Judy Garland - Actors and Actresses

Nationality: American. Born: Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, 10 June 1922. Education: Attended elementary school in Los Angeles; Lawler's Professional School, 1929–31; Bancroft Junior High School and University High School, Los Angeles. Family: Married 1) the musician David Rose, 1941 (divorced 1942); 2) the director Vincente Minnelli, 1945 (divorced 1952), daughter: the actress Liza Minnelli; 3) the producer Sid Luft, 1952 (divorced 1965), daughter: the singer Lorna Luft; 4) Mark Herron, 1965 (divorced 1969); 5) Mickey Deans. Career: 1929—film debut as a child singer, with her sisters, as The Gumm Sisters, in the Meglin Kiddie Revue ; also toured with the act, later called The Garland Sisters; 1935—contract with MGM; followed by a series of musical films; 1938—roles in the Andy Hardy series and in The Wizard of Oz brought her wide popularity; also acted and sang on radio, and made recordings; 1945—straight dramatic role in The Clock ; 1950—health problems led to MGM not renewing her contract; 1951—great success in cabaret performances at the London Palladium and the Palace Theatre in New York; later film successes in A Star Is Born , 1954, and Judgment at Nuremberg , 1961; also continued touring in cabaret and recording; 1963–64—star of The Judy Garland Show on television. Awards: Special Academy Award, "for her outstanding performance as a screen juvenile during the past year," 1939. Died: In London, England, 22 June 1969.

Judy Garland, Jack Haley, and Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz
Judy Garland, Jack Haley, and Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz

Films as Actress:


The Meglin Kiddie Revue (one of the Gumm sisters)


A Holiday in Storyland (one of the Gumm sisters); The Wedding of Jack and Jill (one of the Gumm sisters)


La fiesta de Santa Barbara (one of the Gumm sisters); Pigskin Parade ( The Harmony Parade ) (David Butler) (as Sairy Dodd); Every Sunday (Feist—short)


Broadway Melody of 1938 (Del Ruth) (as Betty Clayton); Thoroughbreds Don't Cry (Alfred E. Green) (as Cricket West)


Everybody Sing (Marin) (as Judy Bellaire); Love Finds Andy Hardy (Seitz) (as Betsy Booth); Listen, Darling (Marin) (as Pinkie Wingate)


The Wizard of Oz (Fleming) (as Dorothy Gale); Babes in Arms (Berkeley) (as Patsy Barton)


Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (Seitz) (as Betsy Booth); Strike Up the Band (Berkeley) (as Mary Holden); Little Nellie Kelly (Taurog) (title role)


Ziegfeld Girl (Leonard) (as Susan Gallagher); Life Begins for Andy Hardy (Seitz) (as Betsy); We Must Have Music (short—unused sequence from Leonard's Ziegfeld Girl , part of series A Romance of Celluloid ); Babes on Broadway (Berkeley) (as Penny Morris)


For Me and My Gal (Berkeley) (as Jo Hayden)


Presenting Lily Mars (Taurog) (title role); Girl Crazy (Taurog) (as Ginger Gray); Thousands Cheer (Sidney) (as guest)


Meet Me in St. Louis (Minnelli) (as Esther Smith)


The Clock ( Under the Clock ) (Minnelli) (as Alice Mayberry)


The Harvey Girls (Sidney) (as Susan Bradley); Ziegfeld Follies (Minnelli); Till the Clouds Roll By (Whorf; Garland sequences directed by Minnelli) (as Marilyn Miller)


The Pirate (Minnelli) (as Manuela); Easter Parade (Walters) (as Hannah Brown); Words and Music (Taurog) (as guest)


In the Good Old Summertime (Leonard) (as Veronica Fisher)


Summer Stock ( If You Feel Like Singing ) (Walters) (as Jane Falbury)


A Star Is Born (Cukor) (as Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester)


Pepe (Sidney) (as voice)


Judgment at Nuremberg (Kramer) (as Irene Hoffman)


Gay Purr-ee (Levitow—animation) (as voice of Mewsette)


A Child Is Waiting (Cassavetes) (as Jean Hansen); I Could Go on Singing (Neame) (as Jenny Bowman)


On GARLAND: books—

Zierold, Norman, The Child Stars , New York, 1965.

Morella, Joe, and Edward Epstein, Judy: The Films and Career of Judy Garland , New York, 1969.

Steiger, Brad, Judy Garland , New York, 1969.

Tormé, Mel, The Other Side of the Rainbow with Judy Garland on the Dawn Patrol , New York, 1970.

Deans, Mickey, and Ann Pinchot, Weep No More My Lady , New York, 1972.

Melton, David, Judy: A Remembrance , Hollywood, 1972.

Di Orio, Al Jr., Little Girl Lost—The Life and Hard Times of Judy Garland , New Rochelle, New York, 1973.

Juneau, James, Judy Garland , New York, 1974.

Minnelli, Vincente, with Hector Arce, I Remember It Well , New York, 1974.

Edwards, Anne, Judy Garland: A Biography , New York, 1975.

Finch, Christopher, Rainbow: The Stormy Life of Judy Garland , New York, 1975.

Frank, Gerald, Judy , New York, 1975.

Smith, Lorna, Judy, with Love: The Story of Miss Show Business , London, 1975.

Baxter, Brian, The Films of Judy Garland , Farncombe, Surrey, 1977.

Glickmann, Serge, Judy Garland , Paris, 1981.

Kepler, M., Judy Garland , Paris, 1981.

Spada, James, with Karen Swenson, Judy and Liza , London, 1983.

Dyer, Richard, Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society , London, 1987.

Csengery, Judit, Judy es Liza , Budapest, 1988.

Harmitz, Aljean, The Making of The Wizard of Oz, London, 1989.

Haver, Ronald, A Star Is Born : The Making of the 1954 Movie and Its 1983 Restoration , London, 1989.

Coleman, Emily R., The Complete Judy Garland , New York, 1990.

Fricke, John, Judy Garland: World's Greatest Entertainer , New York, 1992.

Shipman, David, Judy Garland: The Secret Life of an American Legend , New York, 1993.

On GARLAND: articles—

St. Johns, Adela Rogers, "His Engagement to Judy Garland," in Photoplay (New York), April 1945.

"Star Turn: Judy Garland," in Sight and Sound (London), June 1951.

Current Biography 1952 , New York, 1952.

Rosterman, Robert, "Judy Garland," in Films in Review (New York), April 1952.

McVay, Douglas, "Judy Garland," in Films and Filming (London), October 1961.

Obituary in New York Times , 24 June 1969.

Pérez, M., "Judy Garland," in Positif (Paris), November/December 1972.

Jennings, W., "Nova: Garland in A Star Is Born ," in Quarterly Review of Film Studies (Pleasantville, New York), no. 3, 1979.

Crist, Judith, "Judy Garland," in The Movie Star , edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.

Mordden, Ethan, "I Got a Song," in New Yorker , 22 October 1990.

Clarke, Gerald, "Judy Garland: The Wizard of Oz Star in Bel-Air," in Architectural Digest (Los Angeles), April 1992.

Stars (Mariembourg), Winter 1993.

Norman, Barry, "Darkness Over the Rainbow for Dorothy," in Radio Times (London), 27 September 1997.

* * *

In his book Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society , Richard Dyer offers both an insightful discussion of Judy Garland's star image and an in-depth account of why gay men were so strongly attracted to Garland and particularly her post-1950 image. Yet, as Dyer points out, Garland's image and persona are open to other readings since her appeal was not limited to a subculture and Garland had mass appeal that embraced devoted female fans. Since Garland's death, well-researched books such as Judy Garland: The Secret Life of an American Legend have come out of the closet about Garland's bisexuality; how much light these revelations shed on her genius is open to question. Certainly, Garland toyed with sexual ambiguity throughout her career—the tramp number from Easter Parade , the newsboy number "Lose that Long Face" and boyish run-through of "Somewhere There's a Someone" in A Star Is Born , and the tuxedoed finale of Summer Stock which was resurrected for her concert appearances. What revisionist critics cannot lose sight of is that whether Garland was trucking down the Yellow Brick Road or looking for the Man that Got Away, her appeal was universal.

In his discussion of Garland's image, Dyer emphasizes the change that occurs in the perception of her image after 1950, the year in which she was fired by MGM and allegedly attempted suicide. If the MGM studio image celebrating her girl-next-doorness contrasts strongly with her post-1950s image as androgynous camp avatar, the one constant in Garland's persona is an overwhelming psychological need for affection that audiences always wanted to fill. Summer Stock , Meet Me in St. Louis , The Clock , and The Pirate draw strength from scenes in which vulnerable Judy becomes very emotional, frequently in response to a man's assertion of dominance. In many of her MGM films, Garland is on the brink of womanhood but nevertheless acts in a refreshingly direct and immediate manner; while her outbursts suggest the childlike, it challenges her co-stars to consider a greater equality of the sexes. In a complex manner, Garland plays off aspects of what are deemed feminine characteristics, but contrary to expectations, her transparent honesty does not make her appear helpless nor does it resort to a masculinizing of her image or a denial of heterosexual desire. Perhaps in the heady intensity of the movie musical, Garland did not have to play games. But unlike other American sweethearts such as Durbin, Allyson, and Powell, Garland grew into a heart-on-her-sleeve star with a persona more complex than the peaches-and-cream MGM image could support.

As Dyer says: "Garland works in an emotional register of great intensity which seems to bespeak equally suffering and survival, vulnerability and strength, theatricality and authenticity, passion and irony." Although these components emerge most forcefully in A Star Is Born , it is arguably Garland's emotional complexity that always distinguishes her work from that of more conventional musical comedy performers—in a standard backstage musical such as Summer Stock , Garland brings a raw dramatic depth to aspects of her characterization which threatens to unbalance the movie and take it in another generic direction, toward melodrama. In the later stages of her career, she blurred the division between personal and professional identity, which led to criticism regarding her willingness to exploit herself and her audience. Yet, Garland's insistence on being intimately emotional in public had a liberating effect on spectators, as occurs at times with melodramas and the experience they offer. Each Garland concert became a soap opera in song.

What else but the burned-out attitudes of the 1990s could explain why this dynamic entertainer has yet to be rediscovered after her death; in a climate where audiences seem determined to feel nothing but superficial sensation, she has not become an icon like the flashier but infinitely less talented Monroe, Dean, or Presley, three Hollywood legends whose victimhoods are both more accessible and less resonant than Garland's. Perhaps this greatest talent of the twentieth century will undergo a slow renaissance in the pop culture even as she remains the poster girl of the gay cognoscenti. Enjoying videos of her television show (which CBS foolishly slotted opposite Bonanza ), one is struck with the notion of Judy as a variety show subversive, way too supercharged and neurotic for the nation's living rooms unless they contained a therapist's couch. Moviegoers who bristled at Garland's wholesomeness at MGM respond to this latter-day show biz martyr who offers the audience the challenge of measuring up to her own life of pain.

It is that tremulous quality of radiant endurance which informs Garland's last three film appearances. After winning an Oscar nomination as one of the all-star Nazi survivors in Judgment at Nuremberg , she gave a full-bodied performance as a fledgling teacher of the mentally retarded in the unfairly ignored A Child Is Waiting , which illustrates the delicate balance of internal and external forces in Garland's persona. Laced with telling dialogue she wrote herself, I Could Go on Singing is a proper cinematic swansong in that Garland sings, dances, and acts a fan magazine version of her own trouble-plagued, the show-must-go-on-to-pay-the-bills lifestyle. Socking across paeans to survivability, Garland sings her heart out as if tapping into the frustrated longing of every audience member in thrall to her. Fearfully locking herself in her dressing room, she panicked her way out of Valley of the Dolls and a monster role unsuited to her trademark sensitivity. Of course, one wishes there had been one more on-screen comeback before the final disintegration of the Garland rainbow. As Garland entered her last phase of entertaining, the personal and the professional were increasingly conflated in the realm of keeping alive the myth of the Little Girl Lost; she pumped up her concert crowds on a high of snappy-pattered Hollywood horror stories and a frozen repertoire of torch songs functioning as mini-biographies. A performance artist before that term was coined, Garland may have sustained her career by taking advantage of her audiences' ongoing desire to fly with her over the rainbow while their own lives seemed mundanely stuck in the mud. No other singer enjoyed this sort of transcendent transference with devotees. Fittingly, she died in the midst of a concert tour—and what other performer can claim to have sung in a voice which millions felt was a dubbed-in expression of their own inner torment.

In recent years, there has been a concentration of critical writing on stars who defiantly challenged gender dictates (Dietrich, Davis, Hepburn, and others), but their accomplishments should not be lionized at the expense of the irreplaceable Garland whose image as star was highly complicated and deserving of recognition as such.

—Richard Lippe, updated by Robert Pardi

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