Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Broadway Babe Who Died Young: JUDY TYLER

Judy Tyler is gone, but not forgotten. She has a deep cult following.

Baby Boomers remember the lady born Judith Mae Hess (October 9, 1932) as the Princess on the "Howdy Doody" television show.

Hardly content with Doody, Judy moved on to bigger things, like Broadway.

She was memorable in "Pipe Dreams." While the musical based on Steinbeck's "Cannery Row" didn't last, critics were clamoring to see her again soon. A song from the show, which gives you an idea of how derivative and uninteresting the production was, is below. You can't fault Judy, who sings it well.

Broadway fans hoping Judy would star in another traditional Broadway musical were denied; Judy starred in the peculiar film "Bop Girl Goes Calypso,"  and the same year, 1957, co-starred with Elvis Presley in "Jailhouse Rock."

Things could not have been going better for Judy. When filming wrapped in Hollywood, she and her husband decided to take a scenic drive back home to New York. Their sight-seeing took them into Wyoming. From the tire marks, and the testimony of witnesses, Judy's husband swerved on Route 287 to avoid a car that was towing a big trailer. He crashed into another vehicle, and both he and Judy were killed. Judy was just 24.

Newspapers reported that Elvis was, well, all shook up. To this day, Elvis and Judy fans remain tearful about that sad day, July 3rd, 1957, 60 years ago. An irony was that Judy also guest-starred in an episode of "Perry Mason," which finally aired a few days after Christmas, 1957. Many viewers probably had no idea that the guest star of that episode had died.

Like Luba Lisa (below), fans wishing to pay their respects need to come to New York to do it. But they won't get too close. Judy Tyler's cremated remains are in a private mausoleum at Ferncliff Cemetery. That's where, until a recent move by her estate, Judy Garland's ashes were resting in peace.

Judy Tyler
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