BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
A reporter on the set of Judgment at Nuremberg once asked Judy Garland if she considered herself an actress or a singer. "I'd just be called an entertainer," she replied, according to author-historian John Fricke, who has spent his career documenting Garland's life and works.
Fricke's latest project: Judy: A Legendary Film Career ($30, Running Press), a large coffee-table book filled with hundreds of never-before-seen photos of Garland on the sets of her movies including The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis and A Star is Born.
"My personal goal, as in any project, was to use artwork, review quotes and personal quotes that hadn’t been in 40 Garland books in the past," said Fricke, whose previous works include writing The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History, co-producing PBS' Judy Garland: By Myself (for which he won a 2004 Emmy Award) and providing audio commentary on Garland DVDs including For Me and My Gal (1942 )and Easter Parade (1948).
He also helped plan a summer-long Garland film and television retrospective in New York City at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Paley Center for Media
Fricke considers his latest book to be the most candid: "It’s the first time I've been able to be as honest as I wanted to be. All the people are dead now: [ex-husband] Sid Luft, [agents] Freddie Fields and David Begelman."
"There were a lot of litigious people out there," Fricke said.
Judy: A Legendary Film Career contains about 550 photographs, about half from Fricke's personal stash.
"I must have about 6,000 here," he said from his home in New York City. "It’s not so much collecting as it is accumulating."
Garland fans hold Fricke's work in high esteem, his greatest professional satisfaction.
"So many people who love her trust me," he said. "It’s nice to be highly regarded by people like that."
Here's the Running Press news release about Judy: A Legendary Film Career:
Onstage, she was renowned as “the world’s greatest entertainer.” On records, they defined her as “Miss Show Business.” On television, she was nicknamed “The Legend.” And on radio, her most frequent performance partner christened her “the perfect illustration of the one hundred per cent professional.” But it was as a motion picture star that the incomparable Judy Garland first rose to international fame. From her feature film debut in 1936 in Pigskin Parade through the omnisciently titled I Could Go On Singing in 1963, she lit up the screen with a magic uniquely hers – and dazzled world-wide audiences of all ages. In fact, one of the hallmarks of a Garland movie performance was her ability to inspire cinema patrons to applaud as if they were watching a live show.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of Judy’s feature film debut, the 60th anniversary of her Tony Award-winning, record-breaking first engagement at The Palace, and the 50th anniversary of her legendary Carnegie Hall concert and multiple-Grammy Award-winning recording. Garland was a superstar like no other, and her film stardom bridged decades and crossed generations. Today, she is one of the few stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age whose luminosity and fame have never dimmed.
JUDY: A Legendary Film Career by leading Garland historian John Fricke (Running Press; September 2011; Hardcover; $30.00) tells the story of her movie work in unprecedented detail: over five hundred illustrations (many of them never-before-published); newly-assembled contemporary review quotes and comments from her costars and coworkers; cast, staff, and musical number listings; and synopses, and production histories. The book is also highlighted by a concise, definitive biography; an examination of Judy’s appearances in short subjects, with details of the movies she began and was unable to complete; and an enthralling compendium of the film projects for which she was supposedly considered or rumored.
The Wizard of Oz, A Star is Born, Meet Me in St. Louis, Easter Parade, the list goes on and on, and at the center is Judy Garland. JUDY: A Legendary Film Career celebrates as never before the heart, humor, and incandescent motion picture achievement of the one-and-only Judy Garland.
About the Author:
John Fricke is an author/historian whose past Garland journalism and productions have won him two Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award nomination. His credits as author include The Wizard of Oz: An Illustrated Companion to the Timeless Movie Classic. John lives in New York City.