Is the Original Movie a Star Is Born Based on a True Story?

If you are a fan of the 2018 movie “A Star is Born,” you might be wondering if the original 1937 film is based on a true story. The answer to that question is both yes and no. Let’s take a closer look at the origins of this classic Hollywood tale.

What is “A Star is Born”?

“A Star is Born” is a story about a young, up-and-coming performer who falls in love with an established star musician. As she rises to fame, his career begins to decline due to alcoholism and personal issues. The story has been told four times in Hollywood, with the most recent version starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

The Original 1937 Film

The first version of “A Star is Born” was released in 1937 and starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. While the movie was not based on a specific true story, it was inspired by real-life events in Hollywood at the time.

During the 1930s, many young actresses were discovered by studio executives while working as waitresses or shop girls. They were then groomed for stardom and often paired with older male stars.

The Inspiration Behind the Story

One real-life example that likely inspired “A Star is Born” was actress Barbara Stanwyck’s rise to fame in the 1930s. Stanwyck was discovered by director Frank Capra while she was working as a chorus girl in a Broadway show. Capra cast her in his film “Ladies of Leisure,” which helped launch her career.

Another possible inspiration for the story was the troubled marriage between actors Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay. Fay was an established star when he married Stanwyck, but his career began to decline as hers took off. He also struggled with alcoholism and abusive behavior towards Stanwyck.

The Later Versions

The later versions of “A Star is Born” were not based on real-life events, but rather adaptations of the original story. The 1954 version starred Judy Garland and James Mason, while the 1976 version starred Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.


While the original “A Star is Born” was not based on a specific true story, it was inspired by real-life events in Hollywood during the 1930s. The story has since become a classic Hollywood tale and has been adapted several times over the years. Whether you prefer the original or one of the remakes, “A Star is Born” remains a timeless tale of love, fame, and tragedy.