Judy Holliday Poster


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Overview (4)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (breast cancer)
Birth NameJudith Tuvim
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (4)

Judy Holliday was born Judith Tuvim in New York City on June 21, 1921. Her mother, a piano teacher, was attending a play when she went into labor and made it to the hospital just in time. Judy was an only child. By the age of four, her mother had her enrolled in ballet school which fostered a life-long interest in show business. Two years later her parents divorced. In high school, Judy began to develop an interest in theater. She appeared in several high school plays. After graduation, she got a job in the Orson Welles Mercury Theater as a switchboard operator. Judy worked her way on the stage with appearance in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and New York City. Judy toured on the nightclub circuit with a group called "The Revuers" founded by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. She went to Hollywood to make her first foray into the film world in Greenwich Village (1944). Most of her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Disappointed, but not discouraged, Judy earned two more roles that year in Something for the Boys (1944) and Winged Victory (1944). In the latter, Judy had a few lines of dialogue. Judy returned to New York to continue her stage career. She returned to Hollywood after five years to appear in Adam's Rib (1949) as Doris Attinger opposite screen greats Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Tom Ewell. With her success in that role, Judy was signed to play Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday (1950), a role which she originated on Broadway. She was nominated for and won the best actress Oscar for her performance. After filming The Marrying Kind (1952), Judy was summoned before the Un-American Activities Committee to testify about her political affiliations. Fortunately for her, she was not blacklisted as were many of her counterparts, but damage was done. Her film career was curtailed somewhat, but rebounded. She continued with her stage and musical efforts, but with limited time on the screen. After filming The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956), she was off-screen for four years. Her last film was the MGM production of Bells Are Ringing (1960) with Dean Martin and it was one of her best. Judy died two weeks before her 44th birthday in New York City on June 7, 1965.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson & MO840

Rejected by the Yale Drama School, Judy began in the theater as a backstage operator for Orson Welles' Mercury Theater. She made her stage debut when she joined Betty Comden and Adolph Green in a cabaret group called the Revuers. Working their way up through the circuit, the group was hired by 20th Century Fox to appear in the film Greenwich Village (1944). With only a bit part in the movie, Judy would appear in two more films that same year before she was dropped by the studio. Judy returned to the stage where she appeared in the 1945 production of the play Kiss Them for Me. Her big break came when she replaced Jean Arthur in the Garson Kanin play Born Yesterday. When Columbia bought the film rights to the play, Harry Cohn wanted Rita Hayworth in the role of Billie Dawn, but with the help of her two co-stars and great reviews for her performance in Adam's Rib (1949), Judy reprised her stage role. Her superb comic timing and quirky charm won her the Oscar for best actress. Unfortunately, the role of Billie seems to have typecast Judy. The parts that she would play in the few movies that she made were to be variations of the same character. Jack Lemmon, who worked with Judy in It Should Happen to You (1954), had nothing but praise for her. But by the time she completed The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956), Judy and Hollywood parted company. With only slightly more than half a dozen films, Judy had made her mark on the movies and she went back to the stage. She would once more be called to film Bells Are Ringing (1960) reprising her hit role in the Broadway play of the same name. Her next plays were flops and she had a very unhappy romance with a musician named Mulligan. Judy was 43 when cancer claimed her in 1965.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana & MO840

A New York girl, born and raised, Judith Tuvim was the only child of parents Abe Tuvimand Helen. In school, she excelled in academics, winning several awards for her skills as a writer. While in her early teens, she developed what would become a life-long love for theater. In 1938, she made her professional debut as part of a nightclub act called "The Revuers". Her partners in the act included aspiring playwrights Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The Revuers had a loyal following and even their own weekly radio show on NBC. In 1944, The Revuers broke up after a failed attempt to break into films. Judith adopted the stage name of "Judy Holliday" as part of a "makeover" process that was orchestrated by 20th Century Fox. Judy's breakthrough performance would come on the stage however, in the 1945 play "Kiss Them For Me". She followed it up in 1946, with the lead role of "Billie Dawn" in Garson Kanin's smash hit "Born Yesterday". She married classical musician 'David Oppenheim' in January of 1948. Later, they would have a son named Jonathan, born in November of 1952. In 1950, Judy reprised her hit stage role in the film version of Born Yesterday (1950) for Columbia Studios. Her hysterical and endearing portrayal of dumb blonde Billie Dawn earned her an upset win at the Academy Awards, beating out Bette Davis and Gloria Swanson for the best actress Oscar. Her new-found fame made her a prime target for the Communist witch hunters of the early 1950s. She became the subject of a secret F.B.I. investigation and a victim of "blacklisting". She was later cleared of any serious wrong-doing after testifying before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, but by then the damage to her career had already been done. The quality roles befitting an Oscar winning actress did not come her way. She was forced to star in lesser roles that were often just flat variations of the Billie Dawn character. It's a testament to her acting abilities that she was able to rise above the material and give solid performances time and time again. When not lighting up the silver screen, Judy divided her time between the stage and making records. She was a unique and gifted performer whose life and career were cut tragically short when she lost her 5 year battle with cancer in June of 1965.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Glenn McMahon <PlazaO-4433@webtv.net>

In 2010, "Judy Holliday's Urban Working Girl Characters in 1950s Hollywood Film" (by Judith E. Smith, University of Massachusetts Boston) wrote the following about the actress in the University of Massachusetts Boston's ScholarWorks:

Holliday's grandmother Rachel Gollumb was a devoted socialist, and her mother, Helen Gollumb Tuvim, grew up in the overlapping New York worlds of the socialist labor movement and Yiddish literary and theatrical circles. Holliday's uncle, Joseph Gollumb, joined the Communist Party for a period of time and wrote for the Daily Worker. Holliday's father, Abe Tuvim, at one time a labor union activist, traveled in the same Jewish leftist community.

Holliday's parents met each other at the Rand School of Social Science, a gathering place for Greenwich Village socialists, and socialized at the Café Royale, where the stars of Yiddish theater and the Yiddish-speaking intelligentsia congregated.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Robert Sieger

Spouse (1)

David Oppenheim (5 January 1948 - 1 March 1958) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (3)

Her voice
Her blonde hair
Frequently played the "Dumb Blonde"

Trivia (29)

Despite her image as a "dumb blond", she had an IQ of 172. She often said that it took a lot of smarts to convince people that her characters were stupid.
Listed by Madonna as one of her biggest influences.
According to biographer Gary Carey, in its search for subversives in the film industry the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was flummoxed by Holliday, who essentially played her Oscar-winning Born Yesterday (1950) character "Billie Dawn" on the witness stand.
During the Broadway musical "Bells Are Ringing", she had a brief fling with co-star Sydney Chaplin, the son of Charles Chaplin.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 217-218. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Gave birth to her only child at age 31, a son Jonathan Oppenheim on November 11, 1952. Child's father was her husband, David Oppenheim.
Lived in the building where John Lennon lived when he was murdered, The Dakota.
Won Broadway's 1957 Tony Award as best actress in a musical for Bells Are Ringing, a role that she recreated in the film version of Bells Are Ringing (1960).
To help build up her image, particularly in the eyes of Columbia Pictures chief Harry Cohn, Katharine Hepburn deliberately leaked stories to the gossip columns suggesting that her performance in Adam's Rib (1949) was so good that it had stolen the spotlight from Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. This got Cohn's attention and Holliday won the part in Born Yesterday (1950).
In 2006 her performance as Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday (1950) was ranked #96 on "Premiere Magazine"'s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.
Following her divorce, she became involved with jazz musician Gerry Mulligan. After learning she had breast cancer, she stopped filming and began writing songs with him. He wrote the music and she wrote the lyrics. Some of these songs appear on the album "Holliday With Mulligan", which they recorded together in 1961. It was not released until 1980, 15 years after Holliday's death.
Profiled in book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen Silverman. [1999]
Died on Dean Martin's birthday, her costar in "Bells are Ringing".
Worked briefly as a switchboard operator for Orson Welles' Mercury Theater.
Is one of 14 Best Actress Oscar winners to have not accepted their Academy Award in person, Holliday's being for Born Yesterday (1950). The others are Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, Anna Magnani, Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren, Anne Bancroft, Patricia Neal, Elizabeth Taylor, Maggie Smith, Glenda Jackson and Ellen Burstyn.
Was the 35th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Actress Oscar for Born Yesterday (1950) at The 23rd Academy Awards on March 29, 1951.
Is one of 14 actresses to have won both the Best Actress Academy Award and the Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical Golden Globe for the same performance; hers being for Born Yesterday (1950). The others, in chronological order, are: Julie Andrews for Mary Poppins (1964), Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl (1968), Liza Minnelli for Cabaret (1972), Glenda Jackson for A Touch of Class (1973), Diane Keaton for Annie Hall (1977), Sissy Spacek for Coal Miner's Daughter (1980), Cher for Moonstruck (1987), 'Jessica Tandy for Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Helen Hunt for As Good as It Gets (1997), Gwyneth Paltrow for Shakespeare in Love (1998), Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line (2005), Marion Cotillard for La Vie En Rose (2007), and Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook (2012).
An only child, she was the daughter of Abraham (1893-1958), born in New York, and Helen (née Gollomb) Tuvim (1885-1973), born in Russia. She was the paternal granddaughter of Russian immigrants David (1865-1937) and Sarah (née Abramowitz) Tuvim (1870-1952) and the maternal granddaughter of Julius (1860-1903) and Rose (née Brass) Gollomb (1864-1947), also born in Russia. She was the niece of writer Joseph Gollomb.
She was a lifelong liberal Democrat.
Her films (Italian titles): "Nata ieri", "Piena di vita", "Vivere insieme", "Phffft... e l'amore si sgonfia", "La costola di Adamo", "La ragazza del secolo", "Susanna agenzia squillo", and "Una Cadillac tutta d'oro" were dubbed by Rina Morelli.
Returned to work six months after giving birth to her son Jonathan Oppenheim to begin filming It Should Happen to You (1954).
Was originally cast as Ruth Sherwood in My Sister Eileen (1955) but due to contract disputes she was replaced by Betty Garrett.
The only time she acted out giving birth in a movie was in Full of Life (1956).
Until the age of six she lived at 251 E. 108th Street in Manhattan, New York. After her parents divorced she and her mother moved to 39-45 44th Street in Sunnyside, Queens, New York.
Husband David Oppenheim, originally a clarinetist and classical music and television producer, was in 1969 named Dean of New York University's School of the Arts (now Tisch School of the Arts), which includes its acclaimed film school.
Her son became a documentary film editor before passing away in 2020.
She was born on the same day as fellow screen actress Jane Russell.

Personal Quotes (1)

You have to be smart to play a dumb blonde over and over and keep the audience's attention without extraordinary physical equipment.

Salary (2)

Greenwich Village (1944) $400 /week
The Marrying Kind (1952) $200,000

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