| ||Audio Interview: Gerald Clarke|
An interview by Bill Goldstein, books editor of The New York Times on the Web, April 4, 2000.
Anne Mandelbaum/ Simon & Schuster
- On Judy Garland Myths
"What I quickly discovered was that much of what had been written was just not true; that things, as you know, once they're in print, tend to be taken as gospel and then they're reprinted over and over again. After several times, that's the accepted wisdom. That's the story of Judy Garland. . . . [F]or instance: There are all sorts of stories about Judy Garland's father, Frank Gumm, and his early life, some of which are quite romantic, about a crippled sister who had an unhappy love affair, pushed her wheelchair off a bridge in Georgia and died. Well, none of that's true. It's all fiction, all made up. So I tried to really start from scratch."
- On New Sources and New Revelations
"I found tapes that she had made for an autobiography in the mid-60's . . . at a very low ebb in her life, just pouring her heart out. . . . [It was] the real Judy talking, very confessionally. And then very late in the project, I discovered what was truly astonishing and astounding: her unpublished and unfinished autobiography . . . [S]he had actually finished, with the help of a ghost writer, 68 pages in 1960-61. And these had revelations that really quite surprised me . . . such as the sexual molestation at MGM. Everybody in the world of course knows about the Hollywood casting couches. But nobody, absolutely nobody that I've ever talked to knew that they'd put the bite on Judy, who was then a teenager . . . She says in her autobiography . . . that one of the worst offenders was Louis B. Mayer himself. Now Louis B. Mayer thought of himself as her father figure . . . He would tell her how beautifully she sang and then put his hand on her left breast and say, 'This is where you sing from!' And this went on for four years, from the age of 16 to 20. And finally she got up enough courage to say to him, 'Mr. Mayer, if you want to tell me where I sing from, from now on, just point.'"
- On Garland's Resilience
"Most people would have been so daunted by [her] awful childhood . . Judy always seemed to bounce back to greater heights and astonish everyone. In 1950, when she was fired by MGM, she was called a wash-out in Hollywood. One of the Hollywood papers even ran a story about other female stars of the past who had also been famous who had wound up badly . . . and the implication was, that was how Judy would end too. Well, six months later, she achieved her enormous success at the Palladium in London. . . . At that point, she was taken up by Hollywood for 'A Star Is Born,' which was going to be the biggest picture of that time. She had a remarkable spirit."
- On Lorna Luft and Liza Minnelli
"I did try to get Lorna Luft and Liza Minnelli to talk to me. But they didn't want to. . . . I've seen them both doing TV interviews . . . I think that they now believe the mythology about their mother themselves. I don't think they really know any more what she was like. It's not that they're lying, I'm not suggesting that. I just think that they've become victims of her myth as well. . . . They were really raised by others. . . . So I don't think that it was a real drawback not to have talked to them. And in a way, I felt liberated. I didn't feel any obligation to try to slant the story to try to make them feel good. Nor the other way: I didn't want to make them feel bad, either. I just wanted to tell the truth."
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