The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Judy Garland at 100: Rufus Wainwright & Kristin Chenoweth Pay Tribute

Kristin Chenoweth and Rufus Wainwright

Today is the 100th anniversary of Judy Garland’s birth, and gay crooner Rufus Wainwright and LGBTQ+ ally Kristin Chenoweth are honoring the icon with a new version of the “Get Happy”/“Happy Days Are Here Again” medley Garland performed with Barbra Streisand in 1963.

The track is from the album Rufus Does Judy at Capitol Studios, a new performance of his earlier tribute to Garland, Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall, recorded last year at Los Angeles’s Capitol Studios and released today. He used the same microphone Garland used at the studio and performed before an audience of one, Renée Zellweger, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Garland in the 2019 film Judy. Wainwright’s performance was livestreamed last year, and the album is available on CD, vinyl, and digital from a variety of platforms.

It's one of many tributes to the great star for her centenary. The Empire State Building in New York City is lit up in rainbow colors tonight in honor of Garland’s most beloved song, “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. (It also works well for Pride Month.) Wainwright sang with Garland’s daughter Lorna Luft at a Garland birthday event at the building, and he also recently sang at New York’s Stonewall Inn when Luft unveiled a photo of Garland that will be hung at the historic LGBTQ+ venue.

The theory that Garland’s death sparked the June 1969 uprising against police harassment at Stonewall has been debunked, but Garland’s status as an icon to LGBTQ+ people is beyond question. “She was our goddess. We all knew about the troubles she had had, and we would see her up on the stage rising like a phoenix, and it meant that we could do it too,” gay man Albert Poland, founder of a Garland fan club, said in the 2019 documentary Sid & Judy, about Garland’s life and career during her marriage to producer Sid Luft.

In the same documentary, Stonewall veteran Miss Major Griffin-Gracy said, “It seemed as if she understood. She made the gay community feel as if they had the right to be whoever they needed to be.”

Among other Garland-related events, Wainwright will perform songs associated with her at Chicago’s City Winery next Thursday and Friday, after having done so recently at City Winery in New York.

The Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles will show a collection of Garland artifacts, including costumes, movie posters, letters, and more, with “Get Happy! 100 Years of Judy Garland, The Exhibit” Saturday and Sunday; 15-minute time slots for viewing are available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In Garland’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minn., the Judy Garland Museum has a slate of special events this weekend, including presentations by longtime Garland fan John Fricke, guided tours of the town and museum, and screenings of The Wizard of Oz and other Garland films.

Garland is star of the month on the Turner Classic Movies channel. TCM is showing her films every Friday this month, both for her centenary and for Pride, and it has other Pride-related programming for June, with films by LGBTQ+ directors, hosted by TCM’s Dave Karger and filmmaker Kimberly Peirce.

Check out the Wainwright-Chenoweth video below as well as the original with Garland and Streisand.

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