Childhood & Early Life
Judy Holliday was born as Judith Tuvim in New York City, New York, USA on June 21, 1921. She was the only child of a fundraiser, Abraham Tuvim and a music teacher, Helen Gollomb.
Her parents had separated in 1928 and she was raised by her mother in New York City.
She scored 172 in an IQ test at the age of ten and graduated from the ‘Julia Richman High School’ at the top of her class in 1938. She did not go to college after being rejected by the ‘Yale Drama School’ for being too young and instead opted for the job of switch board operator with ‘Mercury Theater’ in 1938 in the hope of becoming a director and a playwright.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
In 1940 she made her stage debut with a cabaret group called ‘The Revuers’ which she had co-founded, and performed at the Greenwich Village nightclubs. She also took part in a half-hour NBC program titled ‘Fun with the Revuers’.
In 1944 she moved with the ‘Revuers’ to Los Angeles when the group was hired by ‘20th Century Fox’ to appear in the film ‘Greenwich Village’.
She also appeared in small roles in the feature films such ‘Winged Victory’ in the role of ‘Ruth Miller’ in the same year and in ‘Something for the Boys’ in 1945 before being dropped by the studio.
Disappointed but not discouraged that most of her scenes had ended up on cutting room floor, she returned to New York and moved on with her stage career.
She made her Broadway debut in 1945 with ‘Kiss Them for Me’ in 1945 in which she played the role of a dumb blonde for the first time which became her signature act.
In 1946 she got her biggest break on the stage when she replaced Jean Arthur in the role of ‘Billie Dawn’ in the Garson Kanin play ‘Born Yesterday’.
She lent her voice to a sailor’s date coming from the background in the film ‘On The Town’ in 1949.
In 1949 she returned to films and appeared in the supporting role of ‘Doris Attinger’ in the comedy ‘Adam’s Rib’ which starred Spencer Tracy, Tom Ewell and Katharine Hepburn.
Her first successful role in films was in ‘Born Yesterday’. The film rights of the play had been bought by Columbia and Harry Cohn had wanted Rita Hayworth to play the role of ‘Billie Dawn’. But Judy was ultimately chosen for the part due to favorable reviews about her work in ‘Adam’s Rib’. She bagged the Oscar for the ‘Best Actress’ for her acting in this film.
Continue Reading Below
In 1951 she again appeared on the Broadway stage in the lead role in ‘Dream Girl’.
She signed up with ‘Columbia’ in 1952 and acted in the film ‘The Marrying Kind’ in the role of ‘Florence Keefer’.
In 1952 during the McCarthy era, she was summoned before the ‘Un-American Activities Committee’ to testify regarding her political affiliations. Though she was not blacklisted as many of her counterparts were, her film career suffered a setback even if it was temporary. She had to spend more time on the stage than on the screen for some time.
In 1954 she made the film ‘Phffft’ in which she played the role of ‘Nina Tracy’.
In 1954 she starred as ‘Gladys Glover’ opposite Jack Lemmon in ‘It Should Happen to You’. In the same year she appeared as a waitress in ‘Sunday in Town’ and as a guest artist in ‘Fanfare’.
In 1955 she acted as a host for ‘Good Times’ and appeared as a guest artist in ‘Entertainment 1955’.
She returned to the Broadway in 1956 and played the lead role in the musical ‘Bells Are Ringing’.
Her next film was ‘The Solid Gold Cadillac’ which was released in 1956 where she played the part of ‘Laura Partridge’.
In 1957 she appeared in the role of ‘Emily Rocco’ in the film ‘Full of Life’.
Continue Reading Below
She recreated her role in the stage play ‘Bells Are Ringing’ on the screen in her last film with the same name in 1960 opposite Dean Martin. This film is supposed to be one of her best performances.
She was cast for the short film ‘Is It a Crime?’ in 1960.
Her final appearance on the Broadway stage was in 1962 in the play ‘Hot Spot’.
She composed the music for the musical ‘A Thousand Clowns’ in 1965.
Awards & Achievements
Judy Holliday won the ‘Clarence Derwent Award’ in 1945 for her supporting role in ‘Kiss Them for Me’.
She won an ‘Oscar for the Best Actress’ in 1950 for the film ‘Born Yesterday’.
She won the ‘Tony Award’ for the musical ‘Bells are Ringing’ in 1956.
She has a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’.
Personal Life & Legacy
Judy Holliday died of breast cancer in New York City on June 7, 1965 at the age of 43, three weeks before her 44th birthday.
She married David Oppenheim, a musician, on January 5, 1948. She filed for a divorce in 1957 and divorced him on March 1, 1958.
She had a son, Jonathan who was born on November 10, 1952.