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MN Music: Judy Garland

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Hidden : 9/25/2010
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1.5 out of 5
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Size: Size: regular (regular)

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Judy Garland (June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress and singer. Through a career that spanned 45 of her 47 years, Garland attained international stardom 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, won a Golden Globe Award, received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her work in films, as well as Grammy Awards and a Special Tony Award.

Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Judy Garland was the youngest child of Francis Avent "Frank" Gumm (March 20, 1886 – November 17, 1935) and Ethel Marion Milne (November 17, 1893 – January 5, 1953). Garland's parents were vaudevillians who settled in Grand Rapids to run a movie theatre that featured vaudeville acts.

Named after both her parents and baptized at a local Episcopal church, "Baby" (as Frances was called by her parents and sisters) shared her family's flair for song and dance. Baby Gumm's first appearance came at the age of two-and-a-half when she joined her two older sisters, Mary Jane "Suzy/Suzanne" Gumm (1915–64) and Dorothy Virginia "Jimmie" Gumm (1917–77), on the stage of her father's movie theater during a Christmas show and sang a chorus of "Jingle Bells".[2] Accompanied by their mother on piano, The Gumm Sisters performed at their father's theater for the next few years. Following rumors that Frank Gumm had made sexual advances toward male ushers at his theater, the family relocated to Lancaster, California, in June 1926.[3] Frank purchased and operated another theater in Lancaster, and Ethel, acting as their manager, began working to get her daughters into motion pictures.


After appearing in vaudeville with her 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, Garland was released from the studio but gained renewed success through record-breaking concert appearances, including a critically acclaimed Carnegie Hall concert, a well-regarded but short-lived television series and a return to acting beginning with a critically acclaimed performance in A Star Is Born (1954).

Despite her professional triumphs, Garland battled personal problems throughout her life. Insecure about her appearance, her feelings were compounded by film executives who told her she was unattractive and manipulated her on-screen physical appearance. Plied with drugs to control her weight and increase her productivity, Garland endured a decades-long struggle with prescription drug addiction. Garland 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 attempted suicide on a number of occasions. Garland died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 47, leaving children Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft and Joey Luft.


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.


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