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Judy Garland, the girl with the pigtails in THE WIZARD OF OZ, was an entertainer of almost magical power. The woman of half a dozen comebacks and a hundred heartbreaks. To tell her story, Gerald Clarke took ten years, travelled thousands of miles across two continents, conducted hundreds of interviews, and combed through mountains of documents, many of which were unavailable to other biographers. Combining a novelist's skill and a movie director's eye, Clarke re-creates the golden age of Hollywood with cinematic urgency: Louis B Mayer, the patriarch of MGM; sexy Lana Turner, Judy's friend and idol, who had a habit of trying to snatch away any man Judy expressed interest in; clarinettist Artie Shaw, handsome Tyrone Power; boy genius Orson Welles and brilliant director Vincente Minnelli, who fathered her first child, Liza. Towards the end of her life, Garland tried to tell her own story. With access to her tape recordings - and her revelatory unfinished manuscript - Clarke is able to tell Judy's story as she herself might have told it.
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Like his renowned Capote, Clarke's Get Happy is an addictively readable bio of an addict genius. We learn that it wasn't just the Hollywood moguls who mangled Judy Garland's soul. Yes, MGM's Louis B. Mayer did paw her teenage breasts, exacerbate her insecurity by calling her "my little hunchback," feed her uppers and downers ("bolts and jolts"), and repel the U.S. drug czar's personal attempt to get her into rehab. But the true villain was Judy's diabolical stage mom, Ethel Gumm, who fed her pills at age 9. Judy's heart belonged to her daddy, a kindly theater owner cursed with pederastic yearnings that evidently got the family run out of various towns, once by a man named Doc Savage. Daddy died young, and Judy kept hooking up with older men, including two probably gay husbands, one of whom cheated on her with her daughter Liza's husband. Her first best girlfriend in Hollywood (and probable lover) turned out to be a studio spy. She knew at least one of her agents, nicknamed Loeb and Leopold, robbed her blind, but since betrayal was everybody's way of life, she just laughed it off--and died dead broke. Judy cheated on Liza's dad (and her own great director) Vincente Minnelli, with still-handsome Orson Welles, who was cheating on Rita Hayworth. "People like me don't grow up easily," Judy once said. Most people in this book deserved to go up in flames, but only nice Margaret Hamilton, playing the Wicked Witch of the West, actually did so in a filming accident. She recovered; Judy didn't. It's fascinating to read about Judy's self-immolating life. But for a jolt of joy afterward, I prescribe the CD Judy at Carnegie Hall. Clarke lets you know what the songs cost, and what they mean. --Tim AppeloFrom the Inside Flap:
She lived at full throttle on stage, screen, and in real life, with highs that made history and lows that finally brought down the curtain at age forty-seven. Judy Garland died over thirty years ago, but no biography has so completely captured her spirit -- and demons -- until now.
From her tumultuous early years as a child performer to her tragic last days, Gerald Clarke reveals the authentic Judy in a biography rich in new detail and unprecedented revelations. Based on hundreds of interviews and drawing on her own unfinished -- and unpublished -- autobiography, Get Happy presents the real Judy Garland in all her flawed glory.
With the same skill, style, and storytelling flair that made his bestselling Capote a landmark literary biography, Gerald Clarke sorts through the secrets and the scandals, the legends and the lies, to create a portrait of Judy Garland as candid as it is compassionate.
Here are her early years, during which her parents sowed the seeds of heartbreak and self-destruction that would plague her for decades ... the golden age of Hollywood, brought into sharp focus with cinematic urgency, from the hidden private lives of the movie world's biggest stars to the cold-eyed businessmen who controlled the machine ... and a parade of brilliant and gifted men -- lovers and artists, impresarios and crooks -- who helped her reach so many creative pinnacles yet left her hopeless and alone after each seemingly inevitable fall.
Here, then, is Judy Garland in all her magic and despair: the woman, the star, the legend, in a riveting saga of tragedy, resurrection, and genius.
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Book Description Random House, 2000. Condition: New. Illus. with photos (illustrator). book. Seller Inventory # M0316855952