Judy Holliday was a stage, television, and film actress that was a good deal smarter than the majority of the characters that she played! The actress remains best known for her performance in the 1950 film Born Yesterday, which was based upon the Broadway play of the same name. Judy had originated the role in the Broadway play, and her chance to reprise the role in the film adaptation paved the way for her to become a Hollywood star! Sadly, Judy’s successful Hollywood career would come to an end all too soon as a result of the actress’s tragic death. Join Facts Verse as we explore how Judy Holliday was nothing like the women she played on-screen.
Judy Holliday Suffered from Depression as a Kid
Judy Holliday was born on June 21, 1921, in New York City. When Judy was only six years old, her parents separated. Her parents’ separation left a dark cloud over Judy’s remaining childhood. According to the late actress, she suffered from depression for the majority of her childhood years as a result. After the separation, Judy raised solely by her mother. Judy’s mother was a piano teacher, and she instilled in her daughter a taste for the performance arts. As Judy became more and more depressed into her teenage years, she would escape by performing.
During her days in high school, Judy Holliday could found performing in a wide variety of school plays. Acting proved a healthy outlet for the young woman, and she started getting quite good at it! Judy ended up graduating from Julie Richman High School, which was located in Queens. After graduating, the future star applied to join the Yale Drama School. Sadly, she’s not accepted. However, this ended up not mattering much, as Judy went on to find success in the entertainment industry regardless. After her initial rejection, Judy didn’t put much work into finding a backup college. Instead, she decided to skip the middleman and get some experience with theater by going straight to the source.
After rejected by the Yale Drama School, Judy Holliday managed to secure herself a job at the Mercury Theatre. The theatre operated by Orson Welles, and Judy worked there as an assistant switchboard operator. This gave Judy some early experience working in the world of theater, but it didn’t immediately pave the way for the actress to become a star. Instead, the future star still had to work up the ranks by performing in low-level productions.
Judy Holliday Found Fame with a Comedy Troupe
During the late 1930s, Judy Holliday joined a comedy troupe by the name of the Reveurs. Judy was one of five members, and the troupe ended up finding some moderate success on the Greenwich comedy scene. Their success in Greenwich nightclubs led to the troupe getting the opportunity to perform at the Rainbow Room, which is a notable venue located within Rockefeller Center. In turn, this led to the comedy troupe getting their very own radio show on NBC.
Judy Holliday’s work with the Reveurs not only allowed her to blossom as a performer, but it also allowed her to become a great writer. The members of the troupe wrote their own material, and Judy was always sure to get a laugh. Later on in Judy’s career, she would become most well known for playing dumb characters. This led to the public mistakenly believing that Judy herself was dumb. However, as her early days with the Reveurs show, the actress was actually quite the well-rounded thespian. Judy no slouch academically, either, as she said to have an IQ of 172.
The Reveurs eventually made their way out to Hollywood. However, by the time they made it to Hollywood, they were down a member. One of the five members of the comedy troupe had to let go as a result of a substance-abuse issue. The troupe was still four-members strong, though, and they had hopes of hitting it big in Tinseltown. Judy ended up the first member of the troupe to receive offers from Hollywood producers, though she turned many of them down because she insistent that her troupesigned as a team. Judy didn’t want to get signed with a studio and leave the remaining three members of the Reveurs behind.
The Reveurs Appeared on the Screen Together in 1944
Eventually, Judy signed with 20th Century Fox under the presumption that her fellow Reveurs members would cast in pictures alongside her. Sadly, the Reveurs only ended up filming one picture together before the troupe dissolved on it’s own volition. That picture was the 1944 musical film Greenwich Village. Following this, Judy’s former fellow Reveurs members went on to find moderate success elsewhere in the entertainment industry, while Judy went on to become a massive star all by her lonesome.
Before becoming a major Hollywood star, Judy Holliday returned to New York City for a period of time and resumed her work on the stage. Following Greenwich Village, Judy had come to believe that there wasn’t much a future for herself in Hollywood. Thankfully, she would later proven wrong. Soon after returning to New York City, Judy got a star-making role in a production by the name of Born Yesterday.
Judy received a great deal of acclaim for her performance in the comedic play, and it made her a national star! This is what paved the way for Judy to return to Hollywood, where she finally given the chance to be a megastar on the screen. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Born Yesterday Made Judy Holliday a Star
Judy Holliday’s success on Broadway allowed her to return to Hollywood and sign a massive contract with Columbia Pictures. The contract was for seven years. Before starting her work in Hollywood, Judy could found performing live on television via a filmed performance of the play She Loves Me Not that was put on at the Ford Theater. Television a relatively new medium at the time, and it allowed Judy to seen by more eyes than ever before!
Upon making her return to Hollywood, it wasn’t long before Judy Holliday was given the opportunity to reprise her Broadway role in the Hollywood adaptation of Born Yesterday. The film version of the comedic play ended up being more successful than the film itself. Yet again, this success was largely due to Judy Holliday’s performance. Judy’s performance in the film adaptation of the play netted her an Academy Award. Sadly, Judy’s successful entrance into the upper echelon of the Hollywood elite came with a caveat, as the FBI was soon on her back about an alleged Communist past.
Of course, Judy Holliday’s entrance into the world of Hollywood came right around the time of Hollywood’s Red Scare. Numerous celebrities around the time dragged through the mud for alleged Communist affiliations, and a good deal of them even found themselves blacklisted. Those who blacklisted had their careers, and oftentimes their lives, destroyed. When the rumors first started spreading about Judy Holliday, the star began to fear that she was going to share this same fate. Thankfully, Judy managed to convince the government that she wasn’t a Communist.
Judy Holliday Survived Her Communist Scandal
Although Judy able to successfully convince the government that she wasn’t up to any nefarious Communist activities, the investigation did cause her to banished from film and television for a period of a few years. Thankfully, this banishment didn’t carry over into the world of cinema. The whole episode culminated in Judy Holliday testifying before the senate in 1952, where she was able to prove her innocence. Judy given the okay to continue her Hollywood career, and the ridiculous scandal thankfully didn’t hurt her prospects too much in the eyes of the public.
Judy Holliday continued appearing in hit films over the course of the 1950s, with some of her other hits besides Born Yesterday including The Marrying Kind and It Should Happen to You. The latter picture also starred Jack Lemmon. Once Judy no longer banished from the world of television, she also continued to make some notable appearances in the relatively new medium. Finally, she could seen on the stage yet again in the musical Bells Are Ringing, which written by two of her former fellow members from the Reveurs.
By the end of the 1950s, it seemed like Judy Holliday was going to be a reliable presence in entertainment for a good long while. Sadly, fate had other plans. Tragedy struck in 1960, the same year that Judy cast to play the titular role in a play called Laurette. The play intended to showcase the life of an actress by the name of Laurette Taylor. Sadly, the show never ended up seeing the light of day. During the rehearsal stages of the play, Judy fell severely ill. She rushed to the hospital, where it revealed that the star suffering from breast cancer.
Judy Holliday’s Untimely End
Upon finding out that she had breast cancer, Judy Holliday underwent a mastectomy and went back to work. With the play Laurette being dead in the water, Judy instead returned to work in a new musical by the name of Hot Spot. The play premiered on Broadway in April of 1963. However, not long into the play’s lifespan, Judy began feeling sick again. After 43 performances of the play, Judy became so sick that she was no longer able to perform. It was found that the actress’s breast cancer had returned, and it was slowly beginning to spread throughout the rest of her body.
It’s odd that Judy’s final play only lasted for 43
performances, because 43 also happened to be the age that Judy was when she passed away. She passed away in June of 1965. To this day, people are still surprised to learn that Judy Holliday was much smarter than she appeared.
Although the majority of the characters that Judy Holliday played were dumb, the actress herself had an IQ of 172. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Judy Holliday was only 43 years old when she died, and that her final play coincidentally ran for 43 performances? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!