I’ve always liked having the name Judy. It’s uncommon enough that most people don’t know dozens of Judys, though that does kind of depend on their age: Back in the 1940s, it was the 15th most popular girl’s name.
At the same time, however, it’s common enough that there’s no “how do you spell it?” or “what the hell kind of name is that?” reaction when I tell someone my name. Occasionally, of course, someone mishears and asks “Julie?,” to which my answer is always “No, Judy, like Judy Garland.”
I do wonder, though, what associations people have with that name, and whether some of those associations may flavor their attitude toward me. There are several Judy Garlands, after all.
There’s the very young girl,
insanely talented, and taken in by MGM to be molded into a star.
Her first stardom came with the musicals she and Mickey Rooney made.
But her most iconic role was as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, in which she sang “Over the Rainbow,” the poignant song that would forever be associated with her.
(She so thoroughly embodied that role that it’s hard to remember it was a role, and she spent time of a movie set making it.)
The studio tried to turn her into glamorous Judy
and even sexy Judy
but her best roles went to wholesome Judy, as Esther in Meet Me in St. Louis (with Margaret O’Brien)
or Hannah Brown in Easter Parade (with Fred Astaire).
At the beginning of Summer Stock (with Gene Kelly) she was wholesome Judy, portraying Jane, the farm girl whose barn is used by a theatrical troupe, but we see a glimpse of her next persona, Judy the grown-up star, in the film’s finale, when she belts out “Get Happy.”
During this period she married her Meet Me in St. Louis director, Vincente Minnelli, with whom she had a daughter,
who of course turned out to be Liza Minnelli.
She made some stab at domesticity — at least for the camera
but she was always first and foremost a performer.
Alas, at the end of her life, her addiction took over, and the end was very sad.
So, when I say “Judy Garland,” which one do you think of?