Monday, August 26, 2013

The Latest Oz Reading

No, I'm not sorting through old Jeopardy! episodes so much that I've forgotten about my reading. I just finished Hollywood's Babe: Dancing Through Oz by Caren Marsh-Doll, and this was a fun little show business autobiography. Technically, this was sort of a reread, as I'd already read the first version, Hollywood's Child, a few years ago. But with Caren at last year's Winkie Convention, I knew I'd get my chance to not only pick up this new edition, but get it signed. Sure enough, there she was, and my copy of the new book is indeed signed. In case you're wondering about the Oz connection, Caren was Judy Garland's stand-in during The Wizard of Oz. She was about the same height, build, and coloration as Judy, so she would dress in the same costume, get her hair done and face made-up in the same way, and stand around on set while the cameramen and lighting technicians got things set up. Then, when all was ready, Caren would step aside and Judy would come on set to do the scene. Caren doesn't actually appear in The Movie, but she had an important part in it, particularly when you remember how primitive early Technicolor was as everyone at MGM was trying to figure out how to make this movie, and that Judy was still a teenager and had to take classes when she wasn't actually making the movie. Oz was just a tiny part of what Caren did, however, as she was also a dancer and extra in the Golden Age (including a sleeping party guest in Gone with the Wind). Then, as she got a few lines, her parts got bigger, until she was a full-fledged movie actress herself. She was particularly popular in Westerns. After getting some advice from Lucille Ball, she went to New York to act on the stage as well. Then things got really interesting! I won't give any more away, but let's just say that this woman has already lived a very full, active life with all kinds of adventures. The fact that she's still around and active right now is even more amazing. If you've met Caren (or are going to meet her at next year's Winkie Convention), you owe it to yourself to get this book. If you're just a fan of show business, you'll also want to get this book, as she has had all kinds of encounters with so many stars. The name dropping is amazing. However, Oz fans may not be so excited about this book, as the Oz content is pretty small, and is only one small part of her life. But she's a very Ozzy woman, and if you're at all interested in The Movie, this is one to put on your list.

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