'Little Women' 1949: What Happened to the Stars of the Beloved Classic?

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There have been over a dozen Little Women adaptations since the novel's release in 1868 and rerelease in 1889. The first film adaptation was a silent version that debuted in 1918, then there was the 1933 remake with Katharine Hepburn, and many more in between up until the most recent one starring Saoirse Ronan in 2019. But when it comes to capturing the essence and heart of the book, Little Women 1949 shines above the rest. And we found out what happened to that star-studded cast.

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Little Women 1949 cast

June Allyson as Jo March

June Allyson as Jo March in Little Women 1949
IMDB; Derek Storm / Contributor/Getty

Taking on the role of the ambitious, awkward, boyish writer was Golden Globe nominated actress June Allyson.

Allyson was born in 1917 and grew up in the Bronx, New York, singing and dancing. From there, she went on to become one of the chorus members in the hit 1939 Broadway musical Sing Out the News.

Afterward, she became an understudy for Betty Hutton in Panama Hattie, and it was there that she impressed director George Abbott, who cast her in his next musical, "Best Foot Forward. The show was later adapted into a movie by MGM studios, with Allyson reprising her on-stage role. That 1943 film was what encouraged MGM to give her an acting contract.

Over the next six years, Allyson starred in films like Meet the People (1944), Music for Millions (1944), The Sailor Takes a Wife (1945), Good News (1947) and The Bride Goes Wild (1948), before becoming the third ever on-screen Jo March in 1949.

After Little Women, Allyson kept acting. She can be seen in things like The Glenn Miller Story (1954), The Opposite Sex (1956), See the Man Run (1971), The Kid with The Borken Halo (1982) and A Girl, Three Guys and a Gun (2000).

Allyson died in 2008 at age 88 due to respiratory failure and acute bronchitis. She had 75 acting credits to her name.

Did you know? Allyson was married four times and divorced three. She even married the same man (Alfred Glenn Maxwell) twice, once from April 1, 1966 to March 17, 1970 and the other from October 13, 1963 to April 20, 1965.

Elizabeth Taylor as Amy March: Little Women 1949

Elizabeth Taylor as Amy March 
Moviestillsdb.com/MGM; Stephen Shugerman / Stringer/Getty

Oscar winner and Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor became the selfish, spoiled and vain Amy March in the 1949 Little Women.

Taylor was born in 1932 and began acting at a very young age, with her first role being There's One Born Every Minute in 1942. She was 10. And Taylor didn't stop there, her star continuing to rise as she starred in eight other projects before Little Women, which some consider to be her breakout role.

After leaving Concord, Massachusetts, Taylor went on to do big-budget films like Father of the Bride (1950), The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954), BUtterfield 8 (1960), Cleopatra (1963), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), A Little Night Music (1977), The Flintstones (1994) and more. The last credit to her name before her death in 2011 was Elton Johns's music video Original Sin in 2002.

Did you know? Taylor was married eight times in total and had four kids with three different husbands. Also, similar to Allyson, she married the same man (Richard Burton) twice.

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Janet Leigh as Meg March

Janet Leight as Meg March in Little Women 1949
IMDB; Gregg DeGuire / Contributor/Getty

The eldest March sister was portrayed by actress Janet Leigh.

Leigh was born in 1927, but did not start acting until 20 years later. In fact, Little Women was the sixth film she had ever starred in. It wasn't the last, though, because after filming wrapped, she went on to appear in 59 more films and TV shows.

Some notable ones include Houdini (1953), an Oscar nomintion for Psycho (1960), Bye Bye Birdie (1963) and One is a Lonely Number (1972).

Leigh died in 2004 at age 77. She was married four times over the course of her life and has two children, one of whom is Jamie Lee Curtis.

Did you know? Leigh was super smart and skipped several grades while growing up. She graduated high school at age 15.

Margaret O'Brien as Beth March: Little Women 1949

Margaret O'Brien as Beth March 
IMDB; Kevin Winter / Staff/Getty

Winning the Juvenile Academy Award as the outstanding child actress of 1944, Margaret O'Brien was already a force to be reckoned with when she became the quiet, caring, and musical Beth March.

Born in 1937, even before she joined the March family, O'Brien appeared in titles like Jane Eyre (1943), Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) and Tenth Avenue Angel (1948).

And while Beth may have died in the 1949 film, O'Brien certainly did not. In fact, it was quite the opposite. She went on to work on projects like Glory (1954), Heller in Pink Tights (1960), Amy (1981),  Sunset After Dark (1966) and Impact Event(2018).

O'Brien is still alive today and, at 87, is set to star in a horror film entitled Prepper's Grove, which is currently in post-production.

Did you know? Her 1944 Academy Award was stolen and it was nearly 50 years before two memorabilia collectors found it and gave it back to her.

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Mary Astor as Marmee

Mary Astor as Marmee in Little Women 1949
De Carvalho Collection / Contributor/Getty; Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer/Getty

The loving, gentle, and giving March family matron could not have been played by anyone other than Mary Astor.

Astor began her film career in the 1920s, starring in films like The Rapids (1922), Beau Brummel (1923), Behind Office Doors (1931), The Hurricane (1937), Desert Fury (1947) and many others before becoming Mrs. March in 1949.

Post Little Women, Astor continued to work, starring in A Kiss Before Dying (1956), The Devils Hairpin (1957), Youngblood Hawke (1964) and Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964).

Astor died in 1986 at age 81 with 155 acting credits and one Oscar win.

Did you know? She had written five novels, an autobiography and a memoir. All were best sellers.

Peter Lawford as Theodore "Laurie" Lawrence

Peter Lawford as Theodore
Silver Screen Collection / Contributor/Getty; Silver Screen Collection / Contributor/Getty

Rounding out the Little Women cast is Peter Lawford, who became the charming Theodore "Laurie" Lawrence, who eventually marries Amy March.

Lawford had a pretty successful career before Little Women, with titles like Junior Army (1942), Someone to Remember (1943), Mrs. Parkington (1944), and Son of Lassie (1945). After Little Women, he could be seen in It Should Happen to You (1954), Oceans Eleven (1960), Sylvia (1965), Body and Soul (1981), and more.

Lawford had 123 credits to his name before his death in 1984. He was 61.

Did you know? Lawford was one of the members of of the Rat Pack alongside Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Lawrence. He was the first one to pass away.

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