WATCH: Judy Garland Didn’t Think Her Fans Were Gay

Gay icon Judy Garland would have been 90 years old on Sunday. In the above video, local Chicago interviewer Irv Kupcinet sits down with Garland in September 1967, less than two years before before her death. He’s really a dick, throwing awkward questions at a star who has obviously seen better days. Hopefully he was soon relegated to introducing the midnight movie.

But the clip is most telling near the 3:23 mark, when Kupcinet asks Garland about a Life magazine article that brands her as a homosexual icon. Garland’s gets flustered—well, she’s flustered the whole interview—and replies that all kinds of people come to her shows. She then calls the woman who wrote the Life story a “fella” and says “she’d be damned” if her audience was going to be treated so brutally.

So was she defending us or denigrating us?  We’re not sure.

Below, a clip of Judy more in her prime.

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  • Chris

    Get an editor.

    The interviewers name is Irv Kupcinet, not kupcine. He had a column for 60 years, his show was syndicated in over 70 markets for a decade, and he was one of Jack Paars roster of substitutes. Whether or not he was a dick in this interview, he was far from relegated to late night horror host, and you can’t even get the name right.

  • w.e.

    Many of the old Garland fanatics really don’t know that much about the true woman. They only have some romanticized notion of who she was.

  • Jared

    Nonsense. She knew. She was protecting us.

  • MKisNE

    Of course she knew. But that was the state of homophobia back then. Made what should have been a beautiful connection between a star and her fans into an awkward situation that was probably part of her downfall.

  • David Ehrenstein

    Of course she knew who her fans were. But you’ve got to remember it wasn’t considered “polite” to even acknowledge our existence back then. William Goldman (yes the playwrigth and Screenwriter) wrote a book about Broadway called “The Season.” a chapter of which was devoted to Judy Garland — more specifically the fact that gays clamored to see her. It’s long out of print, but try looking it up somewhere, for that chapter is one of the most sustained homophobic attacks I have ever read.

    It’s hard for you kids today to imagine but back then there were laws on the books prhibibiting “homosexuals” from so much as “conregating.” Hence all gay bars were Mafia-run skeakeasies. Judy’s concerts were one of the few places we could “congregate” legally.

  • jack jett

    Very interesting find. I would prefer to think she is just fucked up but more than not…she was a victim of homophobic times.

    Were lesbians called “fellas” during the day?

  • blogshag

    Damn, listening to her speak is really sad. e.g. Uh, umm, (long pauses) , slurred speech, drooped face. Can’t discern whether it’s drugs, alcohol or exhaustion

  • Chris S.

    This poor woman is still f*cked around with more than 40 years after her death. People have to destroy her because her talent and legacy is so strong, they can’t stand the assault on their own precious sensibilities to recognize that we were really touched by a genius the likes of which we’ll never see again.
    And poor Liza who has to put up with this too until the day she dies.

    Stop writing “biographies” on her.
    Stop making “documentaries”.
    Stop playing End of the Rainbow on Broadway.
    Stop saying she was homophobic.
    Stop saying she was a monster because she suffered addiction.
    And Stop saying she was a failure and let us down. She didn’t let us down. Her inner circle failed her and let her down. She was the victim of terrible care and lack of respect & due reverence.

  • Eric in Chicago

    Actually Jack Kupcinet was a local broadcasting legend in Chicago – there is even a statue of him in Chicago.

    You have to realize in her generation she was surrounded by gay people but people did not talk about it. It wasn’t something people talked about or brought up. She even married a gay man, convinced her daughter to marry a gay man and her father was gay. Something never talked about.

    She loved her Gay friends and Gay Fans – she didn’t let us down.

  • Chris S.

    For anyone here who is a true fan, the one and only documentary worth seeing is PBS’s American Masters. The Judy Garland installment is the most fair accurate and heart-breaking one and is the only one to truly get to understand her for who she really was and also break apart why she as an artist is probably the best our generation will ever see.

  • Jack

    As a “fella”, I’m not sure how I feel about this.

  • nature boy

    @DavidEhrenstein thanks for your excellent reminder of how things were.. how easy to forget. Even as recently as the 80’s I found it a challenge to locate gay bars since they still didn’t advertise, often had no exterior signs or street numbers, and blackened windows and doors. You might never know a business was there at all, until you walked in the door and suddenly everything turned from black and white to color. You had to know someone, who would show you where the bars were. And 20 years earlier in the 60’s??? Hard to appreciate if you didn’t live it (I didn’t being born in ’66). Thanks for writing. Easy to lose track of how far we have come!

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