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Vanity Fair - April 2000
Vanity Fair - April 2000

TV Guide - July 1 2000
TV Guide - July 1 2000

Instant Bestseller!

(The New York Times, Sunday, April 22, 2000)

Praise for Get Happy

"We asked Biography Book Club members what they wanted to read next and we got our answer loud and clear. More than 35% of you voted for our June selection, Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland, by Gerald Clarke."
Biography Magazine, June 2000

"...a phenomenal job chronicling Garland's 47 years on Earth...Clarke describes Garland's glorious voice and natural ability on screen and on the concert stage so vividly that you can hear her singing as you read...It's a triumph of Get Happy that Clarke makes you care about Garland even when you want to slap her around. He has written a compelling, tragic book, a story like a runaway train that you ride to the end, knowing it's going to crash, unable to jump off."
Ellen Jaffe-Gill, Hollywood Reporter, April 17, 2000

"Judy Garland—again? Is there really anyone left who still gives two hoots in Oz about her sad life and squalid death? You had better believe it. Thirty-one years after America's first lady of victimhood popped her last pill, the publication of Gerald Clarke's Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland is being greeted by enough hoopla to elect a Senator...

But aren't we all tired of pitying Judy? Not just yet. Thanks to candid interviews with hitherto-silent sources, plus a peek at a previously unpublished memoir by Garland herself, the author of Capote has miraculously contrived to tell the old, old story—the uppers and downers, the stage mother from hell, the lascivious studio execs and malevolent managers, the boyfriends (and girlfriends) and gay husbands (and father)—with a freshness and factual clarity that scarcely seem possible. This is the Garland bio to read if you're reading only one.
Terry Teachout, Time, April 10, 2000

"Biographer Gerald Clarke possesses a remarkable gift. He can explain both the miracle of genius and why those so blessed often end their lives mired in tragedy. He did it with his insightful biography of Truman Capote. And he does it again in Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland. He captures the magic that moved people around the world....Extensively researched and fluidly written, Get Happy will appeal to Garland fanatics as well as those less familiar with her career. As in Capote, Clarke explains his subject's deterioration--her exhaustion, her frailty, her dependence on men. Her sex life with lovers such as Tyrone Power is described but not exploited."
Deirdre Donahue, USA Today, March 31, 2000

A "masterly biography...even knowing how (the story) ends, one can't look away."
Edward Karam, People, Book of the Week, April 17, 2000

"The last, best and only essential account...However sordid and downright creepy the details of Garland's life and death, Get Happy is not a dirge but an exaltation."
Carrie Rickie, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 19, 2000

"Read 'Get Happy'--it is a riveting account."
Elizabeth Kendall, The New York Times Book Review, April 9, 2000

"In this superb biography, Clarke captures the triumph and tragedy of one of America's greatest entertainers."
Glenn Speer, New York Post, April 23, 2000

"In a big, gutsy biography, Gerald Clarke brings insight and fresh detail to Judy Garland's story...Luckily, the unsentimental Clarke, who expertly delineated a similar sort of creative character in his 1988 bio of Truman Capote, is the kind of journalist who doesn't just rehash what other biographers and writers have already supplied...A compelling read. After finishing it, you'll never mistake Judy Garland for Dorothy of Kansas again."
George Hodgman, Entertainment Weekly, April 3, 2000

"The product of 10 years' research, Clarke's book is sympathetic and lurid, indignant and shocking...A juicy page-turner...There isn't a dull page in the book."
Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle, June 18, 2000

"Understanding the magical connection Judy had with her audiences is a prize that's eluded chroniclers up to now, and it's really the only justification for another Garland saga. To this end, Clarke, who conducted more than 500 interviews and had access to Garland's unpublished autobiography, succeeds admirably, possibly even brilliantly....By presenting her life without the usual clutter and myth, he offers us a chance to see her fresh--a chance to grasp, finally, why the little girl on the yellow brick road and the woman dangling her feet off the stage at Carnegie Hall remains so powerful and vivid in our collective psyche and why she won't go away."
William J. Mann, The Advocate, April 11, 2000

"Clarke's skills as a storyteller make Garland's tale read like a heartbreaking novel."
Emily Nunn, US Weekly, April 10, 2000

"For those who want to learn about this film icon, there's a magnificent new biography, 'Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland,' by Gerald Clarke. Although nobody can ever make complete sense of another's life, this book helps explain a lot of the background and details of such a complicated, and often self-destructive, figure as Garland. Clarke is not only a masterful storyteller, but he also has done extensive research and annotations, and it shows in the final product. Chapters read like a great mystery novel, with each chapter telling part of a larger story that isn't over until the final chapter."
Steve Segal, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 2000

"If you are fascinated by an account of incredible triumphs and disasters--and who wouldn't be interested in such a rich story?--Clarke, who had access to his subject's unpublished autobiography, is the man for you."
Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune, May 14, 2000

"With its bold and unsparing new details about Garland's life, Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland breaths an especially visceral life into the Garland myth...[Clarke has] crafted a work every bit as fascinating as its subject."
Louis Weisberg, Chicago Free Press, June 21, 2000

"The awesome strangeness of [Garland's] life, in which extraordinary achievement was matched by an equally extraordinary despair, makes for a story so dramatic it seems woundingly fresh every time it's told. It's one of showbiz's ultimate legends, and Clarke's book is an elegant, searching and sympathetic account of it. [His] prose is smooth and supple."
Charles Isherwood, Variety, April 17-23, 2000

"[A] compelling new biography of one of the most electrifying entertainment figures of the 20th century."
Mike Pearson, Denver Rocky Mountain News, May 7, 2000

"Author Gerald Clarke has produced what will likely be the definitive view of Garland's life and times...Read this book; rent the movies; listen to the recordings. Get Happy will make you cry."
Richard Cormier, Tampa Tribune Times, June 11, 2000

"It is the book [Garland] deserves--scandalous and worshipful, analytical and flip. Get Happy is the perfect underpinning to the pedestal American put her on..."
Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel, April 16, 2000

"Meticulously researched and engagingly written."
Jane Sumner, Dallas Morning News, June 2, 2000

"Shapely and thoughtful."
Louis Bayard, Washington Post, April 16, 2000

"Clarke's is the most complete, most detached, most balanced treatment of her life...But it is his connection of Judy Garland's life to her art that makes this biography special."
Larry Swindell, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 21, 2000

"If you're a Judy Garland fan--and don't mind reading about some unsavory episodes and characters--this is a must read. If you're not a fan, it's still a compelling story about a true star who shone then sputtered sadly into oblivion."
Cynthia Perry, Sunday Oklahoman, June 11, 2000

"Get as compelling as its subject...Clarke tells her story in the smooth narrative style of a novel."
Bill Ervolino, Sunday Record, Hackensack, N.J., April 9, 2000

"Clarke...writes with a novelist's imagination and a psychologist's skill."
Kevin Lewis, The Pilot, Southern Pines, N.C

"After reading this book, you'll want to own every recording ever made by Miss Garland...Your heart-strings will be pulled beyond imagination."
Marjorie Hack, Staten Island (N.Y.) Sunday Advance, June 4, 2000

"I was especially taken by Gerald Clarke's excerpt from his new book on Judy Garland. Clarke is a fantastic biographer; he did Truman Capote to a T. This is a marvelous piece of psychiatric history fairly bleeding with the pain and passion of the woman who may have been the 20th century's greatest female performer..."
Syndicated columnist Liz Smith on the excerpt in Vanity Fair, March 6, 2000

"A corker of a biography that reveals Judy Garland as a peerless artist careening wildly through a life that could have ended even sooner than it did... An unstoppable read that demystifies Garland yet still details her international appeal."
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2000

"Judy Garland's on-screen longing for a land where 'sorrows melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops' was answered with a life plagued by emotional agony, dependency on drugs and alcohol, exploitative relationships, suicide attempts and physical violence. This exhaustively researched and illuminating biography by Clarke, whose best-selling 1988 life of Truman Capote won critical praise, is as compassionate as it is wrenching... Clarke never exploits this volatile material as cheap gossip; instead, he deftly weaves it into a detailed respectful and haunting portrait."
Publishers Weekly, starred review, February 14, 2000

From the Publisher

Judy Garland. The girl with the pigtails, the symbol of innocence in The Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland. The brightest star of the Hollywood musical and an entertainer of almost magical power. Judy Garland. The woman of a half-dozen comebacks, a hundred heartbreaks, and countless thousands of headlines. Yet much of what has previously been written about her is either false or incomplete, and the Garland the world thought it knew was merely a sketch for the astonishing woman Gerald Clarke portrays in Get Happy. Here, more than thirty years after her death, is the real Judy.

To tell her story, Clarke took ten years, traveled thousands of miles across two continents, conducted hundreds of interviews, and dug through mountains of documents, many of which were unavailable to other biographers. In a Tennessee courthouse, he came across a thick packet of papers, unopened for ninety years, that laid out the previously hidden background of Judy’s beloved father, Frank Gumm. In California, he found the unpublished memoir of Dorothy Ponedel, Judy’s makeup woman and closest confidante, a memoir centered almost entirely on Judy herself. Get Happy is, however, more than the story of one woman, remarkable as she was. It is a saga of a time and a place that now seem as far away, and as clouded in myth and mystery, as Camelot-the golden age of Hollywood. Combining a novelist’s skill and a movie director’s eye, Clarke re-creates that era with cinematic urgency, bringing to vivid life the unforgettable characters who played leading roles in the unending drama of Judy Garland: Louis B. Mayer, the patriarch of the world’s greatest fantasy factory, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Arthur Freed, the slovenly producer who revolutionized the movie musical and gave Judy her best and most enduring parts. Sexy Lana Turner, Judy’s friend and idol, who had a habit of trying to snatch away any man Judy expressed interest in.

And what men they were! Oscar Levant, the wit’s wit, whose one-liners could all but kill. Artie Shaw, whose sweet and satiny clarinet had a whole nation dancing. Handsome Tyrone Power, who caused millions of hearts to pound every time he looked out from the screen with his understanding eyes. Orson Welles, Hollywood’s boy genius and the husband of a movie goddess, Rita Hayworth. Brainy Joe Mankiewicz, who knew everything there was to know about women, but who confessed that he was baffled by Judy. Vincente Minnelli, who showed what wonders Judy could perform in front of a camera and who fathered her first child, Liza-but who also, with an act of shocking betrayal, caused her first suicide attempt. Charming, brawling Sid Luft, who gave her confidence, then took it away. And the smooth and seductive David Begelman, who stole her heart so he could steal her money.

Toward the end of her life, Garland tried to tell her own story, talking into a tape recorder for hours at a time. With access to those recordings-and to her unfinished manuscript, which offers a revelation on almost every page-Clarke is able to tell Judy’s story as she herself might have told it. “It’s going to be one hell of a great, everlastingly great book, with humor, tears, fun, emotion and love,” Judy promised of the autobiography she did not live to complete. But she might just as well have been describing Get Happy. For here at last-told with humor, tears, fun, emotion and love-is the true, unforgettable story of Judy Garland.

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