Judy Garland was born on June 10th 1922, and best known for title role as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, but who was Judy Garland before she became famous?
Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, and was the youngest child of Ethel Marion and Francis Avent “Frank” Gumm. Both her parents were vaudevillians who settled in Grand Rapids to run a movie theatre that featured vaudeville acts.
Following rumors that Frank Gumm had made sexual advances towards male ushers, the family relocated to Lancaster, California in June 1926.
Frank purchased and operated another theater in Lancaster, and Ethel, acting as their manager, began working to get her daughters into motion pictures. Garland attended Hollywood High School and later graduated from University High School.
In 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.
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, and after signing a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as Judy’s career took off without her sisters.
Today’s YouTube video clip shared by user name JC Mo, narrated by her daughter Liza Minnelli and frequent co-star Mickey Rooney, plus a wealth of film clips to illustrate her unique gifts.
Her physical appearance created a dilemma for MGM. At only 4 feet 11.5 inches, 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 considering she was an ugly duckling, which affected her long term in personal life.
On June 22, 1969, Garland was found dead by Deans in the bathroom of their rented Chelsea, London house. The coroner, Gavin Thursdon, stated at the inquest that the cause of death was “an incautious self-over dosage” of barbiturates with alcohol.
Garland’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.
In lieu of today’s story I encourage to find a favorite movie that you liked from Judy Garland, and remember what talent she was, as we remember her birthday today!
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell