Friday, June 10, 2016

Born Today June 10 (Not So Silent Edition): Judy Garland


1922-1969

Frances Ethel Gumm, was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the youngest child of a vaudevillian family.  She was named for both of her parents, who simply called her "baby." Her father owned a movie theater, in which she and her siblings would perform under the name of "The Gumm Sisters."  In 1926 the family moved to Lancaster, CA, where yet another movie house was purchased by her father.  A short time later, her mother started to manage her daughters singing act and was actively trying to get them into films.  In 1928, the sisters were enrolled in dance school and in 1929 they made their film debut in The Big Revue as the Gumm Sisters.  They then were signed to appear in a number of shorts for the Vitaphone company, billed as "The Vitaphone Kiddies."  Their last film appearance together came in 1935. The group also toured extensively on the vaudeville circuit during this time, and this is when the subject of their last name first came up.  No one seems to know where the last name "Garland" came from, as several stories give different versions, but by 1934, the sisters were then billed as "The Garland Sisters."  The origin of "Judy" is known to have come from a Hoaggy Carmichael song.  In 1935, with her sisterly act now defunct, Frances Gumm, now going by the name of Judy Garland, was signed to a contract with MGM.  Almost immediately she began to have one unhappy experience after another.  A "girl next door" character was forced on her from the studio head himself:  Louis B. Mayer.  Later in life she revealed that she and other young stars at the studio were given uppers to keep the pace of the studio schedule and downers to sleep at night.  This is was, according to her, the start of her lifelong drug problems.  For most of the world, Garland is synonymous with one role only--that of Dorothy in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.  When the film debuted she was just 17 years of age.  After the wild success of the film, she became of of MGM's most valuable assets.  By 1940, at only 18, she had already begun her adult career in film and performance.  The rest as they say is history and links for further reading are provided below.  On the 22nd of June 1969, Garland was found dead in the bathroom of a rented house in London, England.  The coroners inquest ruled that she had died of an accidental overdose of barbiturates.  She was just 47 years of age. After release from the morgue in London, her body was embalmed and shipped back to New York, where more than 20.000 people lined up to pay their respects.  She is interred at the public mausoleum in the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York--a town about 25 miles north of New York City.   Garland is also famous for being the mother of Liza Minnelli.  




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