About Judy Garland

Actress and singer. Born on Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Judy Garland, the star of many classic musical films, was known for her tremendous talent and troubled life. She started out in show business at an early age. The daughter of vaudeville professionals, she started her stage career as a child.

Garland was called "Baby Gumm" and sang "Jingle Bells" at her first public performance at age of two and a half. With her two older sisters, Susie and Jimmie, Garland soon began performing as part of the Gumm Sisters.

In 1926, the Gumm family moved to California where Garland and her sisters studied acting and dancing. They played numerous gigs that their mother Ethel had arranged for them as their manager and agent. In the late 1920s, the Gumm sisters also appeared in several short films.

The Gumm sisters transformed into the Garland sisters at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1934. Traveling with their mother, the sisters played at a theater with comedian George Jessel who reportedly suggested they become the Garland sisters. Garland shed her nickname "Baby" in favor of a more mature and vibrant Judy. The following year, she would become a solo act, signing a movie contract with MGM at the age of 13. It was on a radio broadcast that November, however, that Garland debuted one of the songs most closely associated with her, "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart." Shortly after the program aired, Garland suffered a great personal loss when her father Frank died of spinal meningitis.

Despite her personal anguish, Garland continued on her path to film stardom. One of her first feature film roles was in Pigskin Parade (1936). Playing a girl-next-door type of role, Garland went on to co-star in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) with friend Mickey Rooney. The two proved to be a popular pairing, and they co-starred in several more Andy Hardy films.

Not only was she working a lot, Garland was under pressure from the studio about her looks and her weight. She was given amphetamines to boost her energy and control her weight. Unfortunately, Garland would soon become reliant on this medication as well as needing to take something else to help her sleep. Drug problems would plague her throughout her career.

In 1939, Garland scored one of her greatest on-screen successes with The Wizard of Oz (1939), which showcased her singing talents as well as her acting abilities. Garland received a special Academy Award for her portrayal of Dorothy, the girl from Kansas transported to Oz. She soon made several more musicals, including Strike Up the Band (1940), Babes of Broadway (1942) with Mickey Rooney, and For Me and My Gal (1943) with Gene Kelly.

Garland married for the first time at the age of 19. Her union with bandleader David Rose was decidedly short-lived, however. On the set of Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), another of Garland's signature films, she met director Vincent Minnelli. She officially divorced Rose in 1945 and soon wed Minnelli. The couple also welcomed a daughter, Liza, in 1946. Unfortunately, Garland's second marriage only lasted a little longer than her first. The Garland-Minnelli union was practically over by 1949 (they officially divorced in 1952).