Published on June 23, 2016
Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American singer, actress, and vaudevillian. She was renowned for her contralto vocals and attained international stardom that continued throughout a career spanning more than 40 years as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on concert stages.
Garland began performing in vaudeville with her two older sisters and was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager. There, she made more than two dozen films, including nine with Mickey Rooney and her most iconic role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Other notable credits at MGM included Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), The Harvey Girls (1946) and Easter Parade (1948). After 15 years, she was released from the studio and then gained new success through record-breaking concert appearances, a successful recording career, and her own Emmy nominated television series. Film appearances became fewer in her later years, but included two Academy Award nominated performances in A Star Is Born (1954) andJudgment at Nuremberg (1961).
Respected for her versatility, she received a Golden Globe Award. a Juvenile Academy Award, a Special Tony Award, and at 39 years of age she remains the youngest recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the motion picture industry. She was the first woman to win a Grammy for Album of the Year for her live recording of Judy at Carnegie Hall. In 1997, Garland was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1999, the American Film Institute placed her among the ten greatest female stars of classic American cinema
Despite her professional triumphs, Garland struggled immensely in her personal life, starting when she was a child. Her self-image was strongly influenced by film executives, who said she was unattractive and constantly manipulated her on-screen physical appearance. She was plagued by financial instability, often owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. She married five times, with her first four marriages ending in divorce. She also had a long battle with drugs and alcohol, which ultimately led to her death from a barbiturate overdose at the age of 47.