A well-documented and insightful look into the life of America's greatest entertainer. Born Frances Ethel Gumm as the third daughter in a middle-class family, the girl who would become Judy Garland was the embodiment of her mother's unrealized aspirations. Once the tyrannical and domineering Ethel realized young Frances's potential to be a great star, she left the two older daughters (once performing as a group of two and then three when Frances was born) with their father Frank while she and Frances hit the road. Ethel pulled every string and curried every favor to push her young daughter on the stage. She withheld love from her when she failed to perform to her mother's exacting and unreasonable standards, forever leaving Frances with the feeling that she had to earn love.
When she landed her MGM contract and started attracting the notice of the viewing public, her life quickly spiraled out out of control. Not yet a teenager, she was given "uppers" to keep her on her feet and "downers" to knock her out. Under the orders of studio boss Louis B. Mayer, the commissary on the lot would only give her chicken soup to eat in an effort to curb her weight. Her mother, Louis B. Mayer, and an unforgiving press became the Unholy Trinity that prevented Judy from ever finding lasting happiness.
Desperate for love, she entered into ill-advised marriages with a series of men, but they all fell apart. She wanted to be the best mother she could be, but her substance abuse issues and emotional volatility often created role reversals for first Liza (her daughter with Vincente Minnelli) and later, Lorna (her daughter with Sid Luft). These men controlled her finances, her career, and her access to the wider world. They denied her any sense of agency and then blamed her for lacking control of her own life.
For longtime fans of Judy Garland, this heartbreaking book will reveal the truth of the woman behind the curtain, the woman who managed to propel us all over the rainbow even when she couldn't get there herself.