Esther Blodgett is a talented aspiring singer with a band, and Norman Maine is a former matinee idol with a career in the early stages of decline. When he arrives intoxicated at a function at the Shrine Auditorium, the studio publicist Matt Libby attempts to keep him offstage. After an angry exchange, Norman rushes away and bursts onto a stage where an orchestra is performing. Blodgett takes him by the hand and pretends he is part of the act, thereby turning a potentially embarrassing and disruptive moment into an opportunity for the audience to greet Norman with applause. Realizing that Esther has saved him from public humiliation, Norman thanks her and draws a heart on the wall with her lipstick. He invites her to dinner, and later watches her perform in an after-hours club while recognizing her impressive talent. He urges her to follow her dream and convinces her she can break into movies. Esther is surprised that someone of Norman’s stature sees something special in her. He offers her a screen test and advises her to “sleep on it,” promising to call her the next day. Esther tells Danny McGuire, her bandmate, that she’s quitting their upcoming gig to pursue movies in L.A. Thinking she is crazy, he tries to talk her out of it, but Esther is determined. Norman is called away early in the morning to filming and then falls ill. He attempts to get a message to Esther but cannot remember her address. When she doesn’t hear from him, she suspects he was insincere. Not disheartened, she takes jobs as a carhop and TV commercial singer to make ends meet, convinced she can make it, with or without Norman. Garland in a shot from the film’s trailer Norman tries to find Esther, who’s had to move from her apartment. Then he hears her singing on a television commercial and tracks her down. Studio head Oliver Niles believes Esther is just a passing fancy for the actor, but casts her in a small film role. The studio arbitrarily changes her name to Vicki Lester, which she finds out when she tries to pick up her paycheck. When Norman finally gets Niles to hear “Vicki” sing, he is impressed and she is cast in an important musical film, making her a huge success. Her relationship with Norman flourishes, and they wed As Vicki’s career continues to flourish, Norman finds himself unemployed and going downhill fast—an alcoholic in a tough new film business which doesn’t put up with it. Norman arrives, late and drunk, in the middle of Vicki’s Oscar acceptance speech. He interrupts her speech, rambling and pacing back and forth in front of her. While begging for work from the assembled and embarrassed Hollywood community, he accidentally strikes Vicki in the face. Vicki continues working and tells Oliver that Norman has entered a sanitarium. After supporting him for so long, she worries about the effect of Norman’s alcoholism on her, while acknowledging that he’s trying very hard to overcome his addiction. Niles is amenable to offering Norman work, a gesture for which Vicki is grateful, thinking this may be just the boost her husband needs. At the racetrack, Norman runs into Libby, who taunts him and accuses him of living on Vicki’s earnings. The resulting fight prompts Norman to go on a drinking binge; he is eventually arrested for being drunk and disorderly and receives ninety days in the city jail. Vicki bails him out and brings him home, where they are joined by Niles. Norman goes to bed but overhears Vicki telling Niles she will give up her career to take care of him. He also hears Oliver say that Norman ruined his own career with his drinking. Finally realizing what he’s done to himself, Vicki, his career, and the people around him, Norman leaves his bed, tells Vicki cheerfully that he is going to go for a swim, walks into the ocean—and drowns himself.