Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 22: Judy Garland died on this date in 1969 ...

... she was 47 years-old when she passed away.

Through a career that spanned 45 years, Judy Garland attained international stardom as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on the concert stage. Respected for her versatility, she received a juvenile Academy Award, won a Golden Globe Award, as well as Grammy Awards and a Special Tony Award.

She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in A Star is Born and for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1961 film, Judgement at Nuremberg. When she was 40, she became the youngest recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the motion picture industry.
Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Garland's parents were vaudevillians who settled in Grand Rapids to run a movie theatre featuring vaudeville acts.
"Baby" - as Frances was called by her parents and sisters - inherited her family's love for song and dance. Baby Gumm's first appearance came at the age of two-and-a-half when she joined her two older sisters, Mary Jane "Suzy/Suzanne" Gumm and Dorothy Virginia "Jimmie" Gumm on the stage of her father's movie theater during a Christmas show. They  sang "Jingle Bells."

Accompanied by their mother on piano, The Gumm Sisters performed at their father's theater for the next few years. After rumors of lewdness by her father surfaced, the family moved to Lancaster, California, in June 1926. They bought another theater, and began working to get the three daughters into motion pictures.

After appearing in vaudeville with her sisters, Garland was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager. There she made more than two dozen films, including nine with Mickey Rooney and the 1939 film with which she would be most identified, The Wizard of Oz. After 15 years, Garland was released from the studio but gained renewed success through record-breaking concert appearances, including a return to acting beginning with critically acclaimed performances.

(Continued below video and Amazon portals ...)

(Press album cover for direct link to the entire Amazon Website):
Judy At Carnegie Hall: Fortieth Anniversary EditionThe Judy Garland Collection


Despite her professional triumphs, Garland battled personal problems throughout her life. Insecure about her appearance, her feelings were compounded by film executives. Garland was plagued by financial instability, often owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. She married five times, with her first four marriages ending in divorce.

On June 22, 1969, Garland was found dead in the bathroom of her Chelsea, London house. At the inquest the cause of death was "an incautious self-overdosage" of barbiturates. The coroner said that the overdose had been unintentional and that there was no evidence to suggest she had committed suicide. Surviving her were her children, Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft and Joey Luft.

Judy Garland's legacy as a performer and a personality has endured long after her death. The American Film Institute named Garland eighth among the Greatest Female Stars of All Time. She has been the subject of over two dozen biographies since her death, including the well-received Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir by her daughter, Lorna Luft.

Luft's memoir was later adapted into the multiple award-winning television miniseries, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, which won Emmy Awards for two actresses portraying Garland, Tammy Blanchard and Judy Davis.

English actress Tracie Bennett portrayed Garland to critical acclaim in a dramatization of her eventual decline and months preceding her death in a play titled End of the Rainbow at London's Trafalgar Studios. Both the play and Bennett received Laurence Olivier Award nominations.

Garland was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. Several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. These include "Over the Rainbow," which was ranked as the number one movie song of all time in the American Film Institute's "100 Years...100 Songs" list.

Four more Garland songs are featured on the list: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (#76), "Get Happy" (#61), "The Trolley Song" (#26), and "The Man That Got Away" (#11). Garland has twice been honored on U.S. postage stamps, in 1989 as Dorothy, and in 2006 as Vicki Lester from A Star Is Born).

In 1999, the American Film Institute placed her among the ten greatest female stars in the history of American cinema.


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