Sunday, July 3, 2011


"For Judy Garland's family and friends who have contributed so generously to this work"
dedication to FROM TENNESSEE TO OZ: The Amazing Saga of Judy Garland's Family History by Michelle Russell

Happy Sunday!

Greetings this Fourth of July weekend! Can’t believe that it’s actually here! Those of us on the East Coast have lousy weather today! June literally passed by in a blink of an eye with all the activities I had on my calendar. A barbeque that I was scheduled to attend today has been postponed till tomorrow, rain or shine.
So, I don't feel guilty sitting at my computer and writing my blog this morning.
Big news in Hollywood!

Beyoncé will star in Clint Eastwood’s remake of the classic rags-to-riches tale A Star Is Born.

Beyoncé had been tipped for the role for some time but she finally confirmed the casting during an interview with Good Morning America. "Clint Eastwood? Can you believe that? I can't believe it still. When I met with him I was just in awe. I'm so, so honored that he believes in me. And I can't wait to do this film," she said.

"I represent this generation's talent and for me to be the chosen person, as an African American woman, is incredible," the chart-topper added.

The role Beyoncé will play, an aspiring singer who arrives in Hollywood desperate for a break, has already been played by Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Janet Gaynor in previous remakes.

Leonardo DiCaprio is expected to be announced as the male lead, an aging film star who helps Beyoncé’s character find fame, while Clint Eastwood will direct.
Filming starts in autumn; the movie is set for release in 2012.

I think it is great that this universal story is getting a new retelling for a new generation. The last time was 1976. 1976's A Star Is Born was an American rock music musical film telling the story of a young woman, played by Barbra Streisand who enters show business, and meets and falls in love with an established male star, played by Kris Kristofferson, only to find her career ascending while his goes into decline. This version was the highest-grossing of the three films and the second highest grossing film of 1976 in the US behind Rocky.
(Side note, Rocky is slated to come to Broadway as a musical!)

Much success, Beyonce'! I'm rooting for you!

Now, I would like to write about A star on the rise who has written about the early rise of another star that we all love!. Michelle Russell! Michelle has been working tirelessly for as long as I've known her...about ten years on preserving the legacy of Judy Garland's early Francis Gumm... and events leading up to her birth. I have received an advance copy of the book and it is incredible!

Michelle has explored old documents, sought out relatives and followed the yellow brick road-cross-country-in pursuit of Judy Garland's past history.
She has discovered a fascinating, never-to-be-forgotten history, as well as unearthed new stories about young Judy and her family from the people who were there.

Clemmie Baugh, a beautiful, crippled girl from a wealthy Tennessee family, grew up during the Civil War. Clemmie meets and falls in love with the handsome Will Gum, who has big dreams, but no money. After a short-lived success, Will falls to temptation and looses everything. Soon, Clemmie's mother lives in fear of her life. Eventually, Will and Clemmie's son, young Frank Gum, because of his beautiful voice, is rescued by the richest man in town. This book, FROM TENNESSEE TO OZ,covers 1870 through the 1940s. Plus over 170 images.

The book-which, as I said earlier, is an advance copy-was completed a few weeks ago in order to arrive at the Judy Garland Festival, which just happened last month.

For those who bought advance copies, Michelle will be putting out a newsletter to update you. Michelle says this has been a fabulous eight year journey, discovering Judy's family history.

Michelle Russell is an actress, singer and producer. This is her sixth book.
There is also a companion CD, which I also recommend. It's already on my Ipod! All of this has taken it's toll on Michelle, as well...just as it did with Judy! going broke twice, overcoming foreclosure and more.

She says she just hopes she has told this story well enough. She has!
During her eight years of work on FROM TENNESSEE TO OZ, Michelle travelled to nine states and conducted long-distance research in an additional eight states. "There are pioneers, plantation owners, Civil War soldiers, ministers of God, a US Congressman, and some persons, like Garland's grandfather, Will T. Gum, of questionable character."
" There are hints of pyromania, death threats and other shocking allegations."

There was a lady who once lived in the family home and took care of the three year-old child known as Baby Gumm. As a result of the generosity of countless persons, Michelle was able to fill her book with many rare stories and photos.

Michelle has appeared at The Judy Garland Festival many times.
For information on FROM TENNESSEE TO OZ, please call (570)443-8275.

Check out From Tennessee To Oz

Check in tomorrow as I write about two more stars on the honoring a major superstar!

I own nothing, no copyright infringement on anything included in this blog intended.

Thanks for being a loyal reader of my blog!

Become A Facebook friend of mine!
Follow me on Twitter
If you've seen one of my appearances/shows, add your thoughts to my guestbook at

Tomorrow's blog will be about You tell me...I'm open to suggestions!


Richard Skipper,

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for letting us know about the forthcoming book on Judy's family ... I'll be getting a copy for sure! My God, that woman was beautiful ... I think because I couldn't marry "Dorothy" I was spoiled for life - who can compare!? :)