Judy Garland‘Judy at Carnegie Hall’

After seven weeks Garland left hospital in January 1960 and fretted through four months of convalescence. Her only medication was a mild tranquilliser though her weight remained a problem.
After recording an album, That’s Entertainment, for Capitol her self-confidence began to return and picking up the threads of her social life, she made friends with John F. Kennedy who was beginning his campaign for Presidency. She appeared with the Senator at a Democratic Convention and he took to telephoning her and asking her to sing ‘Over the Rainbow’ for him.
“Just the first eight bars,” he would say, and after thanking her, he would tell her she had made his day.
With no work being offered in Hollywood, she flew to London for a vacation - despite her fear of planes, she wanted “to prove to myself that I could function as a halfway intelligent woman”. Greeted by the Press, she told them: “I feel marvellous since I’ve gotten over my illness.”
 
After recording for Capitol under Norrie Paramor whom she jokingly called “Noilly Prat”, affecting to mispronounce his name, she decided to settle in London. Sid and her children joined her in London where she began looking for a house. Her close friend Dirk Bogarde suggested she return to the London Palladium: “Without Hungarians with dogs and ventriloquists - just you and a whopping big orchestra.”
Luft worried that it might be too much for her and booked the Palladium for just one night.
‘An Evening With Judy Garland’, booked for Sunday 28 August 1960, sold out within hours of the box office opening, presaging another stage in her career - the concert stage.
Sid Luft: “I didn’t want her to work, but she was in such good shape, it was kind of miraculous.”
 
Backed by the orchestra of Norrie Paramour and dressed comfortably in a short black sheath and blue satin jacket, Garland offered a first act of twelve songs that ended with ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ in tribute to Oscar Hammerstein II who had died five days earlier.
For the second act, she was in a sequinned top and black slacks and did another nineteen numbers. Despite her nervousness, she was in superb voice and in full control of her talent and humour. Unencumbered by dancers and other acts, she could do wrong.
Daily Mail: “She is one of the greatest entertainers of our time, a versatile, volatile, vital personality, a singer of outstanding original talent . . . and a great clown.”
 
The performance was repeated the following Sunday to a capacity house and at the finish the audience rushed down the aisles to congratulate her. The crowds waiting in the street didn’t want to let her go home and hundreds sang ‘For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ as her car drove off.
More concerts followed in Paris (she won eight curtain calls and an embrace on-stage by Maurice Chevalier), in Amsterdam and on four Sundays at Odeon cinemas in Britain.
Judy singing in FrankfurtKeeping her promise to John F. Kennedy, she spent two days in Frankfurt entertaining American troops (pictured right) persuading them to vote: “Senator Kennedy says, and I agree with him, that the important thing is for absentee Americans to vote one way or the other.”
She also appeared in another Royal Variety Show at the Palladium.
Dutch Radio: “She gets more power as she goes further into her show. Everyone is walking to the stage to cheer and applaud, stamping on the floor . . . They can’t get enough.”

Reports of her success in Britain circulated in America and agents Fields and Begelman flew to London to convince her that she was exactly the talent they wanted to handle. Since it seemed to be all happening in America, Garland and her family left England on the last day of 1960 for an apartment in New York. With Fields and Begelman on hand Garland no longer needed Sid Luft and they separated. Their relationship appeared to have exhausted itself on a diet of domestic warfare, but whatever his faults, Sid was the one man in Judy Garland’s life who both loved her and stood up to her.

No Broadway producer would take a chance on her so Freddie Fields arranged a tour, booking nineteen American concert dates. Fields also learned through one of his other clients, Marlene Dietrich, that Stanley Kramer was looking for someone to play a small, but highly dramatic part of a housewife in his film Judgement at Nuremberg. Fields suggested Garland. Kramer figured he could get a good performance out of Judy whatever problems might ensue and so she broke into her tour in March to fit in the filming.
Weeks before arriving on set she had studied the accent of a German hausfrau and was punctual and co-operative during the shooting, probably helped by the fact that she did not have to carry the entire film. Nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress, she lost the Oscar to Rita Moreno in West Side Story.
Judy: “Damn it, Stanley, I can’t do it. I’ve dried up. I’m too happy to cry.”
Stanley Kramer:
“I saw staid citizens acting like bobby-soxers at an Elvis Presley show. I was struck, too, by the tremendous emotional range of Judy’s performance . . . She’s like a piano. You touch any key, and a pure note of emotion comes out.”
Maximilian Schell:
“Garland is fantastic; every dimension is there.”
Judy:
“Oh, horseshit, Max - just act the damn scene.”
 
At Catskills’ Concord Hotel, the second concert of the tour, the hotel’s musical director couldn’t handle Garland’s difficult arrangements so Fields and Begelman persuaded Mort Lindsay, who had given up conducting to pursue composition, to take over as musical director. Lindsay was later talked into becoming Garland’s permanent musical director and her orchestral arranger. Garland had never sung better in her life, but the better she became, the more she worried about being up to standard and she began to threaten not to go on. Sometimes she became angry at being separated from her children and would cry: “I work my ass off, making money for everybody and can’t even have my children with me.”
Mort Lindsay: “People would say Judy was difficult. I found her easier to work with than anybody. She appreciated what you did; she made your stuff come alive - even more that you’d hope.”

Judy at Carnegie Hall
Garland reached the apex of her adult career when she arrived at Carnegie Hall on 23 April 1961. The word had gone out that she was completely in control of her talent again and tickets had been sold out within hours of going on sale. By eight o’clock the streets around 7th Avenue and 57th Street were jammed. The audience of 3,165 included nearly all of Broadway’s top performers on their Sunday night off and many movie stars who had flown in from Los Angeles. The atmosphere was electric and petrified by fear - “this ain’t Dallas, kiddo! This is Carnegie Hall . . . and I ain’t Heifetz or Rubinstein!” - Judy almost didn’t go on. She did, and it went down as one of the greatest nights in show business history (pictured right).
Greeted by a standing ovation that lasted five minutes, she could only say, “Oh, my . . .”, and mock-clap back to the audience.
Time: “She got, without opening her mouth, what it takes Renata Tebaldi two and a half hours of Puccini to achieve.”
 
Her voice was flawless. The concert spanned two and a half hours and twenty-six songs, showing Judy in all her moods from clown to mistress of melodrama.
There were standards, show-stoppers, numbers from her movies and Al Jolson songs - “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody’ and ‘Swanee’.
After a multitude of curtain calls and an encore of ‘After You’ve Gone’ she asked the audience: “Do you really want more? Aren’t you tired?” They just yelled for more. Warning them that this was her last song, she sang ‘Chicago’, sounding as fresh as she had at the beginning of the show. Rock Hudson then lifted Liza, Lorna and Joe on-stage for a bow with their mother to finally end the concert.
Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall became an immediate show business legend.
Judy: “I’ll sing ‘em all and we’ll stay the night.”
Roger Edens:
“I still don’t believe anything like this could happen. She said: ‘Let’s do it’, as though she had never done it before.”
Mort Lindsay:
“This was her crowd - the first five or ten or fifteen rows were the cream of show business - and she sure delivered.”

Hollywood Reporter: “There IS Judy Garland and there WAS Al Jolson. And then the mold is broken! Ask anyone who remembers the days when ‘Jolie’ took over the Winter Garden runway and they will tell you that never since has a singer of songs been able to mesmerize an audience. There are unrestrained shouts of ‘Bravo!’ after every number. At the end of two and a half hours there is a mad race down the aisles by the ‘we want more’ idolaters, who know the lyrics of every song she’s ever sung, and feel cheated if she skips one. All of them agree she is the GREATEST.”
 
In the summer and autumn of 1961, Garland played 21 more concerts in 16 cities, including a return to Carnegie Hall on 21 May (sold out at the same time as the first one) and setting box-office records.
Missing only two engagements because of an ear infection, she played cities that included Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Detroit and Cleveland and broke the Hollywood Bowl attendance record in September where 18,000 people sat outdoors in a steady drizzle and refused to leave even after four encores.
These concerts were deeply exhausting feats of endurance. Singing non-stop for the first hour, she would break for an interval of twenty five minutes, return to the stage for another ninety minutes, and by the time she reached the encores would be so exhausted she could barely walk to the wings between songs.
The tour placed huge demands on her and there were several instances when she behaved temperamentally and irrationally - she was over-medicating with amphetamines and barbiturates. While in Los Angeles she recorded the speaking and singing voice of ‘Mewsette’, a cartoon kitten in the animated feature Gay Purr-ee.

In July 1961, Judy at Carnegie Hall was released by Capitol as a two-record set and it went to Number One on the Billboard chart, remained there for thirteen weeks, winning a Gold Record and an unprecedented five Grammy awards.
Judy: “Every once in a while you seem to earn a year where everything goes right.”

Judy with Frank SinatraFields finally settled the legal battle between Garland and CBS, and Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were her guests for her comeback TV special.
Sinatra sang to Garland (pictured right): “You’re Just Too Marvellous for Words,” to set the tone, and with virtually no chit-chat, the three singers just sang for the whole hour. With the highest rating of any entertainment programme in CBS history, it amassed four Emmy nominations and later won the international television award at the Montreux Festival.
Norman Jewison: “The most exciting television I ever did.”
Judy:
“I was terribly proud of the show and I usually don’t like my own work.”
 
Garland went straight to work on another Stanley Kramer production, A Child Is Waiting, playing the part of a teacher working with retarded children. “I wanted the role so badly because I’ve done work with troubled children and I know a bit more about them than most people. A disturbed child once helped me to get well.”
Genuinely retarded children were allowed to appear in the film and on her first day on set, the children clamoured for autographs from ‘Dorothy’.
The film was not a success. Her co-star Burt Lancaster, though encouraging and considerate, insisted upon telling her how to play the part, and actor-director John Cassavetes clashed with producer Stanley Kramer over the philosophy of the film.

Late in April 1962, Garland hit the headlines with another altercation with Sid. She had filed for divorce, and wanting to leave with her children for London, she had Sid restrained at the Hotel Stanhope while she rushed Lorna, Joe and Liza to the airport. Luft branded Garland as an unfit mother.
At a Press interview in London, Judy said: “I don’t know why Sid says I’m unfit mother. The children love me. I hear he may be coming over to try to take the children away from me. He will never do that. There is no chance of a reconciliation. My marriage is finished.” Lawyers in London arranged for her children to be made wards of court and her passport was impounded.
 
Judy stayed for a week in Buckinghamshire at the home of Dirk Bogarde, one of her long-time friends and one of the ‘dawn patrol’ whom she was in the habit of ringing in the early hours of the morning.
At the end of the week they threw a party and Bogarde recounted: “After supper, in the fading light of the summer sun, everyone sat around the grand paino and she and Noel Coward sang for their suppers. She knew all Noel’s lyrics, which pleased him greatly, from Mrs. Worthington to the entire score of Bitter Sweet and If Love Were All, which they sang as a duet, and brought the packed room roaring to its feet.”
 
Dirk Bogarde was her co-star in her new film, I Could Go On Singing, adapted and re-titled from The Lonely Stage. Judy liked the soap-opera plot: “This big, big star goes to London to do a concert and finds the man who got away . . . It’s about me. I guess someone read my lyrics.”
When shooting began she was difficult. Her erratic behaviour was not prompted by any viciousness but by a consuming fear. She was terrified of being unable to produce what was required, and her self-imposed dieting, her dependence on pills, and custody battles with Sid all added to it.
 
Judy with Dirk Bogarde  Dirk Bogarde showed infinite patience, re-writing scenes for her, but the British crew’s liking for her soon faded. When she finally walked off set, she yelled at them: “You’ll miss me when I’ve gone.”
It has to be said that the whole film crew spontaneously applauded the finest dramatic scene in the picture, the one that Dirk Bogarde wrote for himself and Judy. Propped up in a hospital room, Judy moved from drunken, owlish humour, to defiance, to a tearful breakdown, and recovery all in one six-minute ‘take’. It was her thirty-second feature film and her last.
Mort Lindsay: “She really wasn’t feeling well and we didn’t know what to do.”
Ronald Neame:
“At times she could be unbearable and do and say terrible things, and yet there was this aura of magic that made working with her a wonderful experience.”
 
Garland returned to the States in August 1962 and again filed for divorce. Both parents wanted custody of the children. Sid argued that Judy was unfit to have custody and Judy became obsessed that he would kidnap them. After going on a crash diet of two unsweetened cups of tea a day, she was found unconscious in her room and was hospitalised suffering from a kidney complaint.
Luft telephoned her, enquiring about her condition, adding: “I’d like to see the children, by the way.”
Judy answered: “You can see them when the court says you can see them.”
Liza: “It was tough being Judy Garland’s daughter. The difference between me and the other kids on the block was that when my parents battled, or my mother went to as rest home, it became a matter of public record.”
 
Two days after leaving hospital she opened at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas for a three-week run and for the first time in Vegas history this was extended for two more weeks. She told a reporter: “I think right now is possibly the best time in my life. I’m really starting to do my best work. I have three marvellous children, and I think I have a brand-new career opening up.”
After a concert in Chicago, she made promotional appearances for A Child Is Waiting and Gay Purr-ee, and gave her first extended television interview on ‘The Jack Parr Program’. Greeted by a standing ovation from the studio audience, she provided a happy hour of spontaneous fun and joyous song.
On the strength of this showing, Fields and Begelman contracted Garland to do a weekly series of TV specials for CBS scheduled to begin in June 1963. Garland’s production company would be paid $24 million for four seasons of variety programmes.
Jack Parr: “One of the great talkers in show business.”
Variety: “She provided a picture of mental and physical health . . . a highly rewarding and gratifying display.”
 
Though Judy felt drained and was ready for a vacation, she taped a CBS special with Phil Silvers and Robert Goulet and four days later opened at Lake Tahoe where she sang her latest ballad, ‘As Long As He Needs Me.’
On her seventh night she collapsed in the dressing room with slight paralysis and was taken to hospital. Recovering quickly, she returned to Britain in March 1963 to attend the premiere of I Could Go On Singing. In spite of good promotion and spectacular reviews, no one in Britain wanted to see the film, though they would queue for hours to see her on stage.
She also appeared live on ‘Sunday Night at the Palladium’ and donated her fee to the Thalidomide Fund. Once she missed her cue and said: “Come on! We can stop - even on television.”
For the first time she sang ‘Smile’ which became a Garland classic.
 
Liza decided she wanted to be in show business. Her father, Vincente Minnelli encouraged her: “Yes, I think it’s about time. You have so much energy you might as well start using it.”
Judy told her: “All right, you do as you please. I can’t stop you. I won’t try. But you’re going to have to make it on your own.” Although Judy was not prepared to help financially, she was generous with advice.
There was an attempt at reconciliation with Sid but two weeks after a party to celebrate Garland’s forty-first birthday and eleventh wedding anniversary, he moved out for the last time. There were unpaid bills, irregularities in her accounts, and she talked of suing her agents for misappropriation of money.
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Over the Rainbow
 
Meet Me In St. Louis
 
Playing the Palace
Judy Garland

Judy Garland

A Star Is Born
 
Judy at Carnegie Hall
 
The Judy Garland Show
Sherwood Times