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The Short, Sweet and Oftentimes Tragic Life of Judy Garland

She was married how many times?!

Best known as an actress for her work in The Wizard of Oz (1939), A Star is Born (1954) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1962), Judy Garland represents everything moviegoers love about the golden age of Hollywood. Yet despite how happy her life looked on screen, Garland’s off-screen existence was much different — with many highs and lows — and these 14 photos of Judy Garland young prove that.

Judy Garland young

Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Right from the start, the destined-to-be actress was placed on the stage, singing and dancing as soon as she was able to do so.

Judy Garland in 1927
Judy Garland in 1927Bettmann / Contributor/Getty

That soon translated into she and her older siblings creating “The Gumm Sisters.” The group would travel around America and perform in nightclubs, cabarets, hotels and theaters.

Meanwhile, Garland’s father, Francis Avent Gumm, was caught having affairs with multiple men, forcing the entire family to be driven away from others and living in their car for a couple of years. He sadly died in November 1935 from meningitis, which she referred to as “the most terrible thing that happened to me in my life.”

Judy Garland young: The Gumm Sisters in 1935
The Gumm Sisters in 1935Pictorial Parade / Staff/Getty

That same year, however, Garland was approached by Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM, who loved her singing voice and wanted to work with her. Mayer also changed the actress’ name from Frances Ethel Gumm to Judy Garland, which was inspired by the popular 1930s song “Judy” and film critic Robert Garland.

Judy Garland’s first film

In 1936, Judy Garland made her film debut in Pigskin Parade, playing a teenage hillbilly named Sairy Dodd. It was also during the making of the film that MGM reportedly began to give Garland numerous pills to help combat her tiredness. By most accounts, her mother was aware of what was going on, but allowed it to happen so that her daughter could continue on her path to stardom.

the actress in 'Pigskin Parade' (1936)
Judy Garland in Pigskin Parade (1936) Bettmann / Contributor/Getty

They had us working days and nights on end. They’d give us pills to keep us on our feet long after we were exhausted. Then they’d take us to the studio hospital and knock us out with sleeping pills­,” Garland told biographer Paul Donnelley. “Then, after four hours, they’d wake us up and give us the pep pills again so we could work 72 hours in a row. Half of the time we were hanging from the ceiling, but it was a way of life for us.”

The Wizard of Oz era

After playing Sairy, Garland had minor roles in six other films. Then, in 1939, she became Dorthy Gale from Kansas in The Wizard of Oz, based on the novel by L. Frank Baum and the role that many argued defined her career.

MUST READ: ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and Beyond: Life for the Cast After the Yellow Brick Road

'The Wizard of Oz' cast (1939)
‘The Wizard of Oz’ cast (1939)FPG / Staff/Getty

However, life on The Yellow Brick Road wasn’t as glamorous as it seemed. The Munchkins liked to put their hands up Garlands’ skirt, many members of the cast had allergic reactions to their makeup and the falling snow in the poppy sequence was actually chrysotile asbestos. Not to mention that Garland was on a strict diet of chicken broth, black coffee, cigarettes and pills to keep her from gaining weight.

“Unlike other actresses, she could not successfully camouflage extra weight, especially because she was dancing and singing in revealing costumes. Just 4 feet 11 ½ inches, she could be underweight and still appear heavy or out of proportion on screen,” Garland’s third husband, Sid Luft, wrote in his memoir Judy and I: My Life With Judy Garland. “Most of her teen and adult life, she had been on either Benzedrine or a diet or both.”

'The Wizard of Oz' cast (1939)
‘The Wizard of Oz’ cast (1939)Silver Screen Collection / Contributor/Getty

However, despite all that had gone on behind-the-scenes, Garland’s rendition of “Over The Rainbow” earned her a special juvenile Oscar statuette for Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor in 1940.

MUST READ: ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Behind the Scenes: 17 Crazy, Creepy Things You’ve Never Heard Before

Life after Dorothy

After she turned in her ruby slippers and left Oz, Garland’s career continued to thrive.

She worked with stars like Mickey Rooney, Fred Astaire, Lana Turner, Janet Gaynor and Hedy Lamarr in such films as Ziegfeld Girl (1941), For Me and My Gal (1942), Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) and The Pirate (1948).

Judy Garland in 'A Star is Born' 1954
Judy Garland in ‘A Star is Born’ 1954Bettmann / Contributor/Getty

She also earned two Oscar nominations during that time, first in 1955 for Best Actress in a Leading Role in A Star is Born, and then in 1962 for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in Judgment at Nuremberg.

MUST READ: The Extraordinary Life and Tragic Death of Natalie Wood

Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in 1938
Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in 1938Hulton Archive / Stringer/Getty

Perhaps one of Garland’s most well known relationships was with fellow actor Mickey Rooney. They worked on 10 films together from 1937-1947, and were often rumored to be romantically involved with one another. However, it was never confirmed and many say that the two were just very close friends.

MUST READ: Clara Bow — The Tragic and Triumphant Life of Hollywood’s First ‘It’ Girl

The personal life of Judy Garland

While professionally things might have been thriving, Garland’s personal life was truly one wild ride.

Judy Garland and David Rose in 1941
Judy Garland and David Rose in 1941Bettmann / Contributor/Getty

In 1941, she got engaged to bandleader David Rose just two months after he got divorced. They would then elope and get married in Vegas on July 28, 1941. Later that same year, Garland found out she was pregnant with David’s baby, but MGM encouraged her to have an abortion to make sure her good-girl image remained intact. Rose and Garland got divorced in January of 1943.

Soon after that, Garland began having an affair with actor Tyrone Power, which ended in May 1943 when she began seeing producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

Mankiewicz was the one who introduced her to psychoanalysis, which led Garland to take control of her career and get out of MGM and her mother’s clutches. After a few short months, though, she and Mankiewicz ended things. She briefly saw Orson Welles after that before beginning work on Meet Me in St. Louis (1944).

That was where Garland met director Vincente Minnelli, with whom she entered into a torrid love affair, which eventually led to marriage. The two welcomed daughter Liza Minnelli, in March of 1946.

MUST READ: 12 Classic Stars Who Had Multiple Marriages — You Won’t Believe Who Said “I Do” Nine Times!

Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli in 1945
Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli in 1945Bettmann / Contributor/Getty

After that, Garland’s mental health started deteriorating due to the pressures of motherhood and Hollywood, which took a massive toll on her marriage. She was spending a lot of time in bed and even tried to take her own life a number of times — which resulted in her being sent to a mental hospital.

Once she was released, Garland began an affair with Frank Sinatra and started acting again. MGM, however, claimed that she was too difficult to work with and ended up firing her. That same year, 1951, Garland divorced Minnelli after six years of marriage.

Garland’s third husband was Sidney Luft. Marrying on June 8, 1952, they welcomed daughter Lorna Luft on November 21, 1952.

Judy Garland and Sid Luft in 1953
Judy Garland and Sid Luft in 1953Bettmann / Contributor/Getty

At this point, Garland was not speaking to her mother, who died in January 1953, the two of them never reconciling before her death.

Despite her marriage to Luft, though, Garland still had affairs — again with Sinata and another with British star James Mason. This led to them divorcing in 1965 after nearly 13 years of marriage.

After that, she married husband number four, Mark Herron, on November 14, 1965, but it ended in April of 1966 due to the fact that he was gay.

Judy Garland and Mark Herron and 1964
Judy Garland and Mark Herron and 1964George Stroud / Stringer/Getty

Garland’s fifth and final husband was Mickey Deans. They married on March 15, 1969. and remained together until her death.

Judy Garland and Mickey Deans in 1968
Judy Garland and Mickey Deans in 1968Bettmann / Contributor/Getty

The death of Judy Garland

Following a concert in Chelsea in London, she reportedly stumbled into her bathroom and died from an overdose of barbiturates on June 22, 1969. She was only 47.

The actress in 1968
Judy Garland in 1968C. Maher / Stringer/Getty

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