10 Jun 1922 1
Grand Rapids, Minnesota, USA 1
22 Jun 1969 1
Chelsea, London, England, UK 1

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Personal Details

Full Name:
Frances Ethel Gumm 1
Also known as:
Judy Garland 1
10 Jun 1922 1
Grand Rapids, Minnesota, USA 1
Female 1
22 Jun 1969 1
Chelsea, London, England, UK 1
Cause: an incautious self-overdose" of barbiturates 1
Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum Hartsdale NY 1
Mother: Ethel Marion Milne Gumm 1
Father: Frank Avent Gumm 1
Michael DeVinko aka Mickey Deans 1
15 Mar 1969 1
Spouse Death Date: 11 Jul 2003 1
Mark Herron 1
14 Nov 1965 1
Las Vegas NV 1
Divorce Date: 1967 1
Spouse Death Date: 13 Jan 1996 1
Sidney Luft 1
29 Jun 1952 1
Divorce Date: 1965 1
Spouse Death Date: 15 Sep 2005 1
Vincente Minnelli 1
15 Jun 1945 1
Divorce Date: 29 Mar 1951 1
Spouse Death Date: July 25, 1986 (aged 83) 1
David Rose 1
28 Jul 1941 1
Divorce Date: 1944 1
Spouse Death Date: 23 Aug 1990 1
Entertainer 1

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  1. Contributed by bruceyrock632


Judy Garland, 47, Star of Stage and Screen, Is Found Dead in Her London Home

London, June 22--Judy Garland, whose successes on stage and screen were later overshadowed by the pathos of her personal life, was found dead in her home here today.

The cause of death of the 47-year-old singer was not immediately established, and an autopsy was scheduled. [Reuters reported that police sources said a preliminary investigation revealed nothing to suggest that Miss Garland had taken her own life.]

Miss Garland's personal life often seemed a fruitless search for the happiness promised in "Over the Rainbow," the song she made famous in the movie "The Wizard of Oz."

Her father died when she was 12 years old; the pressures of adolescent stardom sent her to a psychiatrist at the age of 18; she was married five times; she was frequently ill; her singing voice faltered, and she suffered from the effects of drugs she once said were prescribed either to invigorate or tranquilize her.

She came here at the end of last year to play a cabaret in another of the "comeback" performances that dotted her last 15 years.

Three months ago she married Mickey Deans, a discotheque manager. It was Mr. Deans, her fifth husband, who found Miss Garland dead on the bathroom floor in their home in the Belgravia district.

Also surviving are three children, Liza Minnelli, the singer and actress, and Lorna and Joseph Luft.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete tonight.

Moved by Compulsion

Judy Garland's career was marked by a compulsive quality that displayed itself even during her first performance at the age of 30 months at the New Grand Theater in Grand Rapids, Minn. Here, the story is told, Frances Gumm--both her parents were vaudeville players--sang "Jingle Bells" on a Christmas program. She responded so favorably to the footlights that her father was forced to remove her after she had repeated the song seven times.

The other side of the compulsively vibrant, exhausting performances that were her stage hallmark was a seemingly unquenchable need for her audiences to respond with acclaim and affection. And often they did, screaming, "We love you, Judy--we love you."

She made more than 35 films, once set a New York vaudeville record with an engagement of 19 weeks and 184 performances, cut numerous records and in recent years made frequent television appearances.

Her other films include, "Every Sunday," "Babes In Arms," "Little Nellie Kelly," "For Me and My Gal," "The Harvey Girls," "Meet Me in St. Louis," "The Pirate," "Easter Parade," "A Star Is Born," "Judgment at Nuremberg," and "A Child Is Waiting."

Miss Garland's early success was firmly rooted in an extraordinary talent. She was an instinctive actress and comedienne with a sweet singing voice that had a kind of brassy edge to it, which made her something of an anachronism: a music hall performer in an era in which music halls were obsolete.

In an earlier era, or in another society, she might have grown up slowly, developing her talent as she disciplined it, and gone on like other, tougher performers to enjoy a long and profitable career.

Discipline Not Required

Instead, Judy became a star at 15 in the relentless world of motion pictures. Movies--which are put together in bits and pieces--do not particularly require rigid discipline, and she therefore never had a chance to acquire the quality that could have sustained her talent over the years.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the career of Judy Garland was that she was able to continue as long as she did--long after her voice had failed and long after her physical reserves had been spent in various illnesses that might have left a less tenacious woman an invalid.

She was the kind of movie personality whose private life defined much of her public response. Whenever she stepped out on a stage in recent years, she brought with her, whether she welcomed it or not, all the well-publicized phantoms of her emotional breakdowns, her career collapses and her comebacks.

The pressures of performing began for her at an early age. When she was 18 and Louis B. Mayer's favorite at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios making $150,000 a picture, she was already seeing a psychiatrist.

Recounts Experience

She wrote about the experience years later: "No wonder I was strange. Imagine whipping out of bed, dashing over to the doctor's office, lying down on a torn leather couch, telling my troubles to an old man who couldn't hear, who answered with an accent I couldn't understand, and then dashing to Metro to make movie love to Mickey Rooney."

It was during this period that she also began taking stimulants and depressants. "They'd give us pep pills," she wrote. "Then they'd take us to the studio hospital and knock us cold with sleeping pills . . . after four hours they'd wake us up and give us the pep pills again . . .

"That's the way we worked, and that's the way we got thin. That's the way we got mixed up. And that's the way we lost contact."

Less than 10 years after these experiences, at the age of 28, the singer attempted suicide.

The unhappiness that plagued her during the last few years alone included the breakup of her 13- year marriage to Sid Luft, a film director and the third of her five husbands; a subsequent bitter custody fight over their children, Lorna and Joseph, with Mr. Luft accusing her of having attempted suicide on at least 20 occasions; sudden hospitalizations for causes ranging from paralysis to unconsciousness after a fall in a hotel room, and the breaking of her voice during appearances in several cities.

Miss Garland was born in Grand Rapids on June 10, 1922, the youngest of three daughters of Frank Avent and Ethel Marian Gumm. Her parents billed themselves in vaudeville as Jack and Virginia Lee.

After her debut with "Jingle Bells," she performed with her sisters, Suzanne and Virginia, until, according to theatrical legend, their act was erroneously billed at a Chicago theatre as "The Glum Sisters."

Garland was her mother's maiden name. When the family arrived in Hollywood in 1936, the 14- year-old singer, who made her feature film debut in "Pigskin Parade," was billed as Judy Garland.

She made a short subject with another adolescent singer, Deanna Durbin. Louis B. Mayer was impressed, and when he learned that M-G-M had allowed Miss Durbin's contract to lapse and lost her to a rival studio, he determined to give Miss Garland a major build-up.

She sang "Dear Mr. Gable" in "Broadway Melody of 1938." Then she made a bigger hit as a gawky adolescent with a crush on Mickey Rooney in "Love Finds Andy Hardy."

In "Dear Mr. Gable" she confessed her hopeless adolescent love for an idealized movie star in special lyrics added to the ballad "You Made Me Love You."

At 17, playing the pig-tailed girl in "The Wizard of Oz," she sang the song that became her trademark, "Over the Rainbow"--a wistful pursuit of happiness that seemed, to her, unattainable.

In 1939, "The Wizard of Oz" earned her a special Oscar.

Ray Bolger, the dancer, actor and singer, who played the Scarecrow in "The Wizard," made it plain yesterday that Miss Garland's charisma was notable even when they made that film.

Three months after she had signed the contract with M-G-M, Judy's father died of spinal meningitis. In a newspaper article in 1964, Miss Garland wrote that her father's death "was the most terrible thing that ever happened to me in my life." "I can say that now," she went on, "because I'm more secure than I was then."

"But the terrible thing about it," she wrote, "was that I couldn't cry at my father's funeral. I'd never been to a funeral. I was ashamed because I couldn't cry, so I feigned it. But I just couldn't cry for eight days, and then I locked myself in a bathroom and cried for 14 hours.

"I wasn't close to my father, but I wanted to be all my life. He had a funny sense of humor, and he laughed all the time--good and loud, like I do. He was a gay Irish gentleman and very good- looking. And he wanted to be close to me, too, but we never had much time together."

Passed Awkward Age

By 1942, Miss Garland had passed the awkward age through a popular series of musical comedies with Mr. Rooney, and was playing love scenes with Gene Kelly in "For Me and My Gal." She was already one of the top box-office stars at the most celebrated star studio in Hollywood.

Her personal troubles had already begun. She was married to the composer-pianist David Rose in 1941. They were divorced three years later. The next year she was married to her director, the gifted musical specialist, Vincente Minnelli.

Under her husband's guidance, her career flourished. She sang "The Trolley Song" in "Meet Me in St. Louis" and was praised for her first nonsinging dramatic performance, in "The Clock."

By 1948, when Miss Garland played with Gene Kelly in "The Pirate," and Fred Astaire in "Easter Parade," she was indisputably the leading musical star in films.

The next year she failed to report for work on three successive films and was reported to be suffering from a nervous breakdown. The one film she did finish in this period, "Summer Stock," attracted much comment because of her increased weight.

It was during the next year, 1950, that she slashed her wrists after M-G-M suspended her contract. She and Mr. Minnelli were divorced the next year.

In 1951 Miss Garland returned to the stage in England, doing a solo singing show with great success. She had another success with a vaudeville engagement at the New York Palace.

Frequently, however, she complained of laryngitis, and critics noted that her voice had lost some of its quality. At the same time they noted that her personality retained its full impact.

In reviewing a later performance at the Palace, Vincent Canby wrote in The New York Times of Aug. 1, 1967, that "that the voice--as of last night's performance, anyway--is now a memory seems almost beside the point." He concluded that all the performers on the bill were good, "but it is Judy who is great. And let's not worry about her voice."

Another writer called a typical Garland appearance "more than a concert . . . it is a tribal celebration." The crowds often screamed during her frenzied finales for "More! More!" and began the ritual chants of "We Love You, Judy!"

When she left the stage for intermission, Miss Garland often staggered to her dressing room, sometimes gasping, panting that she could not possibly finish the show, that she was exhausted or that her throat ached. But back she went.

Miss Garland described her feelings toward the audience for a magazine interviewer in 1961:

"A really great reception makes me feel like I have a great big warm heating pad all over me. People en masse have always been wonderful to me. I truly have a great love for an audience, and I used to want to prove it to them by giving them blood. But I have a funny new thing now, a real determination to make people enjoy the show. I want to give them two hours of just pow."

Return Impressive

The performer made an impressive return to films in 1954 with "A Star Is Born," with James Mason. But her erratic work habits had caused the production to take months longer than planned, at great expense. A commercial disappointment, the film represented a personal triumph for her.

Her best song in "A Star Is Born," a torch ballad called "The Man That Got Away," joined "Over the Rainbow" as a Garland trademark. She was expected to win an Academy Award for her performance, but Grace Kelly won it instead, for "The Country Girl."

For the next few years Miss Garland was plagued by throat troubles and marital difficulties. She was overweight for a star, consistently ill and more temperamental than ever. Hollywood would not risk employing her.

By the autumn of 1959 she was unable to work at all. She felt sick, frightened and mentally confused. In late November she was admitted to a New York hospital, where doctors found she was suffering from hepatitis.

They said she might have had the illness for as long as three years and that the hepatitis was attributed at least in part, to the combined effects of certain tranquilizers and diet pills that previous doctors, treating earlier breakdowns, had prescribed for her.

Miss Garland admitted at the time to having taken a great many drugs over the last 15 years, including sleeping pills, pep pills, diet medicines and nerve tonics.

Then, in 1960, she came back again. During a concert at London's Palladium, she was more successful than ever. She followed it with a spectacular, sobbing performance at Carnegie Hall.

Miss Garland signed for a weekly television series, with much fanfare, in 1963, but it was a failure. The carefully nurtured emotional impact that made each of her performances a special event was lost in the weekly program.

The Columbia Broadcasting System dropped the show after one season, amid loud complaints from the voluble legion of Garland fans.

Seemingly undaunted, she set out for Australia on another concert tour. Again she was plagued by "laryngitis."

When Miss Garland left Australia, she spoke wistfully about retiring and devoting herself to her three children, Liza Minnelli, 18, Lorna Luft, 11, and Joseph Luft, 9.

After her divorce from Mr. Luft, Miss Garland admitted to friends that she sometimes felt "like I'm living in a blizzard."

In 1965 she married Mark Herron, an actor. Two years later, they were divorced.

She went to London at the end of 1968 for a five-week cabaret appearance and announced she would marry Mr. Deans.

Looking slim and relaxed, Miss Garland won a standing ovation at her first London appearance. But then she began to appear late for performances, and one night walked off the stage when she was heckled by the audience, whom she had kept waiting for an hour and 20 minutes.

A few days later it was announced she was ill and would not finish the last week of the run. Unpredictable as ever, Miss Garland appeared on the stage that night, gave a smash performance and announced that she had married Mr. Deans three weeks earlier in a secret church ceremony.

The confusion from which Miss Garland often seemed to suffer in her personal life apparently extended to her performance in "The Wizard of Oz." Harold Arlen, who composed the score for the film, said she felt most deeply about the song "Over the Rainbow."

He quoted yesterday from a letter he said he had received from Miss Garland. She wrote:

"As for my feelings toward 'Over the Rainbow,' it's become part of my life. It is so symbolic of all my dreams and wishes that I'm sure that's why people sometimes get tears in their eyes when they hear it."

But recently recalling her role in "The Wizard" in another context, she said, "I was really little tortured Tillie in the whole damn thing."




: Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, and Bert Lahr

Judy with mother, sister, neice

Judy Garland Profile - Turner Classic Movies

Along with Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, Judy Garland has emerged an iconic figure in show business. A child performer with no formal education, she led a life of great highs and deep lows; through it all though, her inestimable talent shown. While she proved herself onscreen as a capable musical star and occasional serious actress, Garland thrived in live performance where her dramatic abilities were tested with each song she sang. Even in later life as she struggled with various illnesses and addictions, she delivered, in the words of The New York Times critic Stephen Holden, "pure feeling....Like no other American singer, Garland erased the line between laughter and tears, suggesting a barely suppressed hysteria with each grasp and choked-up cry." Those who saw her perform live spoke of the experience in almost mystical terms. Those not lucky to have that experience can see vestiges of that electricity in her films and videos of her television appearances. 

The youngest of three daughters born to a movie theater manager in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Frances Ethel Gumm (named after both parents) made her stage debut as a two-year-old singing chorus after chorus of "Jingle Bells" from the stage of her father's movie palace. Eventually, 'Baby' (as she was nicknamed) joined her older sisters in a vaudeville act billed as the Gumm Sisters, emerging as the undisputed star with reviewers frequently singling her out for mention. Nevertheless, the Gumm Sisters never really achieved great success, settling instead for tours of the lesser circuits. Even after the family had settled in California and the sisters had made their first film appearance in "Starlet Revue/The Big Revue" in 1929 and in subsequent Vitaphone shorts, they never quite reached the top echelon. While appearing at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1934, George Jessel reportedly suggested they change their surname from Gumm to Garland. As her sisters never used their given names, Frances Ethel adopted the new first name of Judy after Hoagy Carmichael's popular contemporary song. When the oldest sibling got married, the act was disbanded. It also allowed Judy Garland to move from vaudeville to the big screen. 

Summoned to MGM for an audition, Garland landed a contract in 1935. She then made her network radio debut which in turn led to a contract with Decca Records and her first single "Stompin' at the Savoy" (with the Bing Crosby Orchestra). As frequently happened with contract players, she was loaned out to Twentieth Century Fox for her first full-length feature "Pigskin Parade" (1936). Back at Metro, Garland had her breakthrough with her deceptively simple, plaintive rendition of "You Made Me Love You" sung to a photograph of MGM's leading man Clark Gable in "The Broadway Melody of 1938" (1937). Using her tremulous vibrato and imbuing the song with that paradoxical fragility and resilience that would become her hallmark, she emerged as a star-in-the-making. The studio put her in her first leading role opposite frequent co-star Mickey Rooney in Thoroughbreds Don't Cry(also 1937). She was an emerging teen starlet when MGM awarded her the coveted role of Dorothy Gale in "The Wizard of Oz" (1939). Now a classic from its almost yearly airings on television from the 1950s, the film was a modest success in its day. A fable with a simple moral ("There's no place like home"), "The Wizard of Oz" afforded the youngster the opportunity to cavort with seasoned vaudevillians--Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and Bert Lahr--and more than hold her own. Her now famous rendition of the movie's best-known song, the Oscar®-winning "Over the Rainbow" later became her signature theme, accumulating more meaning as the tragedies in her life unfolded. 

While "The Wizard of Oz" remains one of her best-known films, 1939's "Babes in Arms" (again with Mickey Rooney) solidified her standing with the studio. An adaptation of the Rodgers and Hart stage musical, it gave rise to the cliche of the "let's put on a show" movie musical. What is often lost, however, is Garland's spirited performance and her superlative singing. She and Rooney went on to be paired for a string of films, several in the Andy Hardy series. She enlivened run-of-the-mill projects like "Ziegfeld Girl" (1941) with her sterling rendition of "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" and proved a fine partner for Gene Kelly in the Busby Berkeley-directed "For Me and My Girl" (1942). Girl Crazy (1943) also offered her a fine opportunity to perform another Rodgers and Hart score and remains the best of the three films made from that source material. 

As her professional life was on the ascendant, Garland began the spiral of self-destruction off-screen that would eventually destroy her. Issues of weight would plague the diminutive star; she allegedly became addicted to diet pills during her stint at Metro. Garland also embarked on a messy personal life that included five husbands and numerous "affairs". Nevertheless, she had been trained that the show must go on and she persevered as much as possible until she was physically unable. 

In 1944, Garland starred as Esther Smith in the nostalgic Meet Me in St. Louis, directed by her future second husband Vincente Minnelli. On screen, she glowed and her lovely renditions of such now classic numbers as "The Boy Next Door", "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" elevated the material. (She and her pint-sized co-star Margaret O'Brien also performed a memorable cakewalk to "Under the Bamboo Tree"). The following year, she and Minnelli teamed for one of her rare non-singing performances in the unjustly overlooked romantic comedy The Clock. 1946's "The Harvey Girls" cast her a frontier waitress and she also proved effective impersonating stage star Marilyn Miller in that year's ersatz Jerome Kern biopic "Till the Clouds Roll By". After time off to give birth to daughter Liza Minnelli, Garland roared back in 1948 with several fine performances. She made a perfect partner for Fred Astaire in the Irving Berlin musical Easter Parade, starred opposite Gene Kelly in The Pirate with its lively Cole Porter score and made a final feature appearance with Rooney (singing "I Wish I Were in Love Again") in "Words and Music". 

The signs of her fragile psyche were, however, beginning to manifest themselves. Garland was sometimes late for work or worse, ill-prepared. She was replaced by Ginger Rogers in "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949), Betty Hutton in "Annie Get Your Gun" (1950--the existing footage of Garland gives hints of what might have been had she been in stronger health) and Jane Powell in "Royal Wedding" (also 1950). MGM finally dropped her in 1950 and age 28 with a young daughter and two failed marriages, Judy Garland was washed up in Hollywood. Under the guidance of manager Sid Luft (who became husband number three), she began the second phase of her career--embarking on the first of her concert tours with now legendary appearances at London's Palladium in April 1951. Six months later, Garland opened at the Palace in NYC. With a rejuvenated career and a second child (daughter Lorna Luft, born in 1952), she set about to reconquer Tinseltown. 

In 1942, Garland had appeared in a radio version of "A Star Is Born" directed by Cecil B DeMille and long held the notion of starring in a screen musical version. She had even tried to interest Louis B. Mayer in the project but he dismissed it as "too depressing". She and Luft formed their own production company and nurtured A Star is Bornto fruition. With Moss Hart rewriting the original award-winning script, George Cukor directing and original songs by Harold Arlen (who composed "Over the Rainbow") and Ira Gershwin, the film came to be one of the 1954's most anticipated. Casting the male lead, though, proved a bit more difficult as few of the established names approached (i.e., Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart) wanted to play what is essentially a supporting role. James Mason had no such qualms and was effective, offering one of his best screen performances. Although Warner Bros. was unhappy with the original three-hour-plus running time and cut more than thirty minutes from the film, it still proved to be an artistic and personal triumph for Garland, who reportedly called the film "the story of my life". The finished motion picture picked up six Oscar® nominations including well-deserved ones for Mason as Best Actor and Garland as Best Actress as well as one for the song "The Man That Got Away", which became the singer's second signature number. Despite the hoopla and the accolades, it did not lead to renewed interest by the major studios. 

With no film career, Garland returned to live performing debuting in Las Vegas in 1956 and returning to Manhattan's Palace Theater for an eight-week run. Three years later, she collapsed and was hospitalized. The diagnosis was hepatitis and the singer was reportedly told that she would remain a semi-invalid. As if to prove the doctors wrong, Garland resumed her grueling performance schedule (which also included a 1960 Democratic fundraiser for John F Kennedy) and landed her first screen role in seven years. Cast as a concentration camp survivor called testifying about her experiences in "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961), she offered a heart-breaking performance. Along with the equally troubled Montgomery Clift, Garland was a stand-out in the large cast and both she and Clift garnered Oscar nominations for their supporting roles. It was a fine cap to a year that had also seen her triumph in a concert at Carnegie Hall that was recorded and has remained a best-seller. Garland was only to make two more film appearances, though. John Cassavetes cast her as a teacher who becomes too involved with one of her mentally-challenged student in "A Child Is Waiting" (1962) while the British-made "I Could Go on Singing" (1963) was a soap operaish tale that only soared when she was putting across the musical numbers.

Turning to the relatively new medium of television, she headlined her own variety series "The Judy Garland Show" (CBS, 1963-64), which was aired opposite the popular "Bonanza" on Sunday evenings. While not a ratings winner, the show has come to be seen as a time capsule and a means of preserving this mercurial singer's talents. When the show was canceled, Garland found herself broke, in debt to the IRS for back taxes and essentially homeless (the government had repossessed her house). Trouper that she was and though battling depression and weight problems, she continued to perform live, unsuccessfully attempting to wipe out her debts, up until just before her death of an accidental overdose of prescription pills just weeks after her 47th birthday in 1969. While the term has perhaps come to be overused, "show business legend" certainly applies to the tiny woman with the voice that could move audiences to laughter or tears or both simultaneously. 

The Des Moines Register, 29 May 1964, Page 1

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