Gerald Clarke is the author of Capote, the much acclaimed,
bestselling biography of Truman Capote. He has also written for
many magazines, including Esquire, Architectural
Digest, and Time, where for many years he was a senior
writer. A native of Los Angeles and a graduate of Yale, he now
lives in Bridgehampton, in eastern Long Island, New York.
Yet another biography of Judy Garland? Yes, but this one by Clarke, author of the acclaimed Capote, could possibly stand as the definitive work on the troubled actress/singer. It was ten years in the making and was extensively researched; Clarke even had access to Garland's unpublished autobiography. Garland, n‚e Frances "Babe" Gumm, was born into a show business family, which boded well for her own career. However, according to Clarke, her father was a closet homosexual who liked young boys, her mother took lovers, and neither spent much time together. This perhaps was a harbinger of the personal difficulties Garland would encounter. Clarke's meticulous research offers some revelations. He asserts that Garland's mother, not the much-maligned MGM studio executives, started Garland on the pill roller coaster that would be her downfall. This is a necessary purchase, even for libraries already holding books on Garland, as there is sure to be demand; Clarke has a big publicity tour planned. Highly recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/00.]--Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Bay Area Cooperative Lib. Syst., CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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 bestselling 1988 life of Truman Capote won critical praise, is as compassionate as it is wrenching. It follows the basic themes established by the best of the more than 20 biographies and memoirs of Garland that have appeared since her 1969 death (in particular, Gerald Frank's 1975 bio, authorized by her family). But while most portray Garland as tormented by inexorable and sometimes inexplicable inner demons, Clarke brings to his work a far harsher evaluation of how the singer was treated by her employers, family and lovers: her mother gave her amphetamines at the age of four; producers at MGM sexually harassed her as a young teen; husband Vincente Minnelli cheated on her with men soon after their marriage; husband Sid Luft stole millions from her; fourth husband Mark Herron had an affair with Garland's son-in-law, Peter Allen (then married to Liza Minnelli). Many of Clarke's revelations are of a sexual nature--he mentions affairs with Sinatra, Glenn Ford, Yul Brynner and Tyrone Power as well as with women. Other revelations, such as of Garland attacking her young son, Joey, with a butcher's knife, are simply shocking. Yet Clarke never exploits this volatile material as cheap gossip; instead, he deftly weaves it into a detailed, respectful and haunting portrait. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"One of the most comprehensive biographies of entertainment icon
Judy garland to date ... Clarke's skills as a storyteller make
Garland's tale read like a heartbreaking novel."
-- US Weekly
"A compelling read ... in a big, gutsy biography, Gerald Clarke
brings insight and fresh detail to Judy Garland's story."
-- Entertainment Weekly "The last, best, and only essential account."
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer