In the star-studded original 1937 version of the romantic drama, “A Star is Born,” Janet Gaynor, Frederick March and Adolph Menjou tell the tale of a young actress (Janet Gaynor) who arrives in Hollywood with hopes of stardom. A chance encounter places her under the wing of older actor Norman Maine (Fredric March). Adopting the stage name Vicki Lester, she co-stars with Norman in a major motion picture entitled “The Enchanted Hour.” The film makes her an overnight success, even as viewers continue to lose interest in Norman. Norman proposes to Vicki; she accepts when he promises to give up drinking. After the couple wed, Vicki’s fame continues to grow, but Norman descends into alcoholism, and she must decide between pursuing her dream and caring for him.
A stay at a sanatorium seems to cure Norman’s increasingly disruptive alcoholism, but a chance encounter with Libby gives the press agent an opportunity to vent his long-concealed contempt and dislike for Norman. Norman resumes drinking. Esther decides to give up her career in order to devote herself to his rehabilitation. After Norman overhears her discussing her plan with Oliver, he drowns himself in the Pacific Ocean.
Shattered, Vicki decides to quit and go home. Soon afterward, her grandmother shows up once she hears Vicki is quitting. Her grandmother tells her of a letter Norman sent her when they got married. The letter stated how proud he was of Vicki, and how much he loved her. Because of her grandmother’s words, and the reminder of Norman’s deep love, Vicki is convinced to stay in show business. At the premiere of her next film at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Vicki is asked to say a few words into the microphone to her many fans listening across the world; she announces, “Hello everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine.”