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Interesting Facts About Judy Garland

Updated on November 14, 2013
Judy Garland with Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra
Judy Garland with Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra | Source

Somewhere over the rainbow, in 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, a star was born. Though she would only spend a short 47 years in this world, she would come to be known as one of the greatest entertainers who ever lived. The journey to this iconic status, however, was not always paved in gold. Her career successes were mired with personal struggles, but that has only seemed to further entrench her in history and endear her to fans the world over. Judy Garland was, is, and always will be, undeniably inimitable and unforgettable.

Here are some fun facts about Judy Garland that you may, or may not, know.

  • Born Frances Ethel Gumm (after her parents Francis Gumm and Ethel Milne) on June 10, 1922
  • Was named the eight greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute
  • Began singing at the age of 2 and a half at her father’s movie theater
  • Performed with two older her sisters (Mary Jane Suzanne and Dorothy Virginia) from 1924 to 1935
  • Appeared in 35 movies over the course of her lifetime
  • Stood a mere 4’ 11 ½” tall and early in her career was referred to as the “little hunchback” by Hollywood bigwig Louis B. Mayer
  • Father was alleged to be homosexual
  • Was 17 when she shot to stardom as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Could reportedly view a piece of music once and have the entire thing memorized
  • She and her sisters took on the last name Garland in 1934 after the singing trio’s name was met with laughter from an audience – one theory is the name was selected after a theater owner claimed the sisters “looked prettier than a garland of flowers”
  • Changed her first name to Judy by 1935, inspired by a popular Hoagy Carmichael song
  • Received an Academy Juvenile Award for her 1939 performances in The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms (co-starring Mickey Rooney)
  • Was married for the first time at age 19 to bandleader David Rose on July 28, 1941 (they divorced in 1944)
  • Loved yellow roses and has a special variety of a yellow petal, red-tipped rose named after her (it didn’t appear in the US until 1991)
  • To ensure she could keep up with a demanding schedule during her early years at MGM, she was given amphetamines and barbiturates to take before going to bed (a practice that led to an addiction and lifelong struggle with drugs)
  • Voted the 22nd greatest movie star of all time by Premiere Magazine
  • Became pregnant in 1942, but was persuaded by then-husband David Rose and MGM to have an abortion
  • Was three-quarters Scottish and one-quarter Irish
  • Was a neighbor of John Wayne’s while he was attending college in California
  • Had to wear removable caps to cover her crooked teeth and rubberized disks to reshape her nose (the disks were done away with in 1944 by the makeup artist who styled her for Meet Me in St. Louis)
  • Posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997
  • Tied the knot with her second husband, Vincente Minnelli on June 15, 1945 – Louis B. Mayer gave her away (the couple divorced in 1951)
  • Earned a Golden Globe for her performance in A Star is Born (1954), but was devastated to have lost the Academy Award to Grace Kelly, who won for her performance in The Country Girl
  • Suffered postpartum depression after giving birth to daughter Liza Minnelli on March 12, 1946, and when she returned to work to film The Pirate (1948) began hallucinating and making false accusations toward crew members (especially her then-husband Vincente MInnelli)
  • Initially refused to appear in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), as she was tired of playing teenage characters
  • Married her third husband, Sidney Luft, on June 8, 1952 – they had two children (Lorna Luft and Joey Luft), but divorced after roughly 13 years together
  • Made her first suicide attempt after filming Easter Parade (1948) and in May 1949 she was checked into a rehabilitation center
  • Between 1949 and 1950, was replaced in three movies due to side effects from drug and alcohol problems – The Barkleys of Broadway (replaced by Ginger Rogers), Annie Get Your Gun (replaced by Betty Hutton), and Royal Wedding (replaced by June Allyson)
  • Her performance of Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz (1939) was ranked #1 in 2004 on The American Film Institute’s list of “The 100 Years of The Greatest Songs”
  • Suffered with weight problems throughout her life
  • Was intensely afraid of flying, horses, and guns
  • Despite it’s critical and popular acclaim, A Star is Born ended up losing money because it was so lengthy it could only run three or four times a day instead of five or six – as a result, the financial security Judy had expected to gain from the film never materialized
  • Remained in constant debt during the 1960s – likely due to her then-husband Sidney’s gambling problems as well as her then-manager’s propensity to embezzle money from his clients
  • Played a wildly successful four-month concert tour of the United Kingdom in the early 1950s, although the British press lauded her for being “too plump”
  • Married her fourth husband, Mark Herron, on November 14, 1965, but divorced in January of 1969 – on March 15 of that year she married her fifth and final husband, musician Mickey Deans (they remained together until her death)
  • Her performance as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939) was ranked #17 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time
  • Died on June 22, 1969, twelve days after her 47th birthday, due to an overdose that was ruled accidental


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