Judy Garland Kept Giving Barbra Streisand Advice Before Her Death: ‘Don’t Let Them Do to You What They Did to Me’

When it comes to singers, there are no greater legends than Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. Streisand is still going strong, but unfortunately, The Wizard of Oz star Garland passed away over 50 years ago. The two struck up a bond despite their age gap. This bond led to Garland giving Streisand some advice about her career. Here’s the story of how they met and what Garland shared with her. 

American actress and singer Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) eating soup, circa 1955.
Judy Garland | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand’s relationship 

Streisand and Garland are both famous for many reasons, but one of those reasons was their classic duet. At the time they met, Garland was 41 and Streisand barely 20. By that time, Garland had been run through the ringer of show business. Rather than shun the young singer, she embraced her. 

It’s a testament to both women’s talent that their short collaboration is still remembered to this day. According to Vanity Fair, they joined together on an episode of Garland’s show for a duet of two songs: one standard from Streisand (Happy Days Are Here Again) and Get Happy (Garland). 

Streisand said that looking back on it now as an older woman (though she is much older now than Garland was at the time of the duet), she understood why Garland felt somewhat nervous about the experience: 

“She was holding my hand and I thought, “Gee, she seems nervous.” At that time, I wasn’t nervous. I was still very young, I think, about to do Funny Girl, and now, when I think back on it, I think, “Oh, my God, I know exactly what she’s feeling.” Or, you know, the fears. It’s like, as you get older and people are kind of looking for you to fail more, I think—not people, not the audience—but, you know, critics or producers or whatever.”

Sadly, Garland and Streisand did not have much time together. 

Judy Garland’s tragic death

According to The Guardian, Garland passed away in 1969 from an accidental drug overdose. She suffered from depression and medicated to help her deal with this. 

There’s little doubt that Garland’s depression was filled by a tumultuous career in show business. As someone who experienced success very early in life and subsequent pressure to continue performing at a high level, it’s no wonder Garland may have had some less than favorable views of the industry that she passed onto Streisand. 

The heartbreaking advice Judy Garland gave Barbra Streisand before her death

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After their duet, Streisand and Garland remained close. In a profile of Streisand in The New York Times, the singer talked about the warning Garland gave her. She said that Garland told her to be careful and avoid the same pitfalls she’d fallen into: 

“Afterward, she used to visit me and give me advice…She came to my apartment in New York, and she said to me, ‘Don’t let them do to you what they did to me.’ I didn’t know what she meant then. I was just getting started.”

Who exactly was Garland referring to when she said, “They?” Streisand didn’t specify, but it isn’t hard to infer. She was talking about the parasitic element of the movie and music industries. Hangers on, managers, agents, producers, and other power brokers looking to profit off of the talent of others no matter the personal cost to the artist. 

Sadly, Garland’s death served as a stark reminder for Streisand at how true the legend’s words were. Streisand has been able to have a long, successful career in show business. There’s no doubt that Garland’s mentorship, legacy, and words of warning played a big role in that.