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On dealing with life’s tragedies.

“People think of me as a neurotic kid, full of fits and depressions, biting my fingernails to the bone, living under an eternal shadow of illness and collapse. Why do people insist on seeing an aura of tragedy around me always? My life isn’t tragic at all. I laugh a lot these days. At myself, too. Lord, if I couldn’t laugh at myself I don’t think I’d be alive.”

—to Herbert Kretzmer, 1960




On her love of audiences.

“You stand there in the wings, and sometimes you want to yell because the band sounds so good. Then you walk out and if it’s a really great audience, a very strange set of emotions can come over you. … A really great reception makes me feel like I have a great big warm heating pad all over me. People en masse have always been wonderful to me. I truly have a great love for an audience, and I used to want to prove it to them by giving them blood. But I have a funny new thing now, a real determination to make people enjoy the show. I want to give them two hours of just pow!”

—to Shana Alexander, 1961


On drinking.

“You know something? Someone came up to interview me this afternoon and said that people are saying I hit the bottle. Now, what does that mean—hit the bottle? Does it literally mean smacking the bottle? Or does it mean that I like to drink? I told the girl that I like to drink iced-tea, like to drink soup, like to drink vodka and tonic. And, anyway, what kind of a question is that?

—to John Gruen, 1967


On living as a ‘legend.’

“I’ve heard how ‘difficult’ it is to be with Judy Garland. Do you know how difficult it is to be Judy Garland? And for me to live with me? I’ve had to do it—and what more unkind life can you think of than the one I’ve lived? I’m told I’m a legend. Fine. But I don’t know what that means. I certainly didn’t ask to be a legend. I was totally unprepared for it.”

—to McCall’s, 1967


On whether she got sick of her signature song.

“[Am I] tired of ‘Over the Rainbow?’ Listen, it’s like getting tired of breathing. The whole premise of the song is a question. A quest. At the end, it isn’t, ‘Well, I’ve found my world and I am a success and you and I will be together.’ The lyric is having little bluebirds ‘fly over the rainbow. Why, oh, why can’t I?’ It represents everyone’s wondering why things can’t be a little better.”

—to a press conference in Cherry Hill, NJ, 1967





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