Monday, July 18, 2016

Carol Lynley on Judy Garland

Actress Carol Lynley is one lucky woman.  She can boast of working with a show biz legend as one of the highlights of her film career.

The show biz legend was Hollywood superstar, singer/actress Judy Garland.

Blonde Carol Lynley was a lovely sight to see in such popular 1960s movies as THE PLEASURE SEEKERS with Ann-Margret and UNDER THE YUM YUM TREE with Jack Lemmon.
One of her most popular films came along in the 1970s.  She was a star in the water-logged disaster movie that became a box office blockbuster, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE.
Jean Harlow, with her platinum blonde hair, was known as "The Blonde Bombshell" and became an iconic Hollywood star and sex symbol with hit performances in MGM's RED DUST (1932), DINNER AT EIGHT (1933) and LIBELED LADY (1936).  The Platinum Blonde was known for having a heart of gold off-camera.  All Hollywood mourned Jean Harlow's untimely death in 1937.
In the 1960s, there was renewed public interest in Jean Harlow and a best-selling but somewhat questionable biography was in bookstores.  The renewed interest in the 1930s sex symbol was so great that it inspired two big screen biopics on her that were made and then released in the same year.  The glossy Paramount Pictures production, in color, starred Carroll Baker. The other 1965 Jean Harlow biopic was a low-budget independent production in black and white that starred another Carol -- Carol Lynley.  Both biopics came out the same year.  Both starred an actress named Carol in the lead role.  And both films were titled HARLOW.

In the Carroll Baker version for Paramount, Angela Lansbury played the pivotal role of Jean Harlow's mother.  For the Carol Lynley version, which was released before the Paramount production, Judy Garland had been cast in the role of Jean Harlow's mother.  Weeks later, it was reported that Garland had been replaced by Ginger Rogers to star opposite Carol Lynley seen here as Harlow.

This month, I attended a celebrity autograph event in Los Angeles to visit two friends who were giving autographs.  While they were busy, I walked around with another friend and did some celebrity watching.  Carol Lynley, looking pretty in pink, was alone at a table and seemed quite approachable.  My friend, Keith, and I introduced ourselves and I asked Ms. Lynley if she ever got to meet Judy Garland or work with Garland before news broke that the star made famous in top MGM musicals had been replaced.

Carol Lynley smiled and her face lit up.  She and Judy Garland had rehearsed "for three weeks, six days a week."  You got the quick impression that those were three of most memorable weeks of Carol Lynley's film career.  She immediately added that, despite whatever the tone of the reports of Garland's sudden departure were and despite whatever rumors were circulating, there was " alcohol, no pills, no craziness" at all in Garland's behavior.  She stressed that the superstar singer/actress was totally professional and Lynley said that Garland did some great work in rehearsal.

Garland, by the way, had just become a teenager and was a newly-signed contract player at MGM in the 1930s when Harlow was a reigning queen of the screen at that same studio.
 Lynley told me that her HARLOW was very low-budget and shot like a TV show.  The movie's story was not shot in sequence and the shoot time for the entire production was relatively short.

As for Judy, this was Garland after her spectacular Carnegie Hall concert success, after her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for 1961's JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG and not long after her Sunday night CBS variety series, THE JUDY GARLAND SHOW (1963 to 1964).
In interviews, I've heard a number of celebrities who mentioned how much Judy Garland made them laugh.  Carol Lynley is in that group.  She called Garland "...the funniest person in the world."  She said that Judy was extremely funny.  It was her outlook on life and people that broke Carol up.  Lynley said that Garland's humor was never mean.  It could've have been.  But it never was.
Lynley told me that she was heartbroken when Judy came to her and said that she was leaving the project.  She didn't say why she was leaving but she wanted Carol to hear it from her before getting the news from any other source.  And then Ginger Rogers was playing the role of Jean Harlow's mother.  Carol Lynley said that Ginger Rogers was just fine "...but she wasn't Judy."

The celebrity autograph event in L.A. was a production of



  1. Great post! You may be interested in my book Dueling Harlows: Race to the Silver Screen. I interviewed Carol and others who worked on Harlow with Judy Garland who was replaced by Ginger Rogers.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


Before Astaire Danced on the Ceiling

 In the late 1980s, I was a veejay and talk show host seen daily on the VH1 music channel. Those were three of the happiest, most fulfilling...