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Judy Garland: A Life in Pictures

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Judy Garland has long been held as one of Hollywood's original icons, from her turn as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz to her career defining role in Christmas classic Meet me in St Louis. With a turbulent private and professional life to accompany, Garland's enduring influence in cinema was felt throughout the 20th century. In celebration of her work and to mark the re-release of Meet me in St Louis in all its Technicolour glory on December 16, Stylist looks back at her remarkable career. Visit bfi.org.uk for screenings.

Click on any of the images below to launch the gallery

Words by Dipal Acharya

  • Judy Garland 1922

    Judy Garland was born on the 10th of June, 1922, in Minnesota under the name of Frances Ethel Gumm. She was her parents' third child, preceded by two sisters - Mary Jane and Virginia

  • Judy Garland 1926

    Judy's parents, Frank and Ethel, were both vaudeville actors and would travel around America with their young family performing their variety act

  • Judy Garland 1928

    Judy made her stage 'debut' in a family Christmas show in 1924, at the tender age of 2. Soon realising she had strong stage potential, her parents put their three girls in an ensemble dance act entitled "The Gumm Sisters"

  • Judy Garland 1929

    Although the girls took dance and acting lessons together, Judy's mother spotted her youngest daughter's standout potential from an early age. The trio appeared in several short movies (pictured here in her first movie The Starlet Revue) produced by Warner Brothers Vitaphone, and were soon rebranded as 'The Garland Sisters'

  • Judy Garland 1935

    Judy's family life, however, was far less glamourous following her father's sudden death in 1935. In a bid to make ends meet, Garland was signed a contract with MGM studios at the age of 13. Her peers at MGM included Ava Gardener and Elizabeth Taylor

  • Judy Garland 1936

    The young actress made her official solo screen debut in Every Sunday, starring alongside Deanna Durbin - another of Hollywood's Bright Young Things at the time. The short was a valuable screen-test of Garland's acting abilities

  • Judy Garland 1937

    The next two years would prove to be the turning point in Garland's career. In 1937, Garland was commissioned to sing the song "You made me love you" at Clark Gable's birthday party. Her rendition finally caught the attention of MGM executive Louis B Mayer

  • Judy Garland 1937

    The young actress' work projects varied from singing shows in New York - billed as 'Punch Judy, the acting, singing sensation' - to filming another four feature films in the space of two years.

  • Judy Garland 1938

    One of the more lucrative franchises Judy signed up for were the 'Andy Hardy' films: following Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), Garland went on to star alongside Mickey Rooney in Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940) and Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941).

  • Judy Garland 1939

    Megastardom came for Garland the following year, though, in the form of The Wizard of Oz. Adapted from Frank L. Baum's book, the film was a rich visual spectacle thanks to its Technicolour format and special effects. Garland's renditions of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' and 'The Jitterbug' became instant classics

  • Judy Garland 1939

    As MGM's most expensive film to date, the pressure was on Garland to perform to her very best. It was at this time the actress began taking medication prescribed to her by doctors to combat tiredness and help maintain a steady weight.

  • Judy Garland 1939

    The Wizard of Oz predictably did well at the Academy Awards that same year. In recognition of her memorable performance, Judy was presented with a special award for the 'Most Outstanding Performance by a Juvenile' (pictured below holding the statuette). Garland fondly referred to the plaudit as her 'munchkin award'.

  • Judy Garland 1940

    Having established a name for herself in the film industry, Garland soon became frustrated by the young, virginal roles she was being handed. Unsurprisingly, her turn in Strike up the Band in 1940 didn't help with one reviewer describing the performers as "those babes in arms, Rooney and Garland".

  • Judy Garland 1941

    But the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland combination proved to be a big draw at the box office, with the 1941 film Babes on Broadway nominated for an Oscar. Rooney said of Garland, "Judy and I were so close we could've come from the same womb. It was so special. It was a forever love."

  • Judy Garland 1941

    Garland's girl-next-door appearance was the antithesis to the sexy screen sirens of the early Forties - as personified by Joan Crawford (pictured with Garland in 1941). In an attempt to remedy this, Garland would spend the next decade rapidly maturing, both in her public and private life.

  • Judy Garland 1941

    The last 'juvenile' role that Garland would take on was Ziegfied Girl, a film dealing with the fate of three chorus girls, and co-starring Lana Turner and Hedy Lamarr. In the same year, Garland would also mark the beginning of her adult life by marrying composer David Rose in Las Vegas.

  • Judy Garland 1942

    She finally scored her first proper adult role in the wartime film For Me and My Gal (which also featured Singin' in the Rain star Gene Kelly). At the time, Judy's private life was slowly unraveling following an increased dependence on her medication.

  • Judy Garland 1942

    This garnered even more attention from the mainstream media and in 1942 Judy Garland often dominated front covers of magazines and papers (pictured here on the cover of Photoplay magazine).

  • Judy Garland 1943

    While filming Presenting Lily Mars in 1943, Judy's marriage to David Rose was finally dissolved. This did not stop the songstress from delivering a knockout performance, with the New York Times reporting on the the film: "Miss Garland is fresh and pretty, she has a perky friendliness that is completely disarming. [...] No doubt about it, Miss Garland is a gifted young lady."

  • Judy Garland 1944

    Although The Wizard of Oz was the biggest boost in her career so far, Judy went on to break her own box-office record with the feelgood musical Meet Me in St Louis in 1944.

  • Judy Garland 1944

    Despite being sceptical of playing a 17-year old, Garland soon found the role became her most popular and brought production studios MGM more money than Gone With the Wind. It was on-set that Garland soon became romantically involved with director Vincente Minnelli.

  • Judy Garland 1945

    The affair quickly blossomed into a fully developed relationship and the couple were married on the 15th of June 1945.

  • Judy Garland 1946

    Shortly after returning from her honeymoon, Judy discovered during the filming of Till the Clouds go by that she was pregnant with her first child. Unperturbed, directors and producers pressed on with shooting Garland in the role, albeit with adapted costumes and props to hide her bump.

  • Judy Garland 1946

    Judy gave birth to her first child, Liza Minnelli, on the 12th of March 1946. On Liza's future career as an actress, Garland said, "I think she decided to go into show business when she was an embryo, she kicked so much."

  • Judy Garland 1946

    At the time, Garland was enjoying a wave of positive responses to her films and re-figured public image (as pictured in The Harvey Girls). Privately, Judy was suffering from acute post-natal depression and took approximately two years out from filming to recover.

  • Judy Garland 1948

    Billed to be her comeback role, Easter Parade saw Garland starring opposite Fred Astaire in a long-awaited partnership. It was at this time Garland's behaviour became more erratic, and she drew criticism for having her husband fired from the set of the film.

  • Judy Garland 1948

    Despite her recurrent marital problems - and eventual divorce from Minnelli in 1951 - Garland endevoured to be a good mother and doted on Liza. Here she is seen rehearsing a scene from Good Old Summertime, in which Liza had her first uncreditted cameo.

  • Judy Garland 1950

    The wave of good fortune was not due to last long. After filming Summer Stock (pictured) - which featured the hit song "Get Happy" - Garland's contract with MGM was officially severed after repeated suspensions.

  • Judy Garland 1955

    Soon after being admitted to a rehabilitation facility (and a brief fling with Frank Sinatra) Garland began to regain her momentum and reputation.

  • Judy Garland 1951

    Now a bonafide Hollywood icon, pictured here with Marlene Dietrich, Garland wanted to conquer the stage. She made her Broadway debut in New York in 1951, while embarking on a new relationship with show-business personality Sid Luft.

  • Judy Garland 1951

    Her stint on Broadway came to an abrupt end after finding out that she was now pregnant with her second child. Garland went on to marry Sid Luft, who would be her third husband, in 1952.

  • Judy Garland 1954

    After a brief hiatus, Garland and Sid Luft went on make the film A Star is Born, in which Judy played a struggling singer. The performance was critically praised and Garland was tipped for an Oscar for the role.

  • Judy Garland 1954

    Sadly this was not to be. During the year's awards season - pictured here with Marlon Brando in 1954 - she won a Golden Globe for the role but eventually lost out at the Academy Awards to Grace Kelly for her role in the film The Country Girl. Garland's Oscar loss, in particular, irked fans and critics, with Groucho Marx commenting it was ""the greatest robbery".

  • Judy Garland 1956

    Increasingly fragile, Judy briefly returned to the stage seen here performing at the New York Palace Theatre in 1956. During her time here Garland had the opportunity to meet another star suffering from drug addiction, Edith Piaf.

  • Judy Garland 1958

    Her relationship with Sid Luft was proving to become incresingly volatile, and Garland soon became romantically involved with old flames (including Frank Sinatra) as her husband struggled with drug, alcohol and gambling addiction.

  • Judy Garland 1960

    Despite having friends in high places - Judy could count both Harry S Truman and President John F Kennedy as close friends - Garland's substance abuse and erratic behaviour soon began to overshadow her acting abilities.

  • Judy Garland 1962

    Now a mother of three- Liza Minelli (top), Lorna Luft (bottom left) and Joey Luft (bottom right) - the actress endeavoured to keep a brave face in public. She officially filed for seperation from Sid Luft in 1963 and the couple's divorce was finalised in 1965.

  • Judy Garland 1963

    That same year, Garland would take her last turn in front of a camera in the 1963 film I Could Go On Singing opposite Dirk Bogarde. The film was not a great success when compared with Judy's earlier work.

  • Judy Garland 1964

    Soon after, Garland met actor and producer Mark Herron. Despite his closet homosexuality, he would become Judy's fourth husband on November 14th 1965.

  • Judy Garland 1966

    With her film career now sidelined, Judy embarked on a circuit of TV shows and stage performances (pictured here on the Sammy Davis Jr Show in 1966). Having struggled with addiction for many years, Garland succumbed to a barbiturate overdose in 1969 in Chelsea and passed away shortly after her 47th birthday.

    She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Grammy posthumously in 1999.