Judy Garland and Courtney Love

MADELINE: So I’ve decided I’m now completely into Judy Garland. Did you see the TV movie? Pretty intense.
LOUISE: I think they used my mother’s medicine cabinet in that.
MADELINE: She was the Courtney Love of her day.

Judy Garland, born Frances Gumm (1922-1969) was an American singer, actress, and television hostess. She began performing in vaudeville as a child, and signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer as a teenager; she made more than two dozen movies with them, including The Wizard of Oz in 1939, where she starred as Dorothy Gale.

After being released from her contract, she went on to have a highly successful career as a singer, and hosted The Judy Garland Show. She received numerous accolades, including a Juvenile Academy Award, a Cecil B. Mille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Despite her great success as a performer, the pressure of becoming a star so early in life affected her physical and mental health, and her self-image was poor as she had received so much criticism from movie executives, who thought she was unattractive. As an adult, she suffered from alcohol and substance abuse, as well as financial instability. She died of an accidental dose of sleeping pills, aged 47.

The “TV movie” that Madeline mentions is probably Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, a two-part, four-hour miniseries directed by Robert Allan Ackerman, and based on the 1998 book Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir, written by Lorna Luft, Garland’s daughter. The miniseries starred Judy Davis as the adult Judy Garland, and Davis received both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance. The miniseries was first shown on TV in late February 2001, so Madeline has been “completely into” Judy Garland for around two months.

Louise’s comment suggests that her mother, the mysterious adulteress, also has a problem with addiction to prescription medication.

Courtney Love (born Courtney Harrison in 1964) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and artist. She gained recognition as the lead vocalist of the alternative rock band Hole, formed in 1989, and is perhaps best known for her personal life following her marriage to Kurt Cobain, front man for the grunge rock band Nirvana. She has been very open about her struggles with drug addiction, including to heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, and prescription drugs such as Rohypnol.

Apart from both having problems with substance abuse, there is no comparison between the lifetime as a major star that Judy Garland had, and Courtney Love’s career, which makes Madeline’s comment seem ignorant, and disrespectful to Garland, that she’s supposedly “completely into”.

Furthermore, Love’s numerous addictions have led to several legal cases, often including assaulting others or disorderly conduct, while Garland’s substance abuse brought more personal misery. Love has declared herself clean since 2007.

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