• Biography

Judy Garland was an American actress, singer, vaudevillian, and dancer. She achieved international acclaim as an actress in both musical and dramatic parts, as a recording artist, and on the concert stage during her 45-year career. Garland won an Academy Juvenile Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Special Tony Award for her versatility. Garland was the first woman to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for Judy at Carnegie Hall, which she received in 1961. Garland is most famous for being the star of many classic films, including the lead role of Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz."


Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, on June 10, 1922. She was the youngest child of Francis Avent "Frank" Gumm and Ethel Marion. Her parents were vaudevillians who moved to Grand Rapids to manage a vaudeville-themed movie theater. She was named after both of her parents and baptized at a local Episcopal church. She was of Irish, English, Scottish, and French Huguenot descent.

"Baby" (as her parents and sisters called her) had inherited her family's talent for music and dancing. At the age of two, she sang a chorus of "Jingle Bells" with her older sisters Mary Jane "Suzy/Suzanne" Gumm and Dorothy Virginia "Jimmie" Gumm on the stage of her father's movie theater during a Christmas play. For the next few years, the Gumm Sisters performed there, joined by their mother on piano.

Following accusations that her father had gay inclinations, the family moved to Lancaster, California, in June 1926.

Ethel began managing her daughters and getting them into motion pictures after Frank owned and controlled another theater in Lancaster.


After her learning experiences with her sisters, Garland proceeded on her way to film fame. One of her first feature film roles was in Pigskin Parade (1936). Garland played a young lady and co-starred in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) with her real-life companion Mickey Rooney. The two demonstrated to match great chemistry, and they co-featured in a few more Andy Hardy movies.

In addition to the fact that she was working a great deal, Garland was experiencing strain and stress about her looks and weight from the studio. She was offered amphetamines to help her vitality and control her weight. Sadly, Garland became dependent on this prescription, requiring different substances to support her rest. Medication issues would torment her all through her career.

In 1939, Garland scored one of her most noteworthy on-screen triumphs with The Wizard of Oz, which exhibited her singing gifts just as her acting abilities. She got an exceptional Academy Award for her depiction of Dorothy, the young lady from Kansas transported to Oz. She also made a few other musicals, including Strike Up the Band (1940), Babes of Broadway (1942), with Rooney, and For "Me and My Gal (1943"), with Gene Kelly.


Garland married out of the blue at 19 years old. Her marriage with bandleader David Rose was a short and fast union. On the movie set of Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), another of Garland's classic films, she met director Vincent Minnelli. She formally separated from Rose in 1945 and married Minnelli soon after. The couple gave birth to a little girl, Liza, in 1946. Sadly, Garland's second marriage only lasted a little bit longer than her attempt. The Garland-Minnelli marriage was over by 1949, and they officially separated in 1952.


Garland was found dead in the toilet of her leased residence in Cadogan Lane, Belgravia, London, on June 22, 1969, 12 days after her 47th birthday.

The cause of death, according to Coroner Gavin Thurston, was "an incautious self-overdosage" of barbiturates; her blood contained the equivalent of 10 1.5-grain (97 mg) Seconal tablets. Thurston emphasized that the overdose was unintentional and that there was no evidence that she had attempted suicide. Garland's autopsy revealed no inflammation of the stomach lining and no drug residue in her stomach, indicating that the substance was taken over time rather than in a single dose. Her death was ruled "accidental" on her death certificate. Garland's doctor noticed that a prescription for 25 barbiturate pills was found half-empty near her bedside, and another bottle of 100 barbiturate pills was still unopened, supporting the accidental cause.

Although a second autopsy later found no indication of drunkenness or cirrhosis, a British specialist who had attended Garland's autopsy indicated that she had been living on borrowed time due to cirrhosis.

Date modified: Aug 4, 2021
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