Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Frances Ethel Gumm at 87

Had Judy Garland not died tragically at 47 of an accidental overdose she would be turning 87 years-old today. Okay, so she might have died by now but we would have had much more of her work to enjoy. To give you an idea of how young that is for a world class entertainer, consider people who outlived her.

Had Frank Sinatra died at 47 his career would have ended with The Manchurian Candidate. He'd have never recorded his signature song "My Way" or any of his live records. Had Shirley Maclaine died at 47, she would never have sent up Debbie Reynolds in Postcards from the Edge or made Terms of Endearment which was arguably her greatest screen triumph. Had her co-star Jack Nicholson died at 47, Terms... would have been his last film: no Prizzi's Honor, Witches of Eastwick, Ironweed, The Departed, About Schmidt. Had Paul Newman, only three years Judy's junior, died at 47, "Judge Roy Bean" might have been his finale. No classics like The Sting, The Verdict or that long awaited Oscar win for reprising his role from The Hustler. Had Meryl Streep died at 47, The Bridges of Madison County would have been her swan song. No "Miranda Priestley", The Hours or Angels in America, no miraculous rebirth as a top box office draw in her late 50s. She would never have become the most nominated performer in Oscar history.

This is all a long way of saying that Judy Garland's death, while providing a fascinating spark to rush the gay liberation movement (more on Stonewall when it hits its 40th anniversary in a couple of weeks), was a great loss to the world. So here's to Judy in the celluloid heavens. Her cultural immortality is greatly deserved.

Related post: Nathaniel's 100 favorite actresses of all time. His harem (?) imaginary celluloid mansion (?) actress castle (?) has many wings but Judy's throne is very elaborate. She rules the afterlife wing alongside Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Wood.


Wayne B. said...

This is so weird! I'm compiling information and memories for my own blog-in-the-making and Judy Garland is my earliest cinematic memory. "The Wizard Of Oz" was one of the first live-action films I ever watched and its been one of my favourites since I was four. It was that voice I remember the most of course; "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" is deservedly the best movie song of all time.

Derreck said...

wow. that second paragraph was enlightening and depressing at the same time.

it's sad that she died at such an age, but at least she made her mark while she was still alive...

Dean said...

Okay seeing Angela Bassett on your Top 100 list, have you seen Nothing But the Truth? She's great in it and I think Beckinsale, Farmiga, Alda, and Dillon were all oscar worthy and had the film not had financial trouble probably would have snagged a couple of those noms. Just curious on your opinion since it's such an acting showcase.

Cinesnatch said...

Such a treasure. Thank you.

Sally Belle said...

Oh my goodness! That made me tear up. Poor Judy...I'm afraid she lived her life for everyone but herself.

I think it should be made illegal to sing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" ever again. It's been done to perfection.

Other fave, The Man That Got Away.


Ryan said...

a treasure indeed.

while my beloved Monty was the crowning gem of 'judgement at nuremberg', Judy was quite wonderful as well.