This unique biography of the superstar born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, is based on talks with people who actually knew her - from the 90-something woman in Grand Rapids who used to babysit the star to the producers, nightclub owners, musicians and friends who experienced all the problems Judy had, as well as her great successes. We hear how she was shunned by local people when she made her only visit back to her birthplace by people who considered her a Jezebel; how her father was shunted out of town because he was gay; and how she was overworked while making The Wizard of Oz. The man who established the first Judy Garland fan club tells how he reluctantly walked out of one of her performances because she was so bad.
Stevie Phillips, the 'carer' imposed by Judy's agents describes her as a 'train wreck' and the son of the man who employed her at New York's biggest night club describes how she let him down and failed to appear for shows. In Hollywood, we see that the son of the doctor who was her father's friend went to MGM asking them to cancel a contract because the work pressure was too hard. But then we also hear how she was sacked from Annie Get Your Gun and went through the MGM corridors in war paint and carrying her tomahawk 'looking for someone to scalp' as TV-producer George Slaughter put it.
This is a bitter-sweet story: sad and funny and very human. Don't look for star names in this book - they are not there. These are personal stories from the sort of people few biographers have bothered to talk to, but who provide the best and the truest tales.