US film actress, singer, and superstar, whose life ended tragically and prematurely as a result of drink and drug abuse.
Born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the daughter of vaudeville entertainers, Garland had appeared on stage before she was five. She and her two older sisters formed the ‘Gumm Sisters Kiddie Act’ but eventually she went solo, changing her name to Judy Garland. Thanks to the ambition of her mother, at thirteen she was under contract to MGM.
Her first film was Every Sunday (1936), with Deanna Durbin (1921– ). Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), in which she sang her famous ‘Dear Mr Gable’, brought her to the public's attention, after which she made nine films with the 1930s Hollywood juvenile lead Mickey Rooney (1920– ). It was, however, as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939), a role originally intended for Shirley Temple, that she achieved international stardom. For this she received a special Oscar and became identified with the film's hit song ‘Over the Rainbow’.
Other successful films followed, including For Me and My Gal (1942), Meet Me In St Louis (1944), The Clock (1945), Easter Parade (1948), and A Star is Born (1954), which gained her an Oscar nomination. But an unhappy private life, psychiatric illness, and drink and drug dependence finally destroyed her. By the sixties ill health began to affect her concert and cabaret appearances, although she continued to make films, including Judgment at Nuremberg (1960) and her final film, I Could Go On Singing (1963). She was married five times; her daughter Liza Minnelli (1946– ), by her second husband Vincente Minnelli (1910–86), emerged as a star in the 1970s.