Is Jackson Maine A Real Person? 'A Star Is Born' Fans Are Searching For Answers
A Star Is Born is thrilling audiences and generating Oscar buzz. But very soon it won't be the only musically-inclined film to be competing at the box office. Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen and Freddie Mercury biopic, will arrive in a matter of weeks. But should these films really be considered of the same genre? Freddie Mercury (and the rest of Queen) were real people. Is Jackson Maine a real person? Is A Star is Born a biopic?
In a word, no. This is a story as old as Hollywood, having been made four times since 1937. Jackson Maine is merely an updated version of an archetype which has lasted nearly a century. But this doesn't mean star Bradley Cooper didn't base his characterization on a real rock god.
Speaking to Yahoo just before the film was released, Cooper revealed his character was an amalgamation of many people. But he had heavily relied on Pearl Jam frontman and 90s-era rock god Eddie Vedder to help create the details.
I went up to Seattle and spent four or five days with him, and I asked him 9,000 questions. And he gave me minor, little things that only musicians know about what to do, just aesthetically and the inner workings.
So, where did the character of Jackson Maine originate from? He can be traced back through the older version of the film.
Jackson Maine Was Originally Norman Maine
The 2018 version of A Star Is Born may be the fourth version of the film, but it's been over 40 years since the last one. Baby names have changed drastically over the decades, necessitating the aging star to have a first name change to Jackson. Back in the 1970s, the original name of the character, Norman, was slightly dated for a rock star of the era, so in the Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson version of the movie, he became John Norman.
Norman Maine Was Originally An Actor
Before the 1970s version of A Star Is Born, the story wasn't actually set in the world of rock and roll. Instead, it was a story of Hollywood, of actors who faded away as the next generation took over. In the 1954 version, Norman Maine (played by James Mason) was an aging matinee idol from the 1930s and '40s. The reason it was made a musical was due to his co-star being Judy Garland, who was world famous for her singing and dancing.
The Original Norman Maine Was Rumored To Be Frank Fay
The very first A Star is Born is a "timeless" story which was actually a product of its era, one where women had made their first strides towards equality at the same time technological changes radically altered the entertainment industry. Norman Maine was a vaudeville performer who has failed to transfer from stage to film, while star Esther was a darling of the talkies.
It was heavily rumored (and still is) "Esther" was a thinly veiled version of Barbara Stanwyck and "Norman" was her first husband, vaudeville performer Frank Fay, who died of alcoholism.
Jackson, Maine, Is A Real Place
But just because Jackson Maine isn't a real person doesn't mean Jackson, Maine, doesn't exist. Check Google Maps and you'll find it. According to CityData, it's a tiny town with a population of under 600 residents in the 04921 zip code. It's about a seven-and-a-half-hour drive from New York City or a seven-and-a-half-hour flight from Los Angeles.
This post was originally published on Oct. 16, 2018. It was updated on Sept. 4, 2019.