Oct 16, 2016

Fascinating Facts About Judy Garland You’d Never Guess From 'Wizard Of Oz.'

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Most of us know her best as Dorothy Gale from the 1939 technicolor film The Wizard of Oz but Judy Garland's life and career went far beyond Kansas and the land of Oz.

Born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, on June 10, 1922 as Frances Ethel Gumm, she began training in vaudeville — variety entertainment featuring acts of song, dance, magic tricks, theater, and more — with her two older sisters. They were known as the Gumm Sisters but were encouraged to change their name to appeal to audiences. They decided on Garland by 1934.

By 13, Judy was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) but the studio wasn't quite sure what to do with her. As a teen, she was too old to play a child but still too young and wholesome in appearance to play any sultry, glamorous roles. Throughout her career, she faced body image and self-esteem issues, struggling to fit into the girl-next-door image the studio created for her. She was reportedly given amphetamines and tobacco to suppress her appetite and pills to stay up and keep her in line with hectic scheduling.

The pressures of Hollywood reportedly led her to drug addiction, suicide attempts, and eventually to her tragic death from a barbiturate overdose on June 22, 1969 shortly after celebrating her 47th birthday.

Despite her tragic departure, Garland remains a legend for her mastery in drama, contralto vocals, and dynamic live performances.

A Very Vaudevillian Beginning

Before she was Judy Garland, she was called ‘Baby’ and performed alongside her two older sisters, Mary Jane and Virginia, in a vaudeville trio called The Gumm Sisters.

A Very Vaudevillian Beginning

Bettmann / Getty Images

Signing with Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Here’s a photo of Judy Garland at just 13 years old on the day that she signed with Metro Goldwyn Mayer, one of the most revered studios at the time.

Signing with Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Starring Alongside Mickey Rooney

After performing “You Made Me Love You” at Clark Gable’s surprise birthday party, she was immediately cast in projects with Mickey Rooney.

Starring Alongside Mickey Rooney

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

"I've always taken 'The Wizard of Oz' very seriously, you know. I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I've spent my entire life trying to get over it."

"I've always taken 'The Wizard of Oz' very seriously, you know. I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I've spent my entire life trying to get over it."

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Preparing for Her Role as Dorothy Gale

As aforementioned, Garland was at an awkward age from the studio’s perspective. When she was cast in The Wizard of Oz, there were a number of things done to make her appear younger than her age (16 at the time). For example, she wore a brace to make her bust appear like that of a younger girl.

Preparing for Her Role as Dorothy Gale

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The 1939 Academy Awards

At the 1939 Academy Awards, Garland received a Juvenile Award for her performance in her signature role as Dorothy and also for her performance in Babes in Arms

The 1939 Academy Awards

Seth Joel / Corbis

Marriage and Children

The star was married a total of five times. She wed musician David Rose, director Vincente Minnelli (together they had a daughter Liza Minnelli), producer Michael Sidney Luft, actor Mark Herron (who later revealed that he was homosexual), and musician and entrepreneur Mickey Deans, who stayed with her until her death in 1969.

Marriage and Children

Entertainment Pictures / Northfoto

A Brand New Image

At 21, Garland appeared before her fans in new light in Presenting Lily Mars. In contrast to her girl-next-door image, she was now stylish and sophisticated.

A Brand New Image

Brown Brothers

Here she is in Vincente Minnelli’s 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis. For this project, she received the services of makeup artist Dorothy Ponedel who further transformed her appearance. Notice the changes in the shape of her brow, hairline, and lip line.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Easter Parade with Fred Astaire

Even though she was famous by the time she was offered a role in Easter Parade, she hadn’t yet met her co-star Fred Astaire. One of their first scenes to shoot was a kissing scene, and she reportedly felt very nervous.

Easter Parade with Fred Astaire

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Departure from MGM

You can spot a three-year-old Liza Minnelli in the final scene of In the Good Old Summertime. This film was the second to last that Garland made with MGM. After a series of personal issues, she left the studio in 1950 after having worked with them for 15 years.

Departure from MGM

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

"If I am a legend, then why am I so lonely?"

"If I am a legend, then why am I so lonely?"

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

A Star is Born

Garland fought for a comeback and wowed audiences in George Cukor’s A Star is Born for Warner Bros. She was said to have been the victim of the ‘biggest robbery’ when the 1954 Oscar for Best Actress went to Grace Kelly. The votes were said to have been just six votes apart.

A Star is Born

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Making History at the 4th Annual Grammy Awards in 1962

Did you know that she was the first woman to win a Grammy for Album of the Year? She received this honor for her live recording of Judy at Carnegie Hall.

Making History at the 4th Annual Grammy Awards in 1962

Capitol / Judy Garland

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."

Bettmann / CORBIS

Judy Garland's Fanbase

It is widely known that many of Garland’s fans were gay men. They admired her abilities as a performer and related her personal struggles in the industry with their own. She was dubbed by the American LGBT-interest magazine as ‘The Elvis of homosexuals.’

When an interviewer asked her about her gay fans, she responded that she had been mistreated by the press and would ‘be damned if [she’d] have [her] audience mistreated.’

Judy Garland's Fanbase

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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