The Digital Journalist
Photograph by William Claxton

Claxton Interview: Judy Garland

The dressing room was filled with flowers and people - managers, publicists, a secretary, two agents, a hairdresser, a makeup person, and a hotel waiter taking orders for coffee or drinks. In the middle of all this was tiny Judy Garland. She was barefoot and wrapped in a large bath sheet, which covered her tiny figure like an oversize evening gown.

Her hair was wet and straggly. Judy did not look good, even though she knew that I would be taking pictures. I think that she was actually enjoying the commotion and, of course, the attention. The sad part was that she was drinking liebfraumilch from one of two opened bottles that stood on her makeup table along with many prescription drugs. She would drink the wine like it was water and every now and then, she would pop a pill. Her attendants did not seem to react to this behavior, or perhaps they chose not to notice. However, at one point Judy grabbed a bottle of rubbing alcohol and one of those around her quickly took it from her, saying, "No, Judy dear!"

She displayed such angst and fear. I felt for her, but most of the people in the room seemed used to it. I felt that she was miserable and was crying out for help, and yet, she seemed to be enjoying it all.


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