Was Judy Garland THE the entertainer of the 20th century?
(Check out our blog on this subject of Oct. 23, and note the opening picture).
It’s certainly safe to say that she continues to evoke considerable interest today, and perhaps even a measure controversy. Consider the two emails below from two readers firmly in the Garland camp.
Here’s regular correspondent Mark boldly stating the opening position:
She was wonderful: a brilliant, one-of-a-kind talent.
There are different criteria for judging “The World’s Greatest Entertainer,” but I think if you were to go by the comments of co-workers and associates, you’d almost certainly have to consider Judy to be either the greatest, or at least one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century.
As Gene Kelly said: “The greatest all-around performer we ever had in America was Judy Garland. There was no limit to her talent. She was the quickest, brightest person I ever worked with.” Many of his most notable contemporaries would agree.
PS: I also think Judy looked her loveliest in the early/mid-1940s, as in the first photo you have for this blog entry (the Oct. 23 blog mentioned above). It looks like it was taken around the time she made 1943’s PRESENTING LILY MARS, a minor film in her MGM canon, but one in which she may have looked the most naturally beautiful onscreen.
It must be said that of the two of us, Joe is by far the more enthusiastic Garland fan. Frank is — or was — skeptical until he took another look at her performance in 1954’s A Star Is Born, especially her riveting delivery of the Harold Arlen-Ira Gershwin song, The Man That Got Away. The sheer emotive power generated by the diminutive Garland nearly knocked Frank out of his chair. Talk about shock and awe.
Anyway, we decided to publish our first Judy Garland Quiz (Questions on Oct. 28 and Answers on Oct. 29), one of the formats we use to pay tribute to the classic stars we admire. Our next correspondent, Jeff Woodman, has something to say about what we wrote:
Hey guys, longtime reader/fan, but first time comment-er. Feel compelled to point out a couple of errors in the Garland quiz.
First of all, (producer-director Mervyn) LeRoy’s memoir (quoted in the blog) is wrong; Garland was never gap toothed. She had a twisted front tooth, for which a cap was made. The photo of the 3 Gumm sisters in your post about Garland’s early years clearly shows no gap, and it was taken long before she ever set foot in Culver City. (There are off-screen photos from the concert years in which she isn’t wearing the cap and the twisted tooth is quite visible.)
Also, Scotland Yard (who you must admit would know more about it than we) ruled her death an accident — please stop propagating the myth that she committed suicide. Even most of her “documented” attempts like the throat “scratch” in the bathroom of the home she shared with (second husband Vincente) Minnelli were more cries for help and attention than sincere attempts to die.
All that said, love your blog posts. Thanks for all the great work, and keep it coming!
And thank you Jeff and Mark. Keep it coming we will.