Monday, May 14, 2007

Sing A Sad Song

I've been reading a biography of Judy Garland and I'm not quite finished with it yet. As much as I thought I knew from occasional TV pieces and so forth, I wasn't really ready for the long hard haul. She was definitely a woman ruined by men, the old-fashioned kind of man--one who may dress in Armani suits, but still drags his caveman club around with him. It seems so sad. But she was a sort of willing victim because she NEEDED a man so badly. It seems that without the constant attention of a man plus the applause and adoration of her fans, she thought she was nothing much. Maybe just a pill-popping fool. Of course, she seems remarkably likable to us who were never there when she overdosed, or hit somebody in the head, or pretended to be slashing her wrists, or set fire to a closetful of her lover's clothes! She threw rocks, clocks, and kitchen knives at departing employees' cars (and she didn't miss). And, in an environment of stupid macho daddies who'd pester her and deride her, she couldn't help but fail.

Judy was the ultimate entertainer, they say, and it may be right. But I suspect she could have been less crazy if her mother and MGM hadn't shoved pills down her throat for years when she was young and if the men in her life had ever been very stable. So many of them fleeced her for unearned portions of her revenues from singing, it's amazing. Bad enough that a woman could be so careless and be such a total junkie in front of so many admirers, but in addition to that, the men she loved and/or was married to could never refrain from stealing her money. She liked to think she didn't care, but it kept leaving her bankrupt and hounded by tradesmen and employees for their payments. It was partly her fault and partly our fault, but it had to be admitted that the world beat her up pretty badly. These days she is such an icon that she almost is not a person, but we should remember her and watch out how we treat the next Judy Garland. She was such a flower, despite being rude and crude at times. She still liked to think that she was a Lady, but she was often so demented by pills (which finally killed her) that I can't see where she was. She was becoming a tough old derelict toward the end at 47.

She's been dead since 1969 and yet we still celebrate her, still long for her. It seems odd to me, what a Force, what a Beauty she was (many times) and yet what a loser! We can't change that. Think of it, though, the next time you feel tempted not to cut a poor soul any slack. Try not to sing a sad song.


  1. It's sad to see some of these beautiful women who don't feel worthy of or can't accept love and success, and they end up destroying themselves with booze and pills. Really sad.
    But there's no doubt about it, she was a lovely woman and great talent. Wasn't she only in her teens when she did The Wizard of Oz? Or was she in her early 20's?

  2. A sad song, it seems, is all entertainers like her left us. I still pine for Norma Jean, who would be the age of my mother today!

  3. I forget, but I do remember the book said that they had to bind her breasts so that she wouldn't look too old to be Dorothy.

    So, neither Norma Jean nor Marilyn would be here any more; it'd just be another plump Grandma!

  4. A very sad story. She was a true beauty with remarkable talent and a raging monster on the inside.

    I'll have to read the book. She was one of my grandmother's favorite entertainers.

  5. Hmm, if Wikipedia is to be believed, she was only 16 when Wizard was made. BUT it says she was only 4 feet 11 inches tall. I never knew that! I thought she was very tall...weird.

  6. Goddess: you know those people on TV and movie screens are the same height to us all the time, and our eye forgets to measure.

    Alisa, the bio I read was "Get Happy", which I just finished. It was merely the book my local library happened to have, so there may be a dozen others. This one didn't white-wash anything, but the author was apparently a fan who never stopped trying to be loving toward her.


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