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Austin Actors
Maxine Shapiro

(Michael) Jordan to Judy (Garland)
by Maxine Shapiro

August 2000

So I’m watching TV and my heart stops, I lose my breath and I get goose bumps all over my arms. There’s a picture of Michael Jordan and he’s running toward me in slow motion. The screen says "He’s back." The rest was a blur. Oh my God, he’s back.

It turns out that Michael Jordan will be featured in his own IMAX film.

So I turned Roger Ebert’s review of the movie. He starts out saying, "If you’re a Jordan fan you’ll love it." Thank you — that’s all I needed to read. I don’t care about the film’s editing or even that Roger said we really don’t learn any more about Michael than we did before. So what. The man’s a mystery. That’s what makes Michael, Michael. It’s his smile — his eyes. How can a grown woman, an adult, somewhat sophisticated woman go bonkers over an icon? Aren’t I above this? Apparently not!

The last time I felt this way about somebody was in high school. No, it wasn’t the Beatles or Elvis, but Judy — Judy Garland. What an entertainer. I escaped into Judy. When I wanted to pretend I had a good voice (I had a great imagination), I would put on one of her albums really loud and sing "San Francisco," "Get Happy" and "Chicago." I wouldn’t even think of trying "Somewhere over the Rainbow." It’s not in my key. When I heard she was coming to town, which by the way turned out to be her last tour before her untimely death, I begged my mother to go downtown and get me tickets. My mother and I had a very distant relationship but even she knew how much this meant to me. My girlfriend said she’d go with me but I had to have the most expensive and best seat in the house. My friend sat in the balcony while I sat — are you ready? — in a sixth row aisle seat. It was too good to be true.

I remember that evening as if it were yesterday. The lights went out, the overture began, and searchlights were all over the place. The drama was overwhelming. Then came her signature song, da, da da da da (to the tune of the "Man that Got Away"). All lights went to the back of the auditorium, the door opened, and there stood the tiniest silhouette of Judy — and she was going to walk down MY aisle. It wasn’t real. Nobody tore her clothes like you see in those Hollywood movies. They were just touching her and she loved it. When she got to me, I shook her hand and said, "Thank you." She said, "You’re welcome" (sigh).

She was a tough act to follow in my book. All my heroes after that became much more rational and more from my head than my heart. Sam Ervin — during the Watergate Hearings; Barbara Jordan — one of the most articulate speakers I’ve ever heard; and the early Ted Koppell — he was so driving, and yet remained so objective.

No one could match the impact Judy Garland had on my life — until Michael. I don’t know what brings about goose bumps or huge smiles, and I don’t care. The fact that neither the Science Place nor the Cineplex plan to bring the film to Dallas doesn’t really bother me at all. I don’t need a six-story screen to show me Michael. He’s already bigger than LIFE. But you know, I’ve got to admit, he’s still not as big as Judy.

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