A History Of A-Listers Who Starred In A Star Is Born, From 1937 to 2018

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga's A Star Is Born may be the most well-known to young fans, but it's actually one of several remakes the iconic film has seen.

By EOL Staff Jan 05, 2021 4:27 PMTags
Watch: Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper Talk Taking Risks in "A Star Is Born"

Tell us something girl, has Lady Gaga's star ever burned brighter than in A Star Is Born, directed by her co-star, Bradley Cooper

Alas, the critically-acclaimed drama, which earned the superstar singer her first-ever Oscar for Best Original Song, isn't the first of its kind. In fact, the 2018 film is the third remake since Janet Gaynor and Fredric March originated the roles more than eight decades ago. Though details have changed—the O.G. stars certainly didn't perform at Coachella, for example—the heart of the story has stayed the same. 

Although, it's taken a lot of work to guarantee just that. Back in 2011, director Clint Eastwood began developing the remake with Beyoncé set to star. But the film stalled in development hell. At various points, Christian Bale, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith were either attached or being considered to play the male lead opposite the "Single Ladies" chart topper.

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After mulling it over, Cooper actually turned down the role, deciding he was too inexperienced at that stage in his life to play the down-and-out rock star. Around that time, Eastwood also expressed an in Esperanza Spalding taking over the lead role from Bey. But, eventually, he bowed out of the film and Cooper took over in 2015, casting Gaga as his muse a year later.

Now, in celebration of Cooper's birthday, join us as we look back on all the shining stars who, well, starred in A Star Is Born:

Janet Gaynor (1937)

Taking William A. Wellman's direction, Gaynor's turn as Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester led New York Times critic Frank S. Nugent to declare the film as "the most accurate mirror ever held before the glittering, tinseled, trivial, generous, cruel and ecstatic world that is Hollywood."

Fredric March (1937)

For his role as Norman Maine, the popular actor received a Best Actor nomination at the Academy Awards. However, March ultimately lost to Captains Courageous star Spencer Tracy.

Judy Garland (1954)

Two years after she played the female lead in the Lux Radio Theater broadcast, Garland signed on to star in the theatrical remake. Upon its release, Time magazine's movie critic argued the beloved star "gives what is just about the greatest one-woman show in modern movie history."

James Mason (1954)

New York Times critic Bosley Crowther praised director George Cukor for shepherding his stars to give performances "that make the heart flutter and bleed." So, it should come as no surprise that Mason and Garland both got Oscar nods for Best Actor and Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Barbra Streisand (1976)

The actress' performance as Esther Hoffman Howard helped make director Frank Pierson's musical the third highest-grossing film of the year. Streisand won a Golden Globe for her acting work, and she and Paul Williams won the Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Evergreen").

Kris Kristofferson (1976)

As rock star John Norman Howard, the actor displayed "a nice, unaffected looseness" and was "convincing in his concert scenes," according to film critic Roger Ebert. Perhaps that explains why he was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy).

Lady Gaga (2018)

The pop star got a major makeunder to play Ally. Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt praised the artist for "her restrained, human-scale performance as a singer whose real-girl vulnerability feels miles away from the glittery meat-dress delirium of her own stage persona."

Bradley Cooper (2018)

In addition to directing the movie, Cooper learned to play guitar and took vocal lessons to become rock star Jackson Maine. In his review, Variety's Owen Gleiberman lauded the multitalented star, saying Cooper made a "a transcendent Hollywood movie" for Warner Bros.

This story was originally published on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. PT.