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Judy Garland Biography (1922–1969)


Actress and singer Judy Garland was the star of many classic musical films, including ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and known for her tremendous talent and troubled life.

Who Was Judy Garland?

Actress and singer Judy Garland was born June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Garland signed a movie contract with MGM at the age of 13. In 1939, she scored one of her greatest on-screen successes with The Wizard of Oz. In 1950, MGM dropped her from her contract. In the 1960s, Judy Garland spent more time as a singer than an actress. She died in 1969 of an accidental overdose.

Early Life

Actress and singer Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Garland, the star of many classic musical films, was known for her tremendous talent and troubled life. The daughter of vaudeville professionals, she started her stage career as a child.

Garland was called “Baby Gumm” and sang “Jingle Bells” at her first public performance at the age of two and a half. With her two older sisters, Susie and Jimmie, Garland soon began performing as part of the Gumm Sisters.

In 1926, the Gumm family moved to California where Garland and her sisters studied acting and dancing. They played numerous gigs that their mother, Ethel, had arranged for them as their manager and agent. In the late 1920s, the Gumm sisters also appeared in several short films.

The Gumm sisters transformed into the Garland sisters at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1934. Traveling with their mother, the sisters played at a theater with comedian George Jessel, who reportedly suggested they become the Garland sisters. Garland shed her nickname “Baby” in favor of a more mature and vibrant Judy.

The following year, she would become a solo act, signing a movie contract with MGM at the age of 13. It was on a radio broadcast that November, however, that Garland debuted one of the songs most closely associated with her, “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart.” Shortly after the program aired, Garland suffered a great personal loss when her father, Frank, died of spinal meningitis.

Judy Garland Biography

Who Was Judy Garland?

Actress and singer Judy Garland was born June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Garland signed a movie contract with MGM at the age of 13. In 1939, she scored one of her greatest on-screen successes with The Wizard of Oz. In 1950, MGM dropped her from her contract. In the 1960s, Judy Garland spent more time as a singer than an actress. She died in 1969 of an accidental overdose.

Early Life

Actress and singer Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Garland, the star of many classic musical films, was known for her tremendous talent and troubled life. The daughter of vaudeville professionals, she started her stage career as a child.

Garland was called “Baby Gumm” and sang “Jingle Bells” at her first public performance at the age of two and a half. With her two older sisters, Susie and Jimmie, Garland soon began performing as part of the Gumm Sisters.

In 1926, the Gumm family moved to California where Garland and her sisters studied acting and dancing. They played numerous gigs that their mother, Ethel, had arranged for them as their manager and agent. In the late 1920s, the Gumm sisters also appeared in several short films.

The Gumm sisters transformed into the Garland sisters at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1934. Traveling with their mother, the sisters played at a theater with comedian George Jessel, who reportedly suggested they become the Garland sisters. Garland shed her nickname “Baby” in favor of a more mature and vibrant Judy.

The following year, she would become a solo act, signing a movie contract with MGM at the age of 13. It was on a radio broadcast that November, however, that Garland debuted one of the songs most closely associated with her, “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart.” Shortly after the program aired, Garland suffered a great personal loss when her father, Frank, died of spinal meningitis.

Breakout Role

Despite her personal anguish, Garland continued on her path to film stardom. One of her first feature film roles was in Pigskin Parade (1936). Playing a girl-next-door type, Garland went on to co-star in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), with friend Mickey Rooney. The two proved to be a popular pairing, and they co-starred in several more Andy Hardy films.

Not only was she working a lot, but Garland was also under pressure from the studio about her looks and her weight. She was given amphetamines to boost her energy and control her weight. Unfortunately, Garland would soon become reliant on this medication, along with needing other substances to help her sleep. Drug problems would plague her throughout her career.

In 1939, Garland scored one of her greatest on-screen successes with The Wizard of Oz, which showcased her singing talents as well as her acting abilities. Garland received a special Academy Award for her portrayal of Dorothy, the girl from Kansas transported to Oz. She soon made several more musicals, including Strike Up the Band (1940), Babes of Broadway (1942), with Rooney, and For Me and My Gal (1943), with Gene Kelly.


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