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Judy Garland (June 10, 1922 — June 22, 1969) was an American film actress who is considered one of the greatest singing stars of Hollywood's Golden Era of musical film, known for her intense acting and for her strong, husky voice.
She was of Irish/Scottish ancestry, with her earliest recorded maternal ancestor one Patrick Fitzpatrick, who was born in County Meath and arrived in America in the 1750s; her maternal great grandmother was Mary Elizabeth Harriott born in Dublin, Ireland circa December 1841.
Her Milne ancestors hailed from Arbroath and Kilmarnock, Scotland. Her paternal Gumm ancestors were a mixture of English, Irish and Scottish and were among the earliest settlers of Virginia and Tennessee.
The Irish American St. Patrick's Day anthem "It's a Great Day for the Irish" was written especially for her and was one of her greatest hits. She recorded other Irish songs including "Danny Boy", "The Wearing of the Green" and "A Pretty Girl Milking her Cow".
Her only death scene in films was as Little Nellie Kelly, 1940 in which she played dual roles as an Irish immigrant mother and American born daughter; George Murphy who later became a United States Senator was her co-star.
Garland was very proud of her Irish roots and often made mention of them during concerts. In July 1951 she appeared in Dublin at the Theatre Royal for 14 sold-out performances where her show was performed for 50,000 people which was unprecedented for the time. Upon arrival in Dublin she was met with great love and affection by huge crowds which she sang to from her dressing room window.
Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, she was born into a family of vaudeville players. One year, her parents and her two older sisters were performing in a Christmas show.
Young Frances got on the stage and stole the show with a rendition of Jingle Bells; she was two and a half years old. The family soon moved to Lancaster, California and the Gumm Sisters began work on stage and in short films. Frances was soon known as Baby Gumm.
In 1934, the Gumm Sisters were performing in Chicago with George Jessel. Jessel encouraged the group to choose a more appealing name. They settled on the Garland Sisters, and young Frances chose the name Judy.
Garland was signed at the age of 13 by Louis B. Mayer to a contract with MGM allegedly without a screen test in 1935 (she had actually made a test for the studio a few months earlier).
Garland first got noticed by studio executives after singing "You Made Me Love You" to Clark Gable at a studio held birthday party 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 (1937).
At the age of 16 (and after a string of unsuccessful films), she got the role of Dorothy in the film of The Wizard of Oz (1939), and was forever afterwards associated with the song, "Over the Rainbow".
After Oz, Garland became one of MGM's most bankable stars, proving particularly popular when teamed with 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 reteamed in Love Finds Andy Hardy and soon after in Babes in Arms) .
She would end up starring with Rooney in nine films. To keep up with a frenetic 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.
This constant dose of drugs would lead to addiction and a lifelong struggle for Garland as well as her eventual demise. She would also in her later life resent the hectic work and feel that her youth was stolen from her by MGM, and she was plagued with self-doubt throughout life and needed constant reassurance that she was talented, in spite of filling concert halls to hear her, high critical praise, and several awards.
Throughout the 1940s her films increased in popularity, making her the most critically and financially successful female musical star of the time.
Among her most successful 1940s films 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."
Her other famous films include The Harvey Girls (1946) (in which she introduced "On the Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe"), Easter Parade (1948), A Star Is Born (1954) (considered by many to be her best dramatic performance), and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961).
She received an honorary Academy Award for her performance in The Wizard of Oz, and was nominated for Best Actress in A Star is Born, and Best Supporting Actress for Judgement at Nuremberg.
Renewed stardom on the stage and television
When her MGM contract was terminated in 1950 (depending upon the source, she either asked to be released from the contract, or she was fired due her unreliability on the set of the musical Royal Wedding), Garland turned to television and live concert appearances.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, she made enormously successful appearances in both media. 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 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.
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, called 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, lasted only one season, and went off the air in 1964, after 26 episodes. Despite this, the show won four Emmy nominations. The demise of the series was personally devastating for Garland.
The shortcomings of her childhood years became more apparent as Garland struggled to overcome various personal problems, including weight gain, heavy drinking, and drug addiction.
Her children are Liza Minnelli (who is now a legendary singer and actress in her own right), Lorna Luft (who is also an acclaimed singer), and Joey Luft (who is now a scenic photographer).
Of Garland's five marriages, the first four marriages all ended in divorce. She died in 1969 at the age of 47 in London from an accidental overdose of barbiturates. Garland was interred in the Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York.
Legacy in gay rights
A gay icon, Garland always had a large fan base in the gay community. Her funeral in Manhattan resulted in an outpouring of New York City fans, with more than 20,000 coming to view her body — including 12,000 gay men.
Five days after her death, mourning gay fans fought back against police during a routine police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, which set off several days of "gay liberation" riots. Garland's death is often noted as a cause of one of the key events of the modern gay rights movement.
According to a book of David Shipman, Judy Garland: The Secret Life of an American Legend she was bisexual herself (as was her own father), and was in relationships with her (female) secretary Betty Asher, vocal arranger/author Kay Thompson, singer extraordinaire Ethel Merman, and acting legend Katharine Hepburn; however, Shipman's tale has not been corroborated, and much of his scholarship has been questioned.
1) David Rose (1910-1990); married (1941-1945))
2) Vincente Minnelli (1903-1986); married 1945-1951), one daughter Liza Minnelli
3) Sidney Luft (1910- ); married (1951-1964), one daughter Lorna Luft and one son Joey Luft
4) Mark Herron (1928-1996); married (1964-1967) (might not have been a legal marriage, as it is unsure whether the divorce from Luft was yet effective and the marriage was under dubious circumstances)
5) Mickey Deans (nй Michael DeVinko) (1934-2003); (married 1967-1969)
The Big Revue (1929) (short subject)
A Holiday in Storyland (1930) (short subject)
Bubbles (1930) (short subject)
The Wedding of Jack and Jill (1930) (short subject)
La Fiesta de Santa Barbara (1935) (short subject)
Every Sunday (1936) (short subject)
Pigskin Parade (1936)
Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
Thoroughbreds Don't Cry (1937)
MGM Christmas Trailer (1937) (short subject)
Everybody Sing (1938)
Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)
Hollywood Goes to Town (1938) (short subject)
Listen, Darling (1938)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Babes in Arms (1939)
If I Forget You (1940) (short subject)
Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940)
Strike Up the Band (1940)
Little Nellie Kelly (1940) (see link below)
Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941)
Babes on Broadway (1941)
We Must Have Music (1942) (short subject)
For Me and My Gal (1942)
Strictly G.I. (1943) (short subject)
Presenting Lily Mars (1943)
Thousands Cheer (1943)
Girl Crazy (1943)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
The Clock (1945)
The Harvey Girls (1946)
Ziegfeld Follies (1946)
Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
The Pirate (1948)
Easter Parade (1948)
Words and Music (1948)
In the Good Old Summertime (1949)
Summer Stock (1950)
A Star Is Born (1954)
Pepe (1960) (Cameo) (voice only)
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
Gay Purr-ee (1962) (voice)
A Child Is Waiting (1963)
I Could Go On Singing (1963)
Although she had recorded singles of her hit songs for Decca Records, Garland began recording albums for Capitol Records in the 1950's.
1955 Miss Show Business
1958 Judy in Love
1959 The Letter
1960 Judy: That's Entertainment!
1961 Judy at Carnegie Hall
1962 The Garland Touch
1964 Judy and Liza Live at the London Palladium
1967 Judy: At Home at the Palace (ABC-Paramount Records)
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