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Judy Garland ( 1922 - 1962 )  Category ( Celebrities ) [suggest a correction]

Judy GarlandJudy Garland, an American actress best known for her portrayal of Dorothy in the childhood favorite, The Wizard of Oz, was born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in 1922. The youngest of three sisters, Judy began her life on the stage as a toddler, her first performance took place at her father's movie theater during a Christmas show. In her father's theater she began her career modestly, performing in shows with her sisters as her mother played the piano. Eventually, following a minor scandal involving her father and several male ushers at the theater, the Gumm family moved to Lancaster, California.

Garland and her sisters performed together under the name "The Gumm Sisters" until actor, George Jessel, convinced the troupe to change their last name to something that would incite less laughter from the audience. The origins of the last name Garland is unclear, but most stories speculate that it was Jessel's idea. The name stuck and helped propel Garland's career that would span 45 years.

In 1935, Garland signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and became a highly profitable commodity, despite that she was considered the ugly duckling amongst other signed actresses. Her short stature of 4 feet 11.5 inches often casted her into the girl-next-door role which contrasted with the glamorous roles her peers were booked for. Yet her success was unwavering, as she was paired with Andy Rooney in films such as the sensational Love Finds Andy Hardy as well as 9 other films.

At age 16, Garland would take the lead role as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, where she would be remembered for her rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". At the 1940 Academy Awards, Garland would be awarded an Academy Juvenile Award for her performances in The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms, in which she starred alongside Mickey Rooney. Later awards would include the Special Tony Award, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, a Grammy Award for Album of the Year, as well as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, among many others.

While Judy Garland's early life was filled with the grandeur of being a successful young star appearing on the silver screen, her adult life would bring forth a myriad of complications. Garland suffered from nervous breakdowns and became addicted to pain medication and sleeping pills. Eventually she would survive an attempted suicide; in which she attempted to cut her neck with broken glass.

Garland jumped back into theater in 1951 by opening the Palace Theater, the same year she would divorce Vincente Minnelli, with whom she gave birth to Liza Minnelli. In 1952, she married Sid Luft, who became was her manager. Their first child, Lorna, was born in November the same year. Garland divorced Luft in 1965 on the grounds that Luft became physically abusive when intoxicated. Her fifth and final marriage would be in 1969 to Mickey Deans, her discotheque manager whom she met in 1967.

She performed in various films for Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox until her death on June 22, 1969. The cause of death stated by the coroner was an overdose of barbiturates, but suggests that it was not the result of a suicide.

Image: Re-cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailer for the film A Star Is Born, 1954.

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