Humphrey Bogart (one of the possible candidates for the role of Norman Maine) can be heard as the voice of the drunk requesting "Melancholy Baby" in the café.
Judy Garland did not attend the 1955 Academy Awards, where she was nominated as Best Actress for her portrayal of Vicki Lester in A Star Is Born, because she was in hospital after giving birth to her third child and only son Joey Luft.
Judy Garland was nominated for an Oscar as best actress and James Mason was nominated for best actor. These two nominations are the first time in Academy Awards history for two people in the same film playing roles for which different people were earlier nominated for Oscars: Janet Gaynor and Fredric March in the 1937 version.
Groucho Marx called Judy Garland not winning an Oscar for A Star Is Born, "the biggest robbery since Brink's." Hedda Hopper later reported that her loss to Grace Kelly for The Country Girl was the result of the closest Oscar vote up till that time that didn't end in a tie, with just six votes separating the two. In any event, it was a heartbreak from which she never really recovered and which has remained a matter of some controversy ever since.
Cary Grant turned down the role of Norman Maine. He reportedly refused to work with 'Judy Garland' (I) because of her erratic behavior and debilitating addictions.
Hugh Martin, who was hired as vocal arranger, stormed off the set after a row with Judy Garland over her interpretation of "The Man That Got Away".
A torch song supreme which was nominated for an Oscar, "The Man That Got Away" (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ira Gershwin) had been photographed in three diverse schemes on a nightclub floor using distinctly different camera setups, lighting, placement of the band members and furniture, costuming for Judy Garland and the musicians, hairstyles for Miss Garland, and bits of business before she sings. (In the initial footage, Tommy Noonan lightly shoves Judy off the piano bench. In the next design, Judy serves coffee to Tommy and the on-screen trumpeter.) Ultimately, the "dark" version was chosen - with the club appearing somewhat cavernous in mostly dark-brownish hews, plus Judy wearing a navy-blue dress. The various permutations of this famous film number can be compared on the DVD from Warner Home Video.
After filming the Academy Award scene where Esther/Vicki is inadvertently slapped by a drunken Norman Maine, the whole side of Judy Garland's face was bruised.
Although Amanda Blake is still listed in the credits, her role entirely disappeared after the premiere because she appeared in one of the sequences cut to shorten the film's running time.
At age 20, Judy Garland first had played the role of Vicki Lester (Esther Blodgett) on the "Lux Radio Theatre" hour-long adaptation of the original 1937 film. The CBS broadcast of December 28, 1942, without songs, co-starred Walter Pidgeon as Norman Maine.
Average Shot Length (ASL) = 16 seconds.
Because the role of Norman Maine is that of a has-been actor, it was rejected by Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Cary Grant (who at first accepted it) before being finally accepted by James Mason.
Early tests were made using WarnerScope (Warner's own wide screen format) and WarnerColor. Both were judged to be unsatisfactory. The film was shot in CinemaScope (licensed from Fox) and Technicolor.
Filming took 10 months to complete.
In the scene after the movie premiere, Matt Libby is at a party where he passes a man and says, "Hey, Ray! Great score, the best!" The man is Ray Heindorf, musical director for this film.
Norman Maine mentions the name 'Ellen Terry' to Esther Blodgett. Ellen Terry (1847 - 1928, created a Dame in 1925) was an English stage actress who became the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain during the late nineteenth century, as well as performing in plays by Ibsen, G.B. Shaw and many others.
The "shield and initials" logo on the front of the orchestra's touring bus spoofs Warner Bros. own classic "WB Shield" logo.
The 15-minute "Born in a Trunk" medley was designed by Roger Edens and Leonard Gershe. It was inserted into the film when it was decided that none of the three Arlen/Gershwin songs submitted supplied an acceptable conclusion to the first half of the film. Mr. Edens, Judy Garland's musical mentor during her MGM years (1935-1950), also crafted the around-the-world-in-a-living-room concept for "Someone at Last" (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ira Gershwin). Still under contract to Metro in 1954, Roger received no screen credit as either contributor or co-writer (with Mr. Gershe) of the "Born in a Trunk" song.
The character "Lettie" from the 1937 version is divided between "Norman Maine" (early scenes) and "Danny McGuire" (later scenes) in the 1954 version.
The film was re-edited several times. Premiering at 181 minutes, the studio (Warner Bros.) cut the film by 30 minutes despite the objections of director George Cukor and producer Sidney Luft (Judy Garland's husband). In 1983, all but 5 minutes of the cut footage was found and re-instated, but some footage had to be reconstructed using production stills.