June 10, 1922 - June 22, 1969
Judy Garland worked for nearly forty-five of her forty-seven years. She made thirty-two feature films, did voice-over work for two more, and appeared in at least a half dozen short subjects. She received a special Academy Award and was nominated for two others. She starred in thirty of her own television shows and appeared as a guest on nearly thirty more.
Between 1951 and 1969, she fulfilled over eleven hundred theatre, nightclub and concert performances, winning a special Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for the first of three record-breaking Broadway engagements at the Palace. She recorded nearly one hundred singles and over a dozen record albums; Judy at Carnegie Hall received an unprecedented five Grammy's in 1962 (including Album of the Year) and has never been out of print. Her radio work encompassed several hundred broadcasts, and she sang at countless benefits and personal appearances for the military.
Judy Garland, a performer who charmed audiences and inspired emotion, was a tortured soul whose excesses led to an untimely end. She was America's girl next door. She was the rags to-to-riches story. She was also a hard dose of reality in her later years, in contrast to the wholesome screen image of her younger years. She was born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Her parents and her two older sisters traveled as a vaudeville act, touring as the "Four Gumms." At the tender age of two, "Baby Frances" joined the group and soon after became it's star attraction.
The family soon migrated west into the Los Angeles area and renamed the act "The Gumm Sisters." In 1934, the sister act caught the eye of comedian George Jessel and he suggested a name change to "The Garland Sisters". After a successful engagement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, the 12-year-old Frances "Garland" was auditioned by MGM chief, Louis B. Mayer. Even before she had a screen test, Mayer signed her to an exclusive contract. It was also Mayer who gave her the name "Judy" to go with Jessel's "Garland." In 1936, she made her screen debut in a musical short called "Every Sunday" co-starring Deanna Durbin. Also that year, at age 14, she cut her first record, "Stompin' At The Savoy" with Bob Crosby and his Orchestra. This would be the first of over 90 records with Decca and 12 albums with Capitol.