Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 June 22, 1969) was an American actress and singer who had huge success during The Golden Age of Hollywood, mostly known nowadays for her role as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.
She began her film career as a child actress in a group called the Gumm Sisters, before being signed with MGM in the 1930s. According to Garland and her biographers, her mother was a cruel Stage Mom who pushed her into performing from a very young age and forced her to take both sleeping and diet pills, but many of her unpleasant memories of her mother may be fabricated or embellished.
Her producers were harsh to her, encouraging her to take amphetamines to work longer hours. They also told her she wouldn't be as beautiful as her other co-stars, and Louis B. Mayer (the second M of MGM) frequently referred to her as "the fat one" or "the Hunchback". Probably because of this, she fell into drug addiction quite young.
Garland was married five times before her death at the age of 47 due to drug overdose. From her marriage to film-maker Vincente Minnelli (with whom she made three films), she had a daughter, Liza Minnelli, herself an accomplished actress.
She has ascended into pop culture as a gay icon, owing in no small part to the fact that much of her early life mirrored that of many gay men - and it probably helps that she regularly socialized with gay men, often accompanying them to gay bars. The use of the rainbow as a symbol for gay culture is probably due in some part to Garland's song "Over the Rainbow" in The Wizard of Oz. According to her daughters, she would have loved that.
Productions Judy Garland was involved in include:
- Three Andy Hardy films: Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), Andy Hardy Meets Dubutante (1940), and Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941).
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- Babes in Arms (1939)
- Babes On Broadway (1941)
- Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
- For Me and My Gal (1942)
- Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
- Ziegfeld Follies (1945) (1945)
- The Harvey Girls (1946)
- The Pirate (1948)
- Easter Parade (1948)
- In the Good Old Summertime (1949)
- Summer Stock (1950)
- A Star Is Born (1954)
- Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
- Gay Purr-ee (1962)
- A Child Is Waiting (1963)
Tropes associated with Judy Garland:
- All the Good Men Are Gay: By sheer coincidence, three of her five husbands turned out to be closeted gay men, including Vincente Minnelli, who fathered her daughter Liza (and as proof that the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, Liza's first husband, Peter Allen, was also a closeted gay man).
- And You Were There: In The Wizard of Oz.
- Anti-Christmas Song: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". Purportedly, the song was supposed to be even more depressing - with lyrics such as "have yourself a merry little Christmas / it may be your last / next year we may all be living in the past" - but Garland refused to sing that version.
- Breakup Breakout: She was a vaudeville performer with her older sisters.
- Fag Hag:
- Married three closeted gay men, and regularly socialized with them, particularly her lifelong friend director George Cukor (who she often accompanied to gay bars).
- Her fame in the gay community led to the euphemism "Friends of Dorothy," which itself led to the Navy's Intelligence department coming to believe that there was a secret dating ring of homosexual sailors organized by a woman named Dorothy!
- The Great Depression
- Hey, Let's Put on a Show: Together with Mickey Rooney in the '30s.
- Hollywood Homely: While nowadays she is considered to be one of the most beautiful actresses of her era, with her Girl Next Door charm, early in her career the studio heads compared her unfavorable to some of her more glamorous contemporaries, particualrly Lana Turner. Louis B. Mayer was famously quoted as calling Judy "my little hunchback."
- "I Want" Song: Her most famous (and possibly the most famous) number, "Over the Rainbow".
- Like Brother and Sister: She and Mickey Rooney were always very close, and despite both of their checkered romantic careers, evidently were never more than good friends.
- The Münchausen: Her daughter Liza Minnelli commented that Garland never let facts get in the way of telling a good story.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When Garland became pregnant for the first time at the age of 20, her studio, her mother and her then-husband all but forced her to have an abortion for the sake of her career. The experience traumatized her, and it's widely believed that it contributed to her substance abuse later in life.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Famously, her large breasts were strapped down for The Wizard of Oz.
- One-Take Wonder: For her part in The Harvey Girls song "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe", Judy filmed The Oner of Susan coming off the train and singing her solo until the tempo change perfectly on the first take. They did do one more for safety however.
- The Pollyanna: Despite her difficulties over the years, this has been reported to be her default attitude.
- She Is All Grown Up: Getting fed up at being cast as adolescents when she was in her twenties, she reluctantly took the role of Esther Smith in Meet Me in St. Louis. Her look for the film showed her in a much more grown-up and attractive light, and she later claimed it was the first time a film had ever made her feel beautiful.
- Signature Song: "Over the Rainbow", which is rivaled only by "The Man That Got Away" (from A Star Is Born) as the most iconic song of her career.note
- Stage Names: She and her sisters performed under their real names for a while. But apparently after being mispronounced as the Glum, Bum or Dumb sisters one too many times, they were renamed the Garland Sisters - and Frances was renamed Judy.
- Suppressed Mammaries: Infamously, to make her look younger for her role as Dorothy Gale.
- Weight Woe: She struggled with her weight particularly during the 1940s, not helped by having been put on diet pills as a teenager. She was savaged by critics for being too thin in The Harvey Girls, but then dropped from Annie Get Your Gun for gaining too much weight.
- Vocal Dissonance: Even when she was young, her singing voice was much deeper and more mature-sounding than her normal, speaking voice which was in a higher register. Very apparent when listening to "Over the Rainbow", which she sang when she was sixteen.
- World War II: She played a Glamorous Wartime Singer in For Me and My Gal (which is set in World War I).
- Younger Than They Look: Garland aged horribly in later years due in no small part to her alcoholism, heavy smoking, and drug abuse. When she died in 1969 at age 47, she looked at least 60. Take a look, if you're interested.