Judy Garland

Judy Garland (June 10, 1922June 22, 1969) was an American film actress who is considered one of the greatest singing stars of Hollywood's Golden Era of musical film.


Child star

Missing image
Dorothy with dog Toto in The Wizard of Oz

Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, she was born into a family of vaudeville players. One year, her parents and her two older sisters were performing in a Christmas show. Young Frances got on the stage and stole the show with a rendition of Jingle Bells; she was two and a half years old. The family soon moved to Lancaster, California and the Gumm Sisters began work on stage and in short films. Frances was soon known as Baby Gumm.

In 1934, the Gumm Sisters were performing in Chicago with George Jessel. Jessel encouraged the group to choose a more appealing name. They settled on the the Garland Sisters, and young Frances chose the name Judy.

Garland was signed at the age of 13 by Louis B. Mayer to a contract with MGM without a screen test in 1935. At the age of 16 (and after a string of unsuccessful films), she got the role of Dorothy in the film of The Wizard of Oz (1939), and was forever afterwards associated with the song, "Over the Rainbow". After Oz, Garland became one of MGM's most bankable stars, proving particularly popular when teamed with Mickey Rooney in a string of "let's put on a show!" musicals. She would end up starring with Rooney in nine films. To keep up with a frenetic pace of making one movie after another, Garland, Rooney, and other young performers were constantly given amphetamines, as well as barbiturates to take before bedtime. This constant dose of drugs would lead to addiction and a lifestrong struggle for Garland as well as her eventual demise. She would also in her later life resent the hectic work and feel that her youth was stolen from her by MGM, and she was plagued with self-doubt throughout life and needed constant reassurance that she was talented, in spite of filling concert halls to hear her, high critical praise, and several awards.

Movie star

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A young Judy

Throughout the 1940s her films increased in popularity, the most critically and financially successful being the 1944 classic Meet Me in St. Louis, in which she introduced three standards: "The Trolley Song," "The Boy Next Door," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Her other famous films include The Harvey Girls (1946) (in which she introduced "On the Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe"), Easter Parade (1948), A Star Is Born (1954) (considered by many to be her best dramatic performance), and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). She received an honorary Academy Award for her performance in The Wizard of Oz, and was nominated for Best Actress in A Star is Born, and Best Supporting Actress for Judgment at Nuremberg.

Renewed stardom in television

When her MGM contract was terminated in 1950 (depending upon the source she either asked to be released from the contract, or she was fired due her unreliability on the set of the musical Royal Wedding), Garland turned to television and live concert appearances. Throughout the 1950s and most notably in the early 1960s she made enormously successful appearances in both media. Her appearance at Carnegie Hall on April 23, 1961, was a considerable highlight, called by many the "greatest single night in show business," and the live recording made of the event was a best seller and won Grammy Awards as the Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal of the Year. She had a critically praised if short-lived television series in 1963-64.

Untimely death

The shortcomings of her childhood years became more apparent as Garland struggled to overcome various personal problems, including weight gain, heavy drinking, and drug addiction. Her children are Liza Minnelli (who is now a legendary singer and actress in her own right), Lorna Luft (who is also an acclaimed singer), and Joey Luft (who is now a scenic photographer). Of Garland's five marriages, the first four marriages all ended in divorce. She died in 1969 at the age of 47 in London from an accidental overdose of barbiturates. Garland was interred in the Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York.

Legacy in gay rights

A gay icon, Garland always had a large fan base in the gay community. Her funeral in Manhattan resulted in an outpouring of New York City fans, with more than 20,000 coming to view her body - including 12,000 gay men. Five days after her death, mourning gay fans fought back against police during a routine police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, which set off several days of "gay liberation" riots. Garland's death is often noted as a cause of one of the key events of the modern gay rights movement.

According to a book of David Shipman, Judy Garland: The Secret Life of an American Legend she was bisexual herself, and was in an intimate relationship with her (female) secretary; however, Shipman's tale has not been corroborated, and much of his scholarship has been questioned.


David Rose (1910-1990; married 1941-1945)
Vincente Minnelli (1903-1986, married 1945-1951)
Sidney Luft (1951-1964)
Mark Herron (1928-1996, married 1964-1967) (might not have been a legal marriage, as it is unsure whether the divorce from Luft was yet effective and the marriage was under dubious circumstances)
Mickey Deans (n Michael DeVinko, 1934-2003) (married 1967-1969)



Although she had recorded singles of her hit songs for Decca Records, Garland began recording albums for Capitol Records in the 1950's.

External links

de:Judy Garland eo:Judy GARLAND fr:Judy Garland ja:ジュディ・ガーランド pl:Judy Garland sv:Judy Garland


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