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Profile of Judy Garland
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Judy Garland (June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American film actress considered by many to be one of the greatest singing stars of Hollywood's Golden Era of musical film. She was known for her intense acting, her ability to depict emotion in a song, and for her strong, husky voice.
Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, on the 10th of June, 1922, Judy Garland began life as part of a family of vaudeville players. In one of her earliest performances, her parents and her two older sisters were performing in a Christmas show. Frances took to the stage and stole the show with a rendition of Jingle Bells at the young age of two and a half years old. The family soon thereafter moved to Lancaster, California and the Gumm Sisters began work on stage and in short films. Frances was soon to be 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 Garland Sisters, and young Frances picked the name Judy.
In 1935, at the age of 13, Garland was signed by Louis B. Mayer to a contract with MGM, allegedly without a screen test. In fact, she actually had done a test for the studio several months earlier. Garland's first notice by studio executives came after singing "You Made Me Love You" to Clark Gable at a birthday party held by the studio for the King of Hollywood. Her rendition proved so popular that MGM placed Garland and the song in their all-star extravaganza Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937).
After a string of unsuccessful films, she landed the role of "Dorothy" in the MGM film The Wizard of Oz (1939), and has been associated ever since 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. The duo first appeared together in the 1937 b-movie Thoroughbreds Don't Cry. They became a sensation and they teamed up again in Love Finds Andy Hardy, and then soon after in Babes in Arms. Garland eventually would star with Rooney in nine films.
To keep up with the 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 lifelong struggle for Garland as well as her eventual demise. In her later life, she would resent the hectic work and she felt that her youth was stolen from her by MGM. She was plagued with self-doubt throughout her life and needed constant reassurance that she was talented, despite her ability to fill concert halls with fans eager to hear her, high critical praise, and several awards.
Throughout the 1940s her films increased in popularity, making her the most critically and financially successful female musical star of the time. Among her most successful 1940s films is 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 Judgement at Nuremberg.
Renewed stardom on the stage and 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 1960s, she made enormously successful appearances in both media. Her concert appearance at Carnegie Hall on April 23, 1961 was a considerable highlight, called by many the "greatest single night in show business." The live recording made of the concert was a best seller (certified gold), charting for 73 weeks on Billboard (13 weeks at number one), and won five Grammy Awards including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal of the Year.
After hugely successful television specials and guest appearances in the early 1960s, CBS made a $24 million offer to Garland for a weekly television series of her own, called The Judy Garland Show, which was deemed at the time in the press to be "the biggest talent deal in TV history." The television series was critically praised, but, for a variety of reasons, lasted only one season, and went off the air in 1964, after 26 episodes. Despite this, the show won four Emmy nominations. The demise of the series was personally devastating for Garland.
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 (now a legendary singer and actress in her own right), Lorna Luft (also an acclaimed singer), and Joey Luft (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, in Hartsdale, New York.
- 1) David Rose (1910-1990); married (1941-1945))
- 2) Vincente Minnelli (1903-1986); married 1945-1951), one daughter Liza Minnelli
- 3) Sidney Luft (1915- 2005); married (1951-1964), one daughter Lorna Luft and one son Joey Luft
- 4) 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)
- 5) Mickey Deans (né Michael DeVinko) (1934-2003); (married March 1969-June 1969)
- The Big Revue (1929) (short subject)
- A Holiday in Storyland (1930) (short subject)
- Bubbles (1930) (short subject)
- The Wedding of Jack and Jill (1930) (short subject)
- La Fiesta de Santa Barbara (1935) (short subject)
- Every Sunday (1936) (short subject)
- Pigskin Parade (1936)
- Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
- Thoroughbreds Don't Cry (1937)
- MGM Christmas Trailer (1937) (short subject)
- Everybody Sing (1938)
- Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)
- Hollywood Goes to Town (1938) (short subject)
- Listen, Darling (1938)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- Babes in Arms (1939)
- If I Forget You (1940) (short subject)
- Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940)
- Strike Up the Band (1940)
- Little Nellie Kelly (1940) (see link below)
- Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
- Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941)
- Babes on Broadway (1941)
- We Must Have Music (1942) (short subject)
- For Me and My Gal (1942)
- Strictly G.I. (1943) (short subject)
- Presenting Lily Mars (1943)
- Thousands Cheer (1943)
- Girl Crazy (1943)
- Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
- The Clock (1945)
- The Harvey Girls (1946)
- Ziegfeld Follies (1946)
- Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
- The Pirate (1948)
- Easter Parade (1948)
- Words and Music (1948)
- In the Good Old Summertime (1949)
- Summer Stock (1950)
- A Star Is Born (1954)
- Pepe (1960) (Cameo) (voice only)
- Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
- Gay Purr-ee (1962) (voice)
- A Child Is Waiting (1963)
- I Could Go On Singing (1963)
Although she had recorded singles of her hit songs for Decca Records, Garland began recording albums for Capitol Records in the 1950's.
- 1955 Miss Show Business
- 1956 Judy
- 1957 Alone
- 1958 Judy in Love
- 1959 The Letter
- 1960 Judy: That's Entertainment!
- 1961 Judy at Carnegie Hall
- 1962 The Garland Touch
- 1964 Judy and Liza Live at the London Palladium
- 1967 Judy: At Home at the Palace (ABC-Paramount Records)
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