Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland by Gerald Clarke is my PALS book club’s February 2020 selection. In light of Renee Zellweger’s recent Oscar for portraying Judy Garland in the last year of her life, I was looking forward to reading this book. However, there is only one short chapter regarding her last days. There is a lot more detail given to her parents’ lives before she was born than is given to the events leading up to Judy’s tragic death. I am disappointed by the author’s choice of what he considered more important.
My takeaway from this biography is that Judy Garland never was happy for any length of time. As the youngest of three singing sisters, Frances “Babe” Gumm, was pushed beyond belief by her mother, Ethel, whose drive in life was for her daughter to become a star. Ethel started giving Babe pep pills before her 10th birthday. As Babe Gumm developed into Judy Garland, she had already begun her life long drug addiction, which finally led to her death. Judy could be temporarily happy only when she had a man in her life who could give her constant attention and adoration. It didn’t matter if that man was freeloading or robbing her blind as long as he made Judy feel needed.
While acknowledging her impeccable talent and sense of humor, the book shows Judy’s real personality traits as bipolar, addicted to drugs and alcohol, co-dependent on men, insecure, unreliable, childish, egotistic, depressed, suicidal, over-dramatic and a sex fiend. In spite of making millions of dollars, she was often broke and being sued for debts of several of her husbands, who were reckless spenders. Her managers took advantage of her as well. There were many opportunities for her to turn herself around, but she never had the desire to help herself. She even used her fans to try to help her pay bills. She was an exhausting personality and most people who knew her, tired of her before too long. As a reader, I too tired of her story.
The book is well written but too long. While I did enjoy reading about the old Hollywood film industry, I can’t say I enjoyed reading about the life of such a self-destructive person. 3 stars.
And now for my Recipe for Readers Recommendation:
Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bundt Cake