Showtime‘s new doc Sid & Judy delves into how the icon’s third marriage to reignited her sagging career.
Garland married her third husband, Sidney Luft, in 1952. At 28, she was already being called a has-been, but in 10 years she would be considered a living legend. And Luft had a lot to do with it.
People often say Garland “was perhaps” the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. No perhaps. She WAS. She’s also the archetype of the tragic superstar, that had all the ingredients: drug addictions, hangers-on, breakdowns, comebacks, AND a premature death.
Garland had wanted to do a remake of the 1937 film A Star Is Born , so Luft approached gay director George Cukor, Hollywood’s preeminent “women’s director,” to oversee the remake. The rest is herstory.
The film was a major comeback for Garland and she married Luft after both their divorces were final. They divorced in 1965.
Director Stephen Kijak is telling their story with this new documentary. He admits he wasn’t always a Garland fan.
“I really did grow up in a Barbra [Streisand] household. My mom was Barbra all the way.
Judy really seemed like that gay icon of the past.”
It wasn’t until he saw A Star Is Born that he began to understand what all the fuss was about.
“It finally turned the switch on: Oh, right, that’s why she’s so great. I’m not much of a Wizard of Oz kind of guy, but her performance in A Star Is Born is just mind-blowing to me.”
Kijak decided to make the doc which includes a treasure trove of material, like his recently unearthed notes for an unpublished memoir as well as never-before-heard phone recordings with Garland.
“In the Sid Luft estate we had the Judy Garland audio recordings. She was planning on writing an autobiography. So you had those tapes, which are actually quite infamous. The “Judy Speaks” tapes are out there. It’s not like they’re actually that rare. They’re on YouTube. Howard Stern has made fun of them on his radio show.
But it was really important to take that material and find the actual context for them. And Luft recorded phone calls, and no one’s ever heard that material before. It’s a really rare window into what was happening in her life and career at the time.”
Sid & Judy premieres October 18 at 8pm on Showtime.