Judy Garland and Noël Coward Let Loose

In this excerpt from Judy Garland on Judy Garland: Interviews and Encounters, two of the greatest showbiz legends ever talk about the agony, the ecstasy, and the wilted lettuce of a life in the spotlight.



NC: You can’t have secrets from them. If your mother happens to be an actress, you’ve got to take it on the jaw and understand that you’re the daughter of an actress. ...

JG: And you know, it isn’t a bad atmosphere. It’s fun for our children to go to the theater. And I think that as long as I have a good relationship with them and our home life is a good one, the entertainment world can’t possibly hurt them. I don’t know whether any of them will become entertainers or not. We’ll see. My oldest daughter, Liza, is talented and sort of stuck on the business.

NC: I’d love to see Liza.

JG: She started to dance when she was five.

NC: And you encouraged it?

JG: Yes. And she’s a brilliant dancer, really. But now she has grown up with the best of — of talents. She has seen you. Her father, who is a very, very talented man, has exposed her to the best of the theater, so she does have taste and she does have a talent. Now she’s in summer stock. My other daughter, Lorna — she’s eight — is the Gertrude Lawrence of Hyannis Port. She’s just impossible, and the most beautiful creature who has ever lived, I think. And she’s so shocking and bright and cunning and hep. She’s such a great actress that we don’t know what we’re going to do with her. We really don’t. I’m sure she’s going to turn into something important. I don’t have any idea at all what it will be, but it will be startling and flamboyant and — But I’m taking over the whole darn conversation.

NC: No, darling, you should.

JG: It’s funny how Liza is so much like me, a quietness much of the time, a little sedentary, and Lorna is just the opposite, a mercurial child.

NC: When I saw you first, Judy, you were a little girl, although you talk about the vaudeville and all those things ... But of course, that is the way to learn theater, and not acting school — playing to audiences, however badly.

JG: Trial and error. Trial and error.

NC: Whenever I see you before an audience now, coming on with the authority of a great star and really taking hold of that audience, I know that every single heartbreak you had when you were a little girl, every number that was taken away, every disappointment, went into making this authority.

JG: Exactly. Exactly, and it’s all — it sounds like the most Pollyanna thing to say, but it is truly worth it — the heartbreak and the disappointments — when you can walk out and help hundreds of people enjoy themselves. And this is only something you can learn through trial and error.

NC: Nobody can teach you ... no correspondence courses, no theories, no rehearsals in studios.

JG: No, you can only learn in front of an audience.

NC: And if there are people who cannot withstand these pressures, and if they are destroyed by these pressures, then they are simply no good and are just as well destroyed.