Of all of "America's sweethearts," from Mary Pickford to Shirley Temple to Natalie Wood and so on, one of my all-time favorite child stars was Margaret O'Brien. She had a very naturalistic way of portraying youngsters who were naturally melodramatic; her histrionics seemed genuine and heartfelt. She was always sticking up for herself, her size, and her sex. O'Brien was a girl-power gamine, a true force of nature. She could be both howlingly funny and seriously affecting. Plus she could sing and dance up a storm. Everybody has seen this kid somewhere: adorably paired with big sister Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis, tending The Secret Garden with Colin and Dickon, tugging heartstrings and jerking tears as the dying Beth in Little Women. Or perhaps as the young heiress of a castle haunted by The Canterville Ghost, the idealistic farmer's daughter in Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, or the psychically scarred war orphan who adopts Robert Young in Journey for Margaret (her first film and the one that gave young Angela O'Brien her stage name). There were 16 instances of O'Brian + O'Brien in OhioLINK, only a couple of which were cases where the spellings correctly refer to two different people.
(Margaret O'Brien, from Flickr.)
Monday, August 16, 2010
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