Judy Garland starred as Esther Blodgett (aka Vicki Lester) in A Star Is Born in 1954, in what was to be her final iconic film role. Though she played the ingenue, Garland had more in common with Vicki’s love interest Norman Maine (James Mason), a former A-lister whose career had begun to wane.
Garland, then 32, had already spent the majority of her life on stage and screen, with a career that fluctuated wildly along with her own mental and physical health. It was a pattern she would follow until her death 15 years later.
“I’m the queen of the comeback,” Garland said in a 1968 interview. “I’m getting tired of returning. I truly am. I can’t even go to the restroom without making a return.”
The star died the following year in tragic circumstances.
How Did Judy Garland Die?
Judy Garland, who paid a tragic price for the life of the showbiz icon, died on Sunday in London. She was 47 years old.
It was a peaceful conclusion to a turbulent career. Despite the fact that she had attempted suicide numerous times, Scotland Yard said there was no evidence she had committed suicide.
Mickey Deans, her fifth husband, discovered her body. Illness had plagued her constantly, but the cause of her death was not immediately determined. Today was set aside for an autopsy.
She had hepatitis, exhaustion, kidney problems, nervous breakdowns, near-fatal drug reactions, was overweight, underweight, and had been injured in falls.
Depression, Dieting, and Drugs
The studio’s scrutiny of Garland’s figure increased as her star rose with roles such as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
“She had been on either Benzedrine or a diet or both for most of her teen and adult life,” Luft wrote in his memoir Judy and I: My Life With Judy Garland. “Unlike other actresses, she was unable to conceal extra weight, particularly because she was dancing and singing in revealing costumes.” She could be underweight and still appear heavy or out of proportion on screen despite being only 4 feet 11.5 inches tall.”
To compensate for Garland’s perceived weight problem, MGM put her on a strict diet of chicken soup and black coffee, as well as cigarettes and appetite suppressants. “Her excuse was the weight issue, when in fact she was dependent,” Luft wrote in his book. She admitted that it was nearly impossible for her to maintain a work mode in front of the cameras without taking medication.”
Garland’s personal life provided little relief from her size anxiety and persistent stage fright. She married bandleader David Rose when she was 19, but the marriage was short-lived, and the couple divorced in 1944.
She married director Vincente Minnelli the following year, with whom she had daughter Liza. Garland appears to have suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, though it was not diagnosed at the time, and she spent a month in the hospital.
She Has Lost Her Youth
She also lost her youth in the process.
“Judy was a child who never had any childhood,” Ray Bolger, a co-star in the film “Oz,” said on Sunday. “She was a child who never grew up.”
She made 12 films as a teen and was in psychiatric treatment by the age of 18. She had three nervous breakdowns by the age of 23.
She slashed her throat in a suicide attempt when she was 28 years old. Sid Luft, her third husband, claimed she attempted suicide 20 times during their 13-year marriage.
Despite recurring personal and professional disasters, she refused to give up.
She was bored with herself
In 1962, she stated, “I’m always painted as a more tragic figure than I am.” “I actually get tired of myself as a tragic figure.”
Her films were estimated to have grossed more than $100 million. Most of her films were big-budget musicals from the 1940s, though she gained critical acclaim for her acting abilities in later films.
“Broadway Melody of 1938,” “Babes in Arms,” “Strike Up the Band,” “Ziegfeld Girl,” “Girl Crazy,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” the Andy Hardy films in which she starred with Mickey Rooney, “The Harvey Girls,” “Easter Parade,” and, since 1954, “A Star is Born” and “Judgment at Nuremberg,” for which she received Oscar nominations, were among her starring roles
Her film career and life were on the verge of ending in 1950. MGM fired her after she failed to show up for work and replaced her with Betty Hutton in “Annie Get Your Gun.” She slashed her throat with a broken water glass, was saved, and then stuffed herself until she was obese.
“I went to pieces,” she later recalled. “I just wanted to eat and hide.” For ten years, I lost all of my self-esteem. I was in agony from stage fright. People literally had to push me onto the stage.”
However, she made a spectacular comeback in public appearances. She set all-time vaudeville records at New York’s Palace in 1951, 1956, and 1957. At Carnegie Hall, she sang a sadder-but-wiser “Rainbow,” which became part of what some called one of the best live recordings ever made.