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Judy Garland. I Happen to Like New York. Comes Once in a Lifetime. If I Love Again. She became this avatar for the rejected: not sexy enough, not pretty enough. She married five times and two of her husbands were, like her father, suspected of being gay or bisexual.
Garland first married at 19 when she eloped to Las Vegas with musician David Rose. A year later, when she fell pregnant, her mother convinced her to have an illegal abortion.
Drugs and financial instability were a near-constant presence in her life and she was suspended numerous times by MGM for missing shoot days or being incoherent, intoxicated and abusive on set. At 32, she had already been divorced twice and suffered numerous breakdowns. The high-budget project was seen as her final throw of the dice in Hollywood.
I hate him for failing and I hate me too. Yet the critical acclaim Garland received for A Star is Born was tarnished Judy Garland - The Essential Judy Garland (CD) its commercial underperformance. Deemed too long, the film had to be cut considerably, leading to a botched edit that left viewers underwhelmed.
It flopped at the box office and Warner Bros then cancelled the lucrative multi-film deal Garland had signed with them. She was widely expected to take home the Academy Award for her role in the film, with reporters even waiting by her hospital bedside to capture her reaction as she prepared to give birth. Garland had a comeback moment in showbiz drama A Star is Born — but it was short-lived Credit: Alamy.
Like a true survivor, Garland rebounded from the commercial failure of A Star is Born. She found a new niche as a live singer, performing in a drug-induced haze on an endless tour after financial troubles left her permanently broke. Audiences, many of whom Judy Garland - The Essential Judy Garland (CD) gay, roared with laughter at her quick wit and gave her the validation for her performing that she had always craved.
A live recording of her concert at Carnegie Hall in New York won four Grammys, including album of the year, making Garland the first woman to win the award. Gay men need to be mindful of our own culpability in this cycle. Queens would come to a Judy Garland concert and then scream at her when she was too drunk to finish it. The women have changed — it's no longer Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland.
But the dynamic remains in Western culture. When push comes to shove, are gay Judy Garland - The Essential Judy Garland (CD) really there for the women we claim to worship? On screen too, there are several works in the gay pop-cultural canon that glorify destructive female behaviour — Judy Garland - The Essential Judy Garland (CD) being financed and created by men.
Mommie Dearesta biopic of screen icon Joan Crawford, which portrays her as an abusive mother, is a gay classic. Camp is a huge part of what draws gay men towards women like Garland. There is camp to be found in her tragedy, her successes and her bad behaviour. But some, such as gay author Andrew Britton have argued that the existence of camp actually depends on the restrictive gender dynamics that it claims to oppose. Many gay men turn to women like Judy Garland to help them navigate their own experiences of the world.
But we should also reflect on the way we treat them. Did you enjoy this story? Then we have a favour to ask. Join your fellow readers and vote for us in the Lovie Awards! It only takes a minute and helps support original, in-depth journalism.
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