Judy Garland is still one of the most celebrated names from a bygone era of Hollywood, and while 1939’s The Wizard of Oz is still her most notable picture, the actress spent a lifetime entertaining America. From singing to acting, Ms. Garland rarely disappointed her fans, even when life was unkind toward the Minnesota beauty. While Judy, who changed her name from Frances Ethel Gumm to the more renowned moniker early in her life, began acting in 1930, it wasn’t until 1936 that her career started to develop. That year, she starred opposite Stuart Erwin and Jack Haley in Pigskin Parade. Celebrating her birthday and remembering Ms. Garland’s life, a look back at her life and career proves Judy Garland is as beloved today as she was during her life.
Judy Garland Embraced Her Gay Fans Long Before There Was An LGBTQ Community
While Judy Garland is beloved for many films and live performances, she may still be best known for her role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz and especially for her performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in that film. As Flavorwire shares in celebrating the birthday of Ms. Garland, Judy recognized the diversity of that rainbow and how it related to humanity, long before the rainbow became an emblem for what is now known as the LGBTQ community.
“I’ve always taken The Wizard of Oz very seriously, you know,” said Garland. “I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I’ve spent my entire life trying to get over it.”
Later, the actress connected to the love of that symbol in another way, as she expressed hope that people could be kinder and more loving of one another, accepting diversity instead of using it to drive a wedge between each other. Judy felt that learning empathy for our fellow human beings might even enable us to bond more deeply and that was something Garland sought even in her own life.
“I’m a woman who wants to reach out and take 40 million people in her arms,” said Garland. “I can live without money, but I cannot live without love.”
The Wizard Of Oz Was Just One Musical For The Incredibly Talented Judy Garland
As Gay Times shares, Judy Garland was as noted for her singing voice as she was for her straight acting roles and she had plenty of opportunities to share those talents in a number of Hollywood musicals. The Wizard of Oz is, of course, her most widely recognized film, but it was also her earliest, the springboard from which Ms. Garland launched a lifelong career of acting, singing, and dancing.
Celebrating what would have been Judy’s 95th birthday, a look at those musical numbers must start with Garland’s famous rendition of “The Trolley Song,” as it was featured in the 1944 film, Meet Me in St. Louis.
Ms. Garland didn’t limit her performances to film, either. In addition to guest starring on a number of talk shows through the years, Judy performed on a number of talent shows and even hosted her own series. The Judy Garland Show only lasted for one season, though in 1963, when the skit-driven show aired, seasons were much longer, so there are 26 episodes documenting the various talents of Ms. Garland and her guests.
Long before Pennywise of Stephen King’s IT instilled a fear of clowns in American teens, Judy Garland proudly professed her love for the circus entertainers. In fact, as Judy sings, everyone should “Be a Clown.”
Finally, as Judy Garland is remembered for the gifts she left behind, it may be worth noting that the actress is as devoted to Dorothy Gale as the rest of us. As she suggests, losing oneself in that film with its simpler view of life can make the evils of the day seem a little less dire.
“I wanted to stay like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Life wasn’t as complicated then. But I can’t help growing up. No one can. Time won’t stop and life won’t stand still,” said Judy Garland. “But I have a feeling that if I just look backward once in a while at Dorothy, if I am off beat in any way, I’ll get back on the soundtrack again…. Dorothy and I thought a lot alike when I made The Wizard of Oz. I like to think we still do.”
Judy Garland died on June 22, 1969, as a result of an accidental barbiturate overdose. She was living in the Chelsea area of London, England, at the time of her passing.
[Featured Image by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer]