Variety takes a look back at the iconic actress
June 25, 1969: Whether they remember her because she was Dorothy of Oz, Andy Hardy’s girlfriend or a girl tramp to Fred Astaire’s boy tramp, whether they’re thinking back to the birth of a star, born in a trunk or a tired little woman at the Nuremberg trials, whether they think of her as a talented troublemaker, always getting newspaper headlines because of her temperamental outbursts or skipping starry-eyed through a series of stormy marriages, or a tiny, talented mite knocking the hell out of ’em on the stage of the Palace — they do remember Judy Garland.
They’ll remember her, too, for the manner of her death. Found on the floor of her bathroom last Monday (June 22) in her London home by husband Mickey Deans, quondam discotheque manager she had wed barely three months before, she had apparently found at long last the peace she’d sought for years.
Although the physical facts of her demise are still being pondered by Scotland Yard officials, following an autopsy, the little girl with the big talent had been known to have been suffering from cirrhosis of the liver among other things and was long dependent on various types of pills. If ever an entertainer lived in the “valley of the dolls,” it was Judy Garland.
Born Frances Gumm, she made her stage bow at three and was in a professional act with her sisters by the time she was nine. She was signed for her first film “Pigskin Parade,” and was under contract with Metro for a decade after that.
The plateau was reached in 1939 when she played Dorothy in “Wizard of Oz” and with her singing of “Over the Rainbow” (which always remained her most-demanded encore) she was a star in her own right. Among her better-known musicals are “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Harvey Girls” and “Easter Parade.” In 1954 Warners signed her for the remake of “A Star is Born,” during which production was greatly impeded and costs skyrocketed by her tardiness and no-shows but which turned out a great critical triumph for her. Miss Garland was married five times and had two daughters, Liza Minelli and Lorna Luft.
–Adapted from Variety’s obit of June 25, 1969