Judy Garland

Who wrote that Garland's voice could turn on a dime?

Garland possessed a contralto vocal range. Her singing voice has been described as brassy, powerful, effortless and resonant, often demonstrating a tremulous, powerful vibrato. Although her range was comparatively limited, Garland was capable of alternating between female and male-sounding timbres with little effort. The Richmond Times-Dispatch correspondent Tony Farrell wrote she possessed "a deep, velvety contralto voice that could turn on a dime to belt out the high notes", while Ron O'Brien, producer of tribute album The Definitive Collection – Judy Garland (2006), wrote the singer's combination of natural phrasing, elegant delivery, mature pathos "and powerful dramatic dynamics she brings to ... songs make her [renditions] the definitive interpretations". The Huffington Post writer Joan E. Dowlin called the period of Garland's music career between 1937 and 1945 the "innocent years", during which the critic believes the singer's "voice was vibrant and her musical expression exuberant", taking note of its resonance and distinct, "rich yet sweet" quality "that grabs you and pulls you in". Garland's voice would often vary to suit the song she was interpreting, ranging from soft, engaging and tender during ballads to humorous on some of her duets with other artists. Her more joyful, belted performances have been compared to entertainers Sophie Tucker, Ethel Merman, and Al Jolson. Although her musical repertoire consisted largely of cast recordings, show tunes and traditional pop standards, Garland was also capable of singing soul, blues, and jazz music, which Dowlin compared to singer Elvis Presley.

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  • Garland underwent an extensive hospital stay at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, in which she was weaned off her medication, and after a while, was able to eat and sleep normally. During her stay, she found solace in meeting with disabled children; in a 1964 interview regarding issues raised in A Child Is Waiting (1963) and her recovery at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Garland had this to say: "Well it helped me by just getting my mind off myself and ... they were so delightful, they were so loving and good and I forgot about myself for a change". Garland returned to Los Angeles heavier, and in the fall of 1949, was cast opposite Gene Kelly in Summer Stock (1950). The film took six months to complete. To lose weight, Garland went back on the pills and the familiar pattern resurfaced. She began showing up late or not at all. When principal photography on Summer Stock was completed in the spring of 1950, it was decided that Garland needed an additional musical number. She agreed to do it provided the song should be "Get Happy". In addition, she insisted that director Charles Walters choreograph and stage the number. By that time, Garland had lost 15 pounds and looked more slender. "Get Happy" was the last segment of Summer Stock to be filmed. It was her final picture for MGM. When it was released in the fall of 1950, Summer Stock drew big crowds and racked up very respectable box-office receipts, but because of the costly shooting delays caused by Garland, the film posted a loss of $80,000 to the studio.

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  • After Garland's body had been embalmed by Desmond Henley, Deans travelled with her remains to New York City on June 26, where an estimated 20,000 people lined up to pay their respects at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel in Manhattan, which remained open all night long to accommodate the overflowing crowd. On June 27, James Mason gave a eulogy at the funeral, an Episcopal service led by the Rev. Peter A. Delaney of St Marylebone Parish Church, London, who had officiated at her marriage to Deans, three months earlier. "Judy's great gift", Mason said in his eulogy, "was that she could wring tears out of hearts of rock.... She gave so richly and so generously, that there was no currency in which to repay her." The public and press were barred. She was interred in a crypt in the community mausoleum at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, a small town 24 miles (39 km) north of midtown Manhattan.

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  • During filming for The Pirate in April 1947, Garland suffered a nervous breakdown and was placed in a private sanatorium. She was able to complete filming, but in July she made her first suicide attempt, making minor cuts to her wrist with a broken glass. During this period, she spent two weeks in treatment at the Austen Riggs Center, a psychiatric hospital in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The Pirate was released in May 1948 and was the first film in which Garland had starred since The Wizard of Oz not to make a profit. The main reasons for its failure were not only its cost, but also the increasing expense of the shooting delays while Garland was ill, as well as because the general public was not yet willing to accept her in a sophisticated film. Following her work on The Pirate, she co-starred for the first and only time with Fred Astaire (who replaced Gene Kelly after Kelly had broken his ankle) in Easter Parade (1948), which became her top-grossing film at MGM.

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  • On September 16, 1963, Garland—along with daughter Liza, Carolyn Jones, June Allyson, and Allyson's daughter Pam Powell—held a press conference to highlight and protest the recent bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama that resulted in the death of four young African American girls. They expressed their shock at the events and requested funds for the families of the victims. Pam Powell and Liza Minnelli both announced their intention to attend the funeral of the victims during the press conference.

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