headshots. Without a babysitter, O’Brien’s mother brought her then-2-year-old daughter and their dog to the appointment.

After photographer, Paul Hesse started admiring the dog, he photographed him for an upcoming cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

“He said, ‘The baby’s not bad either, she’s kind of cute,’ and we made the cover,” O’Brien said.

After scouts saw the photos and Margaret was cast in the Mickey Rooney film Babes on Broadway, she ended up with a seven-year contract with the studio.

Sometimes, crazy things happen during the most unexpected circumstances. Margaret O’Brien’s career is proof!