"I was born at the age of 12 on a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot ...
Hopely - she found that lost rainbow in her after-life, as she SHORE AS SCHIDT didn't find it in the here-say. Her life in the here-say was marred with grime, grit, scum, & shit no human should ever have to endure. That's not to say her life didn't have beautiful sweet perks! To be the apple of Louis Mayer's eye would take me into outer SPACE MAN!! According to my buddy Scott at findadeath.com .. a tape was released a few years back with what appeared to be Garland dictating into a recording tape recorder what was to be her autobiography. According to Scott who heard it, she is PISSED and going off on different people who screwed her over in life. Unsettling to say the least .. and the quotes at his site are enough to keep me from even wanting to hear it!! With that - her sad tale & ginormous legacy of a story begins ...
Before Judy Garland - who was, as self quoted above, born on an MGM lot (lot number 1, to be exact) .. she was born "Frances Ethel Gumm," in this home, in Grand Rapids, MN, on June 10, 1922. As she put on her dance shoes, she was affectionatly called 'Baby.' See her (& her sistas') move them dance shoes heah!! Not bad at'tall!! (you'll have a chance to see an encore on down the page.)
Yes - it seems all legends were entertainers from a very young age, Judy was no different, & grew fast. If you watched the video from the link above, and noticed her facial expressions, the clear is she LOOOOOOOVVVVVEDD to bring entertainment to folks!! Annnd as fate would have it - she had the PERFECT stage to bring that entertainment .. her father owned a theater where young Frances and her sistas performed for years. Soon rumors surfaced that her father had made several unwelcomed passes at the male ushers who worked at his theater. Facing this.. the family, uprooted and moved to Lancaster, California, in June 1926. There .. young Frances father purchased another theater - and set forth on getting his daughters into the motion picture bizz. While it's unclear if her father, Frank, was bisexual (nothing AT ALL wrong with that if he was), it might shed some light on later Judy's habitual fetish for marrying gay men. Iii'mmmJusst sayin'!!
Lancaster provided a breath of fresh air for the sistas - they lived in this house and armed with publicity shots .. they joined a local dance school of sorts .. the Meglin Kiddies dance troupee - they made their short film debut in 1929 'The Big Revue.' (if you are a Garland fan...then you've seen this & will wanna watch again for cuteness!) This was followed by several more shorts. How the fam obtained the Garland name has always been somewhat a mystery, and there are several (pretty interesting) stories on how they grasped that name that I won't elaborate on (as the internet is plastered with info on that.) What is clear - is the Garland name stuck and Frances became Frances Garland, and their act became known as the Garland Sisters. In 1935, the sistas split wanting to do different things .. and Frances thing had HOLLYWOOD written ALL over it!!
After relocating to Hollywood, Frances, with mom, lived here (which surprisingly still stands today!! In the world of Los Angeles' fetish for razing history - it's a friggin MIRACLE it still stands!) At any rate - Frances, armed with a sultry publicity photo, set out to conquer her dreams in film. Upon answering a casting call at MGM .. it seemed the wheels had started rolling. MGM knew they liked her, but due to her age, 13, and physique (4 feet 11.5 inches), didn't quite know how they would use her. Nonetheless - she was signed on the dotted line & became known by Louis Mayer as 'lil hunchback.' She started going to school on the Metro lots with the likes of Lana Turner (very cool), Ava Gardner (ho-hum), & Elizabeth Taylor (diamondzzz)! In the book 'Get Happy: Life of Judy Garland,' Charles Walters, who directed Garland in a number of films said... "Judy was the big money-maker at the time, a big success, but she was also the ugly duckling amid [Liz] Taylor, & [Lana] Turner ... I think it had a very damaging effect on her emotionally for a long time (ya think?! Funny how lies can affect some people! To ME - there would be NO comparing Liz Taylor to Judy .. Judy wins BIG time!!) I think the emotional aspect lasted forever, really. To match the "girl-next-door" image that was created for her by LB [Mayer], she was made to wear removable caps on her teeth and rubberized disks to reshape her nose." The studio hit paydirt when they cast Judy alongside (the now Life Alert spokesman), Mickey Rooney in the film, Love Finds Andy Hardy. Judy went on to star alongside the Life Alert Rooney in nine films. Keep in mind this was before the laws meant to protect children from working long Hollywood hours was passed. As such .. to compinsate for the long hours - & to make sure they were fresh for the sets each day .. the studio pharmacist began giving Judy and Mickey amphetamines, as well as barbiturates to take before bed. (child protection would have hit the ROOF had they known this, & Louie Mayer would have had some studio executives heads...he acknowledged he had ABSOLUTELY NOO KNOWLEDGE of it .. and I believe him. If you know anything about him - you gotta believe it.) This, however, would be the beginnings of Judy's LOOOOOONNG drug battles.. and the eventual killer of Judy! IMO!
1938 came, and MGM had been working on a top-secret film in Hollywood. The film was to be adapted from a novel by L. Frank Baum. Something about some kind of Wizard in a place called Oz. Why top secret?? L.B. Mayer's secret ... due to the use of TECHNIcolor!! YEAH! He knew he was in a race with Hal Roach in competeing for color. Although they were using different methods .. it was about being first. (Had Hal been first .. his studio might be among the BIG 6 mix). Warner Brothers had the claim to sound .. Paramount had the claim to FULL FEATURE LENGTH films .. Universal had claim to the star system .. & MGM (according to Mayer .. great pic!) HAD'DA be first with color! (wanna see L.B. in color? I love it!) Anyway .. upon it's release .. Judy was THE shIT of the Hollywood hills (and the world). Everyone wanted her!! E-e-e-v-v-e-r-y-one!! Things got big FAST and QUICK! In fact some would say TOO fast & TOO quick!! (Matter of fact .. MOST who knew her would!!) There were parties (at L.B. Mayer's home...ahh what I would have GIVEN to be at THAT!) POOL parties, much fun, with FULL honors, talk shows, promo ads, drugs, shoots, & shit no decent 16 year old should be subject too. It was, obviously, too much! The start of heavy drugs had started, and the roller coaster could not be stopped. (By some accounts .. not even if she could have walked away from it.) They say every major studio has IT'S claim to the fame it beholds .. and for MGM .. it was the TECHNIcolor & Judy Garland! Oz would become among the MOST watched films ever .. Garland would start a major spiral downward with drug use! It was too much for anyone! Can we get BIG MAMMA in here?!?! PLEASE?!?!
While Judy would never achieve the WORLD success Oz gave to her again ... it was the beginning of the end. She would go on to garner an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on the concert stage. She, sadly, could never gain control of the drugs however. 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 of that year she undertook her first suicide attempt, making minor cuts to her wrist with a broken glass.
March of 1969, found Judy living in 'the mews' ..Chelsea, London, England. According to my 'death hag' buddy Scott Michaels .. "The evening of Saturday June 21 1969, Judy and the hubby were watching a documentary, The Royal Family, on television, when they had an argument. Judy ran out the door screaming into the street, waking the neighbors. Several versions of what happened next exist, but the fact remains that a phone call for Judy woke him at 10:40 the next morning, and she was not sleeping in the bed. He searched for her, only to find the bathroom door locked. After no response, he climbed outside to the bathroom window and entered to find Judy, sitting on the toilet. Rigor Mortis had already set in. Judy Garland was dead at the age of 47." What a UNDENYABLE talent .. gone too soon!! Luckily .. Liza inherited her talent .. & continues today! (I love that woman!!) According to the 'final papers', death was due to accute barbiturate poisoning, accidental overdose. Of course .. the media went BLITZY! (I know .. shock right?!!) Judy's body was flown to the United States. The streets were lined with fans as Judy's casket was carried in (and out) of the funeral home.
RIP Judy .. you left a legacy VERY few have been able to even COME CLOOSE to touching! Leave your virtual flowers and comments here at her online gravesite!!
Discuss Judy..and connect with other fans in this quaint lil Judy chat!
HUGE THANKS to The Judy Garland Database!! THE most informative site on the interweb for Judy Garland!! FO SHO!
My special thanks to Liza Mnelli for grantinf me permission in doing this story for her mom!!