JUDY. by Gerold Frank


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Just one more time, it won't be necessary again, that messy and insatiably involving story of ""Little Miss Leather Lungs,"" the girl with the funny nose and the Keene eyes and a world of heartbreak in her voice. You may have just been looking at her picture (courtesy of the more sentimentally impressionable Anne Edwards biography earlier this season). Frank tells more than twice as much of her life and if this cannot be a ""definitive"" book (the publishers) it's because Judy, always onstage, was a font of inaccuracies. But he's tried to handle it with his usual care as well as certifiable skills. Frank began to, collaborate with Judy on her autobiography just before her death, followed it up with interviews with her family and more than 200 others, and has had access to all the private papers. It seems unnecessary to once again give a reprise of the whole well-known sad chronology of Baby Gumm; the early years backstage, the long contract with MGM before she was tossed out (Mayer is not directly implicated here as he was in the Edwards book in initiating her habit); the loves (particularly Artie Shaw, Joe Mankiewicz), the husbands, the suicide attempts, the hospitals, the analysts and of course the pills (as she said later to her daughter, ""I kind of need them--like vitamins""), the shattering decline, the comeback, the parlous concerts and TV specials, the marriage to Sid Luft, ""bad news,"" who disintegrated with her during those parties, quarrels, debts, and finally the ""endings""--eight years' worth. Somehow beyond all the mythology of how a star was born and a cult created, Judy's consuming presence remains--the insecure charm, the mischievous humor, the guts--all programmed on self-destruct. Do you need to be told that this should do very well? or reminded of Frank's other tear-stained commercial classics, I'll Cry Tomorrow, Too Much Too Soon, etc.

Pub Date: June 11th, 1975
ISBN: 0306808943
Publisher: Harper & Row