Celebrity | Vintage

The Truth Behind The Tragic Life Of Judy Garland

MGM

Judy Garland is one of those legends that everyone remembers so fondly. She was such an enormous talent and her loss was felt throughout the country.

Garland may have been an incredibly talented woman, but that didn't mean she wasn't without her struggles. She had a tragic life that eventually led to her death, and the problems started right away.

MGM

Why she called her mother 'the real Wicked Witch of the West'

Judy Garland was actually born Frances Ethel Gumm. She was born in 1922 to a mother who hadn't really wanted her in the first place. Garland's mother forced her two-and-a-half-year old daughter to join her older sisters in a stage show, and worked hard to get her children famous.

Garland told Barbara Walters that "She would sort of stand in the wings when I was a little girl and if I didn't feel good, if I was sick to my tummy, she'd say, 'You get out and sing or I'll wrap you around the bedpost and break you off short!' So I'd go out and sing."

Trouble at home

Her parents were not happily married at all. "As I recall, my parents were separating and getting back together all the time. It was very hard for me to understand those things and, of course, I remember clearly the fear I had of those separations."

Early MGM days

Garland was signed to MGM in 1935, when she was only 13 years old. She wasn't as thrilled about it as a lot of people would assume. The studio wasn't doing much to find her roles, but they were doing a lot to destroy her self esteem.

The head of the studio was named Louis B. Mayer and he was so cruel to the young star. He regularly called Garland "my little hunchback" because she was less than five feet tall and had a slight curvature of her spine. He was also known to have groped the young actress, fondling her while telling her to "sing from the heart". He also forced her on an insane diet.

She was only allowed to eat chicken broth and cottage cheese, and was also given a prescription of amphetamine-based diet pills.  She said, "From the time I was 13, there was a constant struggle between MGM and me "” whether or not to eat, how much to eat, what to eat. I remember this more vividly than anything else about my childhood."

Professional Burnout

She was having a hard enough time in her personal life, but her work life was getting increasingly difficult. Once she finally managed to get a starring role in a film, everything seemed to snowball. She wasn't just making one movie at a time anymore, MGM would force into filming two at the same time.

The young actress spent 3 hours per day in school, before heading to rehearsals for two hours. That was all before she started filming. Most days she wouldn't be done her work day until 5am. She had to to turn to pep pills to help her make it through the day.

She thought she found a way to find happiness when she fell in love, but it didn't go as planned...

Rushed Marriage

Judy was in a rush to get married as an attempt to gain an ally against her mother and boss. At only 19-years-old, Garland married David Rose. Louis Mayer was unhappy with this because he wanted her public perception to remain young and innocent, but she insisted.

She became pregnant shortly after the marriage, but her new husband and her team of controlling influences convinced her to abort. They ended up separating only eight months after their wedding, and were officially divorced by 1944.

Her second husband cheated on her

Vicente Minnelli married Judy Garland in 1945. They had their daughter Liza, but their relationship was strained thanks to Garlands continued substance abuse. There was also a bigger issue, Minnelli's infidelity.

Garland walked in on him in bed with a man, which she did not react well to. Allegedly she ran into the bathroom and tried to cut her wrists, but Minnelli was able to stop her. They did divorce

Continued issues with her third and fourth husbands

Her third husband Sid Luft was a notorious gambler and alcoholic, and ended up spending a good chunk of her earnings. He even tried to sell Garland's Oscar and was sued by the Academy.

Her fourth husband had an affair with Liza Minelli's husband, breaking up both of their marriages.

Her husbands weren't the only problem, her children were also struggling...

Her children were forced to deal with a lot of traumatic situations

Liza Minelli, her oldest child, was forced to help raise her brothers and sisters. She had to physically restrain her mother from jumping from a hotel window, and also prevented Garland from overdosing.

Bob Colins

Her younger daughter, Lorna Luft, had to step in when Minelli finally moved out. Luft claims that she had to clean blood out of their home after her mother would have huge fights with her forth husband. She remembers her mother consuming Ritalin and amphetamines  at an outrageous rate, and ended up moving out of the house when she was only 15.

Near the end of her life she was basically homeless

With her children no longer speaking to her, she was all alone. She actually would go to fans homes and stay there, carrying her possessions in paper bags. She got a few gigs that she would get paid $100 cash for so the IRS wouldn't know.

Her final months

She met Mickey Deans when he was managing a night club. He dated her for a few years before finally proposing. They were married on March 15, 1968. He found her dead in the bathroom on June 22, 1969. Her death was ruled an accidental overdose of barbiturates.

Even though her life ended in tragedy, she will always be remembered for her talented performances and her skill.