HELLO AMERICA!—I must admit that having legendary child star Margaret O’Brien set to appear in “Michael St. John’s Mad and Insane Hollywood World” documentary is a dream- come true! I had been searching for her for several months without any luck, then I was invited to attend the Hollywood Motion Picture Council dinner at the Sportsman’s Lodge in the San Fernando Valley and nearly lost it when Michael Plaster, one of the producers of our documentary and I spotted Margaret enter and take a seat at one of the tables.
Even though there were tons of people ascending on her, I simply brushed them aside and got her to agree to participate in the documentary currently being shot. We quickly made an arrangement to talk about the project realizing it was quite a coup.
I first became genuinely aware of Margaret when she was just a bit of a youngster in the film, “The Women” produced at MGM. There was something special about her look, the smile, but most of all her voice which was always filled with emotion, forcing you to watch her every move as well as what she might say as the character. One couldn’t help but love this little actress who lit up the screen no matter what she was doing. That’s what they call motion picture magic!
Margaret’s big break came when she was signed to star in “Journey for Margaret” in 1942. The film instantly shot her into stardom resulting her in becoming a major child star throughout the 1940s. For her performance in Vincente Minnelli’s “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944), she was presented with an Academy Award for Outstanding Child Actress that year. Films including “The Canterville Ghost” (1944), “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes” and “Little Women” (1949) later followed.
When asked how it was to work with the outrageous Wallace Beery, she laughed and shot back, “He was a nasty, mean old man. The film was called “Bad Bascomb” and that’s exactly what it was. He couldn’t stand me and I hated him! Wallace was a mean old man of the worse kind. We were on location most of the time, and the studio would have a truck come around with those boxed lunches. He would steal my lunch! He was terrible. If my mother had not been around, I would have starved.”
Margaret had made a fortune for MGM by the early 1950s, which opened the doors to a more challenging journey. She graduated into adolescent roles and never retired from the screen. She appeared on TV, with appearances on the dinner-theater circuit and even appeared at prestigious events as a celebrity host or guest star and popular public speaker throughout the nation. The idea that we will have her featured in our “Michael St. John’s Mad and Insane Hollywood World” documentary is something quite extraordinary!