Cinema’s Forgotten Legends Series: Judy Holliday


My next installment into the Cinema’s Forgotten Legends Series is none other than the multi-faceted, enigmatic and exceptionally gifted stage/silver screen actress of Hollywood’s Golden Age Judy Holliday (born Judith Tuvim on June 21st, 1921-June 5th, 1965)7

In a film career that lasted for more than 2 decades, Holliday made only 9 featured films from her film career but her enduring cinematic legacy lives on especially in her Golden Globe/Academy Award winning performance as Billie Dawn in one of my favorites, the romantic comedy Born Yesterday (1950) alongside William Holden & Broderick Crawford4Her exceptional performance via the hit stage play emanated an even tour-de-force portrayal on the silver screen under the direction of George Cukor. I was only able to see her in that one particular film that I’ve mentioned above and it’s a shame that I didn’t see more of her films because I do feel that she was an immensely talented, prolific and intelligent artisan who genuinely warmed, captivated and entertained classic film audiences with her charm, personality, wit, charisma and intelligence; just like one of my favorite classic film actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Age and an iconic role model with whom I greatly respect Marilyn Monroe, Judy Holliday wasn’t even close to being the dumb blonde persona that her characters had her out to be (not even in the slightest sense) & as a matter of fact, Holliday’s IQ was at a considerably profound level at 172; both Marilyn and Judy had incredibly high IQsJudy1950 was a pinnacle year for Ms. Holliday because of 2 important milestones: 1) that she was starring in the screen version of Born Yesterday, a theatre role in which she was born to play and 2) that she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar award for her performance in the film; in the end, she won the coveted golden statuette for her hard worked efforts & beating out incredible yet stiff competition in the process including Bette Davis, Anne Baxter and even Gloria Swanson. Holliday was indeed a cinematic force to be reckoned with but there was so much more behind her on screen illuminating persona & compelling picturesque talents; deep down, she was an endearing, kind hearted, loving, ingenious, compassionate and captivating human being with a cinematic aura unlike any other. I’ve chose Judy Holliday to be an exceptional addition into the CFLS because her talents were forgotten due not only to the fact that she was blacklisted later on in her film career, but also that not too many individuals have heard of her like say Davis, Crawford or even Rogers. Her extraordinary portrayals ranged from comedy and romance to drama, all while having just 9 films under her belt and for me that’s quite impressive8

Judy Holliday was married only twice in her lifetime: first to clarinetist, educator and conductor David Oppenheim (from 1938-48) in which they had a son Johnathan-now a documentary film editor- then to jazz musician Gerry Mulligan who became her surviving spouse after a long time relationship which eventually led into a marriage; she also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6901 Hollywood Blvd which she received on February 8th, 1961. I’m very grateful to have had the pleasure of viewing Holliday in Born Yesterday & to this day it has become one of my favorite romantic comedies from Hollywood’s Golden Age; on June 7th 1965 just 2 weeks before her 44th birthday, the classic film world lost its emblematic shining star when Judy Holliday passed away from breast cancer at the young age of 43. When classic film artisans pass away from cancer, it hits me very close to home because I’ve lost both of my parents to the same dreaded illness that claimed them at a young age. I know that they passed away from a different kind of cancer but in my opinion ANY form of cancer is worth the cause and effort to support on via finding a cure or funded necessary medical research. It’s been a real pleasure creating my Cinema’s Forgotten Legends Series and selflessly sharing it with so many classic film fans, so I hope to continue the family legacy of loving/appreciating classic films for the benefit of my daughter, who enjoys viewing them with me still…because just like the actors/actresses that I pay tribute to here, the impact and memories that she has in my life today & in the future will never be forgotten! 9

Actress Judy Holliday in her apartment on Waverly Place in New York City. Date: April 2, 1951



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