June 10 marks the day that Judy Garland would have been 89 years old. If you have been following my blog at all, you already know that I am a huge Judy Garland fan. She has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and the really serious fandom started when I was about 10, when I heard a compilation of her Decca recordings–I fell immediately in love, and it’s all been uphill from there.
It is no secret that Judy Garland is the quintessential queer icon of the century. There have been many theories about just why the gay community is so drawn to her–among them that the early passing of her father (who was indeed gay) led her to seek out similar men, and that her status as a “tragic” character led the gay community to identify with her troubles. I don’t pretend to understand just what exactly it is that makes Judy such a lasting icon in the gay community, but I think that the renowned playwright and drag performer Charles Busch articulates her appeal very accurately:
I think it’s just facile to think that ‘Oh, because she’s so pathetic, that gay people whose lives are so pathetic identify with that,’ I think that can get a little tiresome. I think it’s more that despite her problems, she was able to dredge up this…energy that was very infectious.”
I am going to compile here some of what I consider to be her best work, and that which seems to encompass her as a person. Happy birthday to Judy!
Singing “Blue Butterfly,” at age 7.
“It’s Love I’m After,” from her first feature film, Pigskin Parade. She was 14.
This is a series of home movies shot on the set of The Wizard of Oz, by songwriter Harold Arlen.
With Gene Kelly in The Pirate.
Again showing her skills as a dancer with Gene Kelly in Summer Stock. After this film, she was fired from MGM and embarked on a highly successful concert career.
Accepting her Tony Award for the Palace engagement from presenter Helen Hayes.
A Star is Born in 1954 was Judy’s comeback film, and it garnered her an Oscar nomination, sparking outrage in the community when she lost to Grace Kelly.
Giving another Oscar-nominated performance in Judgment at Nuremberg.
The overture to the Carnegie Hall concert.
One of my favorite scenes from Judy’s last film, I Could Go On Singing in 1963.
Here are some scenes of Judy with celebrities from Judy’s TV show in the 1963-64 season:
ONE OF MY FAVORITES.
Judy’s last interview in Copenhagen, 1969.
A special thank you to Caroline at Garbo Laughs for hosting the Queer Film Blogathon, of which this post is a member!