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Get Happy Get Happy
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Get Happy Get Happy

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  1,301 ratings  ·  117 reviews
She lived at full throttle on stage, screen, and in real life, with highs that made history and lows that finally brought down the curtain at age forty-seven. Judy Garland died over thirty years ago, but nobiography has so completely captured her spirit -- and demons -- until now.
From her tumultuous early years as a child performer to her tragic last days, Gerald Clarke r...more
ebook, 528 pages
Published May 20th 2009 by Delta (first published March 28th 2000)
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Paul
LADY GAGA - RICHARD NIXON - FINALLY THE TRUTH

There are a couple of very nasty anecdotes in this judy garland bio which I would have suppressed, because now they're in my brain whenever I hear her extraordinary voice. But of course biography isn't hagiography, and if you go round censoring the lurid aspects of your subject you're now engaged in PR which is a whole other thing. I dunno. Do we really need to know that Marlon Brando and J Edgar Hoover were lovers? Or that Richard Nixon sired a love...more
Janet
If you are just now discovering the magnificence that is Judy Garland, please do not read this book. The majority of it is trashy rumors. Clarke explores only the tragic headlines, not Judy the person. He skips over the important parts to include all of the things that probably didn't happen but will surely sell a few more copies.

If you're looking for a great Judy biography that doesn't focus on 'Judy: The Tragedy', try Judy by Gerold Frank, it's dated, but it's amazing. Also, anything by John F...more
Lisa
My teenage years were during the 1970s, probably the only decade since 1940 to mostly ignore Judy Garland's oeuvre. Yes, The Wizard of Oz was on TV every year (and it was miraculous), but other than than an occasional Andy Hardy movie on Saturday afternoons, her body of work didn't really make an appearance. I'm really just now discovering the depth of her acting and singing talent and her great movies.

I think that the world in the 1970s was too stunned, too sad, too ashamed, too angry, too dee...more
Jordan Kinsey
*prepare for stereotypically gay comments and response to this book*

Pretty much everyone knows that Garland's life was a true American Tragedy. This book altered that opinion in me only by making it clear that the story is more complex than that. Was it ALL "everyone else's" fault? (MGM, her parents, her lovers/husbands, etc.) or is she partially to blame? Some of her "diva-like" behaviors in her later career (trashing dressing rooms, being completely impossible to work with, etc.) were nobody's...more
Kerra
I'm going to start off by saying that I love reading biographies so I may be a little biased.

I picked up this book because I needed a biography of a tragic hero for a grade 12 English assignment. I did not know anything about Judy Garland before reading this except for the fact that she was Dorothy in one of my favourite movies, "The Wizard of Oz".

The beginning chapters were a little dull because Judy had not yet entered the world of the famous, but it is necessary to know someone's past before...more
Krystal
Credited as being one of the most researched and comprehensive accounts of the life of Judy Garland, Get Happy by Gerald Clarke is in essence the story of a girl who wanted to be loved. Born Frances Ethel Gumm and nicknamed “Baby,” Judy began singing in vaudeville acts with her two sisters by the age of three. Ten years later would find her with her first movie contract, and ten years after that in danger of becoming irrelevant, another child star grown up. As Clarke comments throughout the book...more
Kayla
Judy Garland never fails to break my heart. Lots of reviews have stated that this book is nothing but rumors...but if that's all it is, then they're true rumors. Judy's life was tragic - that's a fact that can't be denied. This books seems to successfully capture all that she went through...and perhaps those who are upset by such truths to the point that they say they're false are just fooling themselves. Stars with charmed lives were boring - Judy's wasn't even close. God, she was incredible. T...more
C.S. Burrough
Jul 13, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans
As irresistible as its subject, this fine biography had me grinning for weeks, occasionally gasping and, now and then, just a tad teary.

Much has been written about Judy Garland, some of it even true. This, however, is well documented material that we instinctively trust to be uninvented.

Judy's artistic and aesthetic insecurities sometimes robbed her from knowing how widely loved she was. Nor was this not uncommon Hollywood syndrome helped by her not uncommon addiction. She did, however, know dee...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Gerald Clarke's Get Happy is, perhaps, the definitive biography of Judy Garland. It was very well researched over ten years, including over five hundred interviews. At the back, the book includes an extensive section of notes, referenced to the book by page numbers, and a vast bibliography. Get Happy also features an index, photo credits, and acknowledgments. If you want to know anything about Judy Garland, this is the biography to read first.

Starting with her parents, Clarke follows Judy Garlan...more
Catherine M
Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland by Gerald Clarke gives you an in depth look at Judy Garlands life. This book told me more than I could ever imagine learning about someone who’s been dead since the 60’s. Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland is a biography, and a very good one at that. The biography starts out before Garland’s even born, giving you background information on her parents, Frank and Ethel Gumm, also illustrating their rocky courtship period. Upon Garland’s birth, Clarke jumps righ...more
Julian
This is, I suspect, not a book for those who maintain the belief in Judy as being eternally pure and happy, rather like Dorothy in 'Oz'. Such fans, like the person we meet at one point herein who called himself Judy's number-one fan but who refused to help a down-on-her luck Judy when she feared a plot to kill her, because his Judy (he said) existed only in sunlight, probably do her no good and, I would suggest, by denying the terrible nature of her final years, diminish Judy's achievement.

And t...more
Samantha Glasser
Judy Garland is one of the most heralded stars in history. Judy Garland is recognized by young and old because of her participation in The Wizard of Oz, but her long career and undeniable talent have made her a legend. Just 47 years old when she died, the victim of an overdose of sleeping pills, Judy drew masses to her funeral who loved her and felt sorry for the many hardships she faced in her life. They are all spelled out here in great detail, from her controlling and ambitious mother, to her...more
James
This is actually a pretty good read. Not just because I’m currently in a trashy memoir/biography phase, but because Judy lived a hell of a life and is THE original train wreck. Amy Winehouse? Whitney Houston? Lilo? Whatever. Judy was the real deal. And if it’s sordid details you want out of a biography, then this will not disappoint.

The narrative reads like your guiltiest pleasure trashy fiction. It’s no wonder that Jacqueline Susann modeled her character Neely O’Hara after Judy (yes, I’ve read...more
Brian Francis
I was in New York last month and caught the Broadway play, End of the Rainbow, which chronicles the final weeks of Judy Garland’s life. The actress, Tracie Bennett, was spellbinding in her performance, capturing Garland’s innocence, talent and self-destruction. I bought Get Happy afterwards to dig deeper into Garland’s life. Gerald Clarke does an excellent job of putting Garland into context, which is something we don’t always do with our celebrities. We prefer to see them in ways that suit our...more
Varsha Lalla
An interesting biography on the great Garland. I found that Clarke was easily able to engage us in her life story. He is sympathetic towards her while also taking a step back in order to look at her critically. However, there were a few times that I felt uneasy about some of his 'facts' that I believe he actually couldn't support. He describes the sexual orientation of stars that have never been fully authenticated as the truth. He also talks about affairs, personal experiences of people etc as...more
Ellen
As trashy celebrity biographies go, this is one of the best. Clarke manages to bring Judy Garland's world to life without just creating a laundry list of appearances or affairs or overdoses. He nicely balances all three. He also explores the hot mess that she became in her later years without making the reader completely lose sympathy for her or turning her into a saint.

But, I really toyed with stopping reading after her first comeback at the Palladium. I told myself to stop and to fabricate a...more
Emily
I enjoyed this book, it seemed a bit long and slow moving in places, but her life was tough and had lots to cover in it. It was very well written I think and didn't concentrate to much on parts that were needed to make it longer. I liked how the pictures were done in the book in that they were inserted every now and then, not like most with a photo album section in the middle, but I wanted more of them.

I think that Judy had a very hard life and it was sad for the circumstances and decisions tha...more
Lindsay
Judy Garland has always fascinated me. It was "Me and My Shadows" that first got me interested in biopics, which I first watched even before I think I'd seen The Wizard of Oz all the way through. The behind-the-scenes treatments of young actors and actresses mirrored the way that jockeys and racehorses were treated at the time (I'm a racing fan), which I think is what lured me in. What appears to be glitter and a glamourous lifestyle from afar off is, when you approach it, actually drugs coating...more
Heidi
An obviously well-researched and well-written biography leaves little to criticize except I have to admit, sometimes the author seemed to take a little delight in the exploits of Garland, especially in her failed romances and diva-esque escapades during her last years at MGM. A lifelong Garland fan, I was blown away by how manipulated this young talent was by the "adults" around her... can't say the rest was a big surprise. An interesting reminder of how exploiting a young and gifted artist (be...more
Nancy Moore
Judy was kinda crazy. Not her fault, she had a pretty rough child hood. But she was self involved, impetuous, immature, notoriously difficult to work with, alcoholic, drug addicted and incapable of having a healthy relationship with anyone. She was also very talented so people put up with her. But I have to say I liked/respected her a lot less after I read this. Like a lot of old Hollywood biographies the author spent a lot of time talking about this or that movie and who directed it and product...more
Judy
When you think that you are overwhelmed with the problems of day to day living, pick up this book and give it a whirl. Yikes, is all that i can say. Isn't it bad enough to have a stage mother (from Hell) without having that mother dole out drugs and launch her young daughter into life-long addiction? Or maybe the thing that freaked me out was the pattern from mother, to daughter, to granddaughter (Liza) to marry men that you would subsequently find in your bed engaging in homosexual relations? C...more
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
A Star is Born and the Wizard of Oz are two of my favourite films and I've always wanted to know more about Judy Garland. The common perception of her as a classic victim (a la Marilyn Monroe) I found was undeserving after reading this book.

Hers was an addictive personality, whether it was men, or pills. Yes, her marriages were not great, but when things got tight she packed things up and went on the road to get her family back in the black. As an actress she was woefully underated.

This was an...more
Rob
Extremely well written. Harrowing to be sure, but Clarke evokes Judy's triumphs just as vividly. It was the volatile combination of her gifts and her self-destructive patterns that made her life such a tragedy.
Janie Evans
Very good but tragic story of Judy Garland's life and the movie studio life of actors and actresses in the 30's -50's
Meg Marie
I think anyone with a basic knowledge of Hollywood history knows that Judy Garland (born Frances Gumm) was both fabulously talented and horribly tormented throughout her life. Gerald Clarke's biography clocks in at over 400 pages, but his deft writing style and great integration of first person interviews, quotes from Judy herself and commentary on the social conventions of the time makes it move along incredibly fast. Even though I knew how Judy's story ended, I was still sad when reading the p...more
Marianne Meyers
You know, this book broke my heart. Having been a child performer, there's a lot I innately understand here, and how one grows up and deals with or doesn't deal with the ghosts it leaves behind. Her overwhelming dependence on drugs was staggering to me - frankly, taking drugs like that starting in childhood damaged her brain function beyond understanding, her later years and whatever her reality of the moment was were frightening. That said, this book covers many of the aspects of her entire lif...more
Paris Henderson
I have become a huge sucker for anything Judy Garland related in the past several years, so reading her biography seemed like an obvious step towards knowing more about her as a person, and her career as a singer/actress.

This book is heavily researched, and told me a lot about how many failed marriages Garland suffered through, and how underrated of an actress she was. I find the title of the book to be simultaneously sad and ironic, just like her life. A tell-all sad story for one of the most...more
Kasey DeVore
I am, always have been, a huge Judy Garland fan. That said, it has taken me ages to read this book because I have been afraid to. I learned a ton about specific times in her life. I was a little put off about the structure of the book, however. The end of her life seemed very rushed, which bothered me quite a bit. The author also seemed to take her earlier life and spin everything to be pro-Judy and then abandoned that once her life grew more difficult after she was fired from MGM. I thought tha...more
Julie Bauer
I knew Judy Garland was a train wreck, but I didn't realize just how bad it was before reading this book. It got a little numbing after a while, all the comebacks ruined, the horrible marriages, and the long, long circle around the drain.

Clarke handles the material well, but he tends to blame everyone else for Garland's problems, just as she did. She had the strength to keep going for maybe too long -- but not the kind of strength to break the spiral or to accept the help offered to her. Come to...more
Jen
Judy Garland was a serioiusly messed up person. She married more times than I count, had at least triple that many number of lovers, and was a drug and alcohol addict (thanks to her mom, who started feeding her uppers before performances when she was a little kid). That said, she had an incredible voice, and was a queen of comebacks, ressurecting her career multiple times. For all of that, her life at the end was utterly tragic and destitute, but she'll forever be remembered not for her life, or...more
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Gerald Clarke is a journalist and biographer.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
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