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Judy Garland - A Brief Biography

     Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and immediately nicknamed "Baby." Her father managed the town movie theatre; her mother accompanied silent films on the piano. Both parents performed, as did Baby's two older sisters, and she joined the family act on December 26, 1924, in a song-and-dance routine with her sisters and her own solo, a scheduled one-chorus arrangement of "Jingle Bells." To the delight of the audience, Baby refused to leave the stage and went into reprise after reprise of the latter number; her grandmother finally had to walk on from the wings and carry the child offstage as she protested, "I wanna sing some more!"
     The family moved to California in 1926, and over the next nine years, "The Gumm Sisters" made hundreds of stage and radio appearances. In 1929, they were seen in The Big Revue (Mayfair Pictures) and then sang in three other "Vitaphone Varieties" shorts for First National: A Holiday in Storyland, The Wedding of Jack and Jill, and Bubbles. By 1932, Baby was the center of the act, drawing astounded, astounding response from the public and critics alike. In 1934, the Los Angeles Evening Express compared the scope and depth of her talent to that of legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt and offered, "Little Frances...sang in a way that produced in the audience sensations that haven't been equaled in years. She must have the divine spark to be able to sing as she did...."
     By 1935, Baby had been rechristened Judy Garland -- the last name chosen by vaudevillian George Jessel, the first her own selection from a contemporary Hoagy Carmichael/Sammy Lesser song. Her sisters bowed out of the act that same year, and Judy signed an M-G-M contract. The studio first tested her appeal in a 1936 one-reel exhibitor's short in which she was paired with another teenage singer, Edna Mae Durbin. Response to both girls was strong enough to spur production (a month later) of a second one-reeler, Every Sunday. Inexplicably, Durbin's Metro contract was allowed to lapse; she was immediately signed by Universal, which changed her first name to Deanna and made her a film star.
     M-G-M, however, was far from nonplussed. They'd already arranged a showcase loanout for Judy at Twentieth Century-Fox (Pigskin Parade, 1936) and then cast her in Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937). Her rendition in that film of "Dear Mr. Gable: You Made Me Love You" created a sensation; she walked away with the reviews and won a Decca recording contract. The studio began immediate, intensive plans for her future. The Wizard Of Oz (1939) was paramount among the vehicles in development, but during its preparation, she made four other features. The earliest of these, Thoroughbreds Don't Cry (1937), cast her for the first time with Mickey Rooney; they'd actually met four years earlier as fellow students at Lawlor's Professional School.
     Judy next costarred with Allan Jones, Fanny Brice, and Billie Burke in Everybody Sing, and went on to work with Freddie Bartholomew, Mary Astor, and Walter Pidgeon in Listen, Darling (both 1938). But the on-and-off-screen chemistry between Garland and Rooney had already been noted, and the two were purposely and purposefully reunited when a role was created for her in the fourth of the "Judge Hardy's Family" series, Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938).
     Their coupling had the earmarks of such success that -- even before the picture was released -- Metro songwriter Arthur Freed began plans to launch his own career as a film producer by costarring the duo in a film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, Babes In Arms. By autumn 1938, its production was scheduled to follow Judy's Listen, Darling and six months of adventures in Oz.
     Oz and Babes In Arms led Judy to Top Ten box office prominence in 1940; she appeared on the list in 1941 and 1945 as well. There were two more "Hardy" films with Rooney (Andy Hardy Meets Debutante [1940] and Life Begins for Andy Hardy [1941]) and three additional musical pictures in which they costarred: Strike Up the Band (1940), Babes On Broadway (1941), and Girl Crazy (1943). Judy also played the title roles in Little Nellie Kelly (1940), Ziegfeld Girl (1941), and Presenting Lily Mars (1943). A year earlier, she'd received her first solo billing above the title in For Me And My Gal -- proof positive that she had become such an artistic and box office sensation that no other name was required to bring in the cash customers. M-G-M began to commission top-flight vehicles for her and, in quick succession, she appeared in such subsequent screen classics as Meet Me In St. Louis (1944), The Clock (1945), The Harvey Girls (1946), Till The Clouds Roll By (1947), The Pirate and Easter Parade (both 1948), In The Good Old Summertime (1949), and Summer Stock (1950). She also did "guest" appearances in the all-star musicals Thousands Cheer (1943), Ziegfeld Follies (1946), and Words and Music (1948).
     Additionally, between 1936 and 1950, Judy recorded over eighty sides for Decca, made over two hundred radio appearances, and -- during World War II -- served as a tireless force among the entertainers who performed for stateside servicemen and women. The cumulative effects of such a work schedule led to both emotional and physical exhaustion for the diminutive Garland, and (after she'd completed twenty-eight feature films in fourteen years), M-G-M dissolved her contract in 1950.
     In April 1951, "Baby Gumm" returned to her roots with a sensational four-week stage engagement at the London Palladium. The subsequent tour led straight to Broadway; in March 1952, Judy was presented with a special Antoinette Perry "Tony" Award for breaking the all-time vaudeville box office and attendance records during a nineteen week engagement at the legendary Palace Theatre in New York. The continuing phenomenon of "Judy Garland Live" would ultimately result in over 1100 stage, nightclub, and concert appearances between 1951 and 1969. There were acclaimed returns to the Palace in 1956 and 1967; a precedent-shattering engagement as the first popular singer to play the Metropolitan Opera House in 1959; eight record-breaking Las Vegas engagements (in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1965, and 1967); United States appearances everywhere from the Hollywood Bowl to the Newport Jazz Festival; international successes in Amsterdam, Paris, Sydney, and Germany, Ireland, and Scotland; and the immediately historic "Judy At Carnegie Hall" in 1961. The two-record set of that performance won an unprecedented five Grammy Awards (including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal Performance) and remained on the charts for 97 weeks -- 13 of those in the number one position.
     Judy returned to the screen as well, winning a best actress Oscar nomination for A Star Is Born (Warner Bros./1954). There would be a similar citation as best supporting actress for Judgment At Nuremberg (United Artists) in 1961; Judy had already been presented with a special miniature "juvenile" Oscar in 1940 for her work in Oz and Babes in Arms. She did another straight dramatic role for Stanley Kramer in A Child Is Waiting (United Artists/1963).
     Garland's television debut in 1955 attracted the largest audience to that time for a "spectacular" program. She went on to nearly 60 other TV appearances, including acclaimed "specials" in 1962 and 1963 and her own series in 1963-64. (Her individual telecasts and Garland herself garnered a total of 10 Emmy nominations.) In addition to film soundtracks for Columbia (Pepe/1960) and Warner Bros. (Gay Purr-ee/1962), Judy cut a dozen albums during a ten-year tenure with Capitol Records (1955-1965) -- including the soundtrack for her final film, I Could Go On Singing (United Artists/1963).
     Judy Garland's final concert appearances in March 1969 won ten-minute standing ovations in Stockholm and Copenhagen. She died in her London home on June 22, 1969, of an accidental overdose of prescription medication.
      Since her death, her professional reputation and legend have only grown -- fired by the continued clamor from all ages for her films, television shows, and recordings.
     Judy is the mother of entertainers Liza Minnelli (born 1946) and Lorna Luft (born 1952) and photographer Joe Luft (born 1955). She was married five times: to composer/conductor David Rose (1941-44), film director Vincente Minnelli (1945-51), producer Sid Luft (1952-1965), actor Mark Herron (1965-1966), and musician/entrepreneur Mickey Deans (1969).

Judy Garland Time-Line
The Beginning
·    Judy (christened Frances Ethel Gumm and nicknamed "Baby") was born on
June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
·    She was the third daughter of Frank Avent Gumm and Ethel Marion
(Milne) Gumm.
·    Judy performed with her family at their theatre, the New Grand, in
Grand Rapids, with her sisters Mary Jane (nicknamed "Susie") and
Dorothy Jane ("Jimmie"). The act was called "The Gumm Sisters."
·    Judy's stage debut came on December 26, 1924, at the New Grand. She
sang and danced with her sisters and soloed on "Jingle Bells" -- the
latter repeatedly until her grandmother (or father, depending on which story
one believes) had to walk on and carry her off.
·    In autumn 1926, the Gumm family moved to California, ultimately settling
the next year in Lancaster, some 80 miles north of Los Angeles. The sisters
continued to perform and to take dancing and acting lessons.
·    In 1929, Judy made her film debut with her sisters in the two-reel short,
THE BIG REVUE. They made three other musical shorts that same year;
"Baby" had solo songs in two of them.

The 1930s
·    In 1933, the Gumm family moved to Silver Lake, a suburb of Los
Angeles, where Judy and Jimmie attended Lawlor's Hollywood Professional
·    On October 21, 1933, Judy and Mickey Rooney appeared there on stage
together; it was their first professional association...and they'd go on to be
co-billed in ten Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer feature films (between 1937 and 1948),
to share the premiere taping of her 1963 CBS-TV series, and to duet in
countless benefit, radio, and personal appearances.
·    In 1934, The Gumm Sisters traveled to Chicago where they appeared at
The Oriental Theatre. George Jessel, who headlined and emceed the bill,
decided to change their names to "The Garland Sisters" because the
audience laughed when he introduced them by their real name.
·    To get away from the nickname "Baby," Frances chose to change
her own first name in the summer of 1935, taking the title
of the Hoagy Carmichael/Sammy Lerner song, "Judy," in its stead.
·    In August 1935, The Gumm Sisters' act broke up when Susie got married.
·    In September 1935, when Judy was 13, she auditioned for M-G-M, singing
"Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart." She was signed immediately to a
seven year contract. (This was at least her third audition for Metro in ten months
or so.)
·    Also in 1935, Judy made her network radio debut on the "Shell Chateau
·    On June 12, 1936, just two days after her 14th birthday, she recorded
"Stompin' at the Savoy" / "Swing Mr. Charlie" with Bob Crosby and His
Orchestra for Decca in New York. This was the first Judy Garland record
to be released. In 1937, Decca signed her to a long-term recording contract.
·    In 1936, after the one-reel M-G-M short EVERY SUNDAY (with Deanna
Durbin), Judy made her feature film acting debut in PIGSKIN PARADE.
·    In February 1937, Judy was asked to perform at an on-set birthday
party for Clark Gable. She sang "Dear Mr. Gable" which led into the
song "You Made Me Love You." Her rendition created such a sensation, it
was written into her part in the already-scripted BROADWAY MELODY OF
1938 (in which she played the daughter of the great Sophie Tucker).
·    In 1937, she made her first film appearance with Mickey Rooney in
THOROUGHBREDS DON'T CRY. They re-teamed months later for LOVE
FINDS ANDY HARDY; earlier in 1938, she also duetted with the legendary
Fanny Brice in EVERYBODY SING.
     She topped off the decade with the release of THE WIZARD OF OZ in
August 1939, followed by BABES IN ARMS in October. As a result, she
placed in the top ten box office stars for 1940 -- a position she held again
in 1941 and 1945. She was also a radio regular in the late 1930s, singing
on scores of shows and assuring her status as the favorite of millions
at that time. (She was a regular on the Oakie College show in 1937, on M-G-M's
Good News program in 1937-38, and on Bob Hope's show in 1939-40.)
      On October 10, 1939, Judy placed her hand and footprints in cement at
Grauman's Chinese Theatre with Mickey Rooney in attendance.

The 1940s
·    In February 1940, Judy won a special Juvenile Oscar for her role as
Dorothy Gale in THE WIZARD OF OZ. She referred to the miniature
statuette as her "Munchkin Award."
·    Judy married composer and orchestra leader David Rose on July 28,
1941; they would divorce four years later.
·    In July 1943, Judy made her solo concert debut in Philadelphia,
breaking all attendance records at The Robin Hood Dell: 15,000 patrons
jammed into an amphitheatre designed for 6500; another 15,000 gathered
on nearby hillsides to hear the show, and thousands more were turned
·    In 1944, one of her most successful films, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS,
introduced three standards: "The Trolley Song," "The Boy Next Door,"
and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
·    Other stellar Garland vehicles of the 1940s include: STRIKE UP THE BAND
(1940), FOR ME AND MY GAL (1942; Gene Kelly's film debut), GIRL CRAZY
(1948; Fred Astaire came out of retirement to dance with her in this picture),
(1950). She actually appeared in 20 feature films during the decade, as
well as cutting scores of sides for Decca and participating in well over one
hundred radio broadcasts. She performing at numerous benefits, and in three
separate camp tours for US servicemen and women.
    On June 15, 1945, she married legendary director Vincente Minnelli
(divorced 1951). They had one child, Liza Minnelli.

The 1950s
·    On September 29, 1950, Judy Garland was released from her M-G-M
·    On April 9, 1951, Judy began a series of legendary live appearances at
the London Palladium, later touring the provinces for two months.
·    From 1951 to 1952 she played New York's Palace Theatre for a record-
breaking nineteen weeks, receiving a special Tony Award for her revival of
vaudeville-styled entertainment.
·    On June 8, 1952, Judy married producer Sid Luft (divorced 1965). They
had two children, Lorna and Joey.
·    In 1954, after a four year absence, she returned to films in A STAR
IS BORN, which is considered by many to be her best dramatic
performance, and for which she received a Best Actress Academy Award
·    In 1955, the best selling album, MISS SHOW BUSINESS, was the first
release of her ten year association with Capitol Records.
·    Other albums released in the '50s included: JUDY (1956), ALONE
(1957), JUDY IN LOVE (1958), GARLAND AT THE GROVE (1959),
and THE LETTER (1959).
·    Also in 1955, Judy made her television debut as the star of FOUR STAR
JUBILEE, which won the highest ratings to that date for a special on
·    Judy made her Las Vegas debut in July 1956 at The New Frontier at the
highest salary ever paid to a star in the desert to that time.
·    On September 26, 1956, Judy reclaimed the Palace Theatre for a 17
week Broadway engagement.
     Her other 1950s theatrical engagements included a return to London for
a four-week season at The Dominion and a Royal Variety Show at The
Palladium; stints at The Greek Theatre and Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles;
further triumphs in Las Vegas, and cross-country successes from Dallas to
Detroit, Chicago, and Miami, among other cities.
·    In an unprecedented one-week stand in 1959, Garland was the first
American popular singer to appear at New York's Metropolitan Opera
House. Her elaborate revue also toured to Baltimore, Chicago, San
Francisco, and Los Angeles.

The 1960s
·    Judy returned to the screen in 1961 playing a cameo role in JUDGMENT
AT NUREMBERG, for which she received an Academy Award nomination as
Best Supporting Actress.
·    On April 23, 1961, Judy triumphed at Carnegie Hall. Many would call
her appearance there the "greatest single night in show business history."
The double-album live recording made of the concert was a best seller (certified gold),
charting for over 90 weeks in Billboard -- 13 weeks at number one -- and winning
five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal  
Performance. Judy duplicated the Carnegie Hall concert "live" over 60 times
between August 1960 and December 1961, from London, Paris, and Amsterdam to
the Newport Jazz Festival and The Hollywood Bowl. (At the latter show, a record-
breaking crowd of 18,000 sat outside in a steady rain for 2.5 hours; after four
encores, they refused to let Judy leave the stage and, when she'd run out of
orchestrations, made her repeat a song from earlier in the concert.)
     Her "comeback" to television in a 1962 special with Frank Sinatra and
Dean Martin won CBS a new high in audience ratings and virtually unanimous
raves. It garnered four Emmy nominations and was repeated by popular demand.
    Judy's final starring films were released in 1963: A CHILD IS WAITING
·    In 1963, CBS offered Judy a $24 million, four-year deal to produce a weekly
television series, "The Judy Garland Show." Although critically acclaimed, the
series was beset from the onset by ridiculous network interference and intracorporate
politics, a preposterous timeslot, a lack of support from CBS hierarchy and
Garland's representatives. As a result, the program lasted only one season and
went off the air in 1964 after 26 episodes. However, the show won four Emmy nominations.
·    In 1964, Judy appeared twice at the London Palladium with her daughter Liza,
and gave more than 80 solo shows as well between 1964 and 1966.
·    On November 14, 1965, she married actor Mark Herron (divorced 1967).
·    In the summer of 1967, Judy made a final, four-week appearance at the Palace
Theatre, working 27 consecutive evenings -- during which she broke her own
box office record. Additionally, there were over 50 other concerts during her
1967 tour.
·    On July 20, 1968, Judy gave her last US concert in Philadelphia.
     From late December 1968 until early February 1969, she fulfilled a five-week
engagement at London's Talk of the Town nightclub. Though frail and increasingly
ill, she missed only three shows during the 30-performance schedule.
·    On March 15, 1969, she married nightclub owner Mickey Deans.
·    In March 1969, she gave her final concert in Copenhagen, Denmark.
·    Album releases in the '60s included: JUDY: THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT!
JUST FOR OPENERS (1964; soundtracks from her TV series), JUDY
      During the 1960s, Judy also appeared as a special guest on more
than 20 television programs, including "The Hollywood Palace," "Perry Como's
Kraft Music Hall," the Jack Paar, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ed Sullivan, and
Andy Williams shows among others.
·    Judy Garland died on June 22, 1969, at the age of 47 in London.
·    In 1997, Judy Garland was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime
Achievement Award.
·    JUDY AT CARNEGIE HALL was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in
1998; "Over the Rainbow" (1939) and her cast album of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS
(1944) have also received that Grammy distinction.
      "Over the Rainbow" has since been voted Song of the Century as well as
the Number One film song of all-time.


Frances Ethel Gumm

TRIVIA -- things you never knew but will now...:

Judy has a special variety of rose named after her. The petals are
yellow (she adored yellow roses) and the tips are bright red. At the behest
of the officers and members of her London-based international fan
club, a British rose developer spent several years in its quest to
find a bloom that all felt worthy of the Garland name. After its
success in England, US firms began to stock the rose in 1991.
Several Judy Garland rose bushes are planted outside of her mausoleum in
Hartsdale, NY, as well as on the grounds of the Judy Garland Museum in
Grand Rapids.

Judy had songs written for her by Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen,
Ira Gershwin, E. Y. Harburg, Burton Lane, Harry Warren, Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane,
and Johnny Mercer. Jerry Herman (HELLO, DOLLY!, MAME, MACK AND
MABEL, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES) and Lionel Bart (OLIVER!) credited Judy as
their inspirational muse when composing and writing lyrics.
Johnny Mercer also wrote the words to "That Old Black Magic," "I Remember
You," and "This Time, The Dream's On Me" in recognition of his love for

Among those who orchestrated and/or arranged for Judy Garland were Mort Lindsey,
Nelson Riddle, Conrad Salinger, Gordon Jenkins, Billy May, Buddy Bregman, Saul
Chaplin, Skip Martin, Mel Torme, Ray Heindorf, Kay Thompson, and the
incomparable Roger Edens.

"Quiet Please, There's A Lady On Stage" was begun by Peter Allen in honor of
cabaret star Julie Wilson, but it evolved into a paean to all great singing ladies
-- especially Judy.

Groucho Marx called her Garland's loss of the Oscar for A STAR IS BORN "the
biggest robbery since Brink's." Hedda Hopper later reported that the 1955
voting for Best Actress was the closest to that time that didn't end in a tie...
and Grace Kelly won for THE COUNTRY GIRL by just six votes. (Ironically,
history has provided Judy with far more attention for missing out on the Academy
Award than Kelly ever received for winning it....)

The day Judy died, there were tornadoes in Kansas.