Thursday, June 10, 2010

Judy Garland on "What's My Line?"

One of the greatest revelations for the Pop Culture Institute during 2009 was the vast number of What's My Line? clips available on YouTube - including this one, starring the inimitable Judy Garland as the Mystery Guest for the week of March 5th, 1967. During its record-setting run (eighteen seasons from 1950 to 1967!) the Mark Goodson and Bill Todman produced effort attracted some of the biggest names in entertainment to the small screen.

As hosted by John Charles Daly, What's My Line? featured regular panelists - in this case Arlene Francis, Tony Randall, Susan Oakland, and Bennett Cerf - trying to either guess the unusual profession of a guest or (the special treat of the show) donning blind-folds and trying to guess the identity of the famous person doing their best not to be recognized. In Judy's case this meant no speaking at all - since her voice could never have possibly been concealed, so popular was it.

For entertainment historians as well these miniature kinescope time capsules often yield a couple of gems in and of themselves; in this case, Judy talks about having just come from her daughter's wedding... That the daughter in question was Liza Minnelli and the new son-in-law Peter Allen and the marriage in question a famously well-documented train-wreck adds more than a soup├žon of amusement! Another throwaway quip has the obviously intoxicated Garland discussing her upcoming appearance as Helen Lawson in the film version of Jacqueline Susann's once-racy 1966 novel Valley of the Dolls*; in discussing her role, Garland claims her unsuitability for it, saying 'She's the only one in the book who doesn't take pills'.

*Alas, it wasn't to be; Garland proved uninsurable, and the role went to Susan Hayward. Susann was said to have based the novel's ingenue - Neely O'Hara, played in the film by Patty Duke - on the young Judy herself.
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