June 22nd, 2012
Judy Garland
About Judy Garland: By Myself

National Encore Friday, June 22, 2012 at 9:00 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings) to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Garland’s birth (6/10/22), 43 years after her death (6/22/69).

Public taste in popular entertainment, entertainers, and music changed many times during the twentieth century. As a result, hundreds of gifted or at least celebrated performers once at the top of their profession are now pretty much only a memory: fondly, happily, or proudly recalled but almost solely of their time. Perhaps a dozen exemplary talents have endured — those who broke new musical ground or whose abilities or impact now “define” a generation. But only a very few entertainers have flourished, maintaining their artistic reputations and garnering additional critical and popular respect. The enthusiasm for them continues to grow, as does acknowledgment of their importance, their influence, and their singular ability to communicate with an audience.

It’s been just thirty-five years since Judy Garland gave her last performance — and almost eighty since (at age thirty months) she gave her first. In the decades between those two events, she amassed a body of work astounding in its range, amazing in its power, and timeless in its ability to exult, enthrall, and excite cross-generational audiences. In each medium, her legacy encompassed unsurpassed artistic and popular successes.

Credit: Courtesy of 'The John Fricke Collection.' Digital image restoration by Ranse Ransone.

Original image: 'The John Fricke Collection' | Digital image restoration: Ranse Ransone | Quote: Judy Garland

* Her motion picture work includes thirty-two feature films, voice-over work for two more, and a half-dozen short subjects. She received a special juvenile Academy Award in 1940 and nominations for two other Oscars (for A STAR IS BORN and JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG). Several of her movies rank among the very best musicals ever produced for the screen: BABES IN ARMS, FOR ME AND MY GAL, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, THE PIRATE, and EASTER PARADE. Additionally — and perhaps preeminently — she starred in the most widely seen and (arguably) best loved film in history, THE WIZARD OF OZ.

* Her television specials in 1955 and 1962 attracted the largest audiences for any entertainment programs in CBS-TV network history to those dates. Her 1963-64 weekly series has passed into legend as one of the highlights of musical variety video programming.

* Fifteen of her recorded singles “charted” between 1939-1954, including “Over the Rainbow,” “The Trolley Song,” and “The Man That Got Away.” Her 1961 “live” two-album set, JUDY AT CARNEGIE HALL, won an unprecedented five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal Performance. It was the fastest-selling album of its time, on the charts for ninety-five weeks, and # 1 for thirteen of those. From vinyl to tape to compact disc, it has never been out of print. Additionally, Garland’s original 1939 recording of “Rainbow” and the CARNEGIE set were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1981 and 1998 respectively.

* Her radio work is just now being annotated and rescued from transcription disc oblivion. But between 1935 and 1953, Garland made some two hundred and fifty airwave appearances, singing songs she never performed elsewhere, acting dramatic roles she was never able to do on screen, and enjoying some of the easiest, most uproarious comedic interludes of her career.

* In live performance, she offered over eleven hundred concert, nightclub, and theater revue shows between 1951 and 1969. Just the highlights of that world-wide career comprise an overwhelming catalog. In addition to her Carnegie Hall concerts in 1961, there were three record-breaking Broadway engagements at The Palace Theatre in 1951-52, 1956-57, and 1967. For the first of these, she was presented with a special Tony Award. In an unprecedented one-week stand in 1959, Garland was the first American popular singer to appear at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House. She topped the variety bill or performed in concert at The London Palladium in 1951, 1957, 1960, 1963, 1964, and 1969. There were appearances in Amsterdam, Sydney, and Copenhagen; at The Olympia in Paris and at the Jazz Festival in Newport; as the highest paid performer in Las Vegas history; and in a one-woman show at The Hollywood Bowl where a record-breaking crowd of eighteen thousand-plus sat outdoors in the rain for two hours, twenty-four songs, and four encores — and then made her repeat an earlier song to close out the evening.

* Finally, there were literally hundreds of vaudeville and radio appearances with her two older sisters between 1924 and 1935. These are best described as “live” proving grounds for the child from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, who would grow into a myriad of professional reputations: “the little girl with the great big voice,” “a baby Nora Bayes,” “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer greatest asset,” “Miss Show Business,” “the World’s Greatest Entertainer,” and “a living legend.”

Such a litany of legacy might seem unnecessary. But since her premature death in 1969, Garland’s professional and personal reputation have fallen prey to both yellow journalism and frequently inaccurate and disproportionate biographers; perspective has sometimes seemed a long time in coming. Fortunately, with the passage of time, it’s also been possible to delve more deeply into the truth behind her work and problems, her seeming genius at trusting the wrong people with her finances and career, and the obstacles she encountered in dealing with her own sensitivity and vulnerability versus the hardheaded and often hardhearted scions of her industry. Given the pleasure Garland’s ability continues to provide, her audiences today are ever more able to draw their own conclusions about both the human being and performer. The general tenor of their reaction offers that she quite possibly has never been equaled.

It has also been correctly argued that to experience Judy Garland’s full power, one had to be in the auditorium when she brought her God-given gifts to bear on a suddenly unified collection of strangers. Of course, mass participation in a Garland performance is no longer possible; yet, as no other entertainer before or since, she manages as well to transcend the cold media of film, video, and disc to remain a living, working entertainment experience. Her performances continue to intrigue, captivate, and electrify the millions who watch and hear her…even those far too young to have ever seen her in person.

Given their fervor, given the undeniable facts of her career, given the contribution she made on a personal level to her friends and coworkers (and their oft-stated public appreciation), and given the ongoing music she provides, the joy of Judy Garland is nowadays everywhere more apparent in various celebratory presentations and products. Her motion pictures and television shows are appearing for the first time on DVD. Her recordings are rediscovered for — or repackaged again and again on — compact disc. Her achievements are celebrated in books that supplant much of the muckraking of the past. And her omnipresent and enduring talent is recognized in such a new film as the JUDY GARLAND: BY MYSELF, a special two-hour telecast premiering February 25th, 2004 (Check local listings.)

That program is unique in many ways. Most outstandingly, it incorporates countless observations on Garland’s life and times by no less an expert than Judy herself. And most tellingly, her final statement on the show is drawn from a 1968 interview quote in which she almost inadvertently summarized her life’s purpose and worth: “I’ve been in love with audiences all my life, and I’ve tried to please. I hope I did.”

Perhaps the best response to that could be drawn from one of the scores of newspaper editorials that saw print in the days immediately after her passing — less than a year later. In the succinct words of one commentator: “Judy Garland dedicated her life to entertaining people. And in that she succeeded as few others have.”

– John Fricke With Susan Lacy, John Fricke is producer of the new film, AMERICAN MASTERS: JUDY GARLAND: BY MYSELF. His most recent book is JUDY GARLAND: A PORTRAIT IN ART AND ANECDOTE, published by Bulfinch Press in October 2003 to critical raves. An Emmy Award-winning producer, Fricke also wrote 100 YEARS OF OZ, JUDY GARLAND: WORLD’S GREATEST ENTERTAINER, and THE WIZARD OF OZ: THE OFFICIAL 50TH ANNIVERSARY PICTORIAL HISTORY. He is a Grammy Award-nominee for the essay that accompanied the Capitol compact disc, JUDY GARLAND: 25TH ANNIVERSARY RETROSPECTIVE.

  • Catherine Mitchell

    I just caught Judy Garland:By Myself on TCM tonight. I would love to purchase a DVD or VCR on this wonderful program. I know it would be of great interest to my family members- all of whom respected her artistry and character.Kindly let me know if this is to be shown on PBS so others without cable could see it. It is such a gift to the public. I hope it could be considered.

  • baron

    with out question in my mind the best singer of all time when she was young.

  • baron

    best singer entertainer of all time. no other singer has delivered a song and effectd me in the same way.

  • Travis

    my daughter at 10 months old, watched judy garland singing “over the rainbow” with undivided attention. still hasn’t made it awake past the evil flying monkies at age 15 mo, but no interest at all in any other television movie or program except The Wizard of Oz.

  • Alyvia Jones

    Im being Judy Garland for the Wax Museum in my school. My speech is really good!!!

  • MSP

    To have a copy of this awesome PBS program, on the two-disc special edition Easter Parade DVD, the program is included. And of course with a bunch of other extras. It is a great buy! :)

    http://www.amazon.com/Easter-Parade-Two-Disc-Special/dp/B000BQPC3I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1268161826&sr=8-1

  • Chris V

    Unquestionably the worlds greatest singer and entertainer. A true God given talent that will last forever. It is unfortunate that young people today do not have true talent such as Judy to appreciate instead of the questionable “music” they are exposed to. Thank you Judy and your web site for giving us her music and promoting her legacy.

  • Johnny

    her childhood was stolen away from her, she was no a happy adult

  • irv

    She was the Edith Piaf of the American popular song.

  • robert

    Undeniable. True great icon. Over the rainbow sung by her in her last special was memorizing. Sad ending of a great talent.

  • debbie

    Nobody–not even Frank Sinatra-could sing like her–her voice gives you goosebumps. Wish she could have appreciated herself as everyone else did.

  • Ralph

    Those doe-eyes get me every time, she was such a stunning woman back in her day, and she is still sorely missed talent-wise too. A real enigma. I only wish I had been alive to see her on the stage today, in the Wizard of Oz Musical, or even something like War Horse any type of roles would have been executed perfectly by her.

  • Patrick

    Dear Friends,
    It’s a great feeling to read other peoples thoughts, whats there feeling ? what kind of feelings are running through you when playing Judy… One thing we all agree on, she’s great…we could be in here all-nite, I bet, should we start talking about Judy with all of us just throwing great little tid-bits at each other..Lololol :).
    there will always be a JUdy Garland..Amen for that!!!!

  • Patrick Evans

    I should have said it all in my first reply,but when I saw Barons coment, I had too reply, and with the exact words Baron used, Judy makes me feel like No other singer/performer has ever done.
    The way that women delivers a song, is byond me, all I know when I hear her sing Just in time, too many to go on, you all know what Im saying, Baron I know you do!…:)

  • sandra beberian

    please show it again…best biog. i’ve seen on her yet, and i accidentally erased it from my dvr. I watched it over and over again! american masters is terrific. sandy b.

  • rick

    where can i purchase a copy of the American Master episode about Judy Garland?

  • Paula Chisholm

    Are there any Judy Garland fans interested I have her Wedding Album from her last marriage to Micky Deans..very unique , partially put together by her and then rest put in by her hausband after her death, I also have a Print of her Prior to her last performance at Carnegie Hall in NYC, Only serious collectors respond please.

  • Jonathan

    Paula, I’d be interested. Please e-mail me at jshirshekan@me.com.

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  • Ali

    This really should be shown every year, preferably around Thanksgiving or Christmas time

  • Carmine Bassano

    . . . again, it’s true: minus the drama and b/s it’s easy to forget just simply how GOOD she is . . . thank you for posting this again. A worthy tribute . . .

  • sara

    wow great article. I love Judy Garland…. singer actress dancer and wonderful woman! no one like her!

  • gerry sacks

    Do you have a disc available on the 2 hour Judy Garland special? If so, how much and how do I purchase it?

    Thank you……………..GERRY SACKS

  • Joyce

    Ali — yes, I agree, every year!

    Sadly, I didn’t realize it was on tonight till halfway through (though fortunately I’ve seen it before . . . but is there a way to buy a copy of this documentary?

  • A. Benker

    Where can I buy this all time great film ?

  • Con

    The show tonight Judy Garland was wonderful. It showed what a great talent and person Judy Garland truly was.
    She really cared about people and it showed. I hope that her family realizes what a special person she was and remember all the good that was in her and how she made people happy then and now.

  • JACK GILMAN

    I unfortunately was studying all the time. I didn’t go to movies or live performances. I missed out on Judy Garland.
    I was overwhelmed seeing her tonight She is such a magnificent talent with a great voice,
    I just want to thank you for bringing her to me. it was indeed a treat.
    Jack Gilman

  • Sheila

    SHE JUST SANG….what a simple sentence, but loaded in meaning….when almost all of the female singers now strut on stage like prostittutes or have their voices pre-recorded….she just came out and sang….she would fascinate, entertain and ultimately her performances would serve as ephinanies for her audience….GREATEST SINGER EVER….GOD MUST HAVE LOVED HER DEARLY…..NOTHING ELSE CAN EXPLAIN HER TALENT….MISS GARLAND, rest in peace…..

  • Brenda

    How do I obtain a DVD of Judy Garland: By Myself?

  • LJ

    That was one of the best PBS productions I have ever seen, and that is saying something. I was riveted from beginning to end, and pretty much cried throughout. It was brilliant. Those who put this together are obviously the best at what they do. I am sure/hope that Garland’s family is proud of this work. The whole time I kept thinking, “47! 47?” That is so unbelievably young, and she was so beautiful. How could any studio think she wasn’t lovely? The churning out of cartload$ lesser films was so much more important than preserving the talent for the long haul? It’s shocking they so disrespected her talent. Those young actors were legally tortured. Some parts of this biog reminded me a bit of when I was a little girl, and first saw Funny Girl on TV. All the talk of Streisand not being pretty? Even at 12 years old, I could see with my own eyes that she was beautiful. When I see her older movies, or early photos, I am struck by how gorgeous she was/is. Streisand was able to work on her own terms, and wasn’t a child abused by a studio puppy mill. It’s why she is still healthy, alive, and working…and easily made it past age 47. We shouldn’t wonder why young entertainers like Michael Jackson, or even Lohan, Spears etc crash and burn. When one considers grown child actors, only a very few come out of it protected and whole. I can think of Shirley Temple, Jody Foster, and Brooke Shields. (I suppose one could add Rooney, and Drew Barrymore, who have struggled, but survived.) However, the list of the prematurely dead and ill and bilked is much longer. I’m looking forward to seeing By Myself again, and sharing it with my children.

  • Michael

    Accidently came upon her special last night, her voice and singing were right on , without all the new electronic techniques musicians use today…Washed up at 28??? So muc depth to the side of her I did not know, ony heard of her being a pill and boozer. It was nice to see the rest of the story.

  • Arnie Blume

    Please, where can I purchase a DVD of your program; Judy Garland, By Myself

  • Larry Tellone

    This modern day and age NEEDS TO REFLECT on the entertainers of yestudat, I Love Judy Garland.
    We need to see more and more of Judy. I am senety one years of age and I loved see/hearing Judy Garland when ever we come across talent and the beauty of a human being such as Judy , we must always respect and cherish such a person NOT like some in her day that took her for granted. That Must Never Happen Again.Will Always Love You Judy ! ALWAYS !!!
    Truly Your Greatest Fan
    Larry

  • Eddy

    Superb special on Judy Garland and her incredible talents. Be prepared for a fast moving, emotional, and awe-inspiring time. It’s wonderful hearing Judy’s story in her own words, and the recollections of many who knew and loved her. Takes you from the time of her birth in Grand Rapids MN, to the vaudeville days, MGM, the concerts, the CBS tv series and finally her tragic end.

    Judy Garland was a true original. We will never see the likes of her again. She left us quite a legacy.

  • Debby Schwartz

    Unfortunately I missed the 6/22 documentary on Judy and I’d love to see it. How can I get a copy. I have been a huge fan of hers for over 50 years. she was an amazing talent. I have all her movies, most of all her albums and until this documentary I have all of the others. I also have read just about every book on her and on The Wizard Of Oz. I have collectibles and photos of her.

  • Kay

    Why can’t poor folks (like myself) who can barely afford internet, with no cable tv, see this program??? – “P” in PBS is “PUBLIC” – The goal was for quality educational programing to reach the common man – We should have PUBLIC access to ALL programs – Seemingly; PBS is more concerned to sel DVD’s – Many of these, high profile features are not accessible online and I think thats all wrong and contrary to the purpose of PBS’s original mission statement – PBS is taking government and public moneys!!! then make EVERYTHING available!!! for EVERYONE

  • Dolores woodruff

    I was mesmorized by the program on Judy Garland. Do you know the name of the song she sang toward the end of the program —IOnly rmember “Throgh The Years…”

  • Laura

    @ Dolores

    That is exactly the name of the song: Through The Years. You can view it here again – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2SBPR_pEUY. :D

  • Ed_Baby®

    It is sad there is no whole episode to view or dvd/download

  • Ajar String

    Saw this June 22 and learned so much about Judy. Whenever I see the Wizard of Oz again I feel sad she is gone but enjoy her so much. Playing Over the Rainbow on the fiddle brings such a similar blend of emotion that I tried singing it and fiddling at the same time (like climbing a wall and writing simultaneously) and recorded. For a cousin’s funeral (we always talked music) after Londonderry Air (Danny Boy) I played Over the Rainbow and it was so cathartic.
    What an awe-inspiring and lasting effect Judy and the songwriters have had for so very long – thus be it ever! Thank you, Judy and best of love over that rainbow.

  • Mark

    If you want a copy of this incredible show, try buying the special 2 disc set of Easter Parade. Its one of the extra’s on it and the dvd is inexpensive. I’m surprised no one has mentioned this in their reviews. Maybe they did and I missed it. She was the best. Nothing more to say there. She sang.

  • M’DeVone

    The Judy Garland PBS series was on again last night. It was very good.

  • Betsy Myers

    Please tell me where I can purchase a DVD of the Judy Garland special By Myself. If not a purchase when will it be on again in the Atlanta, Ga area?

  • Georgianna Tippo

    Please make this spectacular documentary available on dvd!

  • JEJ

    I watched ” By Myself” this evening and thought to myself, what a talent, what a natural born talent. How the tears
    flowed for her, her struggle to find fulfillment, security and happiness. The producers of this documentary did a fabulous job, I commend them. Rest in peace Judy, you will always be missed.

  • Peggy

    Please make this video available for purchase or broadcast it again.

  • DGW

    Add my name to the list….why isn’t this available for purchase?

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