Judy Garland (June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress and singer. Through a career that spanned 45 of her 47 years, Garland attained international stardom as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on … see full wiki
When I hear the name Judy Garland, I immediately think of the classic Wizard Of Oz. What a talented yet troubled lady. I am actually excited about doing this review, as I did not know much about Garland until doing research; I am finding her life should be described as tragic. She had many marriages, affairs, an abortion, and was estranged from her mother at the time of her mother's death; all of these are major factors in why she had so many personal conflicts.
One of the brightest, most tragic movie stars of Hollywood's Golden Era, Judy Garland was a moved-loved character whose warmth and spirit, along with her rich and exuberant voice, kept theatre-goers entertained with an array of delightful musicals.
She was born Frances Ethel Gumm on 10 June 1922 in Minnesota, the youngest daughter of vaudevillians Frank and Ethel Gumm. Her mother, an ambitious woman gifted in playing various musical instruments, saw the potential in her daughter at the tender age of just 2-years-old when Baby Frances repeatedly sang "Jingle Bells" until she was dragged from the stage kicking and screaming during one of their Christmas shows and immediately drafted her into a dance act, entitled "The Gumm Sisters", along with her older sisters Mary Jane Gumm and Virginia Gumm. However, knowing that her youngest daughter would eventually become the biggest star, Ethel soon took Frances out of the act and together they traveled across America where she would perform in nightclubs, cabarets, hotels and theaters solo.
Her family life was not a happy one, due largely in part to her mother's drive for her to succeed as a performer and also her father's closeted homosexuality. The Gumm family would regularly be forced to leave town due to her father's illicit affairs with other men and from time to time they would be reduced to living out of their automobile. However in September 1935 the Gumm's, in particular Ethel's, prayers were answered when Frances was signed by Louis B. Mayer, mogul of leading film studio MGM, after hearing her sing. It was then that her name was changed from Frances Gumm to Judy Garland, after a popular 30s song "Judy" and film critic Robert Garland.
Tragedy soon followed however in the form of her father's death of meningitis in November 1935 and, having been given no assignments with the exception of singing on radio, the threat of losing her job following the arrival of Deanna Durbin. Knowing that they couldn't keep both of the teenage singers, MGM devised a short entitled Every Sunday (1936) which would be the girls' screen test. However, despite being the outright winner and being kept on by MGM, Judy's career did not officially kick off until she sang one of her most famous songs "You Made Me Love You" at Clark Gable's birthday party in February 1937, during which Louis B. Mayer finally paid attention to the talented songstress.
Following her rendition of "You Made Me Love You", MGM set to work preparing various musicals with which to keep Judy busy. All this had its toll on the young teenager and she was given numerous pills by the studio doctors in order to combat her tiredness on set. Another problem was her weight fluctuation, but she was soon given amphetamines in order to give her the desired streamlined figure. This proved to be the downward spiral that resulted in her life-long drug addiction.
In 1939, Judy shot immediately to stardom with The Wizard of Oz (1939), in which she portrayed Dorothy, an orphaned girl living on a farm in the dry plains of Kansas who gets whisked off into the magical world of Oz on the other end of the rainbow. Her poignant performance and sweet delivery of her signature song 'Over The Rainbow' earned Judy a special juvenile Oscar statuette on 29th February 1940 for Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor. Now growing up, Judy began to yearn for more meatier, adult roles instead of the virginal characters she had been playing since she was 14. She was now taking an interest in men and after starring in her final juvenile performance in Ziegfeld Girl (1941) alongside glamorous beauties Lana Turner and Hedy Lamarr, Judy got engaged to band leader David Rose in May 1941, just two months after his divorce to Martha Raye. Despite planning a big wedding, the couple eloped to Las Vegas and married during the early hours of the morning on 28 July 1941 with just her mother Ethel and her stepfather Will Gilmore present. However, their marriage went downhill as, after discovering that she was pregnant in November 1942, David and MGM persuaded her to abort the baby in order to keep her good-girl image up. She did so and, as a result, was haunted for the rest of her life by her 'inhumane actions'. The couple separated in January 1943.
By this time, Judy had starred in her first adult role as a vaudevillian during WWI i n_For Me and My Gal (1942)_. Within weeks of separation, Judy was soon having an affair with actor Tyrone Power, who was married to French actress Annabella. Their affair ended in May 1943, which was when her affair with producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz kicked off. He introduced her to psychoanalysis and she soon began to make decisions about her career on her own, instead of the influence of the domineering MGM and her mother. Their affair ended in November 1943 and soon afterward, Judy reluctantly began filming Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), which proved to make her a big success. The director Vincente Minnelli highlighted Judy's beauty for the first time on screen having made the period musical in color, her first color film since The Wizard Of Oz (1939). He showed off her large brandy-brown eyes and her full thick lips and after filming ended in April 1944, a love affair resulted between director and actress and they were soon living together.
Vincente began to mold Judy and her career, making her more beautiful and more popular with audiences worldwide. He directed her in The Clock (1945) and it was during the filming of this movie that the couple announced their engagement on set on 9 January 1945. Judy's divorce from David Rose had been finalized on 8 June 1944 after almost 3 years of marriage and, despite her brief fling with Orson Welles who, at the time, was married to screen sex goddess Rita Hayworth, on 15 June 1945, Judy made Vincente her second husband after tying the knot with him that afternoon at her mother's home with her boss Louis B. Mayer giving her away and her best friend Betty Asher serving as bridesmaid. They spent three months on honeymoon in New York and afterwards, Judy discovered that she was pregnant.
On 12 March 1946 in Los Angeles, California, Judy gave birth to their daughter Liza Minnelli via Caesarean section. It was a joyous time for the couple, but Judy was out of commission for weeks due to the Caesarean and her postnatal depression, so she spent much of her time re-cooperating in bed. She soon returned to work, but married life was never the same for Vincente and Judy after they filmed The Pirate (1948) together in 1947. Judy's mental health was fast deteriorating and she began hallucinating things and making false accusations of people, especially of her husband, making the filming a nightmare. She also began an affair with aspiring Russian actor Yul Brynner, but after the affair ended, Judy soon regained health and tried to salvage her failing marriage. She then teamed up with dancing legend Fred Astaire for the delightful musical Easter Parade (1948), which proved a successful comeback, despite having Vincente fired from directing the musical. Afterwards, Judy's health deteriorated and she began the first of several suicide attempts. In May 1949, she was checked into a rehabilitation center, which caused her much distress.
She soon regained strength and was visited frequently by her lover Frank Sinatra, but never saw much of Vincente or Liza. On returning, Judy made In the Good Old Summertime (1949), which was also her daughter's film debut, albeit Liza had an uncredited cameo. She had already been suspended by MGM for her lack of cooperation on the set of The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), which also resulted in her getting replaced by Ginger Rogers. After being replaced by Betty Hutton on Annie Get Your Gun (1950), Judy was suspended yet again, before making her final film for MGM entitled Summer Stock (1950). At 28, Judy received her third suspension and was fired by MGM and her second marriage was soon dissolved.
On June 22, 1969, Garland was found dead by Deans in the bathroom of their rented Chelsea, London house. The coroner, Gavin Thursdon, stated at the inquest that the cause of death was "an incautious self-overdosage" of barbiturates; her blood contained the equivalent of ten 1.5-grain (97 mg) Seconal capsules. Thursdon stressed that the overdose had been unintentional and that there was no evidence to suggest she had committed suicide. Garland's autopsy showed that there was no inflammation of her stomach lining and no drug residue in her stomach, which indicated that the drug had been ingested over a long period of time, rather than in one dose. Her death certificate stated that her death had been "accidental." Even so, a British specialist who had attended Garland said she had been living on borrowed time due to cirrhosis of the liver. Garland had turned 47 just 12 days prior to her death. Her Wizard of Oz co-star Ray Bolger commented at Garland's funeral, "She just plain wore out." An estimated 20,000 people lined up for hours at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel to view her body. James Mason gave a eulogy at the funeral, which was anEpiscopalian service led by the Rev. Peter A. Delaney of Marylebone Church, London, who had officiated at Garland's marriage to Deans. Garland was interred in Ferncliff Cemetery, in Hartsdale, New York.
Her personal life seems to be one tragedy after another, and reading her quotes, you can definitely hear the loneliness and her cry for love. So many of us wish we could be at the top of our game; but Judy Garland is proof that being at the top can lead one to a cold and lonely world.
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