Judy Garland – The Greatest Entertainer
Judy Garland was one of the most astonishing all round talents ever to hit Hollywood. She was a magnificent singer and also a marvellous dramatic actress. She was born for Hollywood and it was Hollywood that killed her. Her fame came suddenly, at the age of seventeen, and by forty seven it had become such a burden that it led her to take her own life through a drugs overdose. And Hollywood was implicated in what happened, for better and for worse. Judy was marketed from the start as the ultimate girl next door, neither sexy nor elegant in the usual Hollywood terms. She constantly fretted about her appearance, and in later years underwent several transformations to make herself more glamorous. Along with other child stars she was given drugs by the studio to give her energy or make her sleep, so that they could maintain a frantic filming schedule. Her weight fluctuated and her health, both physical and mental, suffered as a result.
Judy was born Frances Ethel Gumm in June 1922. She started her career in showbusiness as a child star with her two older sisters in an act called ‘The Gumm Sisters’ but she was always the outstanding talent. She signed a contract with MGM when she was only thirteen years old. Her first appearance of note came when she started singing, first to ‘Dear Mr. Gable’ in ‘Broadway Melody of 1938,’ and subsequently as the innocent Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in 1939, in which she immortalized ‘Over the Rainbow’.
A star from then on, she excelled in the musical genre at a time when the world needed music more than ever. MGM showcased her petite demeanor and tender yet far-reaching voice and let her shine in the sophisticated ‘For Me and My Gal’ in 1942 and ‘Girl Crazy’ the following year. Her performance in ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ in 1944 has been described as ‘one of the best acting and singing achievements the world has ever seen’. Her renditions of ‘The Trolley Song’ and ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ are full of life and heartfelt emotion, sunlight and comfort, sung straight into the hearts of millions of war-weary viewers judi depo dana
MGM’s strong control over Garland’s punishing schedule led to hysterical and emotional fatigue, suicide attempts, and a gradual and increasing dependence on drugs which lasted throughout her life. Her second husband was the director of ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’, Vincente Minnelli, with whom she made several more movies such as ‘The Clock’ in 1945 and ‘Ziegfield Follies’ in 1946. It wasn’t until after the couple divorced, and MGM had terminated her contract, that she was able to play ‘fuller’, more adult roles, and ‘A Star is Born’ in 1954, her attempt at a comeback after four years without a movie, demonstrates that she can carry a film dramatically, as well as dance and sing in it.
‘A Star Is Born’ was also dangerously close to Garland’s own life, referencing alcohol addiction and studio manipulation. Whereas the movie is now a cult success, it was deemed a failure at the time and Garland never recovered. although she kept acting, only her last picture, ‘I Could Go on Singing’ in 1963, is memorable. In it she proves once more that her singing voice is a true life force, though sadly not for herself.