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Judy Holliday Edit Profile

also known as Judith Tuvim


Judy Holliday was an American actress.


Holliday, Judy was born on June 21, 1923 in New York City. Daughter of Abraham and Helen (Gollomb) Tuvim.


Holliday started in cabaret: she formed a group, the Revuers, with Betty Comden and Adolph Green. As such, she was a Greenwich Village star, and Nicholas Ray was one of her lovers. She had had three small film parts in 1944: Greenwich Village (Walter Lang); Something for the Boys (Lewis Seiler); and Winged Victory (George Cukor). But she then concentrated on the stage and played in Kanin’s Born Yesterday when Jean Arthur withdrew. Adam’s Rib secured her the film ol Born Yesterday, where she won the best actress Oscar as reliably as she did every game of rummy. She had a chance to show a more rounded character in The Marrying Kind (52, Cukor), but her comic business obscured that potential. Thereafter she made It Should Happen to You (54, Cukor); Phffft! (54, Mark Robson); The Solid Gold Cadillac (56, Richard Quine); Full of Life (57, Quine); and, last—after playing the role on Broadway—as the telephonist, and much more pleasingly subdued, in Bells Are Ringing (60, Vincente Minnelli).


The story goes that Adam's Rib (49, George Cukor) was a conspiracy between Cukor, Katharine Hepburn, and Garson Kanin to convince Harry Cohn, the boss of Columbia, that Judy Holliday should play the dumb blonde in the film of Born Yesterday. It is a pleasant memoir from one of the most talented cliques within the movie world. And it is probably based on truth, even if we would be naive to put much trust in benign conspiracies.

The film itself looks set up, especially in that early scene when attorney Hepburn interviews client Holliday. The scene is long, elaborately written, but filmed in one blatantly convenient setup—convenient, that is, for the virtuoso playing from Holliday. She does not simply steal the scene, but plays with it like a cat with a mouse. The ef fect is the more startling and contradictory in that such technical mastery is emanating from a character ostensibly stupid, impetuous, and imperceptive. Even granted Hepburns complicity, the upstaging is lurid. There are moments at which Hepburn seems to say to herself, “My, my, what a clever girl you are." Holliday seldom looks at Hepburn. Like a child, she stares away into emptiness, the better to concentrate on herself. Yet, without looking, she dominates, so that Hepburn ends up as edgy' and hesitant as the client should be.

Colm saw the point—or so it is said. But Holliday was a strange actress, uneasily bending her own intelligence to the dumbest of New York blondes so that the performance in Born Yesterday often appears studied, cute, and condescending. It is a part of this curious meticulousness that she never seemed sexy on the screen. Never the “open, honest, bland, funny, sexy girl" that Kanin intended, but a neurotic barrage of timing, expression, and gestures. Still, her Billie Dawn won the Oscar, beating out Davis and Baxter in All About Eve and Swanson in Sunset Boulevard.


Abraham Tuvim

Helen (Gollomb) Tuvim