In 1954, actress and singer Judy Garland starred in what as destined come be her last iconic film role, together Esther Blodgett (aka Vicki Lester) in A Star is Born. Despite she played the ingenue in the film, Garland herself perhaps had much more in typical with Vicki"s love interest Norman Maine (James Mason), a former A lister whose career had begun to wane. Climate a only 32-years-old, Garland had already spent many of her life on the stage and also screen, v a career the oscillated wildly together with her very own mental and also physical health. It to be a trend that she would certainly sadly proceed until her death, 15 year later.

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"I’m the queen the the comeback,” Garland said during an interview in 1968. “I’m getting tired of coming back. I really am. Ns can’t also go to… the powder room there is no making a comeback.”

The star would certainly pass the adhering to year, under catastrophic circumstances.


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Judy Garland go from being among the biggest names in Hollywood to almost bankrupt over the course of her three decade career.

Gone prior to She was 50

On June 22, 1969, Garland"s brand-new husband Mickey Deans broke down the locked bathroom door in your London flat and found the star dead; she to be 47 years old. Adhering to an autopsy, the coroner officially rule the star"s reason of death to it is in a self-administered inadvertently overdose ~ above barbiturates, a then-common sleep aid.

The coroner, Gavin Thurston, announced to the press complying with the autopsy, “This is quite clearly an accidental circumstance come a human who to be accustomed to taking barbiturates over a an extremely long time. She took more barbiturates than she might tolerate.”

Though tragic, that was result that to be not completely unexpected, both for those closest come her and also the public—Garland"s longterm struggles with addiction had actually become almost as famous as her legend singing voice. Garland had actually a history of depression and also alcoholism, and had attempted suicide several times (her 3rd husband, Sid Luft, alleged that she do the efforts to take it her very own life top top at the very least 20 various occasions) the story that Garland"s life play out more like a tragedy than the lighthearted story that a confident young woman she so often portrayed on film.


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A background of Addiction

The 3rd daughter the vaudevillians Frank and also Ethel Gumm, the woman that would end up being an symbol was born Frances Ethel Gumm top top June 10, 1922, in cool Rapids, Minnesota. At the age of two and also a half, she made her phase debut performing alongside she older sisters mar Jane and also Virginia together the Gumm Sisters.

Ethel, an aggressive and vital stage mother, to be the an initial to offer Garland pills—both to save her power up for the stage and to lug her down and also sleep afterwards—starting as early as period ten, according to the biography Get Happy: The Life the Judy Garland by Gerald Clarke.

It was a problem that worsened as soon as Garland signed on together an actress v MGM in 1935. The actress later spoke about the breakneck pace at which she was expected to work—she starred in much more than 2 dozen films for the studio—and executives, including founder luigi B. Mayer, would have actually the gibbs medicated with both uppers and also downers to preserve the schedule.


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Judy Garland joined actors like Mickey Rooney in MGM’s secure of actors, starring in an ext than 2 dozen films for the studio.
"They had actually us functioning days and nights ~ above end. They’d provide us pills to save us on our feet long after we were exhausted. Then they’d take us to the studio hospital and knock us out with resting pills­– sprawled the end on one bed and me top top another," Garland said, follow to Paul Donnelley"s biography of the actress. "Then after four hours they’d wake united state up and also give us the pep pills again for this reason we could work 72 hours in a row. Half of the moment we to be hanging native the ceiling yet it was a method of life because that us."

(It is precious noting that Rooney denied that the actors were forcibly medicated by the studio.)


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Drugs, Dieting, and Depression

As Garland"s star increased with roles favor Dorothy in The wizard of Oz, so as well did the studio"s scrutiny of her figure.

"Most of her teen and also adult life, she had actually been on one of two people Benzedrine or a diet or both," Luft created in his memoir Judy and I: mine Life with Judy Garland. "Unlike other actresses, she can not successfully camouflage extra weight, especially since she to be dancing and singing in revealing costumes. Simply 4 feet 11.5 inches, she could be underweight and still appear heavy or the end of proportion on screen."

To compensate for Garland"s viewed weight problem, MGM inserted her on a extremely restrictive diet the chicken soup and black coffee, in addition to cigarettes and pills to suppress she appetite. Luft included in his book, "Her excuse was the weight issue, when in reality she to be dependent... She confessed it to be virtually impossible for her to sustain a work setting in prior of the cameras without acquisition some type of medication."


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Along through anxiety around her size and also persistent stage fright, Garland"s an individual life offered restricted respite. She to be 19 once she married bandleader David Rose, but the connection was shortlived and also the couple divorced in 1944. The complying with year she married director Vincente Minnelli, v whom she had daughter Liza. Though it wasn"t diagnosed at the time, Garland appears to have suffered indigenous postpartum depression adhering to her daughter"s birth and remained in the hospital for a month.

During the time she endured from a nervous break down and to be treated in ~ two various clinics end the food of numerous months before returning come work and also family life. Her marital relationship to Minnelli started deteriorating (they divorce in 1951) along with her career. She self-medication coming to be so major that MGM began to eliminate her from movies in which she"d been slated to star. ~ 15 years at the studio, MGM at some point terminated her contract.


Garland would certainly go on come marry three an ext times: Sid Luft in 1952, with whom she had two children, Lorna (in 1952) and Joey (in 1955); mark Herron in 1965, ~ he produced her two effective 1964 London Palladium concerts with Liza; and finally Mickey Deans in 1969 simply three months before her death. Deans later on revealed in his own memoir the their relationship that he met Garland while transporting stimulants to her hotel room.


Toward the end of she life, monetary problems loomed large, and also Garland played solo concert in part to pay off the countless dollars in ago taxes she fan to the IRS. These mirrors were often marked by erratic performances and also hostile audiences, angered by Garland taking the phase sometimes hrs late.

"It take it drugs ... To gain her back to a level ar where you can have a conversation through her, whereby you might get her to authorize checks, sign contracts, talk about business," Garland"s manager Stevie Phillips told within Edition the the star"s later years.

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Garland"s last power was Copenhagen, Denmark in so late March, 1969. She passed away of one overdose that June, just 12 job after her 47th birthday.


Lauren HubbardWriterLauren hubbard is a freelance writer and Town & country contributor that covers beauty, shopping, entertainment, travel, house decor, wine, and cocktails.
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