Judy Garland: By Myself
February 25, 2004 | 9pm on PBS



In Her Own Words

Judy Garland's complex life and extraordinary career have been written about countless times. Yet her autobiography was never published. What remains of Garland's story, told in her own words, are tapes she made in preparation for her book. Portions of those tapes, as well as excerpts from numerous interviews conducted with Garland over her lifetime, will be included in AMERICAN MASTERS Judy Garland: By Myself, a co-production with Turner Entertainment that airs February 25, 2004 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). Below are excerpts of some of those interviews:

On Being Judy Garland

Do you realize how many people have talked about me, written about me, imitated me, told my children that they know me, they know Judy Garland. I honestly don't know why I've been made the victim of so many untruths. Well, it's high time to stop the trolley ride, because I, Judy Garland, am gonna talk. And everybody better just sit on the bench and watch the ball game.

On Childhood

From the day I was born, my mother always took great delight in telling rooms full of people how she did everything to get rid of me, she must have rolled down 19,000 flights of stairs, jumped off tables, and for some reason I was a very stubborn child, and was not about to be shaken loose. So when it became too cumbersome for her to roll down any more stairs, when she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, she more or less became resolved because she knew that she was going to have a little boy. Having had two daughters she thought, well it's the only way she could possibly accept this ghastly thing that had happened was that she have a son.

The reason I can remember so many of these things in such a short space of time and so early in my life, was it was the only tranquil, happy time my family and I ever had [during her childhood in Grand Rapids]. Anyway, for such a mixed up life later, it started out beautifully, you know.

On Public Life

My life, my career has been like a roller coaster. I'm either an enormous success or just a down-and-out failure, which is silly, you know, because everyone always asks me: "How does it feel to make a comeback?" And I don't know where I've been. I haven't been away. I've been working all the time. Every time I go to the powder room I have to make a comeback.

On Her Health

My liver was fine. My blood was fine. My heart was fine. And just everything was great. The only thing was that I was a nervous wreck and was suffering terrific malnutrition and fatigue. We came to the last test and they said, "We're going to take an electroencephalogram to record if there is a tumor or any kind of growth or anything like that in the brain." And I thought, "Oh my God, I passed all the tests, now they're going to record my brain, and they'll get down on paper my thoughts and I'm a dead pigeon because they'll never let me out of here."

I think my only anger is that it's just been such damn foolishness about the difficulties. I've been working for 43 years. Now, if I were as difficult or as ill, I wouldn't have been able to be working for 43 years. So I think it's time to put a stop to that.

PDF Version

Top of page


Click on each image for larger version (opens in a new window).

Recording the Oz soundtrack
With Lana Turner in 1952
On the set of Meet Me In St. Louis
On the Metro lot
Judy in 1946
With Mickey Rooney & Shirley Temple
Prerecording the songs for The Wizard Of Oz in 1938.
With Lana Turner in 1952.
With Tom Drake on the set of Meet Me In St. Louis (1944).
Getting a glass of milk while under a hair dryer at MGM in 1937.
With Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple in 1941.
Marriage to Vincente Minnelli
On the A Star Is Born set
With Doris Day
With Vincente & baby Liza Minnelli
With baby Liza Minnelli
With Joan Crawford
Judy & Vincente Minnelli's wedding June 15, 1945.
Rehearsing on the set of A Star Is Born (1954).
With Doris Day on the set of
A Star Is Born (1954).
With Vincent Minnelli and daughter Liza Minnelli on the set of The Pirate (1948).
With daughter Liza Minnelli on the set of The Pirate (1948).
With Joan Crawford in 1939.
In 1944
In 1946
With Mickey Rooney
With Mickey Rooney & Shirley Temple
In 1966
With Mickey Rooney in 1940.
With Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple in 1941.
Performing on the Hollywood Palace TV Show in 1966

Top of page



Broadway's The Boy From Oz Star Isabel Keating Is Voice Of Garland

Features Extensive MGM Archival Material, Rare Radio Interviews, Never-Before-Seen Outtakes, Childhood Performances, Extended Versions Of Garland's Greatest Hits, And Rarely Seen Clips From Garland's CBS Series Featuring Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Mickey Rooney, and Ethel Merman

Picture a late night, amid the craziness of the 1960s, and see a vulnerable, largely misunderstood woman in her 40s. She's at home, or maybe on the road - again. One thing is certain: she's alone, with just her thoughts for company, speaking randomly into a tape recorder. "I'm just trying to get a few things down," she says. "I'm all by myself, as usual. I don't know if anybody is interested but I am. I'm just trying to be heard." The woman is Judy Garland, and heard she is, in AMERICAN MASTERS Judy Garland: By Myself, the first film that has drawn on Judy Garland's own words to tell her story. Pulled largely from recordings Garland made in preparation for an autobiography she never finished, By Myself is in a unique position to reveal Garland as she saw herself. "Do you realize how many people have talked about me, written about me, imitated me?" Garland says in the two-hour AMERICAN MASTERS documentary. "Well, it's high time to stop. This is the story of my life and I, Judy Garland, am gonna talk."

AMERICAN MASTERS Judy Garland: By Myself premieres February 25, 2004 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). The film is a co-production with Turner Entertainment Co., directed by AMERICAN MASTERS creator and executive producer Susan Lacy, written by Lacy and Stephen Stept, and produced by Lacy and John Fricke. Actress Isabel Keating - currently starring as Judy Garland opposite Hugh Jackman in Broadway's record-breaking hit The Boy From Oz - provides the voice of Garland. Character actor Harris Yulin is the narrator.

"When I started working on this film I - like millions of others - thought I knew Judy Garland," says Lacy. "Although continually struck by her incredible star power, I was equally intrigued by the stories of her kindness and vulnerability, especially when it came to her children. She was a deep, complicated and very 'human' individual. I hope the film will help people focus on her extraordinary gifts and offer insights into her interior life, as well as why her work has touched millions and continues to do so 35 years after her death."

Judy Garland: By Myself goes well beyond a biographical recounting of a star's rise and fall by interweaving Garland's personal story with discerning parallels from her films. An extended sequence from A Star Is Born, intercut with Garland's own thoughts, echoes her own broken marriages, extended bouts with addiction, spectacular comebacks and never-ending yearnings.

Of A Star Is Born, Garland - divorced, broke and unemployed by age 28 - said: "The picture had to be the greatest. It couldn't merely be very good. I had things to prove." Of that performance, which showcased the full range of her talents, director George Cukor said: "I knew that anyone who could sing like Judy had the emotional ability to become a great dramatic actor. I wanted very much to direct her."

Although she described herself as "just an entertainer," Garland was, by all accounts, the definitive entertainer of the 20th century. In an exclusive - and unprecedented - arrangement, Turner Entertainment granted AMERICAN MASTERS unlimited access to the archives at MGM, the mega-studio that used corsets to hide Garland's breasts and provided uppers and downers that made the 4-foot-11 singing sensation feel like a "wind-up toy."

"That's the way we got mixed up," Garland says in By Myself. "And that's the way we lost contact with the world."

Extraordinary entrée to never-before-seen material allows Judy Garland: By Myself to tell never-before-told stories, including the heartbreaking account of her CBS television series. The CBS offer was the biggest the network had ever made: $24 million a year for four years, with $1 million annually for Garland, who hoped the long-sought financial security would finally provide a real home for her family. The film includes extensive clips from the show, including performances with Barbra Streisand (decked out in a sailor suit), Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Mickey Rooney, and Ethel Merman. But the rigors of formula TV, coupled with constant complaints from the network's president - who expressed an acute dislike for Garland - killed the critically acclaimed show, which couldn't win in a time slot dominated by Bonanza.

When film and television failed her, the vaudeville veteran always returned to the one certainty in her life: her voice. Prominent in By Myself are extended versions of "Me and My Gal," "The Man That Got Away," "You Made Me Love You," "Stormy Weather," and "Over the Rainbow," which Garland sings with daughter Liza at her side. The film also includes footage and stills from Garland's record-breaking appearances at the London Palladium and Carnegie Hall, where - gripped by self-doubt and terrified of failure - she received thunderous standing ovations as soon as she stepped on stage. "She rocked that theater," actress Ann Miller says in By Myself. "She just ripped that audience to pieces."

Garland's wit and vulnerability are apparent in long-forgotten radio, press and TV interviews, including a 1962 appearance with Jack Paar. When asked what she missed most during her teenage years, when she appeared in back-to-back MGM films, Garland says in a Canadian TV interview: "Eating." Even after receiving a special juvenile Oscar for The Wizard of Oz, Garland - nicknamed "the little hunchback" by studio head Louis B. Mayer - still considered herself an ugly duckling.

Instead of emphasizing her much-publicized struggles with addiction, which she fought with electric shock therapy and stints in sanitariums, By Myself celebrates Garland as a consummate entertainer. All told, Garland worked for 43 of her 47 years, appearing in 32 feature films, making more than 1,100 theater, nightclub and concert performances, and recording nearly 100 singles and over a dozen albums. Performing first as a toddler, she went on to master singing, acting and dancing - while raising, and largely supporting, three children caught in a very public spotlight.

The film also explores the star's complex personal life, including a critical marriage to a much-older Vincente Minnelli, who, like Garland's beloved father, was rumored to be gay. Genuine insight into Garland herself - the roots of her storied problems as well as her indomitable spirit - are provided by intimates such as Minnelli and A Star Is Born director Cukor, who said of Garland: "She had an innate intelligence to her...She could have you screaming with laughter...She was the most marvelous company."

Never a quitter, Garland performed until her abrupt end in 1969. Says director Joe Mankiewicz: "You're not going to close the book on Judy Garland. Oh no. I don't think anybody's going to close the book on her."

Susan Lacy is the creator and executive producer of AMERICAN MASTERS. Jac Venza is director of cultural and arts programs at Thirteen/WNET New York. AMERICAN MASTERS has become a cultural legacy in its own right, producing an exceptional film library that illustrates the creative journeys of our most enduring writers, musicians and visual and performing artists. Now in its 18th year, the series set the standard for documentary film profiles and has received widespread critical acclaim, winning 12 Emmys, five Peabodys, an Oscar, a Grammy, and 33 Cine Golden Eagles. With authenticity and integrity, the series enhances an appreciation of our cultural heritage and maintains the kind of in-depth, thorough and insightful explorations that viewers have come to expect from public television.

Corporate sponsorship for AMERICAN MASTERS is provided by American Century Investments. Funding is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Jack Rudin, the André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers.


Thirteen/WNET New York is one of the key program providers for public television, bringing such acclaimed series as GREAT PERFORMANCES, NATURE, AMERICAN MASTERS, CHARLIE ROSE, RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY, WIDE ANGLE, STAGE ON SCREEN, SECRETS OF THE DEAD, and CYBERCHASE - as well as the work of Bill Moyers - to audiences nationwide. As the flagship public broadcaster in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut metro area, Thirteen reaches millions of viewers each week, airing the best of American public television along with its own local productions such as The Ethnic Heritage Specials, The Thirteen Walking Tours, NEW YORK VOICES, and REEL NEW YORK. With educational and community outreach projects that extend the impact of its television productions, Thirteen takes television "out of the box." And as broadcast and digital media converge, Thirteen is blazing trails in the creation of Web sites, enhanced television, CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, educational software, and other cutting-edge media products. More information about Thirteen can be found at: www.thirteen.org.

PDF Version

Top of page