Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American singer, actress, and vaudevillian. She was renowned for her contralto vocals and attained international stardom that continued throughout a career spanning more than 40 years as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on concert stages.
Garland began performing in vaudeville with her two older sisters and was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager. She made more than two dozen films with MGM, including nine with Mickey Rooney. Among several well-remembered film appearances, Garland's most famous role was as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Her other most notable roles at MGM included Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), The Harvey Girls (1946) and Easter Parade (1948). After 15 years, she was released from the studio and made record-breaking concert appearances, had a successful recording career, and her own Emmy-nominated television series. Her film appearances became fewer in the later years of her career, but included two Academy Award-nominated performances in A Star Is Born (1954) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961).
Garland received a Golden Globe Award, a Juvenile Academy Award, and a Special Tony Award, and at 39, became the youngest and first female recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the film industry. She was the first woman to win a Grammy for Album of the Year for her live recording of Judy at Carnegie Hall. In 1997, Garland was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1999, the American Film Institute placed her among the 10 greatest female stars of classic American cinema.
Despite profound professional success, Garland struggled largely in her personal life from an early age. The pressures of stardom affected her physical and mental health from the time she was a teenager; her self-image was influenced and constantly criticized by film executives who believed her to be physically unattractive, and who manipulated her onscreen physical appearance. She was plagued by alcohol and substance abuse as well as financial instability into her adulthood, often owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. Her lifelong struggle with drugs and alcohol ultimately led to her death in England from a barbiturate overdose, at the age of 47.
On June 22, 1969, Deans found Garland dead in the bathroom of their rented mews house in Chelsea, London; she was 47 years old. At the inquest, Coroner Gavin Thurston stated that the cause of death was "an incautious self-overdosage" of barbiturates; her blood contained the equivalent of 10 1.5-grain (97 mg) Seconal capsules. Thurston stressed that the overdose had been unintentional and that no evidence suggested she had committed suicide. Garland's autopsy showed no inflammation of her stomach lining and no drug residue in her stomach, which indicated that the drug had been ingested over a long period of time, rather than in one dose. Her death certificate stated that her death had been "accidental". Supporting the accidental cause, her doctor noted that a prescription of 25 barbiturate pills was found by her bedside half-empty and another bottle of 100 was still unopened.
A British specialist who had attended her autopsy said she had nevertheless been living on borrowed time owing to cirrhosis, although a later autopsy showed no evidence of alcoholism or cirrhosis. She died twelve days after her forty-seventh birthday. Her Wizard of Oz co-star Ray Bolger commented at her funeral, "She just plain wore out." Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Hunter believes that Garland had an eating disorder which contributed to her death.
After her body had been embalmed by Desmond Henley, Deans took Garland's remains to New York City on June 26, where an estimated 20,000 people lined up to pay their respects at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel in Manhattan, which remained open all night long to accommodate the overflow crowd. On June 27, James Mason gave a eulogy at the funeral, an Episcopal service led by the Rev. Peter A. Delaney of St Marylebone Parish Church, London, who had officiated at her marriage to Deans, three months prior. The public and press were barred. She was interred in a crypt in the community mausoleum at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, a small town 24 miles north of midtown Manhattan.