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Judy Garland

Judy Garland

Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress, singer, and vaudevillian. Described by Fred Astaire as "the greatest entertainer who ever lived" and renowned for her unique voice, she attained international stardom throughout a career which spanned more than 40 years, as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on the concert stage. Respected for her versatility, she received a Juvenile Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award as well as Grammy Awards and a Special Tony Award.She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the remake of A Star Is Born and for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1961 film Judgment at Nuremberg. She remains the youngest recipient (at 39 years of age) of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the motion picture industry.After appearing in vaudeville with her two older sisters, Garland was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager. There, she made more than two dozen films, including nine with Mickey Rooney, and the 1939 film with which she would be most identified, The Wizard of Oz. After 15 years, she was released from the studio but gained renewed success through record-breaking concert appearances, including a return to acting, beginning with critically acclaimed performances.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 onscreen 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 at the age of 47.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 in the history of American cinema.The Gumm SistersIn 1928, The Gumm Sisters enrolled in a dance school run by Ethel Meglin, proprietress of the Meglin Kiddies dance troupe. They appeared with the troupe at its annual Christmas show. It was through the Meglin Kiddies that they made their film debut in a 1929 short-subject called The Big Revue, where they performed a song-and-dance number called That's the good old sunny south. This was followed by appearances in two Vitaphone shorts the following year, A Holiday in Storyland (featuring Garland's first on-screen solo) and The Wedding of Jack and Jill. They next appeared together in Bubbles. Their final on-screen appearance came in 1935, in another short entitled La Fiesta de Santa Barbara.In 1934, the trio, who by then had been touring the vaudeville circuit as "The Gumm Sisters" for many years, performed in Chicago at the Oriental Theater with George Jessel. He encouraged the group to choose a more appealing name after "Gumm" was met with laughter from the audience. According to theatrical legend, their act was once erroneously billed at a Chicago theater as "The Glum Sisters."Several stories persist regarding the origin of the name "Garland." One is that it was originated by Jessel after Carole Lombard's character Lily Garland in the film Twentieth Century, which was then playing at the Oriental; another is that the girls chose the surname after drama-critic Robert Garland. Garland's daughter, Lorna Luft, stated that her mother selected the name when Jessel announced that the trio "looked prettier than a garland of flowers." Another variation surfaced when he was a guest on Garland's television show in 1963. He claimed that he had sent actress Judith Anderson a telegram containing the word "garland" and it stuck in his mind.By late 1934, the Gumm Sisters had changed their name to the Garland Sisters. Frances changed her name to "Judy" soon after, inspired by a popular Hoagy Carmichael song. By August 1935 they were broken up when Suzanne (older sister Mary Jane) Garland flew to Reno, Nevada, and married musician Lee Kahn, a member of the Jimmy Davis orchestra playing at Cal-Neva Lodge, Lake Tahoe.Signed at Metro-Goldwyn-MayerBusby Berkeley was asked by Louis B. Mayer to go downtown to the Orpheum Theater, to watch the Gumm Sisters' vaudeville act, and to report back to him. Afterwards, Judy and her mother were brought into the studio for an interview with Louis B. Mayer and Busby Berkeley. In 1935, Garland was signed to a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, supposedly without a screen test, though she had made a test for the studio several months earlier. The studio did not know what to do with her, as at age 13 she was older than the traditional child-star but too young for adult roles.Her physical appearance created a dilemma for MGM. At only 4 feet 11.5 inches (151.1 cm), her "cute" or "girl-next-door" looks did not exemplify the more glamorous persona required of leading ladies of the time. She was self-conscious and anxious about her appearance. "Judy went to school at Metro with Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, real beauties," said Charles Walters, who directed her in a number of films. "Judy was the big money-maker at the time, a big success, but she was the ugly duckling  ... I think it had a very damaging effect on her emotionally for a long time. I think it lasted forever, really." Her insecurity was exacerbated by the attitude of studio chief Louis B. Mayer, who referred to her as his "little hunchback."During her early years at the studio, she was photographed and dressed in plain garments or frilly juvenile gowns and costumes to match the "girl-next-door" image that was created for her. She was made to wear removable caps on her teeth and rubberized disks to reshape her nose.She performed at various studio functions and was eventually cast opposite Deanna Durbin in the musical-short Every Sunday. The film contrasted her vocal range and swing style with Durbin's operatic soprano and served as an extended screen test for the pair, as studio executives were questioning the wisdom of having two girl singers on the roster. Mayer finally decided to keep both actresses, but by that time Durbin's option had lapsed and she was signed by Universal Studios.On November 16, 1935, in the midst of preparing for a radio performance on the Shell Chateau Hour, Garland learned that her father, who had been hospitalized with meningitis, had taken a turn for the worse. Frank Gumm died the following morning, on November 17, leaving her devastated. Her song for the Shell Chateau Hour was her first professional rendition of "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart," a song which would become a standard in many of her concerts.Garland next came to the attention of studio executives by singing a special arrangement of "You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)" to Clark Gable at a birthday party held by the studio for the actor. Her rendition was so well regarded that she performed the song in the all-star extravaganza Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), singing to a photograph of him.MGM hit on a winning formula when it paired Garland with Mickey Rooney in a string of "backyard musicals." The duo first appeared together in the 1937 B movie Thoroughbreds Don't Cry as supporting characters. Judy was then put in the cast of the fourth of the Hardy Family movies as a literal girl-next-door to Rooney's character, Andy Hardy in Love Finds Andy Hardy, although Hardy's love interest was played by Lana Turner. They teamed as lead characters for the first time in Babes in Arms. They starred together in five additional films, including two more of the Hardy films.To keep up with the frantic pace of making one film after another, Garland, Rooney, and other young performers were constantly given amphetamines as well as barbiturates to take before going to bed. For Garland, this regular dose of drugs led to addiction and a lifelong struggle, and contributed to her eventual demise. She later resented the hectic schedule and felt that her youth had been stolen from her by MGM. Despite successful film and recording careers, awards, critical praise and her ability to fill concert halls worldwide, she was plagued throughout her life with self-doubt and required constant reassurance that she was talented and attractive.The Wizard of OzIn 1938, aged 16, she was cast in the main role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939), a film based on the children's book by L. Frank Baum. In this film, she sang the song with which she would forever be identified, "Over the Rainbow." Although producers Arthur Freed and Mervyn LeRoy had wanted her from the start, studio chief Mayer tried first to borrow Shirley Temple from 20th Century Fox, but they declined. Deanna Durbin was then asked but was unavailable, resulting in Garland being cast.Garland was initially outfitted in a blonde wig for the part, but Freed and LeRoy decided against it shortly into filming. Her blue gingham dress was chosen for its blurring effect on her figure.Shooting commenced on October 13, 1938, and was completed on March 16, 1939, with a final cost of more than US$2 million. With the conclusion of filming, MGM kept Garland busy with promotional tours and the shooting of Babes in Arms, directed by Busby Berkeley. She and Rooney were sent on a cross-country promotional tour, culminating in the August 17 New York City premiere at the Capitol Theater, which included a five-show-a-day appearance schedule for the two stars.The Wizard of Oz was a tremendous critical success, though its high budget and promotions costs of an estimated US$4  million, coupled with the lower revenue generated by children's tickets, meant that the film did not make a profit until it was rereleased in the 1940s. At the 1940 Academy Awards ceremony, Garland received an Academy Juvenile Award for her performances in 1939, including The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms. Following this recognition, she became one of MGM's most bankable stars.Renewed stardom on the stageIn October 1951, Garland opened in a vaudeville-style, two-a-day engagement at Broadway's newly refurbished Palace Theatre. Her 19-week engagement exceeded all previous records for the theater and was described as "one of the greatest personal triumphs in show business history." Garland was honored for her contribution to the revival of vaudeville with a Special Tony Award.In May 1952, her mother Ethel was featured in a Los Angeles Mirror story in which she revealed that while Garland was making a small fortune at the Palace, Ethel was working a desk job at Douglas Aircraft Company for $61 a week. They had been estranged for years, with Garland characterizing her mother as "no good for anything except to create chaos and fear" and accusing her of mismanaging and misappropriating her salary from the earliest days of her career. Garland's sister Virginia denied this, stating "Mama never took a dime from Judy." On January 5, 1953, Ethel Gumm was found dead in the Douglas Aircraft parking lot. She was 59 years old.Hollywood comebackGarland filmed a musical remake of the film A Star is Born for Warner Bros. in 1954. Garland and Sidney Luft, her then-husband, produced the film through their production company, Transcona Enterprises, while Warner Bros. supplied the funds, production facilities, and crew. Directed by George Cukor and costarring James Mason, it was a large undertaking to which she initially fully dedicated herself.As shooting progressed, however, she began making the same pleas of illness which she had so often made during her final films at MGM. Production delays led to cost overruns and angry confrontations with Warner Bros. head Jack Warner. Principal photography wrapped on March 17, 1954. At Luft's suggestion, the "Born in a Trunk" medley was filmed as a showcase for her and inserted over director Cukor's objections, who feared the additional length would lead to cuts in other areas. It was completed on July 29.Upon its September 29, 1954 world-premiere, the film was met with tremendous critical and popular acclaim. Before its release, it was edited at the instruction of Jack Warner; theater operators, concerned that they were losing money because they were only able to run the film for three or four shows per day instead of five or six, pressured the studio to make additional reductions. About 30 minutes of footage were cut, sparking outrage among critics and filmgoers. A Star is Born ended up losing money, and the secure financial position Garland had expected from the profits did not materialize. Transcona made no more films with Warner.Garland was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and in the run-up to the 27th Academy Awards, was generally expected to win. She could not attend the ceremony because she had just given birth to her son, Joseph Luft, so a television crew was in her hospital room with cameras and wires to broadcast her anticipated acceptance speech. The Oscar was won, however, by Grace Kelly for The Country Girl (1954). The camera crew was packing up before Kelly could even reach the stage. Groucho Marx sent her a telegram after the awards ceremony, declaring her loss "the biggest robbery since Brinks." TIME magazine labeled her performance as "just about the greatest one-woman show in modern movie history." Garland won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the role.Garland's films after A Star Is Born included Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) (for which she was Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated for Best Supporting Actress), the animated feature Gay Purr-ee (1962), and A Child Is Waiting (1963) with Burt Lancaster. Her final film was I Could Go On Singing (1963), costarring Dirk Bogarde.Television, concerts, and Carnegie HallGarland engaged Sid Luft as her manager the same year she divorced Minnelli. He arranged a four-month concert tour of the United Kingdom, where she played to sold-out audiences throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. It included her first appearances at the renowned London Palladium, for a four-week stand in April. Although some in the British press chided her before her opening for being "too plump," she received rave reviews and the ovation was described by the Palladium manager as the loudest he had ever heard.Garland and Luft were married on June 8, 1952, in Hollister, California. Garland gave birth to Lorna Luft, herself a future actress and singer, on November 21, 1952, and to Joey Luft on March 29, 1955.Beginning in 1955, Garland appeared in a number of television specials. The first, the 1955 debut episode of Ford Star Jubilee, was the first full-scale color broadcast ever on CBS and was a ratings triumph, scoring a 34.8 Nielsen rating. She signed a three-year, $300,000 contract with the network. Only one additional special, a live concert-edition of General Electric Theater, was broadcast in 1956 before the relationship between the Lufts and CBS broke down in a dispute over the planned format of upcoming specials.In 1956, Garland performed for four weeks at the New Frontier Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip for a salary of $55,000 per week, making her the highest-paid entertainer to work in Las Vegas. Despite a brief bout of laryngitis, her performances there were so successful that her run was extended an extra week. Later that year she returned to the Palace Theatre, site of her two-a-day triumph. She opened in September, once again to rave reviews and popular acclaim.In November 1959, Garland was hospitalized, diagnosed with acute hepatitis. Over the next few weeks several quarts of fluid were drained from her body until, still weak, she was released from the hospital in January 1960. She was told by doctors that she likely had five years or less to live, and that even if she did survive she would be a semi-invalid and would never sing again. She initially felt "greatly relieved" at the diagnosis. "The pressure was off me for the first time in my life." However, she recovered over the next several months and, in August of that year, returned to the stage of the Palladium. She felt so warmly embraced by the British that she announced her intention to move permanently to England.Her concert appearance at Carnegie Hall on April 23, 1961, was a considerable highlight, called by many "the greatest night in show business history". The two-record Judy at Carnegie Hall was certified gold, charting for 95 weeks on Billboard, including 13 weeks at number one. The album won four Grammy Awards including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal of the Year. The album has never been out of print.In 1961, Garland and CBS settled their contract disputes with the help of her new agent, Freddie Fields, and negotiated a new round of specials. The first, entitled The Judy Garland Show, aired in 1962 and featured guests Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Following this success, CBS made a $24 million offer to her for a weekly television series of her own, also to be called The Judy Garland Show, which was deemed at the time in the press to be "the biggest talent deal in TV history." Although she had said as early as 1955 that she would never do a weekly television series, in the early 1960s she was in a financially precarious situation. She was several hundred thousand dollars in debt to the Internal Revenue Service, having failed to pay taxes in 1951 and 1952, and the failure of A Star is Born meant that she received nothing from that investment. A successful run on television was intended to secure her financial future.Following a third special, Judy Garland and Her Guests Phil Silvers and Robert Goulet, Garland's weekly series debuted September 29, 1963. The Judy Garland Show was critically praised, but for a variety of reasons (including being placed in the time slot opposite Bonanza on NBC) the show lasted only one season and was canceled in 1964 after 26 episodes. Despite its short run, the series was nominated for four Emmy Awards. The demise of the series was personally and financially devastating for Garland.Garland sued Luft for divorce in 1963, claiming "cruelty" as the grounds. She also asserted that he had repeatedly struck her while he was drinking and that he had attempted to take their children from her by force. She had filed for divorce from Luft more than once previously, including as early as 1956, but had reconciled.GeneralGarland's legacy as a performer and a personality has endured long after her death. The American Film Institute named her eighth among the Greatest Female Stars of All Time. She has been the subject of over two dozen biographies since her death, including the well-received Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir by her daughter, Lorna Luft, whose memoir was later adapted into the television miniseries Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, which won Emmy Awards for the two actresses portraying her (Tammy Blanchard and Judy Davis).Garland was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. Several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. These include "Over the Rainbow", which was ranked as the number one movie song of all time in the American Film Institute's "100 Years...100 Songs" list. Four more Garland songs are featured on the list: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (#76), "Get Happy" (#61), "The Trolley Song" (#26), and "The Man That Got Away" (#11). She has twice been honored on U.S. postage stamps, in 1989 (as Dorothy) and again in 2006 (as Vicki Lester from A Star Is Born).Gay iconGarland always had a large base of fans in the gay community and has become a gay icon. Reasons often given for her standing, especially among gay men, are admiration of her ability as a performer, the way her personal struggles mirrored those of gay men in America during the height of her fame and her value as a camp figure. When asked in the 1960s by a reporter about how she felt about having a large gay following, she famously said, "I couldn't care less. I sing to people."Some have also suggested a connection between the date of Garland's death and funeral on June 27, 1969 and the Stonewall riots, the flashpoint of the modern Gay Liberation movement, which started in the early hours of June 28. In a 2009 interview gay historian David Carter stated that this connection is untrue, and based on a mocking reference to the riot by an anti-gay writer in the Village Voice the next day. However the same historical documentary states that there were several patrons at the Stonewall bar that night, Garland fans who, according to bar patron Sylvia Rivera had come from the Garland funeral earlier in the day to drink and mourn. Rivera said that indeed there was a feeling in the air that something would happen that night: "I guess Judy Garland’s death just really helped us really hit the fan."Portrayals in fictionGarland has been portrayed on television by Andrea McArdle in Rainbow (1978), Tammy Blanchard (young Judy) and Judy Davis (older Judy) in Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001) and Elizabeth Karsell in James Dean (2001). Anne Hathaway is set to play Garland in a biopic titled Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland which is in production and is set to be released in 2015.On stage, Garland is a character in the musical The Boy from Oz (1998), portrayed by Chrissy Amphlett in the original Australian production and by Isabel Keating on Broadway in 2003. End of the Rainbow (2005) featured Caroline O'Connor as Garland and Michael Cumpsty as Garland's pianist. Adrienne Barbeau played Garland in The Property Known as Garland (2006) and The Judy Monologues (2010) featured male actors reciting Garland's words.


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