Judy Garland once told journalist Shana Alexander she wasn't content just to entertain. She wanted "to give blood" when she went on stage.
As we learn in this two-hour A&E Biography, Garland found lots of people willing to help bleed her, on stage and off.
There was the stage mother who denied her a childhood, so she could spend it bringing in money. There was the MGM studio boss who lined up doctors to keep the money machine humming. There were the embezzling agents who hired her out like a draft horse. And those so-called husbands who nibbled away at her legend while taking their turn in her spotlight.
Garland's tragic story is about a brilliant young entertainer who used up her life trying to get happy and was dead at 47 _ a ruin of a woman, but a show business immortal.
This detailed and comprehensive biography of Garland is bound to turn up a few things even hard-core Judy fans didn't know. Among them:
She had a lifelong devotion to her father, a bisexual whose scandalous relationship with a young boy forced them to leave Minnesota.
Grown-up child star Jackie Cooper used to take teenage Garland out on phony dates with the studio's permission, then secretly delivered her to womanizing band leader Artie Shaw, her real passion.
Through dozens of interviews, Beyond the Rainbow chronicles Garland's rise from a small-time family act, the Gumm Sisters, through The Wizard of Oz, five marriages and numerous love affairs, her Broadway comeback as a solo act, her film comeback in A Star Is Born, her TV successes and her triumphant concert date with her daughter, Liza Minnelli.
Through it all, one theme emerges: Garland, a gifted youngster ground down by Hollywood, remained a frightened little girl inside. Lacking confidence in her immense talent, she feared it all might end for her at any moment.
Of course, it finally did.
Not long after her 47th birthday she was found dead in the bathroom of her shabby London flat, a victim of too much Seconal, a candle burned badly at both ends.
Judy Garland: Beyond the Rainbow, 8 tonight on A&E Biography.