Saturday, February 02, 2008

Rainbow's End: The Judy Garland Show, by C. S Sanders

How many Garland biographies I wonder have the word ‘rainbow’ in the title? This book is part fan’s rap and part thoroughgoing research. If you’ve ever watched and enjoyed the short lived Garland television series The Judy Garland Show, this book provides you a backstage pass and comprehensive explanation as to why it was so short lived. (The show ran for 26 episodes through 1963-64.)

Basically, little faith was put in Garland’s ability to turn up to work every week. Plus the fact that they put her show in the toughest of time slots and expected it to knock out all the competition. Adding to this unhappy mix was the huge amounts of money being splashed around. Garland was under huge pressure to bring in squillions of viewers for the advertisers.

While this book concentrates on the short one year period that The Judy Garland Show went to air, it also gives a terrific snapshot of Garland herself. The author interviews extensively, and time and time again those who knew her say how witty, sharp and intelligent Garland was. Just the snippets alone of her dialogue make it abundantly clear that she was never at a loss for the right word. (She used to call her musical director, crooner Mel Torme, Mel Torment.)

Think of those other screen legends whose daughters wrote shocker books on their mothers. Yet Lorna and Liza clearly adored their mother. They have nothing but praise for her warmth, intelligence and professionalism.

This book is probably for Judy fans only, or students of American television culture. It goes into extraordinary detail about how television was made at this time, and the bozos that were calling all the shots. You do shake your head at the appalling way that Judy was treated.

I liked this book because it gave a good portrait of a funny, witty, warm and professionally generous Judy Garland.

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