- Columbus, OH -
October 8, 1967 -
Garland Image Dead
By John Huddy - Columbus
It has been said that those
who come to see Judy Garland perform come not to see a human being, an
entertainer, or even a legend at first hand on stage. Instead, it
has been observed, they come to see a Circus Maximus, a gladiator's arena,
an Indianapolis 500, a bloodied boxing ring... in short, a gruesome, frightening,
suspenseful disaster. Will she show up, will she arrive on time,
will she finish the show, will she collapse onstage, will she suddenly
stop singing and cry, will she hit that high note? Just one thin
dime folks, or five bucks, or 10 dollars. She, the disaster, in person,
Those who came to see such
a disaster, such an awful spectacle, saw exactly that Saturday night.
They got their money's worth. Miss Garland, groggy and slurred in
speech -- from what I won't even begin to guess -- stumbled through a pathetic
if not horrible hour of the worst singing -- entertaining I have ever seen
or heard in my life. And I'm not talking just about professional
performances as seen in the last few years in Columbus -- I'm talking about
worse than all the poorest of the amateur productions I've seen, too.
Forgetting words, forgetting
songs, and apparently even forgetting where she was or what she was doing,
Miss Garland -- whether exploited or exploiting -- appeared to be trying
to jam a lifetime of heartache, failure, emotional problems, and just plain
misery into a voice that sounded worse than a piece of chalk shrieking
across a blackboard. Most of the time her voice simply cracked.
Other times she was forced to stop, mumble incoherently, and then restart,
only to falter again. At one point in the evening she picked up a
glass and toasted the audience. "Gotta keep up my image ya' know,"
she slurred. Later after kicking off her shoe across the stage and
clearing her throat several times in the microphone, Miss Garland moaned:
"I hardly know where to (voice cracks) turn." And she didn't.
Yet despite such a performance,
there was one thing worse Saturday night and only the fact that I'll be
in the Marines at Cherry Point by the time this appears in print, gives
me the courage enough to say it. What could be worse than a tired,
tortured Judy Garland involved in such a merciless spectacle? The
answer: Those who make it possible, the Judy Garland 'fans'.
They scream and run up and down the aisles before before the show starts
and holler "I love you Judy," so that Judy can project cuteness and warmth
and fragility and say, "Why thank you, honey," or "You're a dear to say
that." These people, and their willingness to spend thousands of
dollars whenever Miss Garland appears, is the answer to why a woman with
the past greatness of Garland subjects herself to such a terrible exploitation.
If it were almost anyone else but the delightful little girl in OZ, I'd
say, oh well, it is just another way to make a buck. But I know now
that whenever again I see that pretty little girl, or hear TROLLEY SONG
or OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD, I won't be able to think of that lovely, talented,
Instead, that nightmare of
a tired, tired woman will appear. A legend self destroyed.
to the Editor
Terms Garland Review Prejudiced
By Ethel Russell, Irwin,
Ohio - Columbus Dispatch
The the editor: I agree
wholeheartedly that something is dead; the stench of John Huddy's article
proves it. However, rather than Judy Garland's image being that which
is dead, it is this writer's reporting ability and objectivity.
Never have I read a more
prejudiced view. He not only fails to report facts accurately, but
obviously deliberately chose to ignore some. For example, did she
kick her shoe across the stage, or did it inadvertently fly off?
Did he mention the fact that despite her illness and exhaustion she very
graciously made curtain call after curtain call? Indeed not!
he chose instead to inform his readers that her voice sounded worse than
a piece of chalk shrieking across a blackboard and that most of the time
her voice simply cracked. Is he so unfamiliar with a Garland performance
that he doesn't recognize her style is to talk with her audience and to
omit words in songs at times?
In addition to being fiendishly
cruel to Miss Garland, he (Mr. Huddy) proceeds to insult the public which
supports and treasures this person who is a living legend.
What is wrong with projecting
warmth? I sincerely believe that it would be well for him to learn
this art. As for her projecting fragility -- what else? Miss
Garland may have some problems, but Mr. Huddy seems to have set himself
up as the judge and jury to condemn people for the ability to love.
It is not my opinion alone that he owes Miss Garland and her friends and
fans an apology.