Judy Garland in Her Own Words

Posted by Nicholas Kemp on 7.25.2011

We've partnered with The Paley Center to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Judy Garland's feature film debut (Pigskin Parade, 1936) with a series of screenings of her work in film and television.  In addition to showing an amazing collection of rarities and favorites alike, many of the events will include special introductions, discussions and exhibitions designed to bring to life the cinematic magic for which Garland was famous.  What better way to get excited for this truly special series than by reading what Garland herself had to say about some of the films being shown?  In these quotes, pulled from John Fricke's beautiful book Judy: A Legendary Film Career, Garland's self-effacing wit and dedication to her art are on full display, and in one case, so is the devotion she inspired in those around her:

Pigskin Parade (screens Saturday)
“I went to the preview with my mother.  I was fourteen.  I thought I would look as beautiful as Garbo or Crawford, that makeup and photography would automatically make me glamorous. … When I saw myself on the screen, it was the most awful moment of my life.  My freckels stood out.  I was fat!  And my acting was terrible.  I was loud—like I was singing to the third gallery at the Orpheum!  I burst into tears.  ‘Mommie,’ I said, ‘let’s leave.’  I was ready to go back to vaudeville.  ‘You shouldn’t expect a miracle,’ my mother comforted me.  ‘Be patient.  Wait , and some day, you’ll look beautiful on the screen.’  Well, I’m still waiting!” —Judy Garland

Love Finds Andy Hardy (screens Wednesday and Sunday)
“At that time, I was hopelessly discouraged with my screen work. ... The first morning on the Hardy set, I sneaked into my dressing room to read over the lines.  I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone.  Suddenly, there was a violent knock on the door.  Mickey burst in and said, ‘Jootes, I think this is going to be it.  I think this picture is going to be swell.  But, look—let’s have a sort of pact with each other.  Let’s never try to steal a scene.  Let’s work with each other, not at each other.  That’s the way to make a good picture.’  This philosophy put me completely at ease, and after Mickey left, I thought, “Good heavens, Judy, you’ve been trying too hard.  Relax.  Don’t throw all of your energy into every scene.  Take it easy and see what happens.’  Well, something did happen. … Watching the rushes, I saw that my scenes were more sincere and believable.  I’ve kept that thought in mind ever since. … I learned form Mickey Rooney to be natural, to be myself before the cameras.”  —Judy Garland

The Harvey Girls (screens Aug 1, Aug 4)
“This is a fine picture for me.  I hate guns, and I’m scared to death of horses.  When I even come near a bunch of horses, they nudge each other and say, ‘This is going to be fun.’  Then they snort and stamp their feet and do everything that’s bad!” —Judy Garland

Summer Stock (screens Aug 6, Aug 9)
“It took us six months. … Six months is a terribly long time.  [But] never once did I hear a cross word, a tart comment, a bitter crack on the part of any member of the crew or the cast.  They all understood.  Gene Kelly rates a special word.  He said, ‘I’ll do anything for this girl, Joe.  If I have to come here and sit and wait for a year, I’d do it for her.  That’s the way I feel about her.’” —Producer Joe Pasternak

A Star is Born (screens July 31, Aug 5, Aug 9)
“It’s the biggest picture and the toughest I’ve ever been in; I never worked so hard in my life.  James Mason had to give me a good sock in the face at [the] Academy Awards rally.  Well, it had to be right and realistic, you know.  So James gave me seventeen vigorous blows in the cheek [before we got the scene].  He was terribly sorry and apologetic, but my face took a real beating.  My husband couldn’t stand to be on the set. … [But] I’m sadistic about this picture!”  —Judy Garland

Gay Purr-ee (screens Aug 7)
“It’s all about French pussycats.  I play Mewsette, a farm pussycat who decides to go to Paris, where I’m immediately picked up by Hermoine Gingold—a fat, horrible, pink cat who runs a… a… cat house!  Hermoine transforms Mewsette—that’s me—into a very glamorous cat.  Oh, I really look beautiful; I never looked this good in my heyday.  From now on, I think they’ll have to draw me in. … Anyway, I find out that they’re fattening me up for an old cat in Pittsburgh.  Now, I didn’t want to go to Pittsburgh; I wanted to go to Paris.  So I ran away.  But they get this gang after me—the ‘Meowfia.’  The Meow-fia is after me, and I run through the streets.  I lose all my glamour; my mascara is running, and I become all matted.  So I decide to jump into the river— the Seine.  But before I jump, I stop to sing, which I guess is the usual thing to do before you jump, you know, do a quick thirty-two bars.” —Judy Garland

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