Happy Birthday Judy Garland: Remembering ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Actress’ Iconic Moments

by Emily Morgan
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As an icon in so many ways, Judy Garland will forever be remembered as a talented singer, dancer, and actress. Yet, as one of the brightest stars in Hollywood, she was not without her tragedy. To celebrate what would’ve been her 99th birthday, we’re looking back on some of her best moments. 

Born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922, she later changed her name after she began performing as a child. Along with her sisters, they began touring in the vaudeville circuit as “The Gumm Sisters.” Years, later Garland broke off from the group to pursue a solo career.

Of course, we would be remiss not to bring up The Wizard of Oz. Regarded as her most prominent role, Oz laid the groundwork for what would be Garland’s quick ascent to Hollywood stardom. 

After the film’s release, she earned herself a juvenile Oscar statuette in 1940 for “Best Performance” by a Juvenile Actor for her moving performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

After her role on Oz, Garland found herself wanting to pursue other parts that showed her in a more adult light. She got that when she acted, sang, and danced alongside two of the greatest dancers of all time: Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

Judy Garland: Much More Than Oz

In 1942, she appeared in the jukebox musical For Me and My Galallowing Garland to transition from being a child star to an adult actress. Later, Kelly and Garland were set to co-star in the musical Easter Parade, but Fred Astaire took his place when Kelly broke his ankle. In the end, the film was a success for the actors, and it became the highest-grossing musical of the year. 

Later, after the arrival of her first daughter, Liza Minnelli, Garland delivered a goosebump-inducing performance in the 1954 musical A Star Is Born— which earned her an Oscar nomination. Her role as Esther Blodgett truly showcases Garland’s talent with numbers like “Born in a Trunk” and “Swanee.”

Afterward, Garland appeared on several successful TV specials and a string of Las Vegas performances. By the early ’60s, CBS offered Garland her weekly television series of her own, and thus, “The Judy Garland Show” was born.

In the show, she would perform more songs and medleys. Although it saw favorable reviews, the show lasted only one season due to an unfortunate time slot. CBS canceled the show in 1964 after 26 episodes, even though the fans tried to save it. The end of the show was deeply personal for Garland. She tragically passed away five years later from a barbiturate overdose. 

After her death, Garland was still honored posthumously in 1997, when she received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Since then, several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her the eighth-greatest female screen legend in Hollywood.

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