We love Valley of the Dolls…
And we love the myth and legend of Judy Garland, so to discover this rare gem on the interwebs, was to say the least, a huge score!
If you haven’t seen the film, “Valley of the Dolls” was based on Jacqueline Susann’s best selling novel about several young ladies entrapped in the tumultuous world of the entertainment industry.
It is camp, it is glamour, it is a bona fide classic piece of cinema starring the late Patty Duke as the self-sabotaging but talented Neely O’Hara, Barbara Perkins playing a naive small town girl trying to make it in the big city of New York, and Sharon Tate as their gorgeous pal who is forced to do some “shameful” business to make a little cash . . .
One of the antagonists of the film is the character of Helen Lawson, who is a big-shot Broadway star of the ages who Neely goes up to bat against during the production of a play. There are plenty of bitchy moments that incur, which make the film a true joy to behold.
With this in mind, we were shocked the find out that Helen Lawson had originally been given to none other than JUDY GARLAND!!!
This was big news at the time, with the contract being signed February 1967, and a press conference with Judy and Jacqueline Susann at the St. Regis Hotel on March 2, 1967.
“Lets face it; the role calls for an old pro over 40. That’s for me. It’s for sure I am no longer Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz…the part of Helen Lawson is no more me than the part in Judgement at Nuremberg. It doesn’t pertain to me…”
Work on the film began shortly thereafter with songs being recorded, and scenes being shot. However, many of this footage hasn’t survived, and many claim the scenes that were shot were few and far between and mostly unusable, with Judy refusing to leave her dressing room.
Things reached a head on April 27, 1967. Judy was fired.
Fox announced that she had resigned for “personal reasons”, which Judy quickly denied citing that she had showed up on set ready to film at 6am and had no idea!!! In the end, she admitted to objecting to certain obscenities in the film, and many fans agree that this film was far beneath her talents….so in the end, everything works out (I guess, minus the fact she died 2 years later from a heavy drug overdose)!!!
Oh, Hollywood….so strange. So weird. So mysterious and odd. And if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, lets get to the point of this all – the wardrobe tests!
You know we love fashion and style, and William Travilla’s glorious designs for Valley of the Dolls are one of the highlights of this film, and Helen Lawson’s costumes are no exception. In these clips, Judy does her thing showing off the designs, as only she could.
If that doesn’t shock you just a little, I’m not sure what will. The legacy of Judy Garland is so odd and sad. So young and full of talent; thrown into a monstrous machine that only cared to crank out dollars from her…in the end, she lost her vitality, and her mind.
Let her be a lesson to us all to stay true to yourself, and never be a pawn to those in authority. It’s just not worth it. You live one life. Let it be the best life you can imagine!
In the end, the role of Helen Lawson would go to Susan Hayward, who was a legend in her own right, and had even won the coveted Best Actress Academy Award in 1958 playing a death row inmate in I Want to Live! .
I guess, things happen for a reason..
Until we meet again,