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Judy Garland

One of the brightest, most tragic movie stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era. She was a much-loved character whose warmth and spirit, along with her rich and exuberant voice, kept us entertained with an array of delightful musicals.

Judy Garland

Filmography

1929      

The Big Revue

 

1930      

A Holiday in Storyland

Bubbles

The Wedding of Jack and Jill

 

1935      

La Fiesta de Santa Barbara

 

1936      

Every Sunday

Pigskin Parade

 

1937      

Broadway Melody of 1938

Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry

 

1938      

Everybody Sing

Love Finds Andy Hardy

Listen, Darling

 

1939      

The Wizard of Oz

Babes in Arms

 

1940      

Andy Hardy Meets Debutante

Strike Up the Band

Little Nellie Kelly

 

1941      

Ziegfeld Girl

Life Begins for Andy Hardy

Babes on Broadway

 

1942      

We Must Have Music

For Me and My Gal

 

1943      

Thousands Cheer

Presenting Lily Mars

Girl Crazy

 

1944      

Meet Me in St. Louis

 

1945      

The Clock

Ziegfeld Follies

 

1946      

The Harvey Girls

Till the Clouds Roll By

 

1948      

The Pirate

Easter Parade

Words and Music

 

1949      

In the Good Old Summertime

 

1950      

Summer Stock

 

1954      

A Star Is Born

 

1960      

Pepe

 

1961      

Judgment at Nuremberg

 

1962      

Gay Purr-ee

 

1963      

A Child Is Waiting

I Could Go On Singing

Awards

Judy Garland received a Juvenile Academy Award in 1940 and was nominated for two competitive Academy Awards

In the silence of night I have often wished for just a few words of love from one man, rather than the applause of thousands of people. ~ Judy Garland

Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. She was the youngest child of Ethel Marion (née Milne) and Francis Avent “Frank” Gumm. Her parents were vaudevillians who settled in Grand Rapids to run a movie theater that featured vaudeville acts.

“Baby” (as she was called by her parents and sisters) shared her family’s flair for song and dance. Her first appearance came at the age of two-and-a-half, when she joined her older sisters Mary Jane “Suzy/Suzanne” Gumm and Dorothy Virginia “Jimmie” Gumm on the stage of her father’s movie theater during a Christmas show and sang a chorus of “Jingle Bells”. The Gumm Sisters performed there for the next few years, accompanied by their mother on piano.

The family relocated to Lancaster, California, in June 1926, following rumors that her father had made sexual advances towards male ushers. Frank purchased and operated another theater in Lancaster, and Ethel began managing her daughters and working to get them into motion pictures. Garland attended Hollywood High School and later graduated from University High School.

In 1928, the Gumm Sisters enrolled in a dance school run by Ethel Meglin, proprietress of the Meglin Kiddies dance troupe. They appeared with the troupe at its annual Christmas show. Through the Meglin Kiddies, they made their film debut in a 1929 short subject called The Big Revue, where they performed a song-and-dance number called “That’s the good old sunny south”. This was followed by appearances in two Vitaphone shorts the following year: A Holiday in Storyland (featuring Garland’s first on-screen solo) and The Wedding of Jack and Jill. They next appeared together in Bubbles. Their final on-screen appearance came in 1935, in an MGM Technicolor short entitled La Fiesta de Santa Barbara.

The trio had been touring the vaudeville circuit as “The Gumm Sisters” for many years when they performed in Chicago at the Oriental Theater with George Jessel in 1934. He encouraged the group to choose a more appealing name after “Gumm” was met with laughter from the audience. According to theater legend, their act was once erroneously billed at a Chicago theater as “The Glum Sisters”.

By late 1934, the Gumm Sisters had changed their name to the Garland Sisters. Frances changed her name to “Judy” soon after, inspired by a popular Hoagy Carmichael song. The group broke up by August 1935, when Suzanne Garland flew to Reno, Nevada, and married musician Lee Kahn, a member of the Jimmy Davis orchestra playing at Cal-Neva Lodge, Lake Tahoe.

In September 1935, Louis B. Mayer asked songwriter Burton Lane to go to the Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles to watch the Garland Sisters’ vaudeville act and to report to him. A few days later, Judy and her father were brought for an impromptu audition at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in Culver City. Garland performed “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” and “Eli, Eli”, a Yiddish song written in 1896 and very popular in vaudeville. They immediately signed Garland to a contract with MGM, presumably without a screen test, though she had made a test for the studio several months earlier. The studio did not know what to do with her, as at age thirteen, she was older than the traditional child star, but too young for adult roles.

Her physical appearance was a dilemma for MGM. She was only 4 feet 11.5 inches (151.1 cm), and her “cute” or “girl-next-door” looks did not exemplify the most glamorous persona required of leading ladies of the time. She was self-conscious and anxious about her appearance.

During her early years at the studio, she was photographed and dressed in plain garments or frilly juvenile gowns and costumes to match the “girl-next-door” image created for her. They had her wear removable caps on her teeth and rubberized discs to reshape her nose.

Garland performed at various studio functions and was eventually cast opposite Deanna Durbin in the musical-short Every Sunday. The film contrasted her vocal range and swing style with Durbin’s operatic soprano and served as an extended screen test for the pair, as studio executives were questioning the wisdom of having two girl singers on the roster. Mayer finally decided to keep both actresses, but by that time, Durbin’s option had lapsed and she was signed by Universal Studios.

On November 16, 1935, Garland was in the midst of preparing for a radio performance on the Shell Chateau Hour when she learned that her father had been hospitalized with meningitis and had taken a turn for the worse. Frank Gumm died the following morning at age forty-nine, leaving her devastated at age thirteen. Her song for the Shell Chateau Hour was her first professional rendition of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart“, a song which became a standard in many of her concerts.

Garland came to the attention of studio executives when she sang a special arrangement of “You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want to Do It)” to Clark Gable at a birthday party that the studio arranged for the actor. Her rendition was so well regarded that she performed the song in the all-star extravaganza Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), when she sang to a photograph of him.

Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940)

Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940)

MGM hit on a winning formula when it paired Garland with Mickey Rooney in a string of what were known as “backyard musicals”. The duo first appeared together as supporting characters in the 1937 B movie Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry. Garland was then put in the cast of the fourth of the Hardy Family movies as a literal girl-next-door to Rooney’s character Andy Hardy, in Love Finds Andy Hardy, although Hardy’s love interest was played by Lana Turner. They teamed as lead characters for the first time in Babes in Arms, ultimately appearing in five additional films, including Hardy films Andy Hardy Meets Debutante and Life Begins for Andy Hardy.

Garland stated that she, Rooney, and other young performers were constantly prescribed amphetamines in order to stay awake and keep up with the frantic pace of making one film after another. They were also given barbiturates to take before going to bed, so they could sleep. This regular dose of drugs, she said, led to addiction and a lifelong struggle, and contributed to her eventual demise. She later resented the hectic schedule and felt MGM stole her youth.

Garland was of a healthy weight, but the studio demanded she diet constantly. They even went so far as to serve her only a bowl of soup and a plate of lettuce when she ordered a regular meal. She was plagued with self-doubt throughout her life, despite successful film and recording careers, awards, critical praise, and her ability to fill concert halls worldwide, and she required constant reassurance she was talented and attractive. Rooney, however, denied their childhood studio was responsible for her addiction.

In 1938, she was cast in her most memorable role, as the young Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939), a film based on the 1900 children’s book by L. Frank Baum. In this film, she sang the song with which she would be identified, “Over the Rainbow“. Although producers Arthur Freed and Mervyn LeRoy had wanted her from the start, studio chief Mayer first tried to borrow Shirley Temple from 20th Century Fox, but they declined. Deanna Durbin was then asked, but was unavailable, resulting in Garland being cast.

Garland was initially outfitted in a blonde wig for the part, but Freed and LeRoy decided against it shortly into filming. Her blue gingham dress was chosen for its blurring effect on her figure, which made her look younger. Shooting commenced on October 13, 1938, and was completed on March 16, 1939, with a final cost of more than $2 million. With the conclusion of filming, MGM kept Garland busy with promotional tours and the shooting of Babes in Arms, directed by Busby Berkeley. She and Rooney were sent on a cross-country promotional tour, culminating in the August 17 New York City premiere at the Capitol Theater, which included a five-show-a-day appearance schedule for the two stars. Garland was forced into a strict diet during filming; she was given tobacco to suppress her appetite.

The Wizard of Oz was a tremendous critical success, though its high budget and promotions costs of an estimated $4 million (equivalent to $70.4 million in 2018), coupled with the lower revenue generated by discounted children’s tickets, meant that the film did not make a profit until it was rereleased in the 1940s and in subsequent rereleases. At the 1939 Academy Awards ceremony, Garland received her only academy award, a Juvenile Award for her performances in 1939, including The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms. Following this recognition, she became one of MGM’s most bankable stars

In 1940, she starred in three films: Andy Hardy Meets Debutante, Strike Up the Band, and Little Nellie Kelly. In the last, she played her first adult role, a dual role of both mother and daughter. Little Nellie Kelly was purchased from George M. Cohan as a vehicle for her to display both her audience appeal and her physical appearance. The role was a challenge for her, requiring the use of an accent, her first adult kiss, and the only death scene of her career. Her costar George Murphy regarded the kiss as embarrassing. He said it felt like “a hillbilly with a child bride.” Nevertheless, the success of these three films and a further three films in 1941 secured her position at MGM as a major property.

During this time, Garland was still in her teens when she experienced her first serious adult romances. The first was with bandleader Artie Shaw. She was deeply devoted to him and was devastated in early 1940 when he eloped with Lana Turner. Garland began a relationship with musician David Rose, and on her 18th birthday, he gave her an engagement ring. The studio intervened because, at that time, he was still married to actress and singer Martha Raye. They agreed to wait a year to allow for his divorce to become final. During that time Garland had a brief affair with songwriter Johnny Mercer. After her break-up with Mercer, Garland and Rose were wed on July 27, 1941. “A true rarity” is what media called it. Garland had aborted her pregnancy by Rose in 1942; the pair agreed to a trial separation in January 1943 and divorced in 1944. She was noticeably thinner in her next film, For Me and My Gal, alongside Gene Kelly in his first screen appearance. She was top-billed in the credits for the first time and effectively made the transition from teenage star to adult actress.

Judy Garland in Presenting Lily Mars

Judy Garland in Presenting Lily Mars

At age 21, she was given the “glamor treatment” in Presenting Lily Mars, in which she was dressed in “grown-up” gowns. Her lightened hair was also pulled up in a stylish fashion. However, no matter how glamorous or beautiful she appeared on screen or in photographs, she was never confident in her appearance and never escaped the “girl-next-door” image that the studio had created for her.

One of Garland’s most successful films for MGM was Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), in which she introduced three standards: “The Trolley Song“, “The Boy Next Door“, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas“. This was one of the first films in her career that gave her the opportunity to be the attractive leading lady, rather than the dowdy girl next door. Vincente Minnelli was assigned to direct, and he requested that makeup artist Dorothy Ponedel be assigned to Garland. Ponedel refined her appearance in several ways, including extending and reshaping her eyebrows, changing her hairline, modifying her lip line and removing her nose discs and dental caps. She appreciated the results so much that Ponedel was written into her contract for all her remaining pictures at MGM.

At this time, Garland had a brief affair with film director Orson Welles, who at that time was married to Rita Hayworth. The affair ended in early 1945, although they remained on good terms afterward.

During the filming of Meet Me in St. Louis, Garland and Minnelli had some initial conflict between them, but they entered into a relationship and married on June 15, 1945. On March 12, 1946, daughter Liza was born. The couple divorced by 1951.

The Clock (1945) was Garland’s first straight dramatic film, opposite Robert Walker. Though the film was critically praised and earned a profit, most movie fans expected her to sing. She did not act again in a non-singing dramatic role for many years. Garland’s other films of the 1940s include The Harvey Girls (1946), in which she introduced the Academy Award-winning song “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe”, and Till the Clouds Roll By (1946).

During filming for The Pirate in April 1947, Garland suffered a nervous breakdown and was placed in a private sanitarium. She was able to complete filming, but in July, she made her first suicide attempt, making minor cuts to her wrist with a broken glass. During this period, she spent two weeks in treatment at the Austen Riggs Center, a psychiatric hospital in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The Pirate was released in 1948 and was the first film in which Garland had starred since The Wizard of Oz to not make a profit. The main reasons for its failure was not only its cost, but also the increasing expense of the shooting delays while Garland was ill, as well because the general public was not yet willing to accept her in a sophisticated vehicle. Following her work on The Pirate, she co-starred for the first and only time with Fred Astaire (who replaced Gene Kelly after Kelly had broken his ankle) in Easter Parade, which became her top-grossing film at MGM and quickly re-established her as one of MGM’s primary assets.

Thrilled by the huge box-office receipts of Easter Parade, MGM immediately teamed Garland and Astaire in The Barkleys of Broadway. During the initial filming, Garland was taking prescription sleeping medication along with illicitly obtained pills containing morphine. Around this time, she also developed a serious problem with alcohol. These, in combination with migraine headaches, led her to miss several shooting days in a row. After being advised by her doctor that she would only be able to work in four- to five-day increments with extended rest periods between, MGM executive Arthur Freed made the decision to suspend her on July 18, 1948. She was replaced in the film by Ginger Rogers. When her suspension was over, she was summoned back to work and ultimately performed two songs as a guest in the Rodgers and Hart biopic Words and Music, which was her last appearance with Mickey Rooney. Despite the all-star cast, Words and Music barely broke even at the box office. Having regained her strength, as well as some needed weight during her suspension, Garland felt much better and, in the fall of 1948, she returned to MGM to replace a pregnant June Allyson for the musical film In the Good Old Summertime co-starring Van Johnson. Although she was sometimes late arriving at the studio during the making of this picture, she managed to complete it five days ahead of schedule. Her daughter Liza made her film debut at the age of two and a half at the end of the film. In The Good Old Summertime was enormously successful at the box office.

Garland was then cast in the film adaptation of Annie Get Your Gun in the title role of Annie Oakley. She was nervous at the prospect of taking on a role strongly identified with Ethel Merman, anxious about appearing in an unglamorous part after breaking from juvenile parts for several years and disturbed by her treatment at the hands of director Busby Berkeley. Berkeley was staging all the musical numbers, and was severe with Garland’s lack of effort, attitude, and enthusiasm. She complained to Mayer, trying to have Berkeley fired from the feature. She began arriving late to the set and sometimes failed to appear. At this time, she was also undergoing electroshock therapy for depression. She was fired from the picture on May 10, 1949, and was replaced by Betty Hutton, who stepped in performing all the musical routines as staged by Berkeley.

Garland underwent an extensive hospital stay at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, in which she was weaned off her medication, and after a while, was able to eat and sleep normally. Garland returned to Los Angeles heavier, and in the fall of 1949, was cast opposite Gene Kelly in Summer Stock. The film took six months to complete. To lose weight, Garland went back on the pills and the familiar pattern resurfaced. She began showing up late or not at all. When principal photography on Summer Stock was completed in the spring of 1950, it was decided that Garland needed an additional musical number. She agreed to do it provided the song should be “Get Happy“. In addition, she insisted that director Charles Walters choreograph and stage the number. By that time, Garland had lost 15 pounds and looked more slender. “Get Happy” was the last segment of Summer Stock to be filmed. It was her final picture for MGM. When it was released in the fall of 1950, Summer Stock drew big crowds and racked up very respectable box-office receipts, but because of the costly shooting delays caused by Garland, the film posted a loss of $80,000 to the studio.

Garland was cast in the film Royal Wedding with Fred Astaire after June Allyson became pregnant in 1950. She failed to report to the set on multiple occasions, and the studio suspended her contract on June 17, 1950. She was replaced by Jane Powell. Reputable biographies following her death stated that after this latest dismissal, she slightly grazed her neck with a broken glass, requiring only a band-aid, but at the time, the public was informed that a despondent Garland had slashed her throat. In September 1950, after 15 years with the studio, Garland and MGM parted company.

In 1951, Garland began a four-month concert tour of Britain and Ireland, where she played to sold-out audiences throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. The successful concert tour was the first of her many comebacks, with performances centered on songs by Al Jolson and revival of vaudevillian “tradition”. Garland performed complete shows as tributes to Jolson in her concerts at the London Palladium in April and at New York’s Palace Theater later that year. Her appearances at the Palladium lasted for four weeks, where she received rave reviews and an ovation described by the Palladium manager as the loudest he had ever heard.

Garland’s engagement at the Palace Theatre in Manhattan in October 1951 exceeded all previous records for the theater and for Garland, and was called “one of the greatest personal triumphs in show business history”. Garland was honored with a Special Tony Award for her contribution to the revival of vaudeville.

Garland divorced Minnelli that same year. On June 8, 1952, she married Sid Luft, her tour manager and producer, in Hollister, California. Garland gave birth to Lorna Luft, herself a future actress and singer, on November 21, 1952, and to Joey Luft on March 29, 1955.

Garland filmed a musical remake of the film A Star Is Born for Warner Bros. in 1954. Garland and Sidney Luft, her then-husband, produced the film through their production company, Transcona Enterprises, while Warner Bros. supplied the funds, production facilities, and crew. Directed by George Cukor and co-starring James Mason, it was a large undertaking to which she initially fully dedicated herself.

As shooting progressed, however, she began making the same pleas of illness that she had so often made during her final films at MGM. Production delays led to cost overruns and angry confrontations with Warner Bros. head Jack L. Warner. Principal photography wrapped on March 17, 1954. At Luft’s suggestion, the “Born in a Trunk” medley was filmed as a showcase for her and inserted over director Cukor’s objections, who feared the additional length would lead to cuts in other areas. It was completed on July 29.

Upon its world premiere on September 29, 1954, the film was met with tremendous critical and popular acclaim. Before its release, it was edited at the instruction of Jack Warner; theater operators, concerned that they were losing money because they were only able to run the film for three or four shows per day instead of five or six, pressured the studio to make additional reductions. About 30 minutes of footage were cut, sparking outrage among critics and filmgoers. Although it was still popular, drawing huge crowds and grossing over $6,000,000 in its first release, A Star is Born did not make back its cost and ended up losing money. As a result, the secure financial position Garland had expected from the profits did not materialize.  

Garland was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and in the run-up to the 27th Academy Awards, was generally expected to win. She could not attend the ceremony because she had just given birth to her son, Joseph Luft, so a television crew was in her hospital room with cameras and wires to broadcast her anticipated acceptance speech. The Oscar was won, however, by Grace Kelly for The Country Girl (1954). The camera crew was packing up before Kelly could even reach the stage. Groucho Marx sent her a telegram after the awards ceremony, declaring her loss “the biggest robbery since Brinks.” TIME labeled her performance as “just about the greatest one-woman show in modern movie history”. Garland won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the role.

Garland’s films after A Star Is Born included Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) (for which she was Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated for Best Supporting Actress), the animated feature Gay Purr-ee (1962), and A Child Is Waiting (1963) with Burt Lancaster. Her final film was I Could Go On Singing (1963), co-starring Dirk Bogarde

Garland appeared in a number of television specials beginning in 1955. The first was the 1955 debut episode of Ford Star Jubilee; this was the first full-scale color broadcast ever on CBS and was a ratings triumph, scoring a 34.8 Nielsen rating. She signed a three-year, $300,000 contract with the network. Only one additional special was broadcast in 1956, a live concert-edition of General Electric Theater, before the relationship between the Lufts and CBS broke down in a dispute over the planned format of upcoming specials.

In 1956, Garland performed for four weeks at the New Frontier Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip for a salary of $55,000 per week, making her the highest-paid entertainer to work in Las Vegas. Despite a brief bout of laryngitis, her performances there were so successful that her run was extended an extra week. Later that year, she returned to the Palace Theatre, site of her two-a-day triumph. She opened in September, once again to rave reviews and popular acclaim.

In November 1959, Garland was hospitalized after she was diagnosed with acute hepatitis. Over the next few weeks, several quarts of fluid were drained from her body until she was released from the hospital in January 1960, still in a weak condition. She was told by doctors that she likely had five years or less to live and that, even if she did survive, she would be a semi-invalid and would never sing again. She initially felt “greatly relieved” at the diagnosis. “The pressure was off me for the first time in my life.” However, she recovered over the next several months, and in August of that year, returned to the stage of the Palladium. She felt so warmly embraced by the British that she announced her intention to move permanently to England.

Her concert appearance at Carnegie Hall on April 23, 1961, was a considerable highlight, called by many “the greatest night in show business history”. The two-record album Judy at Carnegie Hall was certified gold, charting for 95 weeks on Billboard, including 13 weeks at number one. It won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal of the Year, and has never been out of print.

In 1961, Garland and CBS settled their contract disputes with the help of her new agent, Freddie Fields, and negotiated a new round of specials. The first, titled The Judy Garland Show, aired on February 25, 1962 and featured guests Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Following this success, CBS made a $24 million offer to her for a weekly television series of her own, also to be called The Judy Garland Show, which was deemed at the time in the press to be “the biggest talent deal in TV history”. Although she had said as early as 1955 that she would never do a weekly television series, in the early 1960s, she was in a financially precarious situation. She was several hundred thousand dollars in debt to the Internal Revenue Service, having failed to pay taxes in 1951 and 1952, and the failure of A Star is Born meant that she received nothing from that investment. A successful run on television was intended to secure her financial future.

Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in The Judy Garland Show (1963)

Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in The Judy Garland Show (1963)

Following a third special, Judy Garland and Her Guests Phil Silvers and Robert Goulet, Garland’s weekly series debuted September 29, 1963. The Judy Garland Show was critically praised, but for a variety of reasons (including being placed in the time slot opposite Bonanza on NBC), the show lasted only one season and was cancelled in 1964 after 26 episodes. Despite its short run, the series was nominated for four Emmy Awards, including Best Variety Series. The demise of the program was personally and financially devastating for Garland

In 1963, Garland sued Luft for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty. She also asserted that he had repeatedly struck her while he was drinking and that he had attempted to take their children from her by force. She had filed for divorce from Luft on several previous occasions, even as early as 1956, but they had reconciled each time.

After her television series was cancelled, Garland returned to the stage. Most notably, she performed at the London Palladium with her 18-year-old daughter Liza Minnelli in November 1964. The concert was also shown on the British television network ITV and was one of her final appearances at the venue. She made guest appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. Garland guest-hosted an episode of The Hollywood Palace with Vic Damone. She was invited back for a second episode in 1966 with Van Johnson as her guest. Problems with Garland’s behavior ended her Hollywood Palace guest appearances.

A 1964 tour of Australia was largely disastrous. Garland’s first concert in Sydney was held in the Sydney Stadium because no concert hall could accommodate the overflow crowds who wanted to see her. It went well and received positive reviews. Her second performance, in Melbourne, started an hour late. The crowd of 7,000 was angered by her tardiness and believed that she was drunk; they booed and heckled her, and she fled the stage after 45 minutes. She later characterized the Melbourne crowd as “brutish”. A second concert in Sydney was uneventful, but the Melbourne appearance garnered her significant bad press. Some of that bad press was deflected by the announcement of a near fatal episode of pleurisy.

Garland’s tour promoter Mark Herron announced that they had married aboard a freighter off the coast of Hong Kong. However, she was not officially divorced from Luft at the time the ceremony was performed. The divorce became final on May 19, 1965, and Herron and she did not legally marry until November 14, 1965; they separated six months later.

In February 1967, Garland was cast as Helen Lawson in Valley of the Dolls for 20th Century Fox. During the filming, she missed rehearsals and was fired in April, replaced by Susan Hayward. Her recording of the song “I’ll Plant My Own Tree” survived, along with her stage clothes.

Returning to the stage, Garland made her last appearances at New York’s Palace Theatre in July, a 27-show stand, performing with her children Lorna and Joey Luft. She wore a sequined pantsuit on stage 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. 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. She married her fifth and final husband, nightclub manager Mickey Deans, at Chelsea Register Office, London, on March 15, 1969, her divorce from Herron having been finalized on February 11.

On June 22, 1969, Deans found Garland dead in the bathroom of their rented mews house in Chelsea, London; she was 47 years old. At the inquest, Coroner Gavin Thurston stated that the cause of death was “an incautious self-overdosage” of barbiturates; her blood contained the equivalent of 10 1.5-grain (97 mg) Seconal capsules. Thurston stressed that the overdose had been unintentional and that no evidence suggested she had committed suicide. Garland’s autopsy showed no inflammation of her stomach lining and no drug residue in her stomach, which indicated that the drug had been ingested over a long period of time, rather than in a single dose. Her death certificate stated that her death had been “accidental”. Supporting the accidental cause, her doctor noted that a prescription of 25 barbiturate pills was found by her bedside half-empty and another bottle of 100 was still unopened.

A British specialist who had attended her autopsy said she had nevertheless been living on borrowed time owing to cirrhosis, although a later autopsy showed no evidence of alcoholism or cirrhosis.  She died twelve days after her forty-seventh birthday. Forensic pathologist Jason Payne-James believed that Garland had an eating disorder, which contributed to her death.

After her body had been embalmed by Desmond Henley, Deans took Garland’s remains to New York City on June 26, where an estimated 20,000 people lined up to pay their respects at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel in Manhattan, which remained open all night long to accommodate the overflow crowd. On June 27, James Mason gave a eulogy at the funeral, an Episcopal service led by the Rev. Peter A. Delaney of St Marylebone Parish Church, London, who had officiated at her marriage to Deans, three months prior. The public and press were barred. She was interred in a crypt in the community mausoleum at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, a small town 24 miles north of midtown Manhattan.

At the insistence of her children, Garland’s remains were disinterred from Ferncliff Cemetery in January 2017 and re-interred 2,800 miles across the country at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

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