Interview with Jan Glazier (Mastermind behind the “Judy in…” Events)
[This interview was originally published in the June 30, 2013 issue of the Garlands For Judy webzine]
Jan Glazier burst onto the Garland Fan Scene with her wonderful newsletters followed by the wildly popular “Judy in…” series of events. These events have become a unique outlet for fans to get together in person to celebrate Judy’s life and career in a variety of locales.
Jan’s husband, Richard Glazier, is a well know pianist in his own right (among many accomplishments) and is a Judy fan as well. Jan took time out her busy schedule to be interviewed for Garlands for Judy. Thank you Jan! Keep up the great work! We all appreciate your tireless work and boundless enthusiasm!
Judy Garland News & Events:
Jan, thank you for taking the time to interview with The Judy Room. When did you first become a Judy fan, and what was it about her that first attracted you to her (and continues to attract you?).
Thanks for asking me, Scott. I’m thrilled to do it, as I’ve always been a big fan of The Judy Room.
To answer your question, I always liked Judy. I saw an early TV broadcast of The Wizard of Oz (Red Skelton and his family hosted) and I even remember seeing A Star Is Born when it came out! My parents used to take me to the movies with them, usually to the drive-in, and I’d be wearing my PJs and fall asleep as soon as Leo the Lion came on the screen. But I remember seeing a lot of A Star Is Born.
Of course I remember Judy’s TV show, too. I had been a big “Bonanza” fan, but I loved the excitement of her show—a concert on television—and realized how hard she worked every week and how great she was.
When Richard and I bought our house we had a home theater built in it. Watching Judy in those fabulous MGM musicals on a big screen in the room with us was an experience I’ll never forget. Through them I discovered how truly brilliant she was at everything, what an appealing actress she was and how beautiful. That’s when I fell in love with her. When I read about her in books, including those by my friends John Fricke, Steve Sanders and Christopher Finch, I loved her even more. I don’t think there has ever been, or ever will be, anyone like her.
Richard and I have a great collection of original movie posters. Among our treasures are a one sheet of A Star Is Born and the complete window card set, plus window cards and one sheets from all four back yard musicals, Babes in Arms, Strike Up the Band, Babes on Broadway and Girl Crazy. We have a half sheet from Girl Crazy too, as well as a three sheet of Andy Hardy Meets Debutante, and inserts from “Easter Parade” and Meet Me in St. Louis. We’re running out of wall space, but there are a few we’d still like to find.
Your husband Richard is a noted pianist. How long have you been together and does he share your passion for Judy?
Richard and I have been together since 1999 and just celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. He’s been a huge Judy fan since he was nine and saw Girl Crazy on television, and as I mentioned, it was watching his Judy movies in our home theater that really got me hooked.
In 2010, he made his first television special for PBS, “From Gershwin to Garland – A Musical Journey with Richard Glazier”. In it he tells about discovering Judy when he was a young child and how much influence she’s had on his music. As he says in the show, when he plays a song he often hears her voice and tries to interpret a song the way she would, but through his fingers.
The “Judy In” series of events has been wildly successful. How did you come up with the idea?
Richard and I started going to the Judy festival in Grand Rapids in 2003, I think, and he performed concerts for them for several years. We met some wonderful people there, always had a great time socializing with them, and at the 2008 festival I gathered everyone’s email addresses with the idea of doing an eNewsletter that would keep us all connected in the year between festivals. I called it “Here’s To Us – The Judy Family Newsletter” and it was huge hit.
After the 2009 fest I decided that we fans needed a different kind of festival—one that would be held in a place that had a lot to see and do, a place loaded with Judy history. Hollywood. Here’s how I described it in the August 2009 issue of the newsletter: “Picture a celebration dedicated to Judy Garland and held in the town where she made her name and lived most of her life. Imagine tours of Studio 43 at CBS, and the MGM and Warner Bros. lots. Imagine a tour of her homes and haunts. Imagine guest speakers sharing their personal memories of Judy and authors talking about their Judy biographies. This is what I have in mind for April of 2010. This will be ‘Judy in Hollywood’.”
I began talking about it in every issue, building excitement for it, and started the actual planning, putting to use my professional experience as a tradeshow coordinator and video producer. I was also fortunate to have among my readers people like Steve Sanders and Eleanor Lyons who volunteered to help, and connected me to people like George Sunga. I can’t possibly name everyone who participated because there were so many and I’d die if I left someone out, but that first JIH was a real love fest at which some deep and lasting friendships were made. Highlights included very special VIP tours of MGM and CBS and a fabulous Judy Homes and Haunts tour (planned by Woolsey Ackerman and Martin Turnbull) that took us all over LA. On top of that, Joe Luft and Margaret O’Brien both spoke at our farewell dinner.
After Hollywood I decided to take the show on the road to New York. I remember Kate Russell saying we needed to be in Carnegie Hall on the 50th anniversary of Judy’s concert and we were! I asked Albert Poland and Steven Sanders to be my co-chairs this time and Judy in New York was amazing. Because Albert is Mr. Broadway (after a near lifetime of successes there), many doors were opened to us. We had a fantastic party at Sardi’s, a tour of Carnegie Hall and a real behind-the-scenes tour of the Palace. A real highlight was listening to Phil Smith (current chairman of the Shubert Organization and one of the most powerful men on Broadway) talk about his experience as House Manager of the Palace when Judy played there in 1951. Steve and Frankie had a day all to themselves and filled it with fantastic videos they’d made for us and terrific panel discussions. We got in a visit to Ferncliff, too, and shows at Don’t Tell Mama (starring new Judy Family member Rick Skye) and Birdland.
Our last Judy in Hollywood, held in April, was another never-to-be-forgotten experience. I asked Steve Sanders and Frankie Labrador to co-chair with me this time and we started talking about it a good year in advance. Steve had so many things he wanted to do this time (a “Sid Panel”, and a “Judy Authors Panel” among them) but his main focus was to create, with Frankie, a video version of Rainbow’s End, drawing on the massive amount of research materials he had accumulated for the book. To show it at Judy in Hollywood was his dream. When Steve died so suddenly and tragically in February, they had started it but most of the work was left to Frankie to do alone. His presentation of the first completed hour was, for me, the most moving part of the festival. Steve would have been so proud.
As per usual, we had loads of fun, too, and added some wonderful new people to the Judy Family, including Judy tribute artist Peter Mac, his husband D.J. Schaefer, and authors Robert L. Freedman, Sam Irvin and Christopher Finch. In our four days, we had a special VIP/ASIB tour of Warner Bros., toured the Hollywood Bowl, lunched at Musso & Frank’s and Farmer’s Market, had a day at the Hollywood Heritage Museum and went to CBS with George Sunga. George really went to bat for us this time, going above and beyond the call by arranging for our special farewell dinner guest speaker, the great George Schlatter.
Now that you have organized three “Judy In” events, one in New York City and two in Los Angeles, are you planning to branch out to other cities? Perhaps even Europe?
It’s always been my intention to put these festivals on in different locations with Judy connections. I gave serious thought to doing Judy in Chicago in 2012, but there didn’t seem to be as much interest in doing it there as there had been in LA and NYC. Before I settled on going back to Hollywood, I considered doing Judy in Las Vegas, or Judy On The Road (stopping in Las Vegas, Palm Springs and Hollywood), but in the end Hollywood seemed like the best bet. It would be fabulous to do something in London, but I leave that to Gary and Justin.
Planning and running events like the “Judy In” events can be a monumental task. Can you give us an idea of the logistics?
It’s like a giant puzzle. I start with the events—deciding who to invite as guest speakers, what we’re going to see and do, when we’ll do everything, where we’ll do it, how we’ll get there, what we’re going to eat, etc. Once all of that is more or less done, I present the schedule to everybody. But here’s the tricky part and the only thing I don’t like about the process: before anyone will commit to coming they naturally want to know how much everything will cost, which in many cases I won’t know until everyone commits! So I have to base the fees on past attendance (dividing the cost of a bus, for example, by the number of people I think will be riding in it) and pray that it all works out. So far I’ve come fairly close, but it has never been about making money. (Good thing!)
Can you describe a moment or event that would define the “Judy In” events?
Oh, wow, there have been so many. At the first Judy in Hollywood it would be walking on the pre-recording stage at MGM. This place is unchanged since the 1930’s, so it’s just as it was when Judy and Mickey and Fred and everybody else recorded the songs for their films. The acoustics in the studio are fabulous, I can’t really properly describe what it’s like but there’s nothing else like it – makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Our guide took us to the center of the room, told us to sing on the count of three and we did. Then she said, “Now you can say you sang on the very same spot as Judy.”
Do you have a favorite moment or event from one of the “Judy In” events? Perhaps an anecdote?
Now that I’ve made that remark about the hair on our necks standing up I’m reminded of our first tour of Studio 43 at CBS. As we came into that hallowed space I remember Steve Sanders, Joan Coulson and I all saying, simultaneously, “I just had chills.” I’m not saying Judy was with us, but it sure felt like it.
I can’t forget to comment on perhaps the single most exciting event we’ve had, and that’s our dinner with George Schlatter at the latest Judy in Hollywood. Not many television producers are superstars, but he is. What a raconteur! We all had such an amazing time hearing his stories about TJGS. And of course, any time we can spend with the incredibly sweet Joe Luft is a gift. Judy’s boy.
What would you like the legacy of the “Judy In” events to be?
I’d like everyone who ever went to one to say that not only were they fabulous and fun, but most importantly, they were based on real love for Judy. I’d like them to be known as festivals that truly honored her.
After the first festival I had a dream that Judy came to be with us. I made sure everyone got to talk to her and have their picture taken with her. They were all so thrilled. When it was over and I walked her to her room, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “Thank you. You’ve made me very happy.”
One last fun question: If you could have Judy Garland over for dinner, what would you serve and what topic would you use to start a dinner conversation?
We’d share a bottle of Champagne while we wait for my favorite roasted chicken dish—extremely delicious, Thanksgiving dinner worthy—to cook. I’d probably make all of my other specialties as well and let her pick. As far as conversation starters, unless I’d had most of the Champagne I’d be in trouble. What I’d love to do is tell her something extremely funny so I could hear that laugh, but truthfully, I’d probably just tell her I love her and cry.
© 2013 Scott Brogan, The Judy Room & Judy Garland News & Events
To get Jan’s “Judy Family” email newsletters and to find out about upcoming events, contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org