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The Star That Got Away: Judy Remembered

Legends of Hollywood

A private memorabilia collection and never before exhibited photos trace Garland's career in a showing at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum.

June 29, 2002|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There are no ruby slippers--those are at the Smithsonian, after all. But for the Judy Garland fan, there's still a rainbow full of never-before-seen treasures at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum.

The new exhibit, "Judy Garland: Princess of Oz," pays tribute to the actress and singer with a collection of photos by celebrity shutterbug Milton Greene, sheet music, posters, lobby cards and magazines.

Garland, perhaps still most famous for playing Dorothy in the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz," would have turned 80 on June 10 but died at age 47 in 1969. Just as with Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Elvis Presley--other entertainers whose lives were cut short--Garland's legacy and popularity seem to grow with successive generations.

"With Marilyn, it was generally the culture that you can blame" for her tragic life, says Christopher Horak, curator at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum. "They commodified her and turned her into an object and sold her. With Judy, we know that at a very early age when she was at MGM they were feeding her drugs. She became an alcoholic. I think, ultimately, that led to her early demise."

Most of the items came from one collector, Tom Boghossian, but it's the Greene photographs that bring the screen legend to life. Donated for use by his son, Josh Greene, are 20 pictures taken in the fall of 1951 during Garland's comeback concert engagement at the Palace in New York City, and others from 1963-64 when she starred in her short-lived CBS variety series, "The Judy Garland Show." Neither set of photographs has been published or exhibited before.

"There is some backstage stuff that's really interesting, and the portraits are not what you usually expect," says Horak. "There are moments in the '60s photos where she looks like she was 22 again."

There are also several non-Greene photos, including a 1943 picture of Garland entertaining U.S. soldiers during World War II, a 1953 wardrobe test for "A Star Is Born" and other portraits.

The movie posters and lobby cards featured in the three-month exhibition span her career, from the 1930s at MGM to her final film, 1963's "I Could Go on Singing." (That rare poster is, in fact, from Germany.) "There's also a weird Argentine poster from 'Girl Crazy,' " Horak notes, "and a beautiful complete set of lobby cards from 'A Star Is Born.' It's pretty rare to find a complete set. They are really striking."

The periodical covers and feature stories included in the exhibit hail from Life, Look, Cine Revue and Cinemonde magazines. The 10 pieces of classic sheet music include her hits "Over the Rainbow" from "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Man That Got Away" from 1954's "A Star Is Born."

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"Judy Garland: Princess of Oz," at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum, 7021 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, through Sept. 2. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Admission is $8.75 for adults; $5.50 for seniors; $4.50 for students; $4 for ages 5-12; free to museum members and kids younger than 5. (323) 465-7900.

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