My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt - review by Mick Brown

Mick Brown

Friends of Dorothy

My Judy Garland Life


Virago 320pp £15.99

I once found myself sitting on the edge of the bed in a hotel room in Liberal, Kansas, talking with Lewis Croft, a midget who in 1939 had played the role of one of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. Croft and a handful of other surviving Munchkins were the guests of honour at an ‘Oz’ festival (a ‘Best Dorothy’ competition, a man in a cowardly lion suit, etc). Croft was in his eighties, rheumy-eyed, confined to a wheelchair, and of a distinctly melancholic disposition, but at the mention of Judy Garland it was as if a ray of light had fallen into the room. ‘A really nice lady,’ he remembered warmly (although Garland was just sixteen when she made the film). ‘She wasn’t stuck up like you’d expect a movie star would be.’ He remembered that he had once bought Garland a chicken sandwich in the commissary; and on her birthday she had given each of the Munchkins an autographed picture, ‘and we were all happy for her’.

Years later, Garland would have less fond recollections of her co-stars, disparaging them all as ‘little drunks’ (she was one to talk, I hear you say). ‘They all got smashed every night and they picked them up in butterfly nets. I imagine they got residuals.’ (Actually, they didn’t.)

How nice exactly

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