by June Allyson
Saturday Evening Post
July 5, 1947
The role of Barbara, in Music for Millions, was literally a tonic for me. I was in bed recuperating from pneumonia when I had learned I had been assigned to the part; twenty minutes later, I was out of bed and feeling fine. Over a longer period this part proved equally good for my career. It was my first straight dramatic role, and the most adult, intelligent one I have ever played.
In the picture, Barbara divided her time between playing the bass viol in an orchestra, worrying over her soldier husband, and having a baby. So, to prepare for the role, I had to take music lessons, talk to wives who had husbands overseas, and carefully study the reactions and mannerisms of a friend who was expecting. I must have been fairly successful in the last, because on the set I overheard people asking why I was allowed to work in my condition.
Because of the wealth of fine music spread through the film, working on it held all the fun and excitement of attending a great concert. Jose Iturbi played the part of the orchestra director, and his music so enchanted me that I often felt as if I really were a musician, not just pretending to be one. But for me the picture’s greatest thrill was playing with little Margaret O’Brien. This was the first time we had played together, and I fell in love with her immediately. I was very happy when I discovered that Margaret liked me too.
One day Margaret’s mother found her carefully examining her face in a mirror. “Mother,” she said, “do you think I’ll grow up to look like Hedy Lamarr?”
“No, I don’t think so,” her mother said.
“That’s fine,” Margaret said, “because I’d rather look like June Allyson.