JUDY HOLLIDAY: An Intimate Life Story by Gary Carey

JUDY HOLLIDAY: An Intimate Life Story

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Not, of course, as billed, ""the first full-scale account"" of Holliday's life and career: Will Hoitzman's Judy Holliday (p. 48) was first--and though that biography was shoddy and melodramatic, it did have more life (and more apparent first-hand research) than this totally routine effort. Carey offers a youthful lesbian affair--dubiously documented--which Holtzman didn't include; a few other romances are hinted at. (Lots of research-by-rumor here.) Otherwise, the story is the same, and so are most of the speculations, though Carey strains less for psychological insight (some vague references to a ""Jekyll and Hyde syndrome"") than Holtzman did. And, aside from one or two sideline confidants (Holtzman's major inside source at least seemed to have spent a lot of time with Holliday), there's heavy reliance on undistinguished secondary sources. So here, again, is the semi-unhappy childhood (absent father); the Revuers at the Vanguard; minor roles in New York and Hollywood; the Born Yesterday breakthrough; the HUAC appearance, which taught Holliday that her career ""was terribly important to her"" (Carey underplays the politics as badly as Holtzman overplayed them); marriage and motherhood; difficulty finding suitable roles; Peter Lawford, Bells Are Ringing, Sydney Chaplin; Gerry Mulligan, songwriting efforts (covered better by Holtzman), the Hot Spot disaster, and the slow, tragic final illness. Carey (All the Stars in Heaven) supplies some passable critiques of the movies, along with glib, sometimes idiotic generalizations. (""In the theater world of the Thirties and Forties, there was no stigma attached to homosexual or bisexual behavior. . . ."") But he's relatively weak on Broadway atmosphere--and does no better than Holtzman at capturing the Holliday quality on paper or making her life-story immediately affecting. A toss-up between a third-rate twosome, then--with Holtzman probably a better bet for theater and N.Y.-based fans, Carey better for those primarily interested in the film career.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1982
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Harper & Row