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Film / Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows

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Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows is a 2001 television miniseries about the life and career of Judy Garland that aired on ABC. It is based on her younger daughter, Lorna Luft's, 1998 book ''Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir" and the film adaptation stars Judy Davis, Tammy Blanchard, Alison Pill, Victor Garber and Hugh Laurie.

The story begins with a toddler-aged Judy (then known by her birth name Frances Gumm) singing in her family's troupe on Christmas Eve. Although she enjoyed the spotlight and was talented, she still had to deal with a troubled home life that eventually spilled over into her professional life including a notorious Stage Mom, a loving Dad who died when she was young and dealing with how much the studio heads adored her talent but despised her looks. The rest, as we know, is history.

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The film was very popular with critics and fans and netted five Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Davis and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Blanchard.

See also Judy (2019), the 2019 Academy Award-winning biopic about Judy Garland's last several years in England starring Renée Zellweger (for which she won the award for Best Actress).


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Related Tropes:

  • Abuse Mistake: At one point during the decline of their marriage, Judy pretends that Sidney hit her, yelling out loud for everyone to hear that he did. Whereas the children know that it's all a lie, they still decide to live with her after the divorce (namely to protect her).
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The night Judy’s father died, Ethel Gumm is shown to be at the hospital with him. In actuality, she was with Judy at the radio station.
    • The film implies Judy’s suicide attempt following her suspension from Annie Get Your Gun ended her contract with MGM, and ignores her eventual return to the studio for the last time in Summer Stock.
    • The Carnegie Hall concert has Judy sing San Francisco and Swanee back-to-back towards the end of Act II. In the actual concert, Judy sang San Francisco as the first act’s finale.
    • Lorna and Joey Luft did not accompany Judy and Mark Herron on the Australian tour in real life, but were shown to do so here. This was done deliberately to help transition the narrative to be more from Lorna’s point of view.
  • Break the Cutie: Hoo boy. Between her mother, the executives, her failed romances and the fickle public, she had this happen to her repeatedly.
  • Consolation Prize: Triumphantly, she considered her lost Oscar for A Star Is Born (1954) to be this in comparison to her son, who she just gave birth to days earlier.
  • Former Child Star: Poor Judy is possibly one of the Trope Codifiers. She ends up being far more successful than most of her contemporaries, but it also paved the way for her years of depression, despair and reliance upon substances, which ultimately killed her.
  • Good Parents: Sidney and Judy, even with all of her faults and shortcomings. Judy's own father was seen to be a very loving and supportive parent in stark contrast to his pushy and domineering stage wife.
  • The Mourning After: After teenaged Judy is devastated upon learning that Bandleader Artie Shaw had secretly eloped with her professional and personal rival Lana Turner even though he was wooing her.note 
  • Moving the Goalposts: Judy experiences during her rise to stardom. Even after being forced to lose weight, alter her looks and even the shape of her nostrils, she is still worked like a dog and yelled at repeatedly during practice until she collapses from exhaustion.
  • Nice Guy: Sidney Luft, her third husband and father to both Lorna and Joseph, was seen as this.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: The established relationship between Judy and Mickey Rooney.
  • Re-Cut: As often happens with miniseries, several different edits exist. The extended cut created for some international markets includes footage that did not air on ABC in the U.S., but did receive limited VHS and DVD releases in that market. There’s also an even rarer shortened version of the ABC edit, condensed to fit onto a single cassette.
  • Stage Mom: Judy's mother is an infamous one who even let MGM head Louis B. Mayer bully and humiliate her because of the money she made for everyone.
  • Temporary Bulk Change: As her career plummets and her reputation loses treading, Judy gains a dramatic amount of weight. She soon loses though (albeit through her recurring drug use).
  • There Are No Good Executives: Especially in Louis Mayer's case.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Lorna, and not always for the better. She is indeed a bright, insightful and mature teenager, but having been exposed to a lot of her mother's hardships at such an early age, she had to grow up faster than most teenagers including taking care of her kid brother, Joe. Sadly, this eventually caught up to the girl and she fainted due to stress and not properly taking care of herself.

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