Shirley, Judy and Renée

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.”
Shirley Temple

Shirley, Judy and Renée

Judy is set to open in a few weeks. Renée Zellweger will play Ms. Garland set in 1969, the last year of her life. Part of the film will be her sold out run in London that year.

I’m not sure that you can have a conversation about Judy Garland without talking about Shirley Temple too. Both were huge child stars but they were so very different.

Shirley Temple was box office magic. She played a slew of urchins and runaways and poor-little-mes and sang and danced with the grown ups. For me it is not until later in her career with great movies like Fort Apache with John Wayne and Henry Fonda or The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer with Carey Grant and Myrna Loy that you realize that she was the smartest girl in the room.

Judy Garland’s life is well-documented. Being fed uppers and downers as a child probably led to a harder life that she should have had. In spite of her stardom, she was at MGM with the glamour girls like Ava Gardner and Lana Turner and she felt like the ugly duckling, Mayer called her “my little hunchback”. Watching her early films like The Wizard of Oz or the many with Mickey Rooney, you can tell that she was the most vulnerable girl in the room.

Vulnerable, for sure, but strong! The public wanted her to still be Dorothy but she was growing up. She had come back after come back and succeeded. Failed marriages to Minelli and Luft and still she came back to stand strong on the stage again even as you could see and hear the ravages of her life. I’m not kidding, in 1949, she went through electro-shock therapy for depression! Come back from that? Yes she did.

Because it has to be done, here is our Judy singing Over the Rainbow in 1961, her sold out come back Live at Carnegie Hall. If you are like me, you own this two CD set.

One comeback was A Star is Born, she was nominated for an Oscar. Hollywood can be cruel to our Judy, they called it A Star is Re-Born referring to yet another come back from the difficulties of life.

Our own Renée Zellweger will play Judy. She’s making her own come back, like Judy she is tough but so darn vulnerable on screen. She is an Oscar winner and deserved more, she got robbed for Chicago playing Roxy Hart.

Folks, if for no other reason that watching the great Renée channel Judy Garland, come for the soundtrack.

“By Myself”
“Get Happy” (with Sam Smith)
“For Once in My Life”
“Zing Went the Strings”
“You Made Me Love You”
“Talk of the Town”
“Come Rain or Come Shine”
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (with Rufus Wainwright)
“The Trolley Song”
“The Man That Got Away”
“San Francisco”
“Over the Rainbow”

I know all of these songs, don’t you?


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