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.
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."
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...