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Margaret O’Brien’s mother protected her from becoming another Judy Garland
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Mama O’Brien looked after her own.
Hollywood icon Margaret O’Brien says she didn’t suffer the same fate many of her peers — mainly because of her tough-as-nails mother.
The former child actress, now 84, has only glowing memories of her time spent growing up on the MGM lot during the studio’s heyday, now that she’s one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
“I was very fortunate to have a mother that spoke up to [studio head]) Louis B. Mayer,” O’Brien tells Page Six. “I think Judy [Garland]’s mother was afraid to speak up and didn’t really speak as she should have for Judy.”
She adds, “I’m not saying anything out of turn because Judy mentioned that about her mother.”
O’Brien is probably best remembered for playing Judy Garland’s precocious little sister, Tootie, in the classic musical, “Meet Me in St. Louis.” The role even netted her a special Juvenile Academy Award as outstanding child actress of 1944.
But her industry experience was markedly different from “The Wizard of Oz” star, who was constantly harassed about her weight by studio execs and even forced to take amphetamines and barbiturates to lose weight and work grueling hours.
“When I came to the studio that was all taken away,” O’Brien says. “The school teachers were on the lot, there were no pills, no diet pills or anything like that when I came in.”
“Unfortunately just before that, they didn’t know how bad diet pills would be for you,” she continued.