Get Happy by Gerald Clarke
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Delta (March 6, 2001)
From Publishers Weekly
Judy Garland's on-screen longing for a land where "sorrows melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops" was answered with a life plagued by emotional agony, dependency on drugs and alcohol, exploitative relationships, suicide attempts and physical violence. This exhaustively researched and illuminating biography by Clarke, whose bestselling 1988 life of Truman Capote won critical praise, is as compassionate as it is wrenching. It follows the basic themes established by the best of the more than 20 biographies and memoirs of Garland that have appeared since her 1969 death (in particular, Gerald Frank's 1975 bio, authorized by her family). But while most portray Garland as tormented by inexorable and sometimes inexplicable inner demons, Clarke brings to his work a far harsher evaluation of how the singer was treated by her employers, family and lovers: her mother gave her amphetamines at the age of four; producers at MGM sexually harassed her as a young teen; husband Vincente Minnelli cheated on her with men soon after their marriage; husband Sid Luft stole millions from her; fourth husband Mark Herron had an affair with Garland's son-in-law, Peter Allen (then married to Liza Minnelli). Many of Clarke's revelations are of a sexual nature--he mentions affairs with Sinatra, Glenn Ford, Yul Brynner and Tyrone Power as well as with women. Other revelations, such as of Garland attacking her young son, Joey, with a butcher's knife, are simply shocking. Yet Clarke never exploits this volatile material as cheap gossip; instead, he deftly weaves it into a detailed, respectful and haunting portrait. (Apr.)
It’s sometimes strange how you think you know a lot about a celebrity and yet, of course, you don’t.
Oh, I knew that Judy’s mother was the one who started her on her problems with “drugs”. Her excuse was that Judy earned money that they needed so it was ok to give her pills to sleep and pills to vitalize her .
Then when MGM came along they “owned” Judy and basically the pills just continued.
As I read this book it seemed her whole life she searched for love …love like she had from her father. Unconditional love. Not the sort her mother doled out. Most all the men Judy thought she was in love with and married were much older then she was. Always searching for the father figure. And someone who would take care of her and her money. Instead they all used her and spent her money and this multitalented lady ended up (more than once) broke.
Her choice of men stunk. Liza’s dad, Vincente Minnelli was gay. But back then everyone hid that fact and married so they seemed “normal”. How horrible to have to live like that. But that’s how it was. One of her other husband’s, Sid Luft, father to Lorna and Joey really went through Judy’s money like it was never ending.
I felt somewhat like this author wanted to shock people with all of Judy’s “affairs” and “marriages”, and yet they were what always caused her breakdowns and always left her feeling unloved and unappreciated.
Judy Garland had a very hard and sad life. She had moments of glory and happiness, but they never lasted long. I find that to this day I feel sad for Judy Garland. She gave all she had and got little in return but drugs, getting used, and unhappy. But the book did make me feel I understood how this all happened to her..and there were people along the way that really thought they could help Judy . It’s too bad they didn’t succeed.