Note: The following essay was written for ‘The New York Times’ in 1939 by Judy Garland as promotional material for her new film, ‘The Wizard of Oz.’
It was never published.
I must ask you to forgive me before anything else. I can’t imagine why anyone would think I could write an essay. And for The New York Times! What a thing to be asked. Why, everybody knows I’m just a fourteen-year-old farm girl who had the rotten luck to be caught in some weather.
But oh, did you know? Everybody who “knows” this is actually quite wrong. I am far older than fourteen, nearly two entire years older. I’ve never been to Kansas in my life, and my name isn’t Dorothy at all. Still, that does not mean I am qualified to write an essay, and so I expect this to be very poor, bordering on unpublishable hogswaddle.
I’m to address you, unlucky reader, on the subject of Love. Only, what could I know of love? Excepting, of course, what they told me to know: “The next time I go looking for my heart’s desire, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.” Isn’t that the most precious line? I had tears in my eyes the first four times I said it. Although, as my sweet, green Maggie Hamilton remarked to me while we were sharing a cigarette behind the Emerald City — if I’d stayed in my own backyard, there’d be no picture. (The Wizard of Oz, now playing!)
Love! Love is simply wonderful, wonderful. Yes? It is terribly important, the most important thing in the world. Isn’t it? I suppose. I couldn’t possibly say. Though I do talk about love all over the picture. Just listen to me: “I love you! I love you all!” And if you look at me while you are listening to me, which I hope you will do (or you will be missing out), you will see that as I say it, I look all the way into the eyes of whomever I’m talking to, right to the back of their brain. And I widen my eyes as I say it, stretching them fat and round to prevent any barrier of eyelid between us. You know that I do this, you have seen it. This very publication said something so darling on the subject — that I had “the wonder-lit eyes of a believer in fairy tales.” And I…