It took a star as big and complex as Judy Garland to enable two actresses to win Emmys portraying her: Judy Davis and Tammy Blanchard in Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, one of the season’s top-rated miniseries. The teenage Garland was a showcase for Blanchard, 24, a plucky veteran of three seasons on Guiding Light, who called upon reserves of subtlety and restraint in playing one of the most famously, endearingly emotional performers ever. Faced with the challenge of portraying Judy in her most awkward phase — trying to make the transition from child star to mature teen, a Dorothy gone over the rainbow and who will eventually go around the bend — Blanchard brought a delicacy to Garland’s desperate need to be liked, and to be a success.
For veteran actress Judy Davis, 46, embodying Garland required an even more extraordinary transformation. Davis needed to submerge her own vivid, bristling intelligent screen persona and bring forth the ferocious neediness that was at once Garland’s great allure and her most crippling flaw. After spending a career specializing in playing strong women, Davis seemed to make her features melt into Garland’s soft mask of vulnerability and pain. Me and My Shadows also required Davis to reproduce some of Garland’s most famous musical stage performances, and these were marvels of mimicry, deepened by a soulfulness rarely explored on the small screen. Together, Davis and Blanchard made Judy Garland whole for us again.