Judy Garland

Actor / Singer

Born: 10 June 1922
Died: 22 June 1969 (drug overdose)
Birthplace: Grand Rapids, Minnesota
Best known as:

The actress who played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz

Name at birth: Frances Gumm

Judy Garland's performance as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939) won her a special Oscar and gave her a theme song for the rest of her life: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Judy Garland was a child star: as a teen appeared in a series of cheerfully fluffy movies with fellow teen star Mickey Rooney, including Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) and Babes in Arms (1939). In the 1940s she was a song-and-dance star in movies like Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). She was married to director Vincente Minnelli from 1945-51; their daughter Liza Minnelli became a star in her own right. (Garland eventually married five times.) In the 1950s, Judy Garland began touring as a singer and became famous for her emotional, high-energy live performances. Throughout her last two decades she struggled with addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol, while continuing to perform like a determined trouper on Broadway and in cabarets. She finally died of an overdose of prescription sleeping pills at age 47; her last husband, Mickey Deans, found her dead in their bathroom. UPI later reported that the coroner ruled the cause as "incautious self overdosage of the sleeping drug Seconal." She was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.

Extra credit:

Judy Garland's five husbands were: composer David Rose (1941-44), director Vincente Minnelli (1945-51), manager Sid Luft (1952-65), actor Mark Herron (1965-67), and restaurant manager Mickey Deans (1968 until her death). She had one child with Minelli (Liza Minelli) and two with Sid Luft: Lorna Luft (b. 1952) and Joseph Luft (b. 1955)... Though not gay herself, Garland somehow became an enduring icon for the gay community, and the term "Friend of Dorothy" became pop culture shorthand for a gay man... See also our profile of Dorothy's dog Toto... A version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" played on the ukelele was a hit for Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo'ole in the 1990s.

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