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Stars and the Star System - CASE STUDY : MICKEY ROONEY AND JUDY GARLAND

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While industry conditions in 1940-1941 clearly enhanced the status and power of Hollywood’s leading filmmakers, the impact on its top stars—and on the star system in general—was less immediate and certainly less pronounced. For the most part, the crucial interdependence of the studio system and the star system remained intact during the prewar era. Stars continued to be closely associated with specific studios; the studios continued to rely on established star-genre formulations and to build “product lines” around new stars; and the overall box-office performance of top studio stars remained quite consistent.

The consent decree and the surging first-run market did, however, put more pressure than ever on stars to sell pictures, thus intensifying the interest in the marquee value of top stars. One clear indication of that intensified interest was the heavy focus of market research on film stars. Spearheading this effort was Gallup’s Audience Research Institute, which advised its clients in the “selection of stories, titles and casts,” providing a continuous reading of the “box-office temperature” and “personality values” of literally hundreds of top stars .

When Gallup began offering ARI’s services on an industrywide basis in 1941, he openly acknowledged that “the best insurance against guess-work and the varying intangibles of successful entertainment” was a top star’s name above the movie title. For the 1941-1942 season, a total of 342 starring roles already were set; of those, ARI placed 139 in the “name value” category but estimated that only about sixty stars had the capacity to “swing attendance” toward a particular picture.

While ARI signaled the growing emphasis of market research on marquee value in the 1940s, the industry continued to rely on more traditional (and less scientific) measures of star appeal, principally the Motion Picture Herald’s annual “Exhibitors’ Poll.” This was a regular survey of the nation’s theater owners, who ranked stars according to their total box-office performance over the past year. The results, published in the Herald in late December, included the twenty-five top-ranked stars according to both circuit theater owners and independents, as well as a combined listing. The combined Exhibitors’ Poll rankings for the top twenty-five stars in 1940 and 1941 were as follows:

Several key points are readily evident from these rankings. First, twenty-three of the top twenty-five stars (all but Gary Cooper and Cary Grant in both years) were contract stars with long-term studio ties. Second, the two lists display remarkable continuity with one another and also with the earlier “classical” era; twenty-two of the twenty-five stars appear on both lists, and all but Abbott and Costello and Betty Grable (both 1941) were established stars by the late 1930s. A third point is that the newcomers to the list, like virtually all of the established players, reached stardom via studio-based star-genre formulas. A fourth point is the obvious domination of MGM, which placed eight stars among the top twenty-five in both years, with Rooney, Tracy, and Gable ruling the roost.

Seven of those eight MGM stars were male, bringing us to the final point—the decided shift in the gender composition of the Exhibitors’ Poll in the early 1940s. From 1932 (the first year of the poll) to 1939, over half of the top ten Hollywood stars were female, with the top spot occupied by a female every year but one. This changed dramatically in 1940, when males filled the top eight positions, thus beginning a general trend that would continue into the war years. Whether this shift represents a cultural transformation, a period of collective “gender crisis,” or simply a momentary aberration is an interesting question. At the very least, the trend suggests that Hollywood was steeling itself and its audience for the impending social upheaval and military conflict by rehearsing various forms of male heroism (and in the case of Bob Hope and Lou Costello, of male cowardice) and also by investigating the prospect of male bonding and camaraderie, which was rapidly becoming a fact of life for millions of Americans.

Among the more remarkable aspects of the prewar star system was the phenomenal rise of Mickey Rooney, who succeeded Shirley Temple as the number-one star in 1939 and remained atop the Exhibitors’ Poll in 1940 and 1941. As discussed in more detail later in this chapter, the key to Rooney’s rapid rise was his recurring role as Andy Hardy, the model American adolescent, along with his appearances in a cycle of MGM musicals opposite Judy Garland. Rooney also established an odd rapport with Spencer Tracy, by costarring with him not only in MEN OF BOYS TOWN (a 1941 sequel to their 1938 costarring hit) but also in a 1940 biopic tandem playing the same Great American, Thomas Edison: Rooney starred in the adolescent version, YOUNG TOM EDISON , while Tracy did EDISON THE MAN . All three Tracy-Rooney films were successful, owing in large part to Tracy. Highly touted as an actor among movie stars, Tracy’s talent and versatility took him from romantic comedies and biopics to epics (NORTHWEST PASSAGE in 1940) and horror films (DR . JEKYLL AND MR .HYDE in 1941). Tracy’s portrayal of Father Flanagan in the Boys Town pictures is especially instructive, in that his sincerity and honest idealism somehow overcome both the mawkish sentimentality of the material and Rooney’s usual histrionics.

While Tracy was prewar Hollywood’s consummate actor-star and Rooney its crown prince, the acknowledged king was Clark Gable—the only star to appear in the Exhibitors’ Poll every year from its inception in 1932. Gables regal status was confirmed unconditionally by his portrayal of Rhett Butler in GONE WITH THE WIND , keeping him very much in view in 1940—1941 even though his other films were of little note. Gable remained Hollywood’s top international star, and virtually everything he did for MGM turned a profit—notably BOOM TOWN with Tracy and Claudette Colbert in 1940, and HONKY TONK , an offbeat comedy-Western with Lana Turner in 1941.

MGM’s other top-rate male stars were James Stewart, Wallace Beery, William Powell, and Robert Taylor, although only Stewart did any notable work in the prewar period. Indeed, the continued star status of Beery as a crusty character actor, Powell as a suave leading man, and Taylor as a square-jawed matinee idol was a tribute to MGM’s canny reformulation of their familiar screen types. James Stewart, despite being dubbed Variety’s “cinematic man-of-the-year” in 1939, represented a very different challenge for MGM. 52 Until 1940, the studio seemed unable to develop suitable vehicles for Stewart’s tongue-tied, awkward innocent, and thus most of Stewart’s success came on loan—most recently to Columbia for MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON and to Universal for DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (both 1939). Stewart finally enjoyed an MGM hit in 1940 with THE PHILADELPHIA STORY , winning the Oscar for best actor and adding an edge to his screen persona as a savvy and vaguely cynical newsman. But then after three routine MGM features in 1941, Stewart left for the air force, joining Taylor in the first contingent of stars to enter military service.

While Fox, Warners, and Paramount could not match Metro’s stable of male stars, each boasted a combination of talents who could fill the genre bill, from male action films and heavy drama to light comedy and musicals. Fox relied on Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, and Don Ameche, with Power clearly the most vital company asset. His virile self-confidence, rakish athleticism, blatant male beauty, and perpetual smile served him well in JOHNNY APOLLO (1939), JESSE JAMES THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940), and A YANK IN THE RAF (1941), all top hits that did little to vary his screen persona or tax his limited acting skills. Fonda was less popular but far more versatile, handling occasional action roles (THE RETURN OF FRANK JAMES , 1940), romantic comedies (opposite Barbara Stanwyck in THE LADY EVE and You BELONG TO ME , both 1941), and the Ford-directed social dramas and biopics mentioned earlier. Don Ameche, meanwhile, proved ideal for light comedy and drama, and particularly for Fox’s trademark musical biopics like SWANEE RIVER (1939) and LILLIAN RUSSELL in 1940.

Warners’ top male stars in 1940-1941 were James Cagney, Errol Flynn, and Edward G. Robinson, three heavily typecast stars whose prewar screen roles alternately reinforced and redefined their established personas. Cagney and Robinson continued to portray gangsters and urban toughs—Cagney in CITY FOR CONQUEST and THE FIGHTING 69 TH in 1940; and Robinson in BROTHER ORCHID (1940) and MANPOWER (1941). But they also were “off-cast” in more ambitious Warners projects: Cagney in a period musical comedy, THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE (1941), and in a screwball comedy opposite Bette Davis, THE BRIDE CAME COD (1941); Robinson in two biopics, DR. EHRLICH’S MAGIC BULLET and A DISPATCH FROM REUTERS (both 1940), and an adaptation of THE SEA WOLF (1941). Flynn’s reformulation was less pronounced but no significant, as his romantic, agile, and ever-smiling persona underwent a nationality shift. After establishing the Flynn persona via British outlaw-heroes like Robin Hood and Captain Peter Blood, Warners cast him as American hero in several Westerns: DODGE CITY (1939), SANTA FE TRAIL (1940), and VIRGINIA CITY (1940). Flynn reprised his swashbuckling Brit in THE SEA HAWK in 1940, but by then his American persona had caught on, and from 1941 onward he concentrated on American roles.

Paramount’s top male stars in 1940-1941 were Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Jack Benny, all of whom were established stars in other media (radio, recording, vaudeville, and burlesque) and enjoyed increased popularity in the early 1940s. Their success came primarily in comedies, with Hope and Benny countering Hollywood’s more heroic and romanticized male depictions. Benny’s success as a film star came via three successive comedy-musicals produced and directed by Mark Sandrich: MAN ABOUT TOWN (1939), BUCK BENNY RIDES AGAIN (1940), and LOVE THY NEIGHBOR (1940). Benny then went freelance and enjoyed the biggest hit of his career, CHARLEY’S AUNT (1941), at Fox. The path to top stardom for Hope and Crosby, meanwhile, came via ROAD TO SINGAPORE (1940). Although the New York Times dismissed the film as “altogether too uneven for regular use,” that film initiated Paramount’s phenomenally successful Road series—ROAD TO ZANZIBAR (1941), ROAD TO MOROCCO (1942), ROAD TO UTOPIA (1945), ROAD TO RIO (1947), et al. 53 The increasingly outrageous Road pictures centered on Hope and Crosby, with Dorothy Lamour providing additional scenery and a requisite love interest.

The Hope-Crosby hits were yet another clear indication of Hollywood’s male bias in the early 1940s, as was the rapid (and even more unlikely) ascent of Abbott and Costello at Universal in a succession of “service” comedies 1941: BUCK PRIVATES , IN THE NAVY , and KEEP’EM FLYING . Gene Autry was another extraordinary prewar star. The prototype “singing cowboy,” Autry literally played himself in a half-dozen Republic B-grade Westerns per year and since 1937 had topped the list of Western stars—a separate (and exclusively male) Exhibitors’ Poll category. In 1940—1941, Autry broke through to the list of A-class stars, demonstrating not only that B-grade Westerns were enormously popular but also that a B-picture series star, through sheer quantity of output and despite playing only in the subsequent-run market, could generate box-office revenues on a par with A-class stars.

Another important male star in 1940-1941—and in some ways perhaps the most important of the lot—was Gary Cooper, who year for year was the biggest movie star of the 1940s. Cooper had been an important contract star with Paramount in the 1930s but reached top stardom in the 1940s only after going freelance and signing on with the producer Sam Goldwyn. The “strong, silent type,” Cooper had been typecast at Paramount in epic adventures and heroic biopics, culminating in BEAU GESTE (1939) and NORTHWEST MOUNTED POLICE (1940). Cooper’s screen persona evinced a new sensitivity in his subsequent films, THE WESTERNER (1940), MEET JOHN DOE (1941), and SERGEANT YORK (1941)—now a man of action and integrity struggling to maintain his moral balance in an uncertain, corrupt, and chaotic world. Significantly enough, none of the three films was a love story per se, and in fact Coopers principal cohort in each was Walter Brennan, another Goldwyn contract player and leading character actor, whose role in each film was crucial in defining and inflecting Cooper’s. Both actors were critically acclaimed for these performances, with Brennan winning an Oscar for best supporting actor in THE WESTERNER (his third in five years), while Cooper won the bestactor Oscar for SERGEANT YORK .

The complexity of the Goldwyn-Warners deal for SERGEANT YORK also indicated the increased penchant for loan-outs, star swaps, and the like in the prewar era, as well as the increased power of independent producers. While YORK was produced for Warners by the independent Jesse Lasky, Goldwyn actually arranged the elaborate long-range deal with Warners, Paramount, and Selznick, which stretched out over several years and involved the lead roles in five films: SERGEANT YORK , THE LITTLE FOXES (1941), FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS (1943), CASABLANCA (1942), and SARATOGA TRUNK (1945). 54 Interlocking deals like these evinced the increasing mobility of stars and also the effort to find the right fit between top stars and high-stakes, presold vehicles.

As mentioned earlier, Katharine Hepburn herself engineered the deal on THE PHILADELPHIA STORY that paved the way for her triumphant return to Hollywood after a three-year hiatus on Broadway. Hepburn sold the screen rights to Barry’s hit play along with her services as star to MGM for the Cukor-directed screen version in January 1940; she helped swing the deal for costars James Stewart and Cary Grant as well. When that movie became a hit in 1940, Hepburn went back to MGM with another project, WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1942), which she pitched as a costarring vehicle for herself and Spencer Tracy (whom she admired but had never met). She also wanted a longterm contract with story, script, and director approval. MGM complied, making Hepburn one of the highest paid and most powerful stars in Hollywood. WOMAN OF THE YEAR also initiated a series of Tracy-Hepburn pictures that would extend over the next three decades, including six during the 1940s.

Hepburn was one of several top female stars who reached maturity in the early 1940s and exercised considerable leverage over their careers. Most of these were freelance artists such as Irene Dunne, Marlene Dietrich, Rosalind Russell, Claudette Colbert, Barbara Stanwyck, and Carole Lombard, all of whom preferred one- and two-picture deals or nonexclusive contracts to long-term studio ties. And although these were among the few female stars in prewar Hollywood who could individually carry a picture, none of them appeared among the top twenty-five box-office stars. Their absence from that ranking was due in part to their choosing to do fewer films per year than their studiobased counterparts, although the emergent male ethos in Hollywood was a factor as well.

The prewar period clearly was not a strong one for female stars and actresses, particularly at the box office. None of the female stars who did rank among the top twentyfive—Alice Faye, Judy Garland, Myrna Loy, Dorothy Lamour, Ann Sheridan, and the fast-rising Betty Grable—was deemed capable of carrying a picture without a prominent male costar. Indeed, most were known primarily as costars to a more celebrated male stars, with Lamour and Grable typecast and promoted as overt projections of male sexual fantasy. (This would change for Grable during the ensuing war years, when her ability to carry both a picture and a second-rate male lead was altogether evident.)

The period also saw the decline of several top female stars, notably Shirley Temple, Hollywood’s top star from 1935 to 1938. Temple faded badly in 1939, buying out her Fox contract in 1940 (at age 12), only to struggle as a freelance star. 55 Universal’s Deanna Durbin survived adolescence—she turned 19 in 1940—but her distinctive musicals clearly were losing their appeal, and by late 1941 Universal began casting its highest-paid star in dramatic roles.

MGM, long known for its roster of female stars and its emphasis on women’s pictures, saw a pronounced turnover in its female ranks in 1940-1941. The most significant decline was that of Greta Garbo, who had seemed primed for a shift from drama to comedy after her surprising 1939 hit NINOTCHKA , but who then retired in 1941 after TWO-FACED WOMAN . Garbo’s sudden and unexpected retirement is often attributed to that film’s disastrous reception, but the international market was also a crucial factor. Although Garbo was not ranked among even the top twenty-five stars by U.S. exhibitors in 1941, overseas exhibitors rated her second only to Gable. 56 But with the European market rapidly disappearing and her stock in the United States at an all-time low, Garbo opted for retirement. Other Metro stars on the wane were Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Jeanette MacDonald, each of whom retired or was eased out in the early 1940s as MGM cultivated a new generation of female players—Hepburn, Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr, and, from the MGM-British unit, Greer Garson.

Two female stars in 1940-1941 who definitely could carry a picture were Bette Davis and Ginger Rogers. Davis, Hollywood’s consummate dramatic actress and the doyenne of women’s pictures, had won her second Oscar in 1938 for JEZEBEL , which fleshed out the two distinctive dimensions to her screen persona—the ruthless bitch and the longsuffering victim—defining a dual trajectory over the next few years as Davis alternated between sympathetic and antipathetic roles in the best work of her career: DARK VICTORY and THE OLD MAID in 1939, ALL THIS AND HEAVEN TOO and THE LETTER in 1940, THE GREAT LIE and THE L ITTLE FOXES in 1941. And interestingly enough, while other actresses working in the genre, like Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert, and Margaret Sullavan, tended to alternate between women’s pictures and comedies, Davis alternated between victim and ruthless victimizer, continually testing the emotional limits and polarities of the form. Her one significant departure came opposite Cagney in the 1941 screwball comedy THE BRIDE CAME COD, which did excellent box office but did not mark a new direction for her screen persona.

Ginger Rogers, just coming off a six-year, nine-picture stint as Fred Astaire’s songand-dance partner, had yet to establish her own individual screen persona by 1940. Rogers relished the opportunity to prove herself, however, after Astaire left RKO for freelance status in 1939, and she encouraged the studio to cast her in nonmusical roles. RKO complied, and Rogers quickly proved that she too could handle both comedy and drama. While Astaire’s career temporarily flagged, Rogers scored in romantic dramas like KITTY FOYLE (1940), winning an Oscar for best actress, and in light romantic comedies like TOM , DICK AND HARRY (1941).

While the interdependence of the Hollywood studio system and the star system remained essentially intact in the early 1940s, there were clear danger signs for the studio powers. As Janet Staiger suggests, post-decree product differentiation put more emphasis on top talent, especially stars, “while selling by brand name decreased in value since the entire output of a firm was no longer a marketing point.” 57 The trade discourse certainly bears that out, particularly in 1941 as the studios began adjusting to both the decree-related trade restraints and the improving market conditions. The Motion Picture Herald ran a story in March 1941, for instance, noting that the value of stars had increased, due to the decree, and also that “studios are in the main ceasing to be identified with a star or group of stars” to the same degree that they had been in the past. Equally significant were the growing ranks of freelance stars and “the intense amount of borrowing of name players in the last six months” as important first-run pictures were produced and promoted on their own merits rather than as factory-produced units to be blocked and sold with forty or fifty others. 58 In August, with the decree about to take effect, a Motion Picture Herald story on marquee names suggested that the major distributors were becoming " ‘personality conscious’ to a degree not quite achieved before."

CASE STUDY : MICKEY ROONEY AND JUDY GARLAND

Of Hollywood’s leading stars in 1939-1941, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland warrant close attention for several reasons. Both rose rapidly to top stardom during this period, and both became signature stars at MGM in an era when its star stable and house style underwent significant changes. Whether working separately or as costars, Rooney and Garland brought a new inflection and youthful energy to Metro, which had been showing signs of age and staid propriety. They also keyed two crucial star-genre formulas at MGM: the Hardy Family series, whose popularity was peaking in 1939—1940, and a cycle of juvenile show musicals in the early 1940s that solidified their costarring team. That cycle also marked the rise of the producer Arthur Freed and the so-called MGM Freed unit, which would revitalize the musical during the 1940s and generate the postwar golden age of the MGM musical. 60

Not surprisingly, given their early polish and success, both Rooney and Garland were born to vaudevillian parents (in 1920 and 1922, respectively), and both began performing before school age. Rooney was a seasoned veteran of stage and screen by age 7, starring in comedy two-reelers as Mickey McGuire—a name he took legally during his five-year stint with the series. (His given name was Joe Yule Jr.) In 1932, he signed with Universal and became Mickey Rooney, and then signed with MGM in 1934. He caused a minor sensation as Puck in Warners’ 1935 adaptation of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM , but he remained MGM’s third-ranked juvenile behind Freddie Bartholomew and Jackie Cooper.

Rooney’s breakthrough came in 1937, when he was cast as the son of a middle-class, middle-American couple (Lionel Barrymore and Spring Byington) in a domestic comedy-drama at Metro, A FAMILY AFFAIR . Audiences responded and exhibitors clamored for more, so MGM replaced Barrymore and Byington with two lesser stars, Lewis Stone and Fay Holden, and assigned J. J. Cohn’s low-budget unit to develop a series. Cohn assembled the Seitz unit , which turned out Hardy installments every three or four months in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Rooney’s character took on greater importance with each installment to a point where, from 1939 on, every picture carried the name “Andy Hardy” in the title. 61 The Hardy pictures provided an ideal vehicle for Rooney’s remarkable and still-developing skills and an ideal context for trying out new talent—particularly contract ingenues who could serve as friend or love interest for Andy. Besides Ann Rutherford, who became a series regular in 1938, the Hardy films enjoyed guest appearances from the emerging Metro stars Lana Turner, Ruth Hussey, Donna Reed, Kathryn Grayson, and most significantly (and most frequently), Judy Garland. It was Garland, in fact, who first introduced a musical dimension to the series, thus bringing out quite another facet of Rooney’s character and talent. The first real Hardy musical was LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY in 1938, which was in many ways Judy Garland’s breakthrough film at MGM.

Unlike Rooney, who had extensive film experience early on, Garland grew up in vaudeville as one of the singing Gumm Sisters. (Born Frances Gumm, she and her sisters changed their stage name to Garland in 1931, and Frances became Judy a year later.) Garland had a rather discouraging early period with MGM, winning a long-term contract in 1936 over Deanna Durbin but then struggling while Durbin’s career promptly took off at Universal. (In fact, Durbin and Mickey Rooney were awarded special Oscars in 1938 for “bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of American youth.”) But then LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY emerged as an exceptionally strong box-office hit, bringing a new dimension to the series and a new musical team to the MGM roster.

Garlands success in the Hardy film also confirmed MGM’s decision to star her in THE WIZARD OF OZ (in a role initially conceived for Shirley Temple). The 1939 picture was MGM’s riskiest and most expensive picture of the decade, and even with its ensemble, all-star cast, Garland’s role clearly was crucial to its success. Garland was up to the task, striking an ideal balance of wide-eyed wonder, endearing vulnerability, and hesitant bravura, and she held her own musically alongside the veterans Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr.

Garland closed out 1939 as a bona-fide MGM star and as a protégée of Arthur Freed. A longtime studio lyricist with aspirations to produce, Freed worked uncredited on OZ as an assistant to the producer Mervyn LeRoy, with MGM’s assurance that he could produce a musical of his own after completing OZ . Freed convinced MGM to purchase the rights to a 1937 Rogers and Hart stage musical, Babes in Arms , and to bring Busby Berkeley over from Warner Bros. to choreograph and direct the film. He also convinced MGM to let him team Rooney and Garland as costars. 63 Freed’s strategy was to combine the energy and appeal of the Hardy pictures with the backstage musical formula that Berkeley had refined in the early 1930s at Warners.

The Rogers and Hart musical was one of those “Hey kids, let’s put on a show!” types, with the musical numbers passed off as rehearsals and building to a climactic amateur show. The kids were supposedly offspring of vaudevillians, a premise that added a degree of credibility—especially to Rooney’s and Garland’s characters—although realism was scarcely an issue in this upbeat adolescent fantasy. Freed and Berkeley designed the entire picture as a showcase for Rooney and Garland, bringing in Kay Van Riper for a script overhaul to add some of the Hardy series flavor but focusing most of their attention on the musical numbers. BABES IN ARMS was shot in only ten weeks for just under $750,000, a remarkably low figure for a major musical, although contributing to the low costs were the low salaries still being earned by its stars: Rooney made $900 per week on the film, and Garland only $5oo.

Released in late 1939, BABES IN ARMS did excellent business through the holidays and into 1940, and it actually outperformed THE WIZARD OF OZ at the box office, grossing $3.3 million. 65 And while OZ and GONE WITH THE WIND had Hollywood rethinking its established production and marketing strategies, BABES IN ARMS underscored what the studios did best. It was an economical, efficiently produced star vehicle, an A-class genre amalgam with just enough novelty to satisfy audiences and ensure its success in the first-run market. It was also a prime candidate for reformulation, and in fact Freed, Berkeley, musical director Roger Edens, and their colleagues immediately went to work with Rooney and Garland on a follow-up picture, STRIKE UP THE BAND (1940). When that picture hit, Freed and company did BABES ON BROADWAY (released in January 1941), a sequel to Freed’s initial Rooney-Garland musical and another solid hit.

Besides the cycle of show musicals, MGM reteamed Rooney and Garland in two additional prewar Hardy installments, ANDY HARDY MEETS THE DEBUTANTE (1940) and LIFE BEGINS FOR ANDY HARDY (1941), both of which sustained the series’ musical dimension. In 1940, both also appeared in star vehicles of their own: Garland in another Freed unit musical, LITTLE NELLIE KELLY (1940), and Rooney in YOUNG TOM EDISON (1940). And in 1941, both were teamed with other top studio stars in prestige-level pictures: Garland and James Stewart were top-billed in an all-star musical, ZIEGFELD GIRL , while Rooney and Tracy teamed up in MEN OF BOYS TOWN . Clearly the youngsters had arrived, and unlike so many other adolescent stars who faded quickly, both Rooney and Garland seemed to be gaining in popularity as they matured.

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