Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Judy Garland & The Rat Pack; Tribute to Their Memories

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford are remembered as The Rat Pack, with roots in Las Vegas, but a precursor to their famous partnership was something known as the Holmby Hills Rat Pack. This group of entertainers didn't perform together or make films like Frank, Dean, Sammy and company. Instead, the Holmby Hills Rat Pack was really just an unofficial social club that gathered at Humphrey Bogart's house in the affluent Los Angeles suburb of Holmby Hills. The membership included Bogart and his wife Lauren Bacall, actor David Niven, agent Swifty Lazar, often Frank Sinatra, and a movie producer named Sid Luft with his wife, the legendary singer and actress Judy Garland.

They gave themselves comical titles, like Bogart's designation as "rat in charge of public relations", Bacall as "den mother", and Frank as "pack master". Judy had a more establishment title as first vice-president.

But in addition to her membership in the Holmby Hills group, Judy also maintained a strong connection to the more famous Rat Pack of Frank, Dean and Sammy. Her connection to Frank was especially strong and long-lasting. Years before the 60's Rat Pack, Judy and Frank both worked on the MGM lot, and when Frank became a headliner at the Sands in Las Vegas, Judy was also signed to perform there. And at the peak of the Rat Pack's Las Vegas heyday in 1962, Judy hosted a network TV special, and landed Frank and Dean as her guest stars for some memorable music numbers.

Judy remained friends with Frank till she died in 1969 at the age of 47. But another Judy Garland Rat Pack connection appeared when Frank, Dean and Sammy attempted to revive the Rat Pack show in 1987. Unfortunately, with Dean ailing, it wasn't meant to be, at least not with the original three guys. Soon after the tour started, Dean dropped out. But the tour continued, with Frank and Sammy sharing the stage with a replacement for Dean in the form of Judy Garland's daughter, Liza Minnelli.

In addition to being one of the twentieth century's greatest entertainers, Judy Garland's name should be included in any comprehensive Rat Pack tribute or reminiscence.

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