Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Judy Garland!

"The rest of us will be forgotten, never Judy."
-Frank Sinatra

10 June 1922: Somewhere over the rainbow near Grands Rapid Minnesota, Judy Garland was born. So much has been written about her. What more can I say? I can say this: What was it about her that touched the heart and soul of this little boy growing up on a tobacco farm in South Carolina...and STILL touches his heart and soul? Perhaps it is just her sheer desire to entertain.
A desire that I share as well. I want my blog today to focus on the legacy of work that Judy left behind. After all, that is what touched me in the first place. Memories of watching THE WIZARD OF OZ with my family every year. Even today, that iconic film is so closely associated with my childhood.

Memories of my first books on Judy Al DiOrio's LITTLE GIRL LOST
I still remember how excited I was the day I found this paperback at Rose's Department Store at The Coastal Mall. My mom bought it for me and I could not wait to get home to read it! I was 13!
My Pyramid Book on JUDY (I just ordered it on Amazon. I feel like I'm going to be reconnecting with an old friend!).
I remember vividly taking this book to school in the 7th grade and having an animated conversation with Rose Montgomery in Mr. Sargent's science class about how important Judy Garland was!

My Aunt Grace buying Christopher Finch's RAINBOW for me.

Then there was Gerald Frank's bio of Judy!
Based on over 200 interviews and full access to her personal papers, letters, contracts, and photos, as well as the complete cooperation of her children, husbands, relatives, doctors, fellow actors, and directors, this biography explores with candor and empathy the tempestuous, theatrical life of Judy Garland . Here, in all her glory and turmoil, is the singer-actress whose performances in films like The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, A Star Is Born, and on concert tours enthralled audiences, a woman whose brazen and tender voice continues to captivate listeners decades after her death at age forty-seven.
Anne Edwards' bio of Judy.
Hollywood in the early days - where stars were created, glamorized and lionized, and where child-star Francis Gumm took her first step on the path that was to rocket her to world-wide fame and fortune. The beginning of the legend of Judy Garland. In this searching biography that legend is examined and stripped of its glittering veneer. Revealed is a lonely woman desperately searching out love and affection, emotions she only discovered in the adulation of her millions of fans. Kept going by pills and the pressure of those eager to abuse and exploit her, she was driven to breaking point, but still the magic lingered on. A story of dreams and nightmares, marriages and divorces, financial crises and her tragic early death, the sensational Garland legend still survives today.

I also remember sneaking up late at night to catch the showings of Judy's concerts from her TV specials. I could go on and on. What are YOUR iconic memories? Here are some of mine...(Focusing mostly on Judy's early career!)
From A Star Is Born. Pure Judy Garland Talent.
Judy Garland (June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress and singer. Through a career that spanned 45 of her 47 years, Garland attained international stardom as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on the concert stage. Respected for her versatility, she received a juvenile Academy Award, won a Golden Globe Award, as well as Grammy Awards and a Special Tony Award. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in A Star is Born and for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1961 film, Judgement at Nuremberg.At 40 years of age, she was the youngest recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the motion picture industry. After appearing in vaudeville with her sisters, Garland was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager.
There she made more than two dozen films, including nine with Mickey Rooney and the 1939 film with which she would be most identified, The Wizard of Oz.
After 15 years, Garland was released from the studio but gained renewed success through record-breaking concert appearances, including a return to acting beginning with critically acclaimed performances.
Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States from the early 1880s until the early 1930s.
(Judy Garland in Pigskin Parade, her first feature film. A loan out to 20th Century Fox. The one and only time MGM would loan her out).

Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts included popular and classical musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and male impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from plays, basketball athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels, and movies.
Vaudeville was a frequent theme in Judy's earlier films.
Her first feature film with MGM was BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938 which gave us DEAR MR. GABLE (YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU).

That was filmed in 1937. That same year she was rushed right into Thoroughbreds Don't Cry which is significant because this was the first time that she was teamed with her frequent co-star, Mickey Rooney.

What a rapport they had with each other!
Cricket West, played by Judy Garland, is a hopeful actress with a plan and a pair of vocal chords that bring down the house. Along with her eccentric aunt, she plays host to the local jockeys, whose leader is the cocky but highly skilled Timmie Donovan.
When a young English gentleman comes to town convincing Donovan to ride his horse in a high stakes race, the plot breaks into a speeding gallop. Donovan is disqualified from racing, but Cricket springs into action and heads into the home stretch riding high!

Vaudeville developed from many sources, including the concert saloon, minstrelsy, freak shows, dime museums, and literary burlesque. Called "the fictional heart of American show business," vaudeville was one of the most American types of entertainment for several decades.
The origin of the term is obscure, but is often explained as being derived from the expression voix de ville, or "voice of the city."

Another plausible etymology finds origins in the French Vau de Vire, a valley in Normandy noted for its style of satirical songs with topical themes.
The term vaudeville, referring specifically to North American variety entertainment, came into common usage after 1871 with the formation of Sargent's Great Vaudeville Company of Louisville, Kentucky. It had little, if anything, to do with the Com├ędie en vaudeville of the French theatre.
Leavitt's and Sargent's shows differed little from the coarser material presented in earlier itinerant entertainments, although their use of the term to provide a veneer of respectability points to an early effort to cater variety amusements to the growing middle class. Though vaudeville had been used in the United States as early as the 1830s, most variety theatres adopted the term in the late 1880s and early 1890s for two reasons. First, seeking middle class patrons, they wished to distance themselves from the earlier rowdy, working-class variety halls. Second, the French or pseudo-French term lent an air of sophistication, and perhaps made the institution seem more consistent with the Progressive Era's interests in education and self-betterment. Judy's next film, EVERYBODY SING also dealt with a Vaudeville theme.

Some preferred the earlier term "variety" to what manager Tony Pastor called its "sissy and Frenchified" successor. Thus, vaudeville was marketed as "variety" well into the twentieth century.

As I write this, GIRL Crazy is on TCM.
GIRL CRAZY (1943) Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Gil Stratton. Dir: Norman Taurog
All day today till 8PM this eve EST is devoted to Judy Garland!
Girl Crazy is a 1943 musical film produced by Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Based on the stage musical of the same name, Girl Crazy stars Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in their ninth of ten pairings, partly filmed on location near Palm Springs, California.
This was also June Allyson's feature film debut.
Judy's second pairing with Mickey was part of the Andy Hardy series. This time out it was LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY Judy said, when first meeting Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney), "I'm Betsy Booth. I sing you know!"
Young Andy Hardy finds himself torn between three girls before returning to the girl next door. Garland's first appearance in the acclaimed Andy Hardy series features her singing "In Between" and "Meet the Best of my Heart."

Then came the film that brought Judy into our homes year after year like a cherished family friend, THE WIZARD OF OZ!
The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed primarily by Victor Fleming. Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, but there were uncredited contributions by others. The lyrics for the songs were written by E.Y. Harburg, the music by Harold Arlen. Incidental music, based largely on the songs, was by Herbert Stothart, with borrowings from classical composers.
Based on the 1900 fairytale novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, the film stars Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan, with Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charles Grapewin, Clara Blandick and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins.
BABES IN ARMS was also made in 1939.

Babes in Arms was the first of four Mickey / Judy "backyard musicals" directed by the legendary Busby Berkeley. June Preisser
made her MGM debut in this film as Baby Rosalie - a bit of a spoof of Shirley Temple. She refers to two of her films, "The Baby General" (Shirley's The Little Colonel) and "The Queen's Little Daughter" (Shirley's The Little Princess). Mickey has dinner with Baby Rosalie to discuss the production with hilarious results - probably the best scene in the movie. Judy sings "I Cried for You" with a tongue-in-cheek monologue written by Roger Edens.

Judy also sings "Figaro" and "Good Morning" (with Mickey Rooney) - a song that would turn up again in the 1952 production, Singin' in the Rain. The film was on the exhibitor's top ten list for 1939, and Mickey Rooney was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award. The film was based on the Rodgers and Hart stage play of the same name, but bore little resemblance to the play.

Judy also left a legacy with her three children. Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft, and Joey Luft.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JUDY! You will NOT be forgotten!

SOURCES: The Wizard of Oz (1939 film)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



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