Thursday, March 6, 2014
Rant #1,358: Judy
I am sure you must have seen, or at least heard about, the tribute that the Academy of Motion Pictures gave to the movie "The Wizard of Oz" on this past Sunday's telecast of the Oscars.
It was lamer than the Scarecrow that Dorothy found while searching for the Yellow Brick Road, I can tell you that.
Whoopi Goldberg started the thing off promisingly, saying that us older people could only see the movie once a year on TV.
Of course, she was only partly right. The film was rereleased in theaters dozens of times during that pre-video period, so you could probably see the film two times a year or more if you really wanted to.
Anyway, Pink's rendition of "Over the Rainbow" was lame. I don't even know what she was singing initially, but it wasn't "Over the Rainbow."
And Judy's kids were introduced, but since one of them is Liza Minnelli, an Oscar winner herself who has not aged very well, you would think they would have given the three of them--including Lorna Luft and Joey Luft--a little more air time.
In fact, host Ellen DeGeneres kind of made fun of Liza at the beginning, and it kind of set the tone for the night.
Anyway, getting to my point, on Tuesday nights, there generally isn't anything on that my wife and I want to watch, so we usually try to find something to keep us occupied before we conk out.
This week, we decided to make it a Judy Garland spectacular, and with our Google Chromecast working overtime, we found a couple of interesting things to watch on YouTube that kind of highlighted who Judy Garland was and what made her tick--and what made the ticking stop so early, too.
We watched one or two documentaries on Garland, and they all said the same thing--pills, pills and more pills.
One interesting revelation is that while it it widely thought that MGM started dispensing these pills to Garland so that she would be able to get up and do her thing, it actually started with her mother, a show biz mother from hell.
And she wasn't the only person on the MGM lot taking these pills. Mickey Rooney, their biggest male star at the time, was taking them too.
But he survived, she didn't.
The documentaries--one from the BBC, another from a segment on "60 Minutes"--brought out that she was frail to begin with, and being literally pelted with fame brought out the worst in her at times.
But she was a loving mother, according to her kids, although her way with money--she had lots stolen from her, and she also crapped away a lot of it herself--would have child protection coming after her in this day and age, as the family moved from one hotel to another living on favors. Once the favors ran out, they were on the move again.
She was broke.
We watched a few entertainment programs with Garland too.
One was when she was on "The Dick Cavett Show." Although she appeared to be inebriated and way older than her 49 years at the time, this was probably one of the last TV appearances that she ever made, as she died of an overdose of pills a few months later.
She looked frail, looked like she was about 75 if not 80, and rambled about on many subjects. Cavett kept the thing going, tried to steer her the right way, and coaxed her to sing, which sounded phony, as if there was no plan for her to do that.
But the orchestra performed on key, and so did Judy, singing a song that was horrid but that she said she liked.
Then we watched another TV show, where she was in seemingly better health and form, on "The Hollywood Palace."
For those that don't remember this show, this was a fairly good rip-off of "The Ed Sullivan Show," West Coast style.
It had basically the same format as the Sullivan show, with a gaggle of different performers doing what they do.
The difference is that unlike Sullivan, the hosts were actual performers, and did their thing as part of their hosting duties of the show.
Garland seemed to be straight on this one, no pills, no alcohol, and she belted out a few tunes as she introduced one act after another, including a family balancing act and a comic who wasn't that funny.
The weak lineup of acts was probably done on purpose, because quite frankly, she was the show.
When this lady was on, she was on, and she was on on this program.
After about three hours of this Garlandpalooza, we called it a night, and went to sleep.
Look, I have never been a real, true fan of Garland, nor of her kids. I go along for the ride with my wife, who is a huge fan, and the ride has been an interesting one.
We have seen Minnelli many, many times in concert, and even under her worst personal circumstances, she gives it 110 percent.
We have also seen Lorna live, and while not as talented as her sister, she has a certain something that is attractive, and you can definitely see the Garland pedigree in her.
I never saw Garland live, but based on her TV appearances, those shows must have been something else.
So as basically an observer looking in, these people were/are true performers, with real talent, not like today's wannabees.
By the way, the previous Tuesday, my wife and I went through a Liza extravaganza, which simply wasn't as interesting, to me, as the Garland one.
Is next a Lorna night? I don't know, although I doubt we will find as many interesting bits of video on YouTube to support such a suggestion.
Posted by Larry at 2:25 AM