Judy Garland‘The Judy Garland Show’

Apart from two concert solo performances: the show where a fledgling Barbara Streisand and Ethel Merman joined in blasting out ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’, and the Christmas show with her children - “Hi, Babies. Isn’t this going to be fun? All of us together, singing on television, just like we do at home. Joey, did you learn your song?” - the Garland series foundered.
Garland became ever later for rehearsals and after thirteen episodes, The Judy Garland Show was in deep trouble. Though a new executive producer, director and writers were signed up, Garland was feeling unhappily insecure about the whole series, and investigative reporters for national magazines began to haunt the set delighting in news that Garland had failed to turn up and trying to confirm that she drank.
Judy: “Sometimes rehearsals are missed, but I’ve been around long enough so I can pick things up quickly.”
Lena Horne:
“She was a helluva a singer who always pulled through, but -oooh, honey, she could make you mad.”
Lloyd Shearer:
“The show is merely a statistical failure . . . incorrectly targeted by network masterminds.”

Before the fourteenth show could be taped, the entire nation was shocked by the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It hit Judy Garland especially hard since she knew him personally and liked him. “We have changed our dinner at the White House so we can watch your show,” he had recently told her. As a tribute to JFK, she closed her show by singing ‘
The Battle Hymn of the Republic’.
Mort Lindsay: “CBS didn’t want her to do it; they felt it was too heavy or political.”
Bill Colleran:
“One of the great performances of all time; if you didn’t cry, you were dead.”
 
Bill Colleran, married to Lee Remick, produced the last seven shows and hit it off at once with Garland. “That’s it,” he said. “What this girl does better than anyone else in the world, anywhere in history, is sing . . . So I gave her a mike, added ten men to the orchestra, and let her sing for an hour. CBS were furious but the show was wonderful.”
The last seven shows introduced more songs, less patter and pleased the critics, only it was too late - CBS had already cancelled the show. Commercially, the show was not a success and it hadn’t made Garland a penny richer.
Nevertheless, the series won four Emmys and the total of twenty-six episodes contained scores of unforgettable Garland solos, and she invariably topped the competition from contemporary talents in the shows. One columnist prophetically commented: “The tapes of these twenty-six shows with close-ups and medium shots of Judy singing songs identified with her and standards are priceless, and are destined to become a golden section of the Judy Garland story.”

Over the years Judy Garland made millions but somehow she managed to stay broke almost the whole time. With the amount of money she was earning she could not conceive of denying herself the comforts to which she was accustomed, even when heavily in debt. She had no business sense and it seemed none of her managers ever did get a grip on her finances. At one time local supermarkets would not extend her credit and pharmacies would not make up her prescriptions because her bills had not been paid for over a year.
Liza Minnelli: “But no matter how broke we were, we always lived like millionaires and with laughter.”
 
Garland decided to get away from it all and in the spring of 1964 she took up an offer to give three concerts in Australia. She had already been dating a small-part actor named Mark Herron and brought him along as her escort.
Panic set in when customs confiscated her supply of pills but she was in glowing form at her first Press conference in Sydney. Asked if this was another come-back, she answered: “Some people regard it as a come-back when I return from the bathroom!”
Though physically frail, she triumphed in her two Sydney concerts, playing to capacity audiences, though some of the songs could not be heard above the tumultuous roar of the crowd. At the end of the second concert she thought she had taken enough bows when the producer indelicately told her: “Only a jerk like you could get a response like that.”
A stunned Garland slapped his face. The episode unnerved her and nagged at her.
 
By the time she reached Melbourne she was overwrought, not having slept for days and in poor voice. Arriving an hour late for the concert, she appeared to want to clown with the orchestra rather than sing. The songs she did sing were out of sequence and the orchestra didn’t know what was coming next.
An announced interval of fifteen minutes turned into twenty-seven and voices called out “You’re late,” and “Have another brandy.”
After bickering with the audience she sang three more songs ending with ‘I’ll Go My Way By Myself Alone”. When the slow handclaps turned into boos, she began to cry, broke off, saying: “It’s so lonely by myself - Good night,” and rushed off stage. Some of the patrons had already left and some asked for their money back.
The concert was a disaster and the newspapers had a field day with accusations that she had been drunk or drugged. She tried to explain: “I felt so awful, unhappy and lost that I hardly knew what I was doing . . .”
Time magazine: “At 41, Judy Garland may have gone over the rainbow for the last time.”
Garland fan:
“The behaviour of the Melbourne audience was rude, disgusting and embarrassing. If they had been a little more civilised, they would have seen the Garland that Sydney saw.”

Garland and Heron fled to Hong Kong where this time she made a serious attempt to destroy herself with a large overdose. At one point, she was given up for dead but rallied. Her stomach was pumped out but the dosage of Seconal was so large that her health was irreparably damaged. She would never be altogether well again. By tragic coincidence, her sister Suzy had succeeded in taking her own life in Las Vegas with an overdose only a few days earlier.

Amid confusing reports that were married, Garland and Heron, flew to London where she attended the charity show, ‘
Night of a Hundred Stars’, held at midnight at the Palladium.
Expressly forbidden to sing by doctors, she could only acknowledge the welcome roar from the audience. But Shirley Bassey, topping the bill, blew her a kiss during her number ‘If Love Were All’, and when Shirley had completed her last song, the audience began a unified chant of “Sing, Judy, Sing!” The MC, Richard Attenborough, led her to centre stage and she wistfully sang ‘Over the Rainbow’, before belting out ‘Swanee’.
The applause was deafening and Garland herself was overwhelmed.
Judy: “London has always been like home to me. Now its more than ever like home. I don’t know what happened there at the Palladium or why the people should have shown such emotion towards me. I guess it’s something that just happened. And, believe me, it was the most exciting thing in the world.”
Listener:
“Tears were in many eyes at what appeared to be personal triumph over adversity, while Miss Garland’s voice fully deserved the cheers which eclipsed any that had gone before in this genuinely starry show. This was an exceptional occasion which everyone present will remember for ever.”
 
Liza came to stay with her mother in her Kensington home and they appeared together in concert one Sunday evening in November at the Palladium. Tickets sold out immediately. Capitol recorded it for an album and to accommodate demand another appearance was booked the following week, which had to be at midnight after the normal Palladium show.
Judy and LizaSingly and together (pictured right on stage together), mother and daughter sang a host of songs, some of them arranged by a friend of Liza’s - the unknown Marvin Hamlisch. Liza was commended for her scatty, off-beat interpretations of her songs, but it was Judy who turned cheers into ovations. Judy’s voice had become worn by the end of the second show however and she asked the audience to sing ‘Rainbow’ for her.
Liza Minnelli: “One minute I was on stage with my mother, the next moment with Judy Garland. One minute she smiled at me, and the next she was like the lioness that owned the stage and suddenly found somebody invading her territory . . .”
 
While in Hong Kong, Judy had heard the Allen Brothers, a singing-dancing duo of Australian performers, and imported them to London to work in cabaret. When Garland returned to the America in December 1964, she agreed to appear on the CBS talent show, ‘On Broadway Tonight’, to introduce the Allens to America. They became her opening act for her concerts and encouraged by Judy, Liza became engaged to Peter Allen.
Judy was invited to sing at the Academy Awards celebrations but the elaborate arrangement by Roger Edens was too much for her and her performance was poor. Her illness in Hong Kong, where she had undergone a tracheotomy, had taken a heavy toll on her voice.
Suffering vocal problems at concerts in Charlotte, Chicago and Cincinnati, she attended the UCLA Medical Centre. She had to leave to play a two-week engagement at the Thunderbird in Las Vegas where she played to capacity audiences without mishap, though her salary was sequestered by a court order.
 
Judy and Andy WilliamsIn May 1965 she was at long last divorced from Sid Luft. Almost every month some new illness of injury was reported and there was always the pressing need for money.
She appeared on the Andy Wiliams Show (pictured righr) but during an six-night engagement in September 1965 at the Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, fell over her pet dog and broke her arm. Assisted by Mickey Rooney, Martha Raye and Johnny Mathis, she did the show on the second night with her arm in plaster but the rest of the shows were cancelled.
Variety: “There’s no arguing with a broken arm but the long-term effects of the occurrence will, unfortunately, compound an impression in the minds of some promoters and fans that Miss Garland cannot be relied upon to completely fulfil an engagement.”
Liza:
“Sometimes Mama was sick and I would hear about it. Sometimes - most of the time, in fact - she wasn’t sick, but I’d hear that she was.”
 
On 14 November 1965 she married Mark Herron in Las Vegas. Her children were not there as she had hoped - Liza was about to open at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles and Luft had forbidden Lorna and Joey to attend.
Judy and Sammy DavisAfter doing a one-night stand at the enormous Houston Astrodome with the Supremes as the opening act, vocal problems again began to dog her. Laryngitis affected the taping of two ‘Sammy Davis, Jr. Shows’ on 18 and 25 March 1966, though she won acclaim for the medley of film hits performed with Sammy Davis in tramp costumes (pictured right).
 
Garland’s recent record royalties, television and concert salaries had been attached for tax debts. After fifteen months working at top salary and being threatened with repossession of her home, she had great difficulty in understanding why she had gone even further into debt.
In May 1966, Herron learned that under Californian law he could be liable for half of Judy’s debts, now running into millions, and so he instigated divorce proceedings.
 
With cancelled performances, ‘comebacks’, the effects of medication, illness and hospitalisations, her public reputation was at a new low. And even though running out of friends to borrow from, she refused to work through the rest of 1966, except for an engagement in a Mexico City night-club that only lasted two nights because of laryngitis.
Judy: “Once I was worth millions but today I haven’t got a dime.”
 
She had put on weight during her marriage to Mark Herron but now lost weight rapidly, her health deteriorating again. Photographs showed her alarmingly thin.
When Liza married Peter Allen in New York on 3 March 1967, Vincente Minnelli escorted Garland to the ceremony, the first time they had been seen together in sixteen years.
Judy: “If you had any class, you’d escort me to your daughter’s wedding,”

In February 1967 she began work in a supporting role on the film Valley of the Dolls. There were rumours that she was at odds with various members of the company but after reading the script Garland refused to leave her dressing room. After a few weeks 20th Century Fox announced she was being replaced by Susan Hayward.
Judy: “I was hired, everybody seemed happy, I showed up every day on time. Nobody knows what happened. I’ve still got the dressing room key.”

At the end of March 1967 Garland received an Income Tax demand for $4 million dollars which she did not have and she had to sell her home in California: “In a way I’m glad they’ve taken the house. It’s too big, too impractical. Besides the man who lived in it before didn’t love his wife.”
For the next couple of years she would be based chiefly in New York, moving from hotel to hotel living out of a suitcase. Whenever possible she stayed in friends’ houses. At one point she spent three weeks sleeping on the floor of an apartment belonging to some young friends of Liza’s.
 
Sid Luft was called in to try and straighten out her financial affairs and formed a company called Group V, supposedly comprising of Luft, Garland and her three children. If she had read the contract small print, Garland would have discovered that Group V owned her body and soul and the only member of Group V was Luft.
After playing the summer-stock circuit, Luft booked Judy into the Palace for the third time in a four-week run, ‘Judy Garland at Home at the Palace’.
Opening on 31 July 1967, every night became celebrity night as Judy brought celebrities on stage such as Duke Ellington, Joan Crawford and Beatrice Lillie. Seven evening shows for twenty-seven consecutive nights could have been too much, but she miraculously pulled it off with the help of her daughter Lorna, who offered a solo medley as well as duets with her, and her son Joey who played drums. Liza returned from abroad to appear on the last two evenings to duet ‘Chicago’ and sing ‘Cabaret’.
Someone in the audience: “What do you think? Is it theatre?”
Came the reply:
“Is it theatre? You bet it’s theatre. It sure as hell ain’t singing.
 
From the Palace, Judy went on a ten-city, sixteen show tour, which included off-stage visits to military hospitals in Boston, Chicago and Bethesda where she chatted and sang to servicemen wounded in Vietnam. Her free open-air concert on Boston Common drew over 100,000 people on a cold, damp day. The audience began arriving thirteen hours before showtime and sang ‘Hello, Judy’ to her as she danced between numbers. In Washington she spent four hours talking to servicemen in the War Veterans Hospital: ”Those young men make me so proud. They have such dignity and honour . . . They have no self-pity or cynicism. You really come away feeling inspired.”

The arduous ordeal of touring took its toll and ignoring doctors’ advice to cancel some of her engagements - she couldn’t afford to - she struggled to complete each concert. Publicly accused of ‘not bothering to perform properly’ and described as ‘a legend self-destroyed’, she was unable to complete her final booking of the year at the Madison Square Garden Felt Forum because of bronchitis.
Al Terban: “I think she may have closed her career.”

Garland had little to show for her seven-month concert tour since most of her income was taken up in back taxes. Her personal and professional fortunes were now in terminal decline as debts, medication, ill-health and disillusion with Group V took its toll.
Judy: “Professional happiness doesn’t last through the night. You can’t take it home with you after the curtain rings down. It doesn’t protect you from the terror of a lonely hotel room. And, in a way, it destroys your soul to feed off applause. I know, I’ve tried to draw strength and security from it. But in the middle of the night applause becomes an empty echo, and you think, God, how am I going to make it till morning?”

Early in 1968 she was locked out of a New York townhouse because she could not pay the rent and her possessions were impounded at the St. Moritz Hotel.
There was a bad one-night stand in Baltimore where she was unable to sing, and in June, her five-night engagement at the Garden State Arts Centre in New Jersey proved a fiasco when she fell asleep on final night and had to be helped from the stage.
Once again she sought treatment at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston and several weeks later her performance at Philadelphia’s outdoor JFK Stadium was one of her finer efforts, zipping from one song to the next.
A critic: “The audience talked to Judy and she talked back. It was a beautiful love affair in this ugly stadium.”

Whilst Judy’s fortunes were in decline, Liza’s career was flourishing and living in relative comfort with Peter Allen. Judy could create a crisis out of thin air and fed up with quarrelling with her mother, Lorna fled with her brother Joey to Sid in Los Angeles while Judy took an apartment by herself in Boston.
Marcella Rabwin: “I could never hate you, Judy, but I may feel sorry for you.”

Mickey Deans was the night-manager at Arthur’s, a fashionable discotheque owned by Richard Burton’s former wife Sybil. Garland had known Mickey for two years when out of the blue, she announced their engagement. They enjoyed each other’s company and he told her that if they married she would not have to work again - unless she wanted to.
Garland had already accepted an offer of an engagement at London’s Talk of the Town and Deans accompanied her to London on 28 December 1968 where she was handed a writ attempting to prevent her appearance in cabaret - Judy’s Group V employment contract had become the province of two businessmen when Sid Luft had been unable to re-pay a loan.
A British judge threw the case out of court.
 
Never sure whether she would show up, or if, when she did, she would be able to perform, Bernard Delfont had booked Garland for a five-week engagement.. He need not have worried, every star in London was present at The Talk of the Town to cheer her on when she successfully opened on 30 December 1968.
Despite the fact that smoke-laden atmosphere was hard on her voice, she got through the first three weeks of the engagement but her health was now a serious problem. Wholly dependent on drugs, her strength ebbed away under the strain of performing nightly. Though she herself wasn’t aware of it, she was consistently late, and missed two days when doctors ordered her to bed. Her backstage helper, Lorna Smith, regarded it a miracle that she was able to go on at all every evening. In her final week she tried to joke: “What’s the matter - can’t a legend have the flu?” Nevertheless Garland broke all records at The Talk of the Town.
Lorna Smith: “Drawing herself together to become as much of ‘Judy Garland’ as her worn-out constitution would allow.”
The Stage: “There are very few artists who create an emotionalism - almost amounting to hysteria - minutes before they actually set foot on stage.”
 
Judy Garland married Mickey Deans at Chelsea Registry Office on 15 March 1969. She looked as frail as a bird, a mere shadow of her former self. Johnny Ray, whose career was also well into decline, was the only show-business figure present.
A reception was held at Quaglino’s Restaurant but as arrangements had been made at short notice no famous names were present.
 
Deans arranged concerts for her in Stockholm, Malmo and Copenhagen, attracting audiences where she had never appeared before. Her concert in Copenhagen on 25 March turned out to be her final performance and if the quality wasn’t there any more, there was still the magic: “She sat down on the stage floor and began to sing ‘Over the Rainbow’. It was though she sang it for the first time, with fervent innocence and sweetness. Tears came to one’s eyes . . . She had a great triumph.”

Garland and Deans returned to New York for three weeks. Her moods were as changeable as ever - one day planning for her future career, and the next saying that she wanted nothing more than to be an English housewife. But where in the past she gave the impression she would somehow pull out her slump and make a comeback, her energy was now running low.
The couple returned to London on 14 June and stayed at their tiny mews cottage in Cadogan Lane. She looked frail and ill, hardly ate, and spent more time reading.
On the following Saturday they cancelled a trip to the theatre to see Danny LaRue’s closing night and stayed home. Judy retired first and was still awake when her husband came upstairs. After taking a dose of sleeping pills, she fell asleep.
 
In the early hours of Sunday, 22 June, Deans found Judy dead in the bathroom, sat on the toilet, her head cradled in her arms. After awakening in the night, she had taken more sleeping pills and in her weakened condition had been unable to survive the dosage. She had often said that when her number came up she would ask for another one, but it had come up once too often. She was aged forty-seven and $4 million in debt.
The official verdict was that Judy had “died accidentally from barbiturate poisoning due to an incautious overdose”.
The Coroner stated: “I think one should bring it out publicly there was no question of alcoholism.”
Newspapers made much of the tragedy of her life, her suicide attempts, addictions, domestic problems and hospitalisations, and little of her extraordinary work.
Harley Street surgeon: “She had been living on borrowed time. When I examined her about eight years ago she had cirrhosis of the liver. I thought that if she lasted five more years she would have done very well . . . She was always a fighter. She was under great stress, but for her it was always: ‘The show must go on.’”
 
Garland’s body was flown home to New York for burial and it was agreed that the public could pay a last homage. Over 20,000 people filed past the open casket in Campbell’s Funeral Home on Madison Avenue, New York, and hundreds of floral arrangements arrived from stars and fans. Liza handled the funeral arrangements and wanted mourners to remember the gay side of her life by asking those who came to pay tribute not to wear black.
The funeral flowers were yellow and white as Liza explained: “For joy,” and asked Marcella Rabwin to be there: “Because you were there in the beginning and I want you to be there at the end.” A heartbroken Mickey Rooney left before the funeral began.
Liza: I think she was just tired, like a flower that blooms and gives joy and beauty to the world, and then wilts away . . . I just want to send her off as she would have wanted to go . . . bright and lovely.”
 
Judy GarlandThe twenty-minute Episcopal service began with an organ rendition of ‘Here’s To Us’ and James Mason delivered the eulogy: “It was the love of life which carried her through everything. The middle of the road was never for her. It bored her. She wanted the pinnacle of excitement. If she was happy, she wasn’t just happy. she was ecstatic. And when she was sad she was sadder than anyone.”
The small congregation of about forty people ended the service by singing ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ while Garland’s coffin was carried aloft by six pallbearers.
She was buried in Ferncliffe Mausoleum in Hartsdale, Westchester County, over a year later.
 

Frank Sinatra: “She will have a mystic survival. She was the greatest. The rest of us will be forgotten - never Judy.”

Mickey Rooney
: “People should remember her as the great actress and entertainer she was and always will be.”
 
Bing Crosby: “The most talented woman I ever knew was Judy Garland. She was a great, great comedienne and she could do more things than any girl I ever knew. Act, sing, dance, make you laugh. She was everything. I had a great affection for her. Such a tragedy. Too much work, too much pressure, the wrong kind of people as husbands.”
Budd Schulberg: “Judy Garland somehow survived as a star of the first magnitude - a Lady Lazarus who kept rising from the dead, from countless suicide attempts, and broken marriages and nervous breakdowns and neurotic battles with weight and sleep, to somehow pull her jangled nerves together, take command of the Palladium, Palace or Carnegie Hall and bring down that audience one more time.”

Richard Attenborough: “All who follow her have to bear that very, very, hard comparison of Judy Garland, anybody who sings, anybody who holds an audience in the palm of their hand, with such consummate ease, with such magic, with such sincerity, with love and with such truth. She is, always will be, Miss Show Business.”

for all books, videos and CDs of Judy Garland.

The Gumm Sisters
 
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