Judy Garland was an American singer and actor, without doubt one of the greatest stars of Hollywood`s Golden Era of musical film. She was known for her splendid voice, intense acting, and charming wit. As a child, Garland made the song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” famous in the 1939 film, "The Wizard of Oz."
Birth and youthful career
Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, on June 10, 1922, to Frank and Ethel Gumm. She was born into a family of vaudeville players. Frances performed with her sisters, known as the “Gumm Sisters," and was called "Baby Gumm" until she named her name to Judy. George Jessel changed the girls` performing name to the "Garland Sisters," at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago during the 1934 World`s Fair.
Judy was signed with MGM at the age of 13. Her role in “Broadway Melody of 1938” with Clark Gable brought her to the public eye. Judy made several films with Mickey Rooney, but it was her role as Dorothy in "Oz" that made her famous. She won an honorary Oscar as an outstanding screen juvenile.
Too much work
Garland shone in numerous movie performances. Highlights of her career include “Meet me in St. Louis” (1944), “Easter Parade” (1948), “A Star is Born” (1954), and “Judgment at Nuremburg” (1961). She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Nuremburg” and Best Actress for her role in "Star is Born."
To keep up with the frantic pace of making movie after movie, Garland, Rooney, and other young performers were given amphetamines to keep them going, and barbiturates before bedtime. That constant regimen of drugs led to Garland`s lifelong struggle with addiction — and her eventual death.
When Garland`s contract was up in 1950, she turned to live concert appearances, then television. Her concert at ^Carnegie Hall, on April 23, 1961, was a huge success. The live recording of that concert was on the top of the Billboard chart for 13 weeks, and remained on the chart for 73 weeks. The recording won an unprecedented five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal of the Year.
In the early 1960s, CBS offered Garland a weekly television series of her own. “The Judy Garland Show” garnered praise from the critics, but it was placed in the time slot opposite “Bonanza.” Despite winning four Emmy nominations, the show was canceled in 1964 after one season. The cancellation had a devastating impact on Garland, emotionally and financially.
Garland sought solace in alcohol, prescription sedatives, and stimulants. There were, however, short periods in her life when she attempted to get "clean," but she was never able to stay off the drugs and alcohol. Garland spent her life struggling to overcome many personal problems, including addiction, to no avail.
She was found dead by her last husband, Mickey Deans, on June 22, 1969. She was living in Chelsea, London, when she died at the age of 47. The cause of death was an accidental overdose of barbiturates. Garland`s remains were buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.
Garland was married five times and had three children. Liza Minnelli was her first child from her second marriage. Lorna and Joey Luft were from her third marriage. She was married to Deans for just three months when she died.
Judy Garland appeared in more than 40 movies and short films, and recorded 10 albums in her lifetime.
A good drug treatment center locator could have come in handy for Hollywood legends who have suffered from drug addiction at the height of their fame.
For additional famous women, see Significant Women in America .