Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Judy Garland



Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Judy Garland

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
You know her as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, but there are many things you never knew about Judy Garland.
This classic Hollywood actress was a star that burnt out too soon. Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Important Facts About Judy Garland.

For this list, we’re looking at interesting facts about the life and career of Judy Garland.

#10: She Was Part of a Vaudeville Act

Considering her position as one of the greats of Hollywood, it should come as no surprise that Judy Garland’s family was in show business long before her career really took off. Both of Garland’s parents were actually vaudevillians who ran a theater where vaudeville acts performed. Judy herself (who was born Frances Ethel Gumm) actually performed there as of the age of two and a half, singing “Jingle Bells” for a holiday show! She eventually formed a vaudeville act with her older sisters, and they went by the name The Gumm Sisters before changing their name to the Garland Sisters.

#9: She & Mickey Rooney Were Friends

Judy Garland was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer when she was just thirteen years old, making her too old to be a child star but still too young to be a leading lady. When they were both just teenagers, both Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, both working with MGM, became friends. They went on to appear in ten of the same films over the years, and came to be considered one of Hollywood’s best on-screen couples, though they were never romantically involved in real life. They were praised for their playful chemistry, which is still evident to this day when you rewatch their old movies.

#8: She Had Killer Live Performances

Judy Garland may be best known for her film roles, but in fact her live musical performances were something to behold, and may have been even more impressive than her on-screen ones. She went back to her stage roots many times throughout her career, with one of the most memorable and notable examples being when she played for Carnegie Hall in 1961. The show has been called "the greatest night in show business history" and for good reason. The recording of the performance won Album of the Year at the Grammys, making Garland the first woman to ever take home the prize.

#7: She Almost Didn’t Play Dorothy Gale

“The Wizard of Oz” might just be the most iconic movie of all time, and it’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone but Judy Garland playing Dorothy. But, as with many projects, there were several other actresses considered for the part before Garland was cast, including Shirley Temple and Deanna Durbin. Because of contract issues however, Garland got the part, and the rest is Hollywood history. In the role, she was supposed to be playing younger than her 16 years, so her costume included restrictive corsets to give her a more childlike appearance.

#6: “The Wizard of Oz” Was the Start of Her Addiction History

Later in life, Judy Garland dealt with issues of addiction, but it turns out her relationship with prescription medications started at a young age. According to Gerald Clarke, one of Garland’s biographers, her mother actually started giving her pills before she was even 10 years old to make her more energetic. Garland alleges that on the set of “The Wizard of Oz”, she was prescribed amphetamines so that she could keep up with the fast pace of filming as well as barbiturates to act as sleep aids. Though these claims have been denied by others, Garland maintained that this was the beginning of her battle with addiction.

#5: The Films She Was Almost In

Because of her struggles with drug addiction, Garland ultimately lost two major film roles to other actresses. She was cast in two films where she was set to costar with Fred Astaire: “The Barkleys of Broadway” and “Royal Wedding”. But she had frequent absences on set and began calling in sick during principal photography, so she was replaced by Ginger Rogers in “The Barkleys of Broadway” and Jane Powell in “Royal Wedding”. After all this, MGM cancelled their contract with Garland after a partnership that lasted for 14 years.

#4: She Was Body-Shamed

Though by today’s standards, a young Judy Garland had a seemingly slim figure, she was considered to be overweight by the studio she worked for and was forced to be on a restrictive diet, with employees keeping tabs on what she was eating. She was even given amphetamine diet pills. She shared a recollection of this time in later years, saying, "From the time I was 13, there was a constant struggle between MGM and me — whether or not to eat, how much to eat, what to eat. I remember this more vividly than anything else about my childhood."

#3: One of Her Famous Scenes Took 3 Days & 27 Takes

Long before the 2018 Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper version and even before the 1976 Barbra Streisand iteration, Judy Garland starred in the 1954 film "A Star Is Born”. A song from the film, "The Man That Got Away," was ranked by AFI as number 11 on their list of 100 top songs in films. But filming it for the movie was no easy task for Garland. They shot the scene three different times on 3 separate occasions, with one of those shoots taking three days and a whopping 27 takes to get it right. Since the song is supposed to evoke emotion, Garland reportedly wouldn’t stop until she got the reaction she wanted from the crew. The third time - 4 months later - was actually the charm though. With Garland sporting new clothes, new hair and on a whole new set, the last version ended up in the film.

#2: She Won an Oscar at 17

In 1939, Judy Garland put out two major films. One was, of course, “The Wizard of Oz”, but “Babes in Arms” was also released that year. At the Academy Awards ceremony the following year, she was honored with the Academy Juvenile Award, which recognized her acting in both movies. She became one of only twelve young actors in history to ever receive this auspicious award. Sadly, though she was nominated for other Oscars throughout her career (including for her role in “A Star Is Born”), this was the only one that she actually took home.

#1: She Was (& Is) a Gay Icon

During the first half of the 20th century, when Garland’s career was in full force, being gay in America was still largely considered taboo. For some reason, gay audiences connected with Garland’s performances as well as her personal life. In fact, if you’ve seen “Clueless”, you know that a “friend of Dorothy” is a sort of code term for a gay man. And while the definitive origin of this phrase is unknown, many do attribute it to being related to “The Wizard of Oz” and Judy Garland herself. Garland’s death and funeral took place during the start of the Stonewall Riots, and many have connected these two events as having been related.