Margaret O'Brien

Actor, Model, Jewelry designer
This child star of the 1940s was best known for her natural, emotional style and her startling facility for tears. As Maxine O'Brien (her birth name), she first appeared in a civil defense film starring James Cagney ... Read more »
Born: 01/14/1937 in Los Angeles, California, USA

Filmography

Actor (31)

The Great Christmas Movies 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

The Story of Lassie 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

The 65th Annual Academy Awards 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Amy 1980 (Movie)

Hazel Johnson (Actor)

Meet Me in St. Louis 1977 (Movie)

'Tootie' Smith (Actor)

The June Allyson Show 1959 - 1961 (TV Show)

Actor

Heller in Pink Tights 1960 (Movie)

Della Southby (Actor)

Playhouse 90 1956 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

The Lux Video Theater 1950 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

Studio One 1948 - 1958 (TV Show)

Actor

Front Row Center 1954 - 1956 (TV Show)

Actor

Little Women 1948 (Movie)

(Actor)

Music For Millions 1945 (Movie)

'Mike' (Actor)

The Canterville Ghost 1944 (Movie)

(Actor)

Babes on Broadway (Movie)

Bit Part (Actor)

Child Stars: Their Story (TV Show)

Actor

Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case (Movie)

Margaret (Actor)

Her First Romance (Movie)

Betty Foster (Actor)

Lost Angel (Movie)

Alpha (Actor)

Madame Curie (Movie)

Irene at Age Five (Actor)

Split Second to an Epitaph (TV Show)

Actor

Tenth Avenue Angel (Movie)

Flavia Mills (Actor)

Testimony of Two Men (TV Show)

Actor

The Big City (Movie)

Midge (Actor)

The DuPont Show of the Week (TV Show)

Actor

The Unfinished Dance (Movie)

'Meg' Merlin (Actor)

Thousands Cheer (Movie)

Guest (Actor)

Biography

This child star of the 1940s was best known for her natural, emotional style and her startling facility for tears. As Maxine O'Brien (her birth name), she first appeared in a civil defense film starring James Cagney, then in a bit in "Babes on Broadway" (both 1941). Sensing her potential, MGM signed her, changed her first name to Margaret and starred her in the tour de force "Journey for Margaret" (1942), as a terrified London war orphan who "adopts" reporter Robert Young. It was an adult, intelligent and slightly scary performance which made her an overnight star. The studio didn't quite know what to do with her after that as she wasn't an adorable Shirley Temple type. She was loaned out to Fox for "Jane Eyre" (1944) and was pretty much wasted in such MGM films as "Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case", "Lost Angel" and "Madame Curie" (all 1943), although she had a slightly better part in "The Canterville Ghost" (1944), opposite Charles Laughton.

Relationships

Harold Allen

Husband
Married Aug. 9, 1959 Divorced March 24, 1969

Lawrence O'Brien

Father
Died before O'Brien was born

Gladys O'Brien

Mother

Marissa O'Brien

Sister

Roy Thorsen

Husband
Married June 8, 1974

Mara Thorsen

Daughter
Born 1977; father, Roy Thorsen

EDUCATION

attended famed MGM school as a child

Milestones

1995

Made headlines when stolen Oscar was returned to her after more that twenty years

1994

Had supporting role in direct-to-video release "Sunset After Dark"

1981

Returned to features with one shot appearance in "Amy" (released in 1984)

1977

Trust fund from childhood acting career turned over to her

1977

TV miniseries debut "Testimony of Two Men"

1960

Filmed busted pilot "Maggie"

1960

Last film for 11 years, "Heller in Pink Tights"

1958

Played Beth in TV musical version of "Little Women"

1954

Miniature Oscar stolen from her

1951

First non-MGM film, "Her First Romance"

1949

Played Beth in a remake of "Little Women"

1943

Had memorable role as Tootie in "Meet Me in St. Louis"; received honorary Oscar

1941

First starring role, "Journey for Margaret"

1940

Under contract to MGM

1940

Made debut in civil defense film

1940

Feature film debut, "Babes on Broadway"

Bonus Trivia

.

O'Brien's miniature Oscar was stolen from her in 1954. Twenty-one years later it was returned to her when it was located in a swap meet.

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On her life as a child star: "I had a wonderful time. I really enjoyed it. I took it like a job, took it seriously. I had a mother who was really watching out for me. I think it's what you make of it. It could be something horrible if that's the way you want to look at it, but it was not. . . My mother saw that I had friends to play with; kids who were not in the movies." --Margaret O'Brien quoted in Classic Images, August 1993.

.

"How they really got me to cry is kind of interesting. June Allyson also did a lot of dramatic films, we were known as The Town Criers of MGM. We were always in competition: I wanted to cry better than June, and June wanted to cry better than me. The way my mother got me to cry was if I was having trouble with a scene, she'd say, 'why don't we have the make-up man come over and give you false tears?' Then I'd think to myself, 'they'll say I'm not as good as June,' and I'd start to cry." --Margaret O'Brien quoted in Classic Images, August 1993.

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