The studio took extreme measures come make sure the actress was big screen ready. A move that ultimately resulted in her at an early stage death.

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As Dorothy in The magician of Oz, Judy Garland cemented her ar in Hollywood as a lovely icon. The healthy Kansas farm girl who only wants to return house after finding herself in the soil of Oz, Dorothy to be sweet and caring, and audiences to be smitten with her indigenous the first scene.


But the lead-up to and making that the 1939 classic was a far more treacherous landscape for the teenager come navigate than the fictional risks of Oz. Garland would certainly endure excruciatingly long work hours and also a studio device that turn a blind eye to, and also in truth often encouraged, the use of building material such as stimulants to keep performers working, and also sleeping pills to ensure lock would be able to rest.

By the time 17-year-old Garland finished filming Oz, she was already addicted come barbiturates and also amphetamines. Her usage of the drugs had started before the actress slipped right into those ruby slippers, in component due come studio bosses that demanded she stay thin, and also energetic sufficient to cope with arduous work of filming.


Substance abuse would come to be an concern she would fight the remainder of her life until she passed away of an inadvertently overdose in 1969 at age 47, leaving behind her three youngsters (Liza Minnelli and Lorna and also Joey Luft), 5 marriages and also an artistic legacy often overshadowed through the tragedies of her quick life.

READ MORE: Judy Garland's Life was in a bottom Spiral before Her 1969 Death

Garland's mommy was the very first person to offer her pills

Born Frances Ethel Gumm in grand Rapids, MN top top June 10, 1922, Garland was pushed to carry out at a young age by her mom Ethel, a frustrated vaudeville performer who put her daughters on the phase as early as possible. At the tender period of two-and-a-half, Garland remained in the spotlight performing alongside her sisters. In later life, Garland would remember her mommy as “the real Wicked Witch of the West.”


According come Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland biographer Gerald Clarke, Garland’s mommy was the first to administer pills – both for energy and sleep – to her not yet 10-year-old daughter.


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Margaret Hamilton together the evil Witch and Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in "The magician of Oz"

Photo: Silver screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Studio execs referred to as her 'fat small pig with pigtails'

Signed to subway Goldwyn Mayer as a teenager, she showed up in more than two dozen movies for the studio, countless with co-star Mickey Rooney, self a teen at the time. Under contract, she was constantly scrutinized through studio bosses, particularly in reference to she weight.

Garland showed up in her very first feature movie in 1936 at period 14, a music comedy about football coaches dubbed Pigskin Parade. Studio head luigi B. Mayer and also the MGM bosses to be reportedly currently worried about any extra load on the diminutive star, going therefore far as to refer come her together a “fat small pig with pigtails.” inserted on what would certainly be the first of numerous diets, Garland’s food intake was severely restricted and monitored closely. To keep her weight, Mayer insisted she consume only chicken soup, black coffee and also cigarettes, in addition to pills to reduce her appetite.

“Most of her teen and adult life, she had been on either Benzedrine or a diet or both,” Garland’s third husband Sid Luft created in his memoir Judy and also I: my Life through Judy Garland. "Unlike other actresses, she might not properly camouflage extra weight, especially due to the fact that she to be dancing and singing in revealing costumes. Simply 4 feet 11 ½ inches, she might be underweight and also still show up heavy or out of relationship on screen.”


READ MORE: Judy Garland’s personal Life was a find for happiness She Often portrayed Onscreen

Garland stated taking pills was 'a method of life'

Known together “pep pills” in the industry, Garland wasn’t alone in being forced to take the drugs. Her co-star Rooney – the two appeared in films together such together Babes In Arms, Love find Andy Hardy and also Strike increase the Band – was additionally forced to consume them. Both Garland and Rooney were stretched to the border for the studio, and also neither speak of what they endured until years later.


“They had us functioning days and nights top top end. They’d provide us pills to store us on ours feet long after us were exhausted. Climate they’d take us to the studio hospital and also knock united state out with resting pills­ – Mickey sprawled the end on one bed and me ~ above another,” Garland called biographer Paul Donnelley. “Then after four hours they’d wake us up and give us the pep pills again so we could work 72 hours in a row. Fifty percent of the time we to be hanging native the ceiling yet it was a method of life for us.”

A year before The magician of Oz, studio managers were sending out memos to each other detailing Garland’s food intake. By the moment cameras started rolling ~ above the film, Garland was currently in one upper/downer drug cycle.

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Judy Garland resting in a ar of poppies in a scene from "The sorcerer’s of Oz"

Photo: Silver display Collection/Getty Images


Despite gift prescribed, Garland called herself a 'walking advertising for resting pills'

At period 17 Garland was a fleshy teenager heading into at an early stage womanhood. Come ensure Dorothy’s wholesome, young illustration wouldn’t be doubted by the audience, the studio resorted come strapping Garland’s breasts down and utilizing corsets to evoke a slim silhouette, on optimal of a stable diet the drugs and very small food. That Garland developed such one indelible power under such extreme circumstances only highlights her inherent talents.

Yo-yo dieting and reliance on pills was now so firmly developed that Garland would struggle with both, along with heavy alcohol consumption, because that the rest of she life. “At times I have been pretty much of a walking advertisement for sleeping pills,” Garland claimed in her later years. “Even despite pills come on doctor’s prescriptions, together mine did, they can be a incredible strain ~ above the nervous systems.”

“I carry out think my mommy was a victim of the studio system,” Garland’s daughter Lorna told Studio 10 in 2017. “But it also gave she the capacity to channel she talent to all of us . It was a real double-edged sword.”