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Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland [Hardcover]

Gerald Clarke
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

9 Nov 2000
Judy Garland. The girl with the pigtails in THE WIZARD OF OZ. The brightest star of the Hollywood musical & an entertainer of almost magical power. The woman of half a dozen comebacks & a hundred heartbreaks. To tell her story, Gerald Clarke too k10 years, travelled thousands of miles across two continents, conducted hundreds of interviews, & ug through mountains of documents, many of which were unavailable to other biographers. Combining a novelist's skill & a movie director's eye, Clarke re-creates the golden age of Hollywood with cinematic urgency, bringing to vivid life the characters who played leading roles in the unending drama of Judy Garland: Louis B Mayer, the patriarch of MGM; sexy Lana Turner, Judy's friend & idol, who had a habit of trying to snatch away any man Judy expressed interest in; clarinetist Artie Shaw, handsome Tyrone Power; boy genius Orson Welles & brilliant director Vincente Minnelli, who fathered her first child, Liza. Toward the end of her life, Garland tried to tell her own story. With access to her tape recordings - & her revelatory unfinished manuscript - Clarke is able to tell Judy's story as she herself might have told it.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 510 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1st Edition 1st Printing edition (9 Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316855952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316855952
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16.2 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


[A] masterful biography. (SUNDAY TIMES)

A Hollywood biography in the classic mould...[it is the] deep insecurity allied with greatness that Clarke explores so well. This is a sympathetic biography in that it seeks explanations, although Clarke properly makes no attempt to gloss over the Garland (GLASGOW HERALD)

This biography carries us through Garland's show-stopping highs and pill-popping lows in high style, showing her considerable wit and glamour as well as the misery of a young performer manipulated by the studio...Clarke's biography whips smoothly through the years with minimal hyperbole and his subject emerges triumphant. (OBSERVER)

There have been plenty of books on Judy, but Clarke is the only writer to have access to her 68 manuscript pages of her unfinished biography. Drawing on a remarkable number of sources, he has produced the definitive life. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Book Description

* Definitive biography of Hollywood's brightest musical star - Judy Garland (1922-1969).

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Judy is a STAR 7 Feb 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When ever people mention Judy Garland, you think of the Wizzard of Oz and not of the troubled woman she became. This booked touched many strings of my heart as I read of how hard she worked as a child and was never allowed to be herself, always performing. The pictures inside the book told a thousand stories, and I found "Get Happy " well written, and and very informative. Infact it did bring on many emotions. I could not put it down. "Get Happy" is a must for all Garland fans.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for first-time Garland biography readers. 14 Oct 2001
By A Customer
What more can be said about the life of Judy Garland, beyond the material on her life that is already available? Based on this biography, the answer it would seem is very little, which perhaps explains the author's choice of central theme with which to peddle his wares: Garland's alleged sexual behaviour and history. This is not to say that the book as a whole is unworthy, as it otherwise overflows with first-hand accounts and relevant information on the life of this most paradoxical and iconic of entertainers. It's just that most of this same information is already available elsewhere.
The author's focus on the sexuality of Garland, and those that surrounded her and influenced her throughout her life, flows throughout the entire book, to the extent that, if this element were removed, it would weigh in at significantly less than it's current size. The only people to escape scrutiny it would seem, are Garland's two youngest children, Lorna & Joey Luft, as even first born Liza Minnelli's husband is brought under the microscope. There is one particular account, which is so shockingly graphic and wholly unnecessary, that it makes you wonder how it was allowed into the book in the first place. The source quoted in the book for said 'information' has, of course, requested anonymity. This unrelenting focus begs the question: Is anything new really brought to this historical account, other than that which will give pain to her family and injure the memory of the woman herself? It would seem not.
Otherwise, the book is an interesting and comprehensive account of Garland's life, particularly of her early years and tenure at M-G-M, that is spoiled by the point already mentioned. If you are a first time-time reader of the life of Judy Garland, I would suggest this book were probably best avoided in favour of one of the other biographies available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Interesting 27 Jan 2008
Gerald Clarke has obviously taken great lengths to research the back-story behind one of the 20th Century's great legends, and it certainly pays off in this wonderfully constructed biography.

The story tells Garland's life beautifully, but also disturbingly, as he reveals the jubilant highs and the monsterous lows, and how throughout her life there was triumph but also misery.

Sometimes a little bit too disturbing for a younger reader, going into much detail about her drug-taking and personal life, so this isn't the book if you want a glossed over version of what happened between 1922 and 1969.

Overall a great, interesting read but I also highly reccommend John Fricke's 'A Portrait in Art and Anecdote' which has many rare photographs from personal archives, and features interviews with some of Judy's closest friends and relations.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insight into the highs & lows Judy Garland 2 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This book doesn't just give you an insight into the life of the legend & the reasons for her downfall. It also gives you some gossip about the stars that Judy worked with at MGM, which also makes for some interesting reading. You experience her highs and her lows & end up wishing that someone could have nipped her self-abuse in the bud, rather than letting it carry on her whole life. It definitely makes you want to listen to her old recordings & watch her films. The message throughout the book is that she was a lady with amazing talent who was mistreated and then mismanaged throughout her life. A must if you are interested in Judy or indeed that era. The first chapter or so is a bit heavy going giving a detailed explanation of Judy Garland's family, it is however quite relevant. Once you get to the point where little Frances Gumm arrives the book really livens up. People who don't want to spoil their memory of her beware: not all you will read is complimentary of Miss Garland, there is an emphasis on presenting the facts whether good or bad. All in all, it is a very insightful book. I couldn't put it down.
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4.0 out of 5 stars get happy 16 Oct 2004
By A Customer
quite a riveting book that gets you more engrossed the further you read, a life story of a very talented person who was manipulated and mismanaged most of her life, a strong willed and difficult woman who earned plenty but emotionally and financially had nothing, illustrated with some lovely photographs, a good read if you like reading about real lives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland 25 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Incredible book describing the life of Judy Garland. That era is a mystery and yet back then Stars were Stars, not Celebrities. What pressures they were under is nothing they feel today. Well written book.
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