- Garland, Judy
orig. Frances Gummborn June 10, 1922, Grand Rapids, Minn., U.S.died June 22, 1969, London, Eng.U.S. singer and film actress.Born into a family of vaudeville performers, she made her stage debut at age three. She toured with her sisters until making her debut in a short film, Every Sunday (1936). She was a hit in Broadway Melody of 1938 and starred as a wholesome girlfriend in nine films with Mickey Rooney, including Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938). She became an international star as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Among her other musical hits were Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Easter Parade (1948), and Summer Stock (1950). Her sweet but powerful voice and emotional range made her a legendary concert performer. After record-breaking engagements at the London Palladium and New York's Palace Theatre, she returned to the screen in triumph in A Star Is Born (1954), and she was acclaimed for her role in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). Her life was troubled by broken marriages and a reliance on drugs, which led to her early death. Her daughters, Liza Minnelli (by Vincente Minnelli) and Lorna Luft, followed her to the musical stage.Judy Garland, 1945.Brown Brothers
* * *▪ American singer and actressoriginal name Frances Ethel Gummborn June 10, 1922, Grand Rapids, Minnesota, U.S.died June 22, 1969, London, EnglandAmerican singer and actress whose exceptional talents and vulnerabilities combined to make her one of the most enduringly popular Hollywood icons of the 20th century.Frances Gumm was the daughter of former vaudevillians. She began appearing onstage at a very early age and for a few years toured with her two older sisters in a singing act, the Gumm Sisters. She had already adopted the name Judy Garland when in 1935 she signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.). Her first film appearance was in the short Every Sunday (1936). Her other early films include Pigskin Parade (1936), Listen, Darling (1938), and Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), in which she sang "You Made Me Love You," the first of many songs with which she would be eternally associated. Her popular partnership with Mickey Rooney (Rooney, Mickey) began in Thoroughbreds Don't Cry (1937) and continued through Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), Babes in Arms (1939), Strike Up the Band (1940), Babes on Broadway (1941), and Girl Crazy (1943), in which she sang the George Gershwin (Gershwin, George) standards "I Got Rhythm" and "Embraceable You."Garland's usual character in her early films was the friendly, innocent girl next door—albeit one whose unbridled emotion suggested a complexity that transcended stock type. Her combination of youth, innocence, pluck, and emotional openness is seen to advantage in two of her three most renowned films: The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). In the first film, Garland's heartfelt sense of youthful longing and ennui, expressed in what would become her signature song, "Over the Rainbow," are among the elements that have made the film a beloved and inveterate classic (it ranked sixth on the American Film Institute's 1999 list of the 100 greatest films of all time). Garland's performance in Meet Me in St. Louis, her last in a juvenile role, was a culmination of the youthful types Garland had played in the Andy Hardy films with Mickey Rooney. The film is noteworthy for expanding upon the American musical tradition of utilizing songs to advance the plot or to define the characters, as in Garland's rendering of the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which revealed her character's heartbreak and resilience. It was a song that wartime audiences found especially poignant.Among Garland's other noteworthy films of the 1940s are For Me and My Gal (1942), The Clock (1945, her only non-musical of the decade), The Harvey Girls (1946), The Pirate (1948), Easter Parade (1948), and In the Good Old Summertime (1949). Stardom proved a heavy burden, however, and Garland began experiencing personal and health problems that led to the termination of her MGM contract in 1950. For many years MGM was blamed for Garland's addiction to amphetamines and barbiturates—the common perception being that studio executives wanted to keep her energy up and her weight down—but biographies of the late 1990s suggest that Garland's mother introduced Judy to the use of pills before her screen career began. Garland's increasingly fragile state forced her to drop out of the lead role in Annie Get Your Gun (1950), which was given to Betty Hutton. Garland barely managed to complete her final MGM film, Summer Stock (1950); though the film contains one of her best-known numbers ( "Get Happy" ), her personal struggles are evident on-screen. She had endured two failed marriages—to bandleader David Rose and film director Vincente Minnelli (Minnelli, Vincente)—when in 1951 she married producer Sid Luft, who orchestrated her triumphant performances at London's Palladium and New York's Palace Theatre (both 1951). Her comeback was capped with the Warner Bros. musical A Star Is Born (1954), a three-hour showcase for all of Garland's talents. It was in this film, the last of the three with which she is most associated, that Garland's persona reached its mature incarnation and her professional and personal identities became largely one and the same: emotionally unabashed, vulnerable, and campy. Although she was the odds-on favourite to win the Oscar that year, her loss to Grace Kelly (Kelly, Grace) sent her into another period of deep depression. She appeared in few films during her remaining years, though her performance in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) garnered a best supporting actress Oscar nomination. Mostly, she stayed in the public eye via television, concerts, and recordings.One aspect of Garland's career that is often overlooked is her success as a recording artist. During the 1940s she cut more than 90 tracks for Decca Records, and she recorded more than one dozen LPs for Capitol Records the following decade. She worked with such top arrangers as Nelson Riddle, Jack Marshall, and Gordon Jenkins, and her many best-selling recordings reveal her sensitivity and intelligence as an interpreter of popular song. After enduring more years of hardship in the late 1950s, Garland again staged a resounding comeback with a series of concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1961. The resulting album, Judy at Carnegie Hall (1961), was another triumph, as the LP ranked number one on the charts for 13 weeks and earned five Grammy Awards.Garland hosted her own variety show, The Judy Garland Show, for 26 episodes on the CBS television network during the 1963–64 season. Although the show was critically praised and nominated for 10 Emmy Awards, it was a ratings disappointment—largely because it was scheduled opposite the popular western Bonanza on NBC. Garland continued to struggle with drug, alcohol, and other health problems throughout the 1960s. She made no films after 1963 and instead concentrated on concert appearances, although her physical and emotional condition resulted in several erratic performances and canceled engagements. Garland died in 1969 of a barbiturate overdose, although it is speculated that anorexia and liver damage may have been factors. Despite her personal problems—or, perhaps to some extent, because of them—she remains one of the most popular American entertainers of all time, with one of the most fervent of cult followings.Additional ReadingDavid Shipman, Judy Garland: The Secret Life of an American Legend (1992); Sheridan Morley, Judy Garland: Beyond the Rainbow (1999); Gerald Clarke, Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland (2000).
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