×

June 10 marks the 100th birthday of Judy Garland  — and anyone who’s seen films like “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) or “A Star is Born” (1954) is automatically a fan.

To many fans, she was a blazing talent and that was enough. But others became as fascinated with her personal life as with her performances. She was like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and a few others: It was hard to separate sad stories of her personal life from her work.

Her life was more melodramatic and complex than any script she performed, with an overbearing stage mother and callous Hollywood execs, all of whom supplied her with drugs to keep her energy up. Her life alternated great joy with tales of rehab, personal and professional disasters, but always with a Dorothy Gale optimism that she could smile and overcome it.

On June 18, 1967, she completed a week-long stand at Westbury (N.Y.) Music Fair and Variety summed up, “She has become an object of veneration of a kind that will probably not be seen again for a long time. Audiences hung on every sound, cheered every good note that she sang, talked to her with adulation … The men and women here seemingly wanted to make up for the hurt to her dignity and her bankroll.”

When she died in 1969, at age 47, Variety reported that 22,000 people stood in line, some for more than four hours, to get a glimpse of her at New York services. “Surprising to most of the press was the fact that the thousands of mourners were a cross section of every conceivable age and type … Judy Garland seemingly represented something to each of them. As part of his eulogy, James Mason said, ‘Judy’s greatest gift was that she could wring tears out of hearts of rock.’”