Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland

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Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland
Front cover of Get Happy; photo by Richard Avedon
Author Gerald Clarke
Cover artist Richard Avedon
Country USA
Language English
Genre Biography
Publisher Random House
Publication date
March 2000
Pages 510
ISBN 0-375-50378-1
782.42164/092 B 21
LC Class ML420.G253 C58 2000
Preceded by Capote

Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland is a biography of entertainer Judy Garland. Published in 2000, Get Happy is author Gerald Clarke's follow-up to his 1988 biography of Truman Capote. Clarke conducted some 500 interviews,[1] including some with subjects who had not previously spoken about Garland, and also drew upon tape recordings that Garland had made in the 1960s for an autobiography.[2] He found Garland's unpublished 68-page manuscript in the Random House archives.[3] Clarke spent ten years on the book, and only made his final decision to write about Garland after reading the extant biographies. "I did not want to write a book about her if the definitive book had already been written....So, I sat down and I read the biographies that had already been written and came up with no real impression of Judy....There was a disconnect between the woman who emerged from the pages and the woman I saw in the movies and heard on the records....I knew that the book had not yet been written."[4]

Critical response[edit]

Get Happy met with near-unanimous positive critical response.

Dissenting from the majority opinion was Janet Maslin of The New York Times. Maslin questions the need for another Garland biography at all, given the number of biographies already available, but cited the previously unavailable autobiographical materials as providing some justification. Disputing other reviewers' comments about pathography, Maslin describes Get Happy as placing Garland "on the kind of pedestal that comes complete with pigeon droppings". She deplores the tone of some of the anecdotes Clarke relates and questions his sourcing, noting that some of the worst anecdotes come from anonymous sources. Clarke, she concludes, " winds up wavering awkwardly between the tut-tut outing of Garland's secrets and the clammy hyperbole of the reverential fan".[5]

Garland's daughter Lorna Luft, who wrote her own Garland biography, criticized Clarke's book. "I didn't like that one at all. If you're going to write a biography of somebody, it'd be nice if you'd talk to their family. The man never picked up a phone and talked to me. Then he had the nerve, when I said certain things weren't right in it, to say I wouldn't know. He never spoke to me."[3] Clarke claimed that none of Garland's children cooperated with him.[6]

Stage and screen adaptation[edit]

Harvey Weinstein has optioned Get Happy and will produce a stage show and film based on it. Both are slated to star Anne Hathaway; to date no other creative personnel have been named.On January 15, 2014,on the Howard Stern Show, Harvey said filming would begin summer of 2014 with Hathaway starring.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sachs, Andrea (2000-01-23). "Ladies sing the blues". Time magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  2. ^ Teachout, Terry (2000-04-10). "Books: The Hole In Judy's Heart". Time magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  3. ^ a b Fleming, John (2004-10-08). "Her mother's voice". The St. Petersburg Times Online. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  4. ^ Hogan, Ron. "Beatrice Interview: Gerald Clarke". Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (200-04-27). "The Overexamined Life: The 'Real' Judy Garland". The New York Times. p. E12. Retrieved 2009-09-20.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Smith, Dinitia (2000-03-30). "Finding New Cracks in an Exposed Life". The New York Times. p. E1. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  7. ^ "Anne Hathaway to star as Garland". BBC News. 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 

External links[edit]