Let’s face it everybody has had to have seen The Wizard Of Oz at least once in their lives. The movie made Judy Garland a star at a young age. But there was a whole lot more going on with Judy and her career than just making movies and singing. In the new book Judy And I: My Life With Judy Garland (Chicago Review Press; in stores Tuesday, March 1), her third husband Sid Luft tells it from his point of view.
The unpublished book was recently found and had been in the works for 30 years to be published. According to the press notes the Sid stopped writing the book in 1960. The final sections were written by Randy L. Schmidt.
The books first part is about Sid’s life from the time he was a kid, to being a pilot, to moving to meeting celebrities, his first couple of marriages and meeting Judy Garland. Their love affair was like no other. They were both married to others at the time (both marriages were at an end by the time they hooked up). Sid took over her career which had pretty much come to a stand still (in those days you were under contracts to movie studios and once they used and abused you that was it).
Sid got her to do concerts with her powerful voice. She put together these productions that were so successful and got her back on track. She would play shows in England and Europe to sold out crowds. Her famous friends would come to see her (and there’s a lot of name dropping). But behind the scenes things were not easy. Judy had three kids but also had issues worrying about her weight. She soon developed a drug issue that would impact her the rest of her life. She would be high and low and would try and kick the habit. She would miss shows and be unresponsive.
She would also stop and hit new highs with A Star Is Born and more movies and tours. But the drugs would be her undoing. She would soon sign with new agents that were ripping her off. Sid would do everything he could to help her but she was too out of control. They would break up and get back together. Then finally divorcing. He tried to be there for her but she was just out of control. She was being used more and more by people. Then that fateful day when she was found dead.
The book is just a fascinating look at the icon star. There’s great stories about some of her famous friends (Lucille Ball story is great) and working with people like Sinatra and hanging with Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and more. It’s a rare glimpse into old Hollywood that you don’t get to see these days and makes you wonder how her life would have been different under today’s Hollywood.
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