It’s no secret that Judy Garland had many ups and downs throughout her legendary career. Despite the tragedy that is often the focus when looking back at her life, one of her former beaus has opened up about how he prefers to remember her for her charms — even after she left him jilted.
John Meyer met Garland in 1968 when he was 28 and she was 46. It was during one of the singer’s particularly rough patches after she divorced her fourth husband and was left penniless by an embezzling agent. Still, he described Garland at the time as wonderfully quirky as ever when they crossed paths at a mutual friend’s apartment. “When our friend left the room, she pointed to herself and then to me and mouthed the phrase, ‘I’m with you.’ Just like that,” he explained in his 2006 book, Heartbreaker: A Memoir of Judy Garland ($18.04, Amazon).
Meyer brought her back to his parents Manhattan apartment where they spent the next two months together. He quickly took on the role of her manager and began booking gigs for her around town. “She was broke, literally had nothing but a five dollar bill in her purse,” he recently told People. “I called the owner of a club and said, ‘I could get Judy Garland to sing for you for $100. Cash. And cab fare.’” Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to host one of the world’s most iconic performers to us!
Throughout their whirlwind relationship, Meyer remained adorably smitten with Garland. He described one evening together when she began singing “It Never Was You” as he cooked dinner for them. “She held out her arms to me and I put down the saucepan and I almost fainted. Can you imagine Judy Garland two inches away from your ear?” Honestly, we would have probably gone ahead and fainted in his shoes.
But just as swiftly as their time together began, it came to a sudden end when Garland flew off to London for her five-week concert series (which became the plot of the Renee Zellweger film, Judy.) Meyer tried to reconnect with Garland in England, but she had already found a new romance.
He never held any grudge against her, though. “Her big overriding motivation was ‘love me,’” he explained. He also sweetly said that she was “the most marvelous fun.”
Although Garland’s notoriously chaotic life tragically ended just a few months after their split in 1969, Meyer claimed she wasn’t upset about the hardships. “She thought her life was a gas, a ball,” he claimed. “She didn’t think her life was painful. She was funny. She experienced joy.”
It’s so wonderful to hear more about the positive sides of Garland’s life from someone who was close to her, even if for just a short time. We’ll definitely be thinking of this the next time we hear “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” over the holidays.
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