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" Final Resting Place of Judy Garland"
10th June 1922 - 22nd June 1969
Actress/ Singer star of "The Wizard of Oz" and mother of Lisa Minnalli died of a drugs overdose.
Fern Cliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York.
Judy Garland (June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969), born Frances Ethel Gumm, was an American film actress considered by many to be one of the greatest singing stars of Hollywood's Golden Era of musical film. Garland's singing voice had a natural vibrato, which she was able to maintain at extremely low volume. The effects which she was able to project enabled her to convey a wide range of emotion when she interpreted a song.
Childhood and early life
Born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Frances Ethel Gumm was the youngest child of former vaudevillians Frank Gumm and Ethel Milne. Named for both her parents and baptized at the local Episcopal church, "Baby" (as Frances was nicknamed) shared the family's flair for song and dance. "Baby" Gumm's first professional appearance came at the age of two-and-a-half, when she joined her two older sisters, Mary Jane ("Susie") and Dorothy Virginia ("Jimmie"), on stage for a chorus of Jingle Bells in a Christmas show at her father's theater on December 26, 1924. In 1934, the sisters, who were touring the vaudeville circuit as "The Gumm Sisters", performed in Chicago at the Oriental Theater with George Jessel. He encouraged the group to choose a more appealing name after "Gumm" received small laughter from the audience. They settled on "The Garland Sisters", and young Frances soon afterward picked the name "Judy" after a popular song of the day by Hoagy Carmichael. A rumor persists that Jessel came up with the last name Garland after Carole Lombard's character Lily Garland in the film Twentieth Century, which was playing at the Oriental; another rumor is that the sisters came up with the surname Garland after drama critic Robert Garland (reference: Judy: Beyond the Rainbow, A&E/Biography television special), though Lorna Luft stated in her book Me and My Shadows that her mother chose the name when Jessel announced that the trio of singers "looked prettier than a Garland of flowers".
In 1935, at the age of 13, Garland was signed 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 an arrangement of "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 .
After a string of minor roles, at the age of 16 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." She received an honorary Academy Award for her performance in the film. After Oz, Garland became one of MGM's most bankable stars, proving particularly popular when teamed with her longtime friend 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 frantic 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 (reference: "Judy Garland: By Myself" in the American Masters series on PBS). For Garland, this constant dose of drugs would lead to addiction and a lifelong struggle, 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 worldwide with fans eager to hear her, high critical praise, and several awards.
Her physical appearance was deemed unacceptable by MGM and she was often made to feel unattractive. She did not embody the classic beauty of other starlets and her looks caused her a great deal of anxiety. Therefore, Garland went through a transformation process throughout her film career at MGM. During her early years at the studio, she was photographed and dressed in plain garments, often made to look like the girl next door. She was given the lead in For Me and My Gal (1942), in which she was top billed over the credits for the first time. She made the direct transition from the girl next door to an adult actress. By 1943, she was finally given the "glamour treatment" in Presenting Lily Mars in which she was dressed in a glamorous gown and her hair was pulled-up in a stylish fashion. By 1944, Garland was given a new make-up artist who refined her look by extending and reshaping her eyebrows, tweezing her hairline and filling out her lips with rouge. Interestingly, MGM's attempts to "glamorize" Garland stopped in 1948 in which Garland's appearance again appeared toned down yet refined. Publicly, Garland stated that she was never quite happy with her appearance on screen except in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) and The Clock (1945).
One of Garland's most successful films for MGM 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". The Clock (1945) was her first straight dramatic film opposite Robert Walker. Though the film was critically praised and did earn a profit, most movie fans expected her to sing. Therefore, it would be many years before she acted again in a non-singing dramatic role. Nevertheless, The Clock has become increasingly popular among Garland fans and is considered to be a true war/romance classic.
Garland's other famous films of the 1940s include The Harvey Girls (1946) (in which she introduced "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe"), The Pirate, and Easter Parade (both 1948).
In September 1945, Garland married MGM director Vincente Minnelli and, in March 1946, Garland gave birth to a daughter, Liza. Soon afterward, the hectic work schedule and the exhausting motion picture business began to take its toll on Garland as she returned to MGM, which led to several days' absence from the studio over the next four years as well as numerous incidents; in April 1947, during filming for The Pirate, Garland suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be led away from the set . After this, Garland had a number of other breakdowns that would lead to her departure from MGM; it would also reveal the emotional turmoil that Garland suffered. Two months later, Garland made her first suicide attempt.
End of an era
Garland's relationship with MGM crumbled as the 1950s began. She was originally cast in The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) with Fred Astaire, after the success of Easter Parade. Garland, after missing rehearsals, was suspended by MGM and replaced by Ginger Rogers; she then managed to complete In the Good Old Summertime (1949) with Van Johnson (Garland's 2-year-old daughter Liza Minnelli makes a cameo at the end of the picture).
Garland was signed to appear as Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun (1950), but the film put much strain on her health. After completing two musical numbers, she was fired from the film and replaced by Betty Hutton. (Footage from the two numbers still exists). Garland then completed Summer Stock alongside Gene Kelly, produced by Joe Pasternak and his secondary musical unit (which wasn't as high-powered as the Arthur Freed Unit ). Her performance of "Get Happy" in Summer Stock - dressed in the top half of a man's tuxedo, fedora, and black leotard - became another Garland milestone. (That iconic outfit was first intended to be used for a solo number called "Mr. Monotony" two years before in Easter Parade. The number was cut from the film, but the footage still exists. The general public first saw it when it was included in That's Entertainment! Part III.) When June Allyson became pregnant during the filming of Royal Wedding, Garland was her replacement, but was dropped from the film and immediately put on suspension after she canceled a rehearsal call . She was eventually replaced by Jane Powell.
In June 1950, Garland cut her throat with a piece of glass. Although the cut was superficial, the newspapers glorified the story, and Garland was visited by many well-known celebrities who tried to bring up her spirits. Although many state that it was a suicide attempt, it was more likely a cry for help.
Garland returned to MGM in September 1950. Eleven days later, her MGM contract was terminated.
Renewed stardom on the stage and television
In 1951, Garland divorced Vincente Minnelli and married Sid Luft, her manager at the time. In 1952, a daughter, Lorna Luft, was born. 1951 was a mile-stone year for Garland and established what was to become her performing style for the rest of her life. She turned to live concert appearances and took her new act to Britain where she played to sold out audiences throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. This first European tour was an enormous success and she appeared at the famous London Palladium for the first time. Shortly afterwards, Garland appeared at New York's Palace Theatre, also for the first time, in 1951 for which she received a special Tony Award. She also appeared on various television specials during the early 50s.
In 1954, she made a notable cinema comeback for Warner Bros. with A Star is Born, and was nominated for Best Actress. This film is considered by many critics to be her finest performance. Directed by George Cukor and produced by her husband Sid Luft (through Garland and Luft's Transcona Enterprises), it was a large undertaking in which Garland fully immersed herself. It was also a physically demanding role that had Garland on edge and, for the most part, constantly worried. Upon its release, the film was cut by almost 30 minutes amid fears it was too long. Garland was believed to be the most likely winner for Best Actress. She could not attend the ceremony because she had just given birth to her son Joey Luft; a television crew entered Garland's room with cameras and wires, in the hope that Garland would win the Best Actress award, to televise Garland's award speech. However, the Oscar went to Grace Kelly for The Country Girl (1954). Many fans hold that Garland was "robbed" of her Oscar, and should have won the award. However she did win the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical that year. Garland and Luft's original contract with Warner Bros. ensured a series of films to be made; however, due to the editing of the film, Garland and Luft made no more films for the studio.
Although she made no other films in the 1950s, Garland's films after A Star is Born include Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) (for which she was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role), the animated feature, Gay Purr-ee (1962), A Child Is Waiting (1963), co-starring Burt Lancaster, and her final film, I Could Go On Singing (1963), which mirrored her own life in the story of a fading singing star.
In November 1959, Garland was diagnosed with acute hepatitis and told that she "would never sing again" . However, Garland successfully recovered and returned to both films and television; 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 2-record 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. The album has never been out of print.
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, 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, including the fact it was placed in the same time slot as Bonanza, lasted only one season, and went off the air in 1964, after 26 episodes. Despite this, the show won four Emmy nominations and included amazing performances by Garland as well as some of her best vocal work. The demise of the series was personally and financially devastating for Garland, and she never fully recovered from its failure.
Her final years
With the demise of her television series, Garland returned to the stage and made various television appearances. Most notably, she performed at the London Palladium with her then 17-year-old daughter Liza Minnelli in November of 1964. The concert, which was also filmed for television, was one of Garland's final appearances at the venue. Garland, having divorced Sid Luft, continued to make concert appearances and also appeared on television specials. She made guest appearances on the The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Merv Griffin Show (in which she guest-hosted an episode) and many others.
A 1964 tour of the Southern Hemisphere was largely disastrous. In her Sydney and Melbourne concerts she could no longer hide the effects of her alcohol and medication abuse; she often forgot her lines, and slurred those lines which she still remembered. The Melbourne performance finished after only twenty minutes. When asked what had been making her ill, she is said to have answered: "Australia."
In February 1967, Garland was signed to appear as "Helen Lawson" in Valley of the Dolls for 20th Century Fox. The character of "Neely O'Hara" in the book by Jacqueline Susann, and subsequent movie, was rumored to have been based on Garland, though the role in the film was played by Patty Duke. During the filming, Garland missed rehearsals and was fired the next month. She was replaced by Susan Hayward. She did record one song for the film, "I'll Plant My Own Tree," which has never been officially released, although it is available on several bootlegs. There is also surviving footage of her wardrobe tests.
Barbara Parkins, one of the film's stars, commented in the newly released DVD of Valley of the Dolls that she believed Garland was frightened by the thought of actually being the aging star she was supposed to play, and that she "freaked" when she realized the similarities between the storyline and her own life.
Returning to the stage, Garland made her last appearances at New York's Palace Theatre in July, a sixteen-show tour, performing with her children Lorna and Joey Luft. Garland wore a sequined pants-suit onstage for this tour, which was part of the original wardrobe for her character in Valley of the Dolls.
By early 1969, Garland's health had deteriorated rapidly. She performed in London, at the Talk of the Town nightclub for a five-week run, and made her last concert appearance in Copenhagen during March 1969.
The shortcomings of Garland's childhood years became more apparent as she struggled to overcome various personal problems, including weight gain and serious drug addiction. She was found dead in her bathroom by her last husband, Mickey Deans, on June 22, 1969. The stated exact cause of death by coroner Gavin Thursdon was accidental overdose of barbiturates; pathologist Dr. R. Pocock found 4.9 mg of Seconal in Garland's blood. Garland had turned 47 just over a week prior to her death. She was residing in a rented flat with her husband in the Chelsea section of London at the time of her death.
Upon Garland's death, The Wizard of Oz co-star Ray Bolger commented: "She just plain wore out."
Garland is interred in Ferncliff Cemetery, in Hartsdale, New York.