This is an ever-growing collection of quotes by and about Judy Holliday.
Names that appear in RED are the most recent entries.
Click here to jump down to where quotes about Judy begin.
Quotes By Judy Holliday
On her childhood...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I can't remember my childhood. It's as if I've lost it. I guess I grew up assuming no one could remember. Friends used to tease me about not remembering people I'd met, places I'd been, but it didn't begin to bother me until recently. Then, when I had my own child and he began to walk and talk and do things, I tried to recall what I was like as a child, and I drew a complete blank. It's like not having a past, and I resent it. It's a gyp."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I began my career as a song-n-dance girl at the age of four, when my mother dragged me to a ballet school and threw me in."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I've always loved words. I ate up all the books I could get my hands on, and when I couldn't get books, I read candy wrappers and labels on cereal and toothpaste boxes."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I'm afraid I was horribly stuffy about social life. I guess I was just a natural snob. I got a kick out of being different, and I was eager to improve myself and everyone around me. As a result, I went out mostly with boys who would take me to Broadway shows instead of parties; symphony concerts and recitals instead of dances. I was more interested in writing poetry than passing love notes and in hearing Bach than dancing to Benny Goodman. I must have been obnoxious."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I wasn't so smart. I got good marks in what I liked and I was terrible in what I didn't like. I failed mathematics all the way through Julia Richman High School. I failed algebra twice, geometry once, and intermediate algebra once or twice. I only finally passed geometry because I had a good memory."
On working at the Mercury Theatre...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I'd hoped to learn playwriting and directing from Orson, but the nearest I got to the footlights atmosphere was when Orson popped his head into the switchboard cubbyhole - once - to say hello! I knew nothing about operating a switchboard. I'd plug all the loose plugs into the empty holes and pray like mad the right parties would somehow get connected."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "That switchboard -- it made me so upset! Lights would flash, it would make noises, and I would start to cry. It made me so nervous I would do anything to make it stop. So I would pull out all the plugs. I wanted to watch Orson Welles direct, so I figured if I worked in the office I might get a look behind the scenes. I never got a look. I never saw a play I didn't pay my own way to and I just used to sit at that switchboard everyday from nine to five and cry."
On her early days as part of The Revuers...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "We got together around noon every day, and started to mull over our plans for the following week. Someone would diffidently throw in an idea and everyone else would shout it down, until the deadline came along and we would throw the whole thing together in a last mad rehearsal."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about her first few performances) "I thought I was learning about show business. The more painful it was, the more important I thought the experience must be. Hating it, I convinced myself it must be invaluable."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about the audiences The Revuers played to) "They weren't interested in entertainment. They were tough. I learned one trick, which was to be quieter than they were until they had to look at you. It took a lot of agressiveness." [But when she appeared on Broadway, she thought] "My God, they were all quiet and paying attention. It was like lifting a feather after struggling with a 500-pound dumbbell."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I suppose that if I could have quit, I would have, because in those days I never wanted to be an actress, the acting was something to do while I waited for a chance to study writing and directing. But I guess I was just meant to be an actress. Because, here I am."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "We gained a great deal of prestige, but not much money. We liked to work so much we couldn't hide it and the club owners paid us accordingly."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "If you can handle a nightclub audience successfully, you can handle anything."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about the difficulty of doing their radio series Fun With The Revuers) "We didn't just throw together a couple of musical numbers with a lot of drivel from the announcer in between. It was a real show. We were all ill at the end of it. I got the shingles."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "Nobody can give a good performance unless the authors and composers have written a good part, a fact which is often overlooked."
On being an actress...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "Acting is a very limited form of expression and those who take it seriously are very limited people. I take it seriously."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (addressing the comment above years later) "I had always hoped to be a playwright or director, never an actress. Knowing absolutely nothing about it, I convinced myself that an actor was merely the medium through which others - more intelligent and creative - expressed their ideas. I was contemptuous of acting, and when I found myself not only an actress but a successful one, I was contemptuous of myself. I don't feel that way anymore."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I hated the whole idea of being an actress. I used to throw up before every performance and cry afterward."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about working with director George Cukor) "He didn't maintain my illusion of myself, he gave me an illusion of myself. Before I met him, I never thought of myself as an actress. Boy, he sidetracked me in a great way!"
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "Of course I work hard. Why shouldn't I? Who am I to think I should get things the easy way?"
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I am not an 'instant' actor...to really do anything, I've got to try it five or six or a dozen times."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about how she created Billie Dawn's solemn look) "In repose, my face looks as though I had gone through a terrible deal in the last five minutes. I have to disguise the expression and get a glassy-eyed look. That's something I learned from my dog."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I want a part where I can use my own hair, my own voice, and maybe even be literate."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "You have to be smart to play a dumb blonde over and over again and keep the audience's attention without extraordinary physical equipment."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "The close-up is about the most beautiful thing that ever happened to an actor. The first time it happened to me I kept lowering my eyes, like in modesty, and George [Cukor] kept yelling at me, 'What do you think I'm in here for, a picture of your lids?' This is an old story but, if you're thinking right, it projects. Greta Garbo didn't think she was beautiful, and that denigrated her beauty. When she thought she was beautiful, she became beautiful. Well, for Born Yesterday I had to be thinner, and George Cukor told me: 'You're going to have to think thin.' And by God I did it, and the shot was all eyes--and I was thinner."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about the possibility of playing "Amanda" in The Glass Menagerie) "I'd have a nerve trying to do anything Miss [Laurette] Taylor did. If I ever did it, it would be for her."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about preparing for the play Laurette) "I get very nervous whenever I think about it. I've never done a serious play, and I have such awe of the woman - she's really my only idol. It's going to be a big stretch - certain people come out on stage and your face muscles automatically tense and you get ready to smile."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about being inspired by Laurette Taylor) "Laurette Taylor has been my idol since I saw in 'The Glass Menagerie' in 1945. It was the experience of a lifetime. I went back three times and I never got over it. With her, it wasn't a question of acting. It was as though you were privileged to look at the most intimate life of a human being, and I had the feeling that maybe I shouldn't be watching it...it was so exposed."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about playing the role of Laurette Taylor) "There is simply no way inmitate or impersonate her as an actress, and it would be foolish for anyone to try. I keep clinging to the fact that, in the play, I am not going act anything she ever did. This a play about a woman. I am doing the story of a woman."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about the difficulty of playing Laurette, who ages from 15 to 65 during the play) "It'll be like playing Russian roulette with every chamber in the revolver loaded. I don't have a fighting chance. I've been trying push the whole thing out of my mind."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about her approach to the character of Laurette Taylor) "I'm trying to eliminate every vestige of my own personality, style, approach and get into somebody else's skin. Sometimes I feel I've accomplished it. But when I don't, I'm nobody at all, having left myself at home."
On "Born Yesterday"...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about her very first performance as "Billie Dawn") "I originated the character out of sheer necessity and a bit of intuition. They tell me I went on. But all I remember is walking in a London Fog."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I guess I owe everything to Billie (her character in Born Yesterday). But, some mornings I wake up cursing her."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I think Billie is the kind of girl who would let her hips swing loose."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about Billie's walk) "I learned that walk by watching the girls at the Copacabana Night Club. It's the strut of any girl who's been trained to show off her body and what she's got on it. It's a movement below the hips and absolute rigidity above the hips. Very sexy."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about Billie) "Everything is done for her. She doesn't have to strain a muscle, even in her head."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about Harry Cohn's reluctance to cast her as Billie dawn in the film) I kept thinking that in 30 years I'd be taking my grandchildren to the Museum of Modern Art, and would see Rita Hayworth or Lucille Ball in my role. It would be pretty hard to take."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about the endless casting search) "The only actress they didn't test was Garbo. Must have been her accent."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "When Hal Wallis was casting My Friend Irma, ...I said, 'What about Marie Wilson, she created it on the radio.' Finally he tested her and she got the part. The next thing I read, the only role Marie is dying to play is Billie Dawn. After that, the deluge. Gloria Grahame, Barbara Hale, Evelyn Keyes, Jan Sterling, were all mentioned. Another actress, a friend of mine, had her agent write asking me if I wouldn't put in a good word for her, because she simply had to play it. I wrote back saying, 'That makes twelve of us.'"
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about finally winning the role) "Nobody ever really thought I'd get to play it. After reading that Rita Hayworth was about to be signed, I was inconsolable. But you can only carry a torch for so long. I gave up all idea of doing it then, and now [that it's mine] it's just something nice that's happened to me, instead of the greatest thing in the world."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about her low-paying movie contract) "I was bargaining for time away from Hollywood, and Columbia was bargaining for money. I got what I wanted and they got what they wanted. They knew I was so anxious to do Born Yesterday that I'd have done it for a dollar. They gave me the next best thing."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about her Columbia Pictures contract) "It took a year of hassling with Harry Cohn to get such a contract; but, you know, I'd rather die than do more than one picture a year."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "It's tough when take 1 is technically okay and take 2 has better acting. Out here (Hollywood) they print the first one. That's the one where we all hit the mark on the floor and who cares about the acting."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about an un-named famous Hollywood producer) "He's a tough cookie with a Napoleonic complex. Probably the most hated man in Hollywood - and believe me, that's a hard title to win in the movie colony. When an actor gets a job doing a picture for him, friends don't offer the actor their compliments...they offer their solace."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I can't accept this idea you sometimes across in Hollywood that a pretty picture is more important than the content."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "The social life in Hollywood is deadly. Go to a party and you always meet the same people there, talking about the same thing - pictures. The urgent topic of conversation is: Are you on your way up or down, on the inside or outside? You're weighed the second you enter the room. You can almost see their minds busily working: What's she wearing? What did her last picture gross? Who did she come with? If you don't happen to conform, you're hounded."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "One writer said that I started as a moron in Kiss Them For Me and I worked up to be an imbecile in Adam's Rib. What I want to know is: where does a girl go from being an imbecile? Maybe, if I'm lucky, I can be an idiot or a cretin."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "Now with all this movie business, everybody's coming around wanting to know everything that's happened since I was four. It's like going to an analyst."
On Commuist allegations...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I am not a member of any organization listed by the Attorney General as subversive. In any instance where I lent my name in the past, it was certainly without knowledge that such an organization was subversive. I have always been essentially and foremost an American."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (a statement to the press issued through her representatives at the William Morris Agency about her testimony before the Senate) "I testified that I responded impulsively and on an emotional basis to the stated aims of organizations which requested the use of my name---organizations which were subsequently designated as Communist fronts by government authorities. To one who abhors Communism, this involvement is tragic. I have always been a completely non-political person, an actress devoted whole-heartedly to my career. To find myself in a controversy where my fidelity to my country is suspect is a heart-breaking circumstance. I am certain that at a future time by positive action, I will be able to dispel any such suspicion."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I can't understand why these people are trying to persecute me. I've always been a-political. A political nobody. If anything, the vilification of these bigots has awakened me into an awareness now of the need to fight these fascist-minded persons wherever they appear in our democracy. Just like Billie Dawn. It's hard enough, trying to be good, earn a living, and be creative, without fearing these smearers of reputations."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: I'll tell you something. It scares the shit out of you when you walk into that hearing room with all those lights and all those microphones and all those Senators looking at you. I'm not proud of the defense [acting like her "Billie Dawn" character], but I'm not ashamed either. I didn't name one single name. That much I preserved."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "Lovers have a right to betray you...friends don't."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about her refusal to star in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) "It may sound old-fashioned, but I've seen Carol Channing play the part magnificently on Broadway. And the role, I feel, is made for her. I once fought for the privilege of doing the movie counterpart of an original stage role I created. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I still haven't changed my mind about that principle."
On song writing and music...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I never meant to become a song writer...certainly not in pop music. It is a form of therapy."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about Dinah Shore performing a Holliday-Mulligan song on TV) "It meant as much to me as winning the Oscar."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "It makes me feel like Ira Gershwin - I mean for one reason only: Because George wrote things like, (she hums a few bars of the song "Fascinating Rhythmn") and then said Okay, Ira, put words to it."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I've also started taking flute lessons, because it's about time I learned to read music. I know a lot about music and I have a good ear, but I don't read a note. My mother is a piano teacher, but it never took with me, because this was the same voice that said, Darling, eat your spinach."
On her son, Jonathan...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I could talk about him all day. He's one of the most wonderful things that ever happened to me."
On New York...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I'm a born and bred New Yorker. I belong here. Everytime I leave it's like losing a leg."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "Often I've tried to explain to myself why Greenwich Village is so enchanting to so many people. I know it is to me. I lived there five years, and I'll never forget it. Yet it's only a neighborhood, really, a little part of old New York, a square mile or so of rambling streets and brownstone front apartment houses standing shoulder to shoulder...Where's the magic in that? I suppose it's in the special atmosphere of Greenwich Village itself -- the outdoor art displays, the coffee houses where everyone's so excited about writing and music and acting and just plain living -- intoxicated by their dreams of fame and success...That's the way it was for me."
On her public image...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I don't think the public would accept me (in a dramatic part). As soon as they see me, they start to laugh. They see me as a clown. I doubt they could accept me in a serious role."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "When they thought of me, they always remembered the vacuous Billie Dawn. It was as simple as that."
On her self-image...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "Columbia Pictures have to spend a lot of cash to make me look like a glamor puss. That's why I'm going to wait before I go into television. I look like a dim-witted high school girl. Besides, I have bad ankles and a prizefighter's jaw."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "People have a hard time making me dress up to look like a classy gal."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "They can do anything in movies, make a beauty out of anybody, except for one thing: give you a tiny waist. I guess I don't have to tell you I don't look much like the girls around here (the "Bells Are Ringing" film set)."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I love to cook and then I love to eat what I've cooked. But when I was doing Born for Columbia, I had to diet for months. And I had to show up at the studio every morning two hours before they started shooting. From 7 to 8 a.m. they worked on my hair. From 8 to 9 they worked on my face. And they bleached me every other day. If I went on television (a series) I'd have to be on a diet and beauty treatments all the time. You think I'm nuts? I like living too much for that!"
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about glamour photos) "They told me to wet my lips and open my mouth. I did that and I looked sick instead of sexy. Then one day one of the men said, 'Boy, did I have a great dinner last night.' He mentioned an Italian restaurant. He told me what he'd eaten. Suddenly there was a yearning look on my face. 'Hold it,' he said. 'That's just the look I want!' After that, when they wanted me to look sexy they showed me a menu."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "I like to eat. Out there (Hollywood) they don't let a girl eat."
On the Broadway flop "Hot Spot"...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about the daily re-writing of the show) "I'm going to insist that we 'freeze' the show at least five minutes before we open."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: (about several directors who abandoned the production) "We were wavering around like a ship without a sail."
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "The other day I was in my dressing room, being made up. Liz, my dresser, was pulling on the waist cincher; Ronnie, the hair stylist, was standing behind me working on my hair, and I had this urge to hold out my hands for my manager to tape them and pull on the gloves. I felt just like an old prizefighter...he's had it and he knows it and they've overmatched him with a tough, fast kid. He knows he's going to get battered and bruised and he's battered and bruised enough already, but he needs the money and so he's going to go out there and take his beating. I had this feeling they were getting me ready to throw me to the lions. And I'm not even Christian."
On her illness...
JUDY HOLLIDAY: "It's trite to say, but it's absolutely true--that adversity strengthens. I could go into a tizzie much easier before (her bout with cancer) than now, though it's too bad you have to learn it the hard way. But then it wouldn't be adversity if you didn't have to learn it the hard way."
Quotes About Judy Holliday
GOODMAN ACE: "Judy was a worrisome girl. She read each line we wrote for her on that first show (NBC'S The Big Show), and for the many subsequent shows to which she was invited back, with a keen and searching mind, arguing whether a line fit the character she played, whether the comedic line was properly motivated by the straight line. She gave us hours of rewrite and rewrite, until she was contented with what she had to speak. But with Judy it was, for me, always a labor of love. We knew we would always get a bright and shining performance — an understanding reading filled with shaded nuances and a delivery that was timed to the split second for the audience response we were seeking."
FRANK ALETTER: "Judy Holliday was a selfless, wonderful human being."
WOODY ALLEN: "The two best female comedians would be Diane Keaton and Judy Holliday."
WOODY ALLEN: "I do not think it's a good idea to remake this film, because I think Born Yesterday is the best American comedy ever written for the stage and the movie version with Judy Holliday was a first-rate film comedy as well. ...There are a couple of pictures - I would say Gone with the Wind is one, A Streetcar Named Desire is one and Born Yesterday is one - that you cannot disassociate from the original actors. Through some miracle you cannot get anybody more perfect or better than Judy Holliday and Broderick Crawford in Born Yesterday."
JEAN ARTHUR: (about being the original Billie Dawn) "I could've played the part, but I could not have given the performance that Judy Holliday gave."
BROOKS ATKINSON (film critic): "Judy Holliday is even more talented than you may have suspected. She is a fantastic entertainer with a personality that is both amusing and endearing."
CONSTANCE BENNETT: "Judy Holliday is the funniest comedic actress in pictures."
JACK BENNY: (said to Judy's father, Abe) "I think I know timing. It's my business, and if I didn't know it I'd be a bum, but you tell Judy that there are still a lot of things I could learn about it from her."
FRANK BOULEY (Hot Spot cast member): "Judy was plagued with [breast] cancer and was in great pain at all times, but she never complained or let anything slow her down. She never missed a rehearsal or a performance and always had a smile and a good word for everyone in the cast. She always had her lines learned and was never a bother to anyone, unless you count Franz Allers, our conductor, who had to be released from the show because he was too strict a musician and Judy could not work that way. She had to be free to interpret [it] the way she felt it."
MARTIN CHARNIN: (On the producers' decision to cast Judy over Barbra Streisand in Hot Spot) "...unbeknownst to us, they had already given the part to Judy Holliday. And Judy sold tickets. It didn't help the show. What was kept from us was that Judy had cancer. It was really difficult. She was not happy or engaged; she was joyless. And understandably so. The whole thing crashed and burned in New York."
HAROLD CLURMAN (theatre critic): "She is such a wonderful person on stage that her singing and dancing become more attractive than that of performers technically much better equipped."
BETTY COMDEN: "A brilliant woman and a great actress. Very funny and very intuitive."
BETTY COMDEN: "She was the quintessential blonde who seemed to be dumb, but was brilliant underneath."
WYATT COOPER: "Judy befriended me when I wasn't doing too well, and she was so generous of her time and spirit that I gained confidence in myself, and she really helped me out."
HENRY CROCKER: "'That Judy Holliday is a riot'. When leaving the theatre, that was the word on the lips of such experts as Ezio Pinza, Phil Reed, Betty Garrett and Larry Parks, Rosalind Russell, Walter Slezak, Ronald Reagan, Marta Toren, Esther Williams and Ben Gage, and Marie Windsor...all the comediennes think Judy Holliday gave the greatest comedy performance ever seen on the screen (Born Yesterday). That goes for me, too."
GEORGE CUKOR: "[Judy] is an extraordinary actress of taste, discretion and variety. Only such an actress could be 'funny' all the way through an emotional story like Born Yesterday."
GEORGE CUKOR: "She was a strange, touching girl. Odd at times, but very open and flexible and blessed with a sweet charm and sensitivity, and above all, she had what only the best of human beings mysteriously possess...she had the grace of dignity."
GEORGE CUKOR: "I found her marvelous. And modest. And in retrospect, infinitely touching."
GEORGE CUKOR: "Let me tell you what is unique about this girl. She saves all of her acting for the stage. She has no phony personality. Do you know she is very intelligent? She does the double-crostics in the Saturday Review of Literature -- without a dictionary!"
GEORGE CUKOR: "Judy Holliday was (an) extremely intelligent, intellectual person. Very well educated, very high-brow, very musical and she was unique. Some actresses are very talented, and some actresses are talented and are artists. But Judy Holliday was an artist as well. She showed you truth through comedy. That is what an actor can do. And then of course, she was a master of comedy and of subtlety and of understatement."
GEORGE CUKOR: "Her comedy has a subtle, hidden quality that, to express it as physically as possible, makes you think that you alone heard her. That if she had lowered her voice even a trifle, you would not have heard her, and what she said would have been gone forever."
GEORGE CUKOR: "Judy would not only speak every if, and and but, but she'd speak the punctuation marks. If Garson Kanin had a question mark, she'd read it like a question, and yet, you had the sense that she'd made that up as she went along."
JOHN DALY: (said to Judy on What's My Line?) "I'm in the ranks of those who will go very far to see you do anything."
JOAN DAVIS: "She's one of the funniest, cutest, most talented comediennes I've ever seen."
JOHN DEREK: "Born Yesterday is a real Holliday. Crawford, of course, is great and Holden [is] great, but to me it was Holliday. Oh, it's a wonderful show. I mean, you laugh all the time. It takes your mind off everything."
MIA FARROW: "Judy Holliday is my favorite actress. That performance in that movie (Born Yesterday)...you can't top it."
MAX GORDON (Broadway Producer): "She was one of the finest ladies I ever met. She was a plain, wonderful, honest girl, a helluva gal. She didn't put on airs."
FRANK GORSHIN: "I love to be able to comment on Judy's wonderful presence. She was so gracious. She was so unassuming."
SHEILAH GRAHAM: "Judy Holliday's [a] smash hit in Born Yesterday - the premiere audience applauded every speech she made in the picture practically."
ADOLPH GREEN: "The dearest friend imaginable."
HERBERT GREENE (Judy's voice coach): "She understands deeply the nature of her talent. But she is also violently and destructively self-critical, to the point of unreality. Her strongest feelings are negative; she is driven by unfounded fears and feelings of guilt; she has nasty periods of depression, and she doubts her femininity and appeal to men. At the same time, she has enormous insight into other people, intense loyalty and great generosity."
SUSAN HALLARAN: "I played Judy Holiday's daughter in The Marrying Kind. I was eight years old and I remember when it opened in New York City walking down the street with my mother when the Catholic War Veterans were picketing and my mother told me what it was about. I vividly remember shouting at them, 'No, she's not a communist'."
KATHARINE HEPBURN: "She looked like a Renoir."
KATHARINE HEPBURN: "Judy is one of the people I miss the most, of all my friends who have passed away in the near or distant past. Her death affected me deeply; I felt as though she was a sister to me, though were weren't terribly close. But when we talked, it was so comfortable, so amusing in a lovely sort of way - I just loved her. I'm sorry we didn't work together another time."
WILLIAM HOLDEN: "She was not only funny, but touching. She was never a freak, and she was too real and sincere to be a sex symbol, even in the early days, when she was quite a looker."
HEDDA HOPPER: (circa 1950) "There's a new star in town...When the perfect gal meets the perfect part you can expect the best. In Born Yesterday you get it. Judy's great, and every time she speaks, you scream with laughter."
E.J. KAHN: "I don't think she cared about (image). She had a fundamental understanding that she was a person of quality and that whatever happened, she would be herself."
GARSON KANIN: "She was an unlikely type for movie stardom but made it by dedicated use of extraordinary talent. Her death in 1965...deprived the screen of one of its most uniquely gifted artists."
GARSON KANIN: (on Judy only having 3 days to prepare for Born Yesterday) "In that space of time she changed from a bright young girl to an exhausted old woman of 60."
GENE LEES: "She had a warm and generous heart, and, like so many people gifted at comedy, a deeply melancholy nature...She was incredibly sensitive to people, right down to reading the timbre of the voice."
GENE LEES: "I think every man who knew her was, in some dimension, in love with her."
GENE LEES: "The last time I saw Judy was at the bottom of the stairs at Birdland...I knew that she had been through another [cancer] test, and I put my arms around her and said, 'How're you feeling, my darling?' She said, 'Rotten, but at least I know I'm not going to die.' It was the last thing she ever said to me."
GENE LEES: "[Gerry] Mulligan was so devastated [by Judy's death] that informally Willis Conover, the novelist Joseph Heller, and I took up a round-the-clock vigil to see that he was not alone. Judy's funeral was limited to family and friends. I was one of those invited. I could not sleep the night before. I stayed awake, and when the morning came, I simply couldn't bring myself to attend."
JACK LEMMON: (on working with Judy) "She was heaven. I then moved out to California within the year. I don't think I would have moved there and concentrated on film had it not been for the experience of working with Judy and George Cukor."
JACK LEMMON: "She was intelligent and not at all the dumb blonde she so often depicted. She didn't give a damn where the camera was placed, how she was made to look or about being a star. She just played the scene. She acted with you, not at you. She was also one of the nicest people I've ever met."
JACK LEMMON: "She liked to read philosophy for pleasure, and you could tell that, beneath the low-keyed clowning, she was very sensitive and introspective. I think if she had lived, and if she managed to get out of the stereotyped roles she was partly trapped in, she could easily have proven one of our best actresses, and splendid in dramatic roles."
JACK LEMMON: "Judy was unique in her personality, in the same sense that Marilyn Monroe was unique. She was extremely bright and knew just how to play a dumb blonde."
JACK LEMMON: "[Having] Judy with you in a motion picture was not only a box-office happening, but a pleasure. I've had the pleasure, and might I say, the occasional displeasure, of working with many, if not most, of the great ladies in our business, and Judy was very special. One of the nicest human beings I ever met. A pleasure to work with, because she taught me much at an early point in my career, and a pleasure to know and talk to. And I'm here to tell you that that lady was no dumb blonde."
HAL LINDEN: "I suspect that the dichotomy between the public persona and her personal intelligence was painful to her."
HAL LINDEN: "My recollection of Judy was more about generosity. Understand, when I started I [was] a kid who had never been on a Broadway stage. I didn't know which way the audience was. On stage, I just automatically took her in my arms and started going across the stage. And all of a sudden I felt on my back Judy's hand twisting me so that now, we were still dancing...but I was facing out to the audience. And half of the show she did with her back to the audience. It was important that the focus be on the other actor. As the star, she could have demanded the spotlight, and we all would have given it to her gladly. I mean, nobody came to see me."
HAL LINDEN: "She was the most generous leading lady
I have ever had in my entire life. She could afford to be generous, because she was supremely confident that she could continue to control the stage. She never said the focus had to be on her. She would turn her back to the audience to give the focus to another actor, who was supposed to be the center of the scene. Her back was twice as good as most people facing forward. My point is that she was aware of what a scene was about, and was ready to play it the way it should be played. She was a very bright lady."
HAL LINDEN: "I'm very saddened right now, sitting here remembering her because...it's personal. If it wasn't for Judy I probably wouldn't be an actor today. I'd still be playing weddings in Brooklyn. Judy never really fulfilled what she intended for herself, I don't think. She knew she was more than the 'ditzy blonde'. And she never made that next mark theatrically that would say 'there's more to Judy Holliday than we know'."
HAL LINDEN: "When you play Scrabble play with her, she would sit back and turn back a tile here and there. Then all of a sudden, before you knew it, here came a seven-letter word with x's on the triple letter. And that was it, the game was over. She was quite brilliant."
HAL LINDEN: "There was within Judy this kind of vulnerability, and a willingness to be vulnerable. Willingness to open up and let it all out. She was quite a unique person, quite a unique talent. One of a kind."
HAL LINDEN: "There was never any 'I'm Judy Holliday, put the camera on me and make sure you've got a gauze in it.' Which was demonstrated in A) her personal relationships with everybody she worked with. And B) her work on stage and on film. This incredible generosity. This is the philosophy that has carried me since then. I attribute a lot of it to what Judy taught me."
HAL LINDEN: "Any time you get a chance to see Judy Holliday performing...jump at the opportunity."
ANITA LOOS: "[Judy] came up with the most wonderful lyrics anyone had put to my play (Happy Birthday). And a lot of real pros tried."
JEAN LOUIS (famed dress designer): "But I tell you she is a miracle. When she first comes to me, I look at her and I think 'My God what will she look like?' She just says I am yours, do what you will. Well, when she walks out she is another girl. Everybody they are amazed. She is, off the stage, like this -- all sagging. She is, on stage, like this -- a very sexy woman. The most cooperating woman I have ever worked with."
SHIRLEY MACLAINE: "What I loved about Judy Holliday on screen [was that] she had a kind of genius I.Q. and...my knowledge of that meant my lord - that's funny!...acting so dumb."
MADONNA: "She could really come off as being dumb, but she knew exactly what was going on."
JAYNE MEADOWS: "To die that young, with that much talent, and so tragically...everything about her life, I thought, was tragic."
GERRY MULLIGAN: "Judy Holliday did an album with us, although she never sang live with the band. She should have done, because she would have been more comfortable when we got into the studio. Judy always joked, but it was only a half-joke, that her way of going to work was to go to the theater, heave, and then start to get dressed. Recording for her was worse, but as she got to know the material, her sound would evolve, so it would have been good if she could have sung with the band at some point."
JONATHAN OPPENHEIM (Judy's son): "I think that one of the things that she brought to her 'dumb blonde'...was a kind of vulnerability that she sort of was able to access, and I think that differentiates her from some of the others."
JONATHAN OPPENHEIM: (on his reaction to his mother's work as a young child) "I would see her movies and I didn't recognize her. I didn't recognize her voice...it was a different voice. It was a different person than the person I knew. But, being backstage at Bells Are Ringing for a few years, I had a real exposure to somebody that I recognized, more or less."
JONATHAN OPPENHEIM: "She was very introverted and private, and had a sort of ambivalent relationship with being a celebrity."
ROBERT OSBORNE: "She was so unique. She had a much bigger range than people gave her credit for, but she was smart enough to work mainly in that range she knew was good for her."
ROBERT OSBORNE: (about the film Bells Are Ringing) "I think that's one example of how good she is. I don't think that movie is that good, but she's wonderful in it."
ROBERT OSBORNE: "I think she had a wonderful career. What was amazing is that she was under contract to Columbia and had that career. With Harry Cohn running the studio at the time, it was such a machine thing that it was only rarely something special and offbeat [was made]. The studio's films were along more commercial lines like Rita Hayworth movies. I am not sure that if she worked more then we would have appreciated her more. She was a unique talent like Margaret Sullavan and was special because we didn't see her that much."
EDWARD G. ROBINSON: "When I saw Born Yesterday on Broadway, I thought that nothing could be more hilarious than the play---but I was wrong. Because, the picture packs even a greater wallop. And Judy Holliday, for my money, is even more wonderful on the screen than she was on the footlights---and that's going some."
MARIAN SELDES: "When I first saw Judy, I thought she was destined to become the next Laurette Taylor. I was sure that, as she continued to live and develop as an actress and as a person, she would play roles written for her by our best writers. But things went wrong. Life went wrong. She died too young."
JULE STYNE: "Judy was a musical person. She was a wonderful actress, a great star, (and she) had a Chaplinesque quality, one that could make you cry."
GLORIA SWANSON: (whispered to Judy moments after Judy beat her for the Oscar) "Why couldn't you have waited till next year?"
BOB THOMAS: "[Born Yesterday is] one of the best comedies in recent years. This is largely due to a sparkling portrayal of Judy Holliday as the dumb blonde. She is wonderfully funny."
TRACEY ULLMAN: (on Judy's performance in Born Yesterday) "There is a sadness with Judy Holliday. There's something behind her eyes and it's just sad. There's an endearing mystery to her...I can't take my eyes off her."
MAE WEST: "Judy Holliday? She's a fan of mine, but I also like her: she's sorta a next-door version of me. I think she's got a big heart."
TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: "On stage, she was so excellent, so moving, so instinctively right; everyone knows my favorite stage actress was Laurette Taylor. But Ms. Holliday ranks right up there, very close to Ms. Taylor."
MARY LOUISE WILSON (Hot Spot cast member): "[She was] amazing. She could take any line you gave her and make it funny. But she did not like the writers and didn't like what was going on. The thing I really remember most, concerning Judy Holliday, was just how unprotected she was. Here she was, this big star, and yet there wasn't anyone around who could help her with the difficulty of the whole experience. Being that it was my first show, I suppose I hadn't expected to see something like that, you know?"
MARY LOUISE WILSON (Hot Spot cast member): "Opening night she was just...she went to another level. You know when we'd have an opening night in Boston and then we'd have opening night in Philly and then finally New York, she was unbelievable. And I had one little scene with her, which was cut, but she was so brilliant that she made you funny. You know...her timing and she was so real, so connected to you."
WALTER WINCHELL: "[Bells Are Ringing is] Judy Holliday's most shining hour, and Sydney Chaplin is a most welcome, refreshing entertainer. The Theatre Guild can be very proud!"
SHELLEY WINTERS: "If she had lived, Judy Holliday would have been a national treasure. She had sweetness together with a super intellect and cunning that allowed her to survive in one of the most difficult eras in the entertainment industry. (Judy was) one of our greatest American clowns and tragediennes."
DARRYL F. ZANUCK: (grudingly admitting he made a mistake by releasing her from her 20th Century-Fox contract) "People improve. Judy has improved a great deal. She's come along."
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