In 1939 Judy Garland earned her place as a cinema icon when she appeared as Dorothy Gale in the L. Frank Baum classic The Wizard of Oz. After catapulting into stardom, Garland enjoyed a long and illustrious career which sounds to most like the ultimate dream. Unfortunately, what many people don't know is that behind her rosy cheeks, Judy Garland suffered so badly for her Hollywood career that it ultimately destroyed her.
Early Showbiz Sensation
The Gumm Sisters with Judy Garland in the middle
Judy Garland was born Francis Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922 to vaudevillian parents. Garland's first on stage appearance came at just 2-and-a-half-years-old when she joined her older sisters, Suzanne and Jimmie on stage at her parents movie theater.
Along with her sisters, Judy appeared as part of The Gumm Sisters (which was later changed to The Garland Sisters), touring and appearing in films until 1935 when Suzanne was married. It was in 1935 that Garland was brought in for an interview at MGM, and the 13-year-old signed on with the studio.
The Girl-Next-Door With Body Image Issues
Garland in 1935/ Source: International Garland Club
At 13-years-old Garland was a puzzle for the studio who found her too old for child roles, and too young for adult ones. Her tiny 4'11" stature also meant that next to stars like Ava Gardner and Lana Turner, she was destined for 'cute' roles, rather than becoming the glamorous leading lady.
The studio forced her into a girl-next-door image, always photographed in either plain clothing or adorable but juvenile frilly gowns. She was also made to wear caps on her teeth and a rubberized disk to reshape her nose. In voice recordings made before Garland died, she remembered how Louis B. Mayer used to call her "his little hunchback" due to her slightly curved spine, and remark that she looked like "a fat monster."
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