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June 21: Judy Holliday

June 20, 2016

hollidayjudy01Oscar-winning actress Judy Holliday (Tuvim) was born in New York on this date in 1921. In her short career (she died of cancer at 43), Holliday had roles in thirteen films, including Born Yesterday, for which she won her Best Actress award, Adam’s Rib (with Tracy and Hepburn) and Bells Are Ringing (the stage version of which won her a Tony in 1956). In 1950, she was investigated by the FBI and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee for alleged communist links, but she was advised to “play dumb” (like several of her characters) and was not subjected to blacklisting. To see her singing “The Party’s Over” in Bells Are Ringing (lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, her partners in a comedy troupe, and music by Jule Styne), look below.

“Holliday’s screen persona of a squeaky-voiced birdbrain proved beneficial when she was ordered to testify . . . Refusing to identify her friends and coworkers as communist sympathizers, Holliday — who reportedly had an IQ of 172 — beguiled the committee by ‘playing dumb’ and survived the ordeal with her career and integrity intact.” --Encyclopedia Brittanica