4. With all the books written about Judy and her family, what made you want to write another?
That's a good question! I never really wanted to write a book. In 1995, I began doing a research
project for the Judy Garland Birthplace in Grand Rapids, Minnesota on the songs the Gumm family sang in vaudeville. While
working on this project, I interviewed a lot of people who had known the Gumms. They told me stories I had
never read in any book. Later, a couple of people convinced me that I had to put all this in a book. After
I had decided to write the book, I moved to Murfressboro, Tennessee for a while. I had always been interested in Judy
Garland's father because I knew she loved him so much, but realized there was very little written about his family history.
Once I was in Murfreesboro, the story just grew and grew.
5. Is it true that Judy was part Cherokee Indian?
I have yet to find any evidence of this. Some of her cousins may have had some Indian blood, but I
don't think she did. I'm sure after the book comes out, we'll probably learn more.
6. What do you think about Ethel Gumm, Judy's mother?
Interviewing the people who had known Ethel Gumm was interesting. One woman said that nothing she had ever
seen or read about Ethel Gumm, resembled the woman she had known in the slightest way. I think Ethel was not a perfect mother,
but she did the best she knew how to protect her girls and look to their future.
7. What are some of the things you've read that you find not true?
One small piece of information I find incorrect is calling Frank's mother, Elizabeth. Her name
was Clemmie W. Baugh. She had a sister named Elizabeth, or Bettie, so I don't know where they get the name Elizabeth
Another inaccuracy is assuming that every move Frank Gumm made in his life had to do with his being
homosexual, or in some kind of trouble. They should have seen how many times his brothers moved! Early 20th century America
was a time of adventure and great new opportunity. The South was still suffering the results of the Civil War. The
Gumms were all ambitious and social people with lots of energy, so they went out and pursued new lives. And don't
forget, they came from pioneer stock!
8. What was the most important thing you learned about Judy while doing your research?
I think I do have a whole new picture of who Judy Garland was as a result of working on this book. She
carried within her all of the best characteristics of her ancestors (as most of us do). What surprised me
most, I think, was the realization that the qualities in Judy's singing voice that so affected people
- the great strength, courage and love - were the same qualities that her ancestors had as they
pioneered the wilds of Tennessee and helped to form that great new state.