Review and Recap of Judy: Beyond the Rainbow

This is yet another documentary that I repeatedly watched and re-watched on YouTube. The A&E (from the days before they aired Duck Dynasty and before they completely abandoned their original purpose, but I digress) documentary from 1997, as a part of their Biography series, tells the story of the incomparable singer and actress, Judy Garland. The documentary is told through narration, archive photos and footage, and interviews from numerous people who knew Garland.

Judy: Beyond the Rainbow focuses Garland’s life from shortly before her birth, to her death.

It begins with Garland’s upbringing in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and focuses on her beginnings of stardom.  Her family moved to California when she was four, and she began performing publicly with her two older sisters.

Garland eventually auditioned with MGM at the age of 12, and she captivated the studio with her singing voice, which was much, much, much, much more mature than would be expected for a girl her age.

MGM struggled to figure out what to do with Garland because she was too old to be a child star, but too young to be an adult performer.  At a height of four feet and eleven-and-a-half inches, she was did not have the look of other tall, slender actresses at MGM, such as Lana Turner.  She was a “girl next door.”

Eventually, Garland was cast in her signature role, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.  This film included her signature song “Over the Rainbow” which she would sing for the rest of her life.

Throughour the 1940s Garland became a big star; she also got married to Vincente Minnelli, and had her first child, Liza Minnelli, but there were lots of problems in her professional life.  Her dependency on drugs made it more and more difficult to keep up with the demands that MGM made of her.  She was fired from three films, and left MGM.

Despite this, she found renewed success on stage including, most notably on the Palace on Broadway.

Garland married again to Sid Luft, who, as her manager, was a big part in her success singing on stage.  They later had two children, Lorna and Joey Luft

Garland and Luft tried to make a comeback with the film A Star Is Born for Warner Bros., but the production was troubled.  Despite this, the film was very good and premiered to universally positive reviews.  Then Warner Bros. decided to cut about 30 minutes from the film, which caused outrage.  The film failed to make a profit, but Garland was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.  She was expected to win.  Since she had recently given birth, a camera crew was set up in her room to broadcast her acceptance speech.  However, Grace Kelly won for her role in The Country Girl.  The crew immediately packed up their equipment and left, without saying another word.

Through the rest of the 1950s, Garland performed on stage and on TV.  In the early 1960s she had her own show on CBS, The Judy Garland Show, but it lasted for only one season.

In 1969, Garland married her fifth husband, Mickey Deans in London, and they lived in the Chelsea neighborhood.  On June 22, 1969, Deans found Garland dead on the bathroom floor.  This ended the life of an incomparable singer, actress, and entertainer.

The documentary is one of my favorites because of the subject.  Garland was very talented.  But her talent was equally matched by the troubles of her life.  It was easy to see the triumphs and struggles of Garland’s life, and this was helped by the numerous amounts of archival footage, narration, and interviews with several the actors, musicians, and filmmakers that worked with Garland.  I really recommend this documentary to fans of Garland and fans of classic cinema.

 

 

 

Eulogy for Judy Garland

This blog post was originally written for a speech class.  We had to write a speech for a person, either famous or non-famous, alive or dead.  Today is the 46th anniversary of her untimely death.


Ellis Sutton

04/06/2015

Eulogy


Today, we reflect upon and say goodbye to a woman of immense talent, and who has captivated countless numbers of people around the world.  In her signature song, she sang about looking to a life beyond your own reality.  While her achievements were just as great as her struggles, what’s most important is the good parts of her life.  That woman is Judy Garland.

Like most icons, Judy Garland had humble beginnings.  She was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota 1922 to father Frank Gumm, and mother Ethel Gumm, and she was named after the both of them: Frances Ethel Gumm.  She had two older sisters:Mary Jane Gumm and Dorothy Virginia Gumm.

Judy was a star from almost the very beginning; at the age of two-and-a-half, she made her first public performance, singing “Jingle Bells.” (Shipman, 1993, p. 12).  In 1926, the family moved to California, where Ethel began working very hard to make her three daughters stars.  The trio began performing publicly as the Gumm Sisters.  Eventually their name was changed to the Garland Sisters, but Judy who was nicknamed Baby, due to being the youngest, wished to create a more distinguished identity for herself, and adopted the name, Judy.

Hard work paid off, and Judy secured a contract with MGM in 1935.  However, things would not be happy forever.  Judy’s father died that same year, leaving her devastated.

Over the next few years, Judy worked long hours on films, and then things went up from there when she received her most iconic role: Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz which was release in 1939.  This film along with the song “Over the Rainbow” touched many people with its message of the importance of creating a better life for oneself.

For the next decade, Judy was a big star, but the long hours and other personal struggles made things difficult.  There were some good parts.  She married Vincente Minnelli who directed her in Meet Me in St. Louis, and they had a daughter named Liza.  This marriage would end, but Judy moved on with her life.

In 1950, Judy left MGM, finding their demands to be too much to bear; nonetheless, she started a new chapter with her life when Sid Luft arranged for her to begin performing on stage the following year.  These performances were hugely successful.  Judy performed at the Palace in New York City, for over twenty weeks, and she received special Tony Award.  Judy and Sid would get married in 1952 and they had daughter Lorna and son Joe.

In 1954, Judy attempted a comeback in films with A Star is Born, she was acclaimed for her performance, and got nominated for an Academy Award.

Judy would make other endeavors as an entertainer.  She had her own television show, The Judy Garland Show from 1963-1964.  She also released a popular concert album Judy At Carnegie Hall.

I will leave you with this: Judy Garland struggled with life.  But she has left a legacy that will be remembered and treasured for all time.

References

 

Judy Garland. (2015). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 01:51, Apr 06, 2015, from http://www.biography.com/people/judy-garland-9306838.

 

Shipman, D. (1993). Judy Garland: The secret life of an American legend. New York: Hyperion.