A Star Is Born (Again)

Roughly forty-five minutes into William A. Wellman’s A Star is Born (1937), veteran press agent Matt Libby (Lionel Stander) is asked to fabricate a marketable biography for a certain Esther Victoria Blodgett (Janet Gaynor), his studio’s freshly signed ingenue. It all seems to be going quite smoothly—until Libby hears the new signee’s name. “Do you know," he asks his boss indignantly, “what her name is?” Oliver Niles (Adolphe Menjou), the studio’s head producer, is no less mortified. “We’ll have to do something about that right away," he concedes, and with that he launches into an impromptu brainstorm. Blodgett is out. Victoria is cut down to Vicki. And Esther? No: “Siesta, Besta, Sesta, Fester, Jester, Hester . . . Lester—Vicki Lester.” Niles chants the name like an incantation. He calls on his cronies for corroboration. The whole office starts crying it out: “Vicki Lester, Vicki Lester, Vicki Lester,
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