Here is a compilation of some of the more frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the life and career of Judy Holliday. Some of these are questions that have been e-mailed to me, and some are questions that have been asked on various message boards and newsgroups on the internet throughout the years. The most recent enteries are toward the bottom of this page.
Q: "Where was Judy Holliday born?"
A: Same place she died...New York City, New York.
Q: "When was Judy born?"
A: June 21, 1921. The year 1922 (or sometimes 1923) is commonly published as her birthdate, but that was a false date that Judy manufactured. Her headstone (see below) and her birth certificate on file at the New York Department of Health support 1921.
Q: "What was Judy's ethnic/religious background?"
A: She was of Russian-Jewish descent.
Q: "What was the cause of Judy's death?"
A: At the time of her death, the cause was reported to be throat cancer because the real cause, breast cancer, was not considered a "socially acceptable" cause of death. She did have a benign tumor removed from her throat five years prior to her death, but recurring bouts with breast cancer is what ultimately claimed her.
Q: "What was the date of Judy's death?"
A: Judy died at 5:00 am on June 7, 1965.
Q: "Where is Judy buried?"
A: Her body is buried at the Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. It's about 15 miles from New York City. The Find-A-Grave internet site has posted 2 pictures of her grave site. If the Find-A-Grave link is not working, you can also view the photos here. Note that the birth date on her headstone says 1921.
Q: "Was Holliday her real last name?"
A: No, she was born Judith Tuvim.
Q: Is there any significance to the name Holliday?
A: The name "Tuvim" is derived from the Hebrew word "tovim" which means "good", and the phrase "yom tovim" loosely translates into "holiday". That's why Judy choose that for her stage name. It was decided that she should spell her name with two L's to help avoid any confusion with the legendary singer (and one of Judy's favorites) Billie Holiday.
Q: "Was Judy a lesbian?"
A: I think it would be inaccurate to describe her as a lesbian. As far as I know, she had only one sexual relationship with a woman (Yetta Cohn), and that occured when she was eighteen. It appears that as she matured, she was exclusively attracted to men.
Q: "Was Judy married to jazz musician Gerry Mulligan?"
A: No. They had a terrific relationship that lasted up to the time of her death, but they never married. Judy was married to a musician at one time though, a clarinetist named David Oppenheim. The marriage lasted for 9 years.
Q: "Did Judy ever have children?"
A: Yes, she had a son named Jonathan with husband, David.
Q: "Whatever became of Judy's son, Jonathan?"
A: Jonathan Oppenheim is a very successful film editor based in New York. His credits include the following documentaries: Children Underground, Paris Is Burning, Streetwise, Lives In Hazard, A Matter of Trust: Billy Joel in the USSR, Arguing the World, Hookers, Hustlers, Pimps and Their Johns, Paving the Way and Sister Helen. He was also an Assistant Editor on the Dudley Moore film Arthur. Here is an essay he wrote about what it was like to work on Arguing the World. Here is a picture of Jonathan taken in 2003. Here is a side-by-side comparison of Jonathan and his father.
Q: "Were Judy and baseball star Jimmie Foxx lovers?"
A: In July of 1996, the Philadelphia Weekly printed an article entitled "Beauty and the Beast." It included excerpts of love letters allegedly written between the two. However, in January of 1997 the Editor of the Philadelphia Weekly, Tim Whitaker, admitted that the story was a complete hoax and that no such letters ever existed.
Q: "Was Judy called to testify during the HUAC hearings?"
A: No, she was not. She was, however, subpoenaed to testify before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS) in 1952. The difference between the two is that the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was investigating Communist infiltration in the motion picture indusrty, while SISS was investigating Communist infiltration of the radio and television industries.
Q: "Was Judy a Communist?"
A: I'll let Judy answer that one. Here is the prepared statement she gave when called before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee on March 26, 1952. An investigation by the FBI confirmed there was no positive evidence to suggest that she was ever a member of the Communist Party. Much more information on this subject can be found in the "FBI Files" section of this web site.
Q: "Did Judy ever appear on television?"
A: Yes, but not as much as you would expect. Because of the practice of "blacklisting" she was denied of many opportunities between 1951 and 1954. The effects of the blacklist affected her television career more so than any other aspect of her career. She never had her own series, but did make guest appearances, usually on variety shows and game shows. You can track down VHS copies of these at various sites on the internet that specialize in vintage television shows.
Q: "Since Judy could not attend the Oscar ceremony in person, who accepted the award for her?"
A: Broderick Crawford (Best Actor winner the previous year) was the presenter and Ethel Barrymore accepted the Oscar on Judy's behalf (an arrangement made by Born Yesterday director George Cukor).
Q: "Does Judy have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?"
A: Yes she does. It is located at 6901 Hollywood Blvd. And here is a photo of it. Her "neighbors" include: Wayne Newton, Julie Andrews, Greta Garbo, Buster Crabbe, John Travolta, and Olivia Newton-John.
Q: "Did Judy Holliday and Marilyn Monroe ever meet?"
A: Yes they did. You can read about one of those meetings in the "Articles" section of this site. Look for the article entitled "Blonde on Blonde" by Martha Weinman Lear. It also contains a photo of them together.
Q: "Didn't Judy live in the building where John Lennon was murdered?"
A: Yes, she was a resident of the famed Dakota apartment building in New York City for many years. Located at 72nd Street and Central Park West, the Dakota was home to many celebrities including Lauren Bacall, Boris Karloff, Leonard Bernstein, Judy Garland and Jose Ferrer.
Q: "Was Judy connected with a project called The Family Way and what was it?"
A: The Family Way was the original title of her last film for Columbia Pictures. It was released in late 1956 with Full Of Life as the title.
Q: "Did Judy do any product endorsements?"
A: She appeared in print ads for Lux Soap, Purolator Oil Filters and Timely Clothes among others. As far as I know, she only made one TV commercial, that was for Rheingold Beer in 1958.
Q: "Was she really a 'genius' or was that a
fabrication of some studio publicity department?"
A: No fabrication needed! She was in fact tested and found to have an I.Q. measurement of 172. That would be your genius level.
Q: "Do you know where I can find an original set of Judy Holliday paper dolls?"
A: I would say that your best chance of finding them would be at one of the on-line auctions such as eBay. Because they are such a collector's item, be prepared to pay a lot for them.
Q: "Have there been any sightings of the ghost of Judy Holliday?"
A: None that I'm aware of. But, in 1970, author Suzy Smith wrote a book called Ghosts Around the House. One of the stories is about the ghost of a little boy that inhabited apartment #77 of the Dakota (Judy's last residence). The author interviewed the people who moved into the apartment following Judy's death and claimed to have seen it. Smith also interviewed Judy's mother, Helen, who commented on the apartment: "All of her [Judy] troubles happened in that apartment. I can't even look at it. She got her divorce there. She got her cancer there." Helen also mentioned that while Judy was superstitious and sometimes even joked about being psychic, she's positive that Judy never saw a ghost in the apartment.
Q: "Many credible sites, like Blockbuster.com, list Too Much Johnson as Judy's first movie. Is this a mistake?"
A: There are a couple of debatable points involving Too Much Johnson. The first is whether it should even be called a movie. Orson Welles wanted to experiment with the idea of incorporating filmed sequences into a play. The facts are that in July of 1938, he filmed several short scenes around New York City and in upstate New York. The silent footage was intended to serve as an introduction for the play Too Much Johnson. Welles edited the scenes together, but it never appeared in the play and was never exhibited to the public. To me, that does not meet the standard of a "movie" (at least in the Hollywood sense of the word). The second debatable point is if Judy even appeared in the film. In 1996, Welles biographer Joseph McBride asserted that Judy did appear somewhere in the sequences. Judy was employed at the Mercury Theatre as an assistant switchboard operator during the time period in question. But according to Judy herself, the only time she met Welles face to face, was one morning when he popped his head into the area where the operators worked to say a general "hello" to the operators on duty. It is entirely possible that Welles' business partner, John Houseman, rounded up anyone who happened to be on the Mercury payroll and used them as inexpensive background fillers. Proof will be hard to come by however...the only existing print of the film was destroyed when Welles' villa in Madrid caught fire in August of 1970.
Q: "Are any members of The Revuers still alive?"
A: No, they have all passed away. John Frank was the first to die in 1961, then Judy in 1965, Alvin Hammer in 1993, Adolph Green in 2002 and Betty Comden in 2006. Some sources list John Frank as having died in the mid 1940's from Leukemia, but his daughter Patsy assures me that he died in 1961 from a heart-related ailment.
Q: "Do any original recordings of the The Revuers still exist?"
A: Yes. You can hear a few songs and comedy sketches here and there. "The Magazine Sellers" and "Tin Pan Alley" appear on the out-of-print Judy Holliday album A Legacy of Laughter. It's not available on CD, but you can find vinyl copies on internet sites specializing in vintage records. "The Girl with Two Left Feet" and "The Joan Crawford Fan Club" are on the Leonard Bernstein CD Wunderkind. They were originally recorded in 1940 by Musicraft Records for the "Night Life In New York" series of 78 rpm records.
Q: "Was Judy the first actress to win both an Oscar and a Tony award?"
A: No, but she is part of a very select and elite fraternity. Since the inception of the Academy Awards (1928) and the Tony Awards (1947), only 11 actresses have pulled off this feat in the lead actress categories. Others have accomplished it by winning in the supporting categories, but only 11 using strictly the lead categories. In chronological order, the eleven are: Helen Hayes and Ingrid Bergman (tied - Hayes won the Oscar first, but both women claimed their first Tony in 1947), then Shirley Booth, Audrey Hepburn, Judy Holliday, Anne Bancroft, Vivien Leigh, Liza Minnelli, Ellen Burstyn, Jessica Tandy and Maggie Smith. If you factor in the Golden Globe Awards, only 9 actresses have ever accomplished the award "trifecta" (Hayes and Leigh being the only 2 of this group who failed to do so).
Q: "Was Judy also an inventor?"
A: In a sense, yes. As far as I know, she never applied for any patents, but her abundant creativity did inspire some innovative inventions. Being an avid record collector, she devised a contraption to store her many albums. It was a long piece of plastic with horizontal slots cut in it. She would slide the albums into the slots, or pouches, and hang the whole contraption vertically. You can see it suspended from a coat hanger on the left side of this picture. LIFE magazine reported that she was also working on a way to make edible teaspoons out of Bisquick pancake mix.
Q: "When did Judy's mother pass away?"
A: Helen Tuvim passed away in September of 1973 at the presumed age of 88. The United States Government lists her birthdate as September 6, 1885. Other sources suggest the years 1889 or 1891.
Q: "Did Judy write any songs other than the 4 that appear on the Holliday with Mulligan album?"
A: Yes, she wrote several other songs throughout her career. She started by collaborating with the other members of the Revuers on the musical numbers for their nightclub act. She also co-wrote the song "Welcome Home" with composer Alec Wilder. Wilder was a very close friend of hers. Sharing her passion for games, they spent many a night trying to outwit each other while huddled over a Scrabble board. Of course, the bulk of her song writing was done in the years she spent with Gerry Mulligan. Only four of these appear on Holliday with Mulligan because the album was recorded very early on in their relationship (1961) and there was a limited amout of songs to choose from. Also, Judy was a harsh self-critic and still not totally comfortable performing her own songs publicly. She only wanted to use what she thought was their strongest material. Only a handful of the many songs that she and Mulligan wrote in the final 5 years of her life have found their way to the public. If you listen closely to the beginning of the film A Thousand Clowns you will hear Rita Gardner sing the first few bars of the title song that Judy wrote. You can view the lyrics to "A Thousand Clowns" here. The Holliday-Mulligan song "Night Lights" appears on the album of the same name by the jazz group Octobop. Nancy Gilliland does the vocal. For a list of 19 Holliday-Mulligan songs click here.
Q: "Were any members of Judy's family also in show business?"
A: Yes. While her father, Abe Tuvim, was primarily a professional fund-raiser for Jewish organizations, he did dabble in song writing and screen writing. He is credited as one of the writers of the 1938 film Refugiados en Madrid. He also co-wrote the song "A Gay Ranchero" which appears in the 1948 film The Gay Ranchero starring Roy Rogers. Judy's uncle, Joseph Gollomb, was a well-known writer in his time. He wrote several short stories that were published in the pulp fiction magazines of the day. The titles included: "The Spy Who Had To Die," "He Feeds On Death" and "House of Nameless Fear." Among the many books he authored were: Spies: Ancient to WWI - True Stories" (1928), Crimes of the Year" (1931) and Albert Schweitzer: Genius in the Jungle" (1949). One of his biggest successes was a series of books aimed at teenagers called Lincoln High. He is also credited for writing the 1934 film Murder at the Vanities.
Q: "Did Judy and Nicholas Ray have a relationship?"
A: Yes, they did. It was a relatively brief relationship that crested while Judy was in Hollywood working for Twentieth Century-Fox in 1944. Judy eventually broke it off with Ray for reasons that were never revealed. His well-publicized drinking problem and the 10 year age difference between them, are among the probable causes. At the time, both were relative unknowns in the entertainment industry. Ray would go on to direct such films as In A Lonely Place, Johnny Guitar and Rebel Without A Cause.
Q: "Was a cast recording of Hot Spot ever made?"
A: No, not officially. In 2004, Blue Pear Records released a CD that is a "live recording" of the show's soundtrack. The CD is a mixture of a bootleg recording, some studio recordings and a demo tape made by the composers. The portion of the CD that features Judy singing is relatively poor quality. Five songs from the show also appear on a CD entitled Hey, Love: The Songs of Mary Rodgers, but since they were recorded in 1997, they do not feature Judy on the vocals.
Q: "What was behind the break-up of Judy's relationship with Sydney Chaplin?"
A: When Judy's divorce from David Oppenheim became final in early 1957, gossip columnists, like Dorothy Kilgallen, speculated that the Bells Are Ringing co-stars would soon be married. While vacationing in Europe later that same year, the couple visited Sydney's father, Charlie Chaplin, at his home in Switzerland. A day or so later, the relationship, that was on the verge of marriage, was now over. Judy abruptly ended her vacation and returned the United States alone and very bitter. Neither Judy nor Sydney ever spoke publicly about what had transpired in Europe. An intense feud raged between them (with most of the anger coming from Judy) until Sydney eventually left Bells Are Ringing in 1958. Speculation is that Charlie Chaplin's staunch disapproval of the union caused Sydney to break it off. A second theory has to do with Sydney's reported involvement with French actress Noelle Adam. It is interesting to note that despite their bitter break-up, Sydney did attend Judy's funeral in 1965.
Q: "When and where did Madonna say that Judy Holliday was one her favorite actresses?"
A: It was mentioned in an article about Madonna that appeared in the September 10, 1987 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. She also mentioned it in an interview with TIME magazine dated May 27, 1985.
Q: "Did Judy Holliday win a Tony Award for Born Yesterday?"
A: No. The Tony Awards did not begin until 1947. Plays are only eligible for Tony awards in the year that the production debuts on Broadway. So even though Born Yesterday ran until 1949, Judy was not eligible for a Tony because the play had debuted in 1946. She would have to wait until 1957 to win her one and only Tony Award.
Q: "Are VHS copies of Winged Victory available for purchase anywhere?"
A: It was released on VHS in Europe for a brief period of time in the early 1990's, but it has never been officially released in the United States on any home video format (due to a legal dispute). From time to time you may be able to find bootleg copies available at on-line auction sites. These copies are watchable, but expect the audio/video quality to be a lot less than what you're used to.
Q: "Why is it so hard to find Judy Holliday movies on VHS and DVD?"
A: Though we may love her and her work, the unfortunate fact is that she does not have a wide commercial appeal. As a result, her films are not a high priority when new formats like VHS, laserdisc and DVD come along. Her films are always among the last to be converted over. Once they are released, they generally remain in print for only two years before being discontinued due to low demand. As of June 2009, all VHS's of films starring Judy Holliday have been discontinued. Adam's Rib, Born Yesterday and Bells Are Ringing are the only DVD's still in print The Marrying Kind, It Should Happen To You, and The Solid Gold Cadillac have been discontinued. Judy's very fleeting filmwork in the films Greenwich Village and Something For The Boys are available on DVD. They were both released in 2008.
Q: "Is Judy's ex-husband David still alive?"
A: No, David Oppenheim passed away on November 14, 2007, at the age of 85.
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