Entertainment Reporter Douglas Kennedy
As I wrote in the Judy with a Punch posting Mother, like millions of women around the world, cherished Judy Garland and idolised her distinctive contralto voice heard in songs such as Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Get Happy.
Despite all the stories of Garland’s struggle with drugs and alcohol and reports of falling down, cancelling shows, and worse, many fans continued to give their unconditional love.
They would not hear a bad word said about her.
This was in an era in which men and women – particularly from the first world middle-class – tended to be more conservative and judgmental, but Garland managed to communicate something deeper.
I believe her pain spoke to many people and said, ‘I know how you feel – I know what you’re going through. I live there as well’ or at least that’s how fans seemed to connect with her in a curious way.
When Mother died in 1991 she was among the lucky ones who was at peace with the world, she’s overcome the set backs of her youth, the brickbats of maturity and even, briefly, been reunited with the daughter she’s been forced to give-up at the breast.
The last words she ever spoke to me were: “At last I can relax.”
But, it seems, there’s often one last insult.
I went to the minister and asked if it was okay to play Garland’s somewhere over the Rainbow at Mother’s funeral and he said he had no problem.
The funeral was a touching affair as people came out of their London homes to bow their heads, to pay their respects, and say goodbye.
However, when we arrived at the church, the minister said that there had been a break in at the funeral home and the tape of the song I had given him was among the items stolen.
I felt sad. No disappointed.
Two days later there was a knock on the front day of our house and someone from the undertakers handed me my tape.
I said, ‘but I thought the tape had been stolen in a break in.’
He said, ‘No. There’s been no break in. It was just left in our office. Sorry.’
I felt empty.
That’s part of life.