I thought i'd do a little series on my top five favourite actresses, looking at their lives, work and lasting legacy. So without further ado, here is no. 5....
"The finest all around performer we ever had in America was Judy Garland. There was no limit to her talent. She was the quickest, brightest person I ever worked with"
Vulnerable yet strong, innocent but worldly....in many ways Judy Garland was all of these things, no matter how contradictory. Who can forget their first view of the young girl with gingham dress and ruby red slippers, polite, helpful and charming, and with a voice that seemed beyond her years?
Pushed into stardom by her over zealous mother young Frances Ethel Gumm had to change her name and so began the life of 'Judy Garland'.
Judy's life was a tragic one and much of her problems started at a young age, fostered onto her by studio MGM. Problems with her weight, alcohol and pills, as well as five marriages could well have diminished her talent. But Judy was a fighter and throughout her life she defied odds to leave a lasting, memorable legacy.
Early success began with Mickey Rooney in the 'Andy Hardy' series but it was The Wizard of Oz which catapulted her into stardom. Still Judy found it hard to break out of her girl next door image and was often unsatisfied with the roles she played. However their were some gems, Meet me in St Louis and three films she made with Gene Kelly (For me and my Gal, The Pirate, Summer Stock) and Easter Parade with Fred Astaire. Judy proved she was more than capable of holding her own with seasoned dancers and singers. Increasing health issues saw Judy return to the stage and her career was reborn, touring with a series of immensely popular concerts. This led Judy to be cast in the 1954 musical, A Star is Born. Her performance was perhaps the best of her career, and everyone believed she would win the Oscar, sadly she lost to Grace Kelly. After her triumphant return Judy continued acting in films, touring with her concerts and in 1962 even hosted her own television program. But Judy was never without troubles and shortly after her fifth marriage she passed away from an accidental barbiturate overdose at the age of forty seven.
Judy however was so much more than an addict, or even a troubled soul. She was beautiful, kind and talented, and she blessed thousands with her remarkable voice which seemed to read minds. Her ability to reinvent herself, from child star, glamorous leading lady, concert star and television host, showed the depth of her ability and the courage it took to achieve it.
Like us all Judy was not perfect, but perhaps that was why everyone loved her, why people continue to love her. She was human.
"Always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of somebody else"