Welcome to another Wildcard Wednesday! In celebration of one of this country’s most beloved entertainers, Miss Judy Garland, who would have celebrated her 92nd birthday yesterday, today’s post features vintage talk show appearances that the legendary diva made with Jack Paar. They’re a lot of fun, and Judy is talkative and relaxed.
Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10th, 1922 to a pair of vaudevillians who’d married and settled in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. As the third in a trio of daughters, young Frances began her stage career as one of The Gumm Sisters. They toured the vaudeville circuit until 1935, by which time they became the Garland sisters, and the youngest (and most talented of the bunch) became Judy Garland. She was signed to MGM in 1935, shortly before the sudden death of her father. Major success soon followed for Judy, who quickly became a box office sensation in a string of Busby Berkley musicals that co-starred Mickey Rooney. In the midst of stardom, Judy played what would become her most well known role, Dorothy Gale in The Wizard Of Oz (1939).
Her personal life was more arduous. Following a doomed romance with Artie Shaw, Judy wed musician David Rose in 1941 — a marriage that lasted less than three years. In 1945, she married director Vincente Minnelli, whom she had met on the set of Meet Me In St. Louis (1944). A daughter, Liza, was born the following year. But emotional crises and addiction came to the forefront of Judy’s life, and after Metro terminated her contract in 1950, Judy attempted suicide. But Judy rebounded, and after divorcing Minnelli, she began her first concert tour. Judy married again in 1953 — to manager Sid Luft, the father of her final two children — and by 1954, she had a major comeback with the release of A Star Is Born (1954).
She continued touring until falling ill with hepatitis in 1959. She was told that she would never work again. But by 1961, she was back on her feet touring once more — playing to packed houses in Europe and Carnegie Hall. Following a 1962 TV special, Garland got her own weekly television series, which aired on CBS during the 1963-1964 season. Garland married her new tour promoter, Mark Herron, after divorcing Luft in 1965; they separated six months later. She continued to tour, despite deteriorating health for the remaining years of her life. Three months after marrying another musician, Mickey Deans, her fifth husband, Judy was found dead in their rented London home, deemed the result of an accidental overdose.
There’s bound to be more Judy coming up later on this blog, but for the time being, enjoy these rare glimpses into the life of an American icon.
December 07, 1962
December 11, 1964
May 15, 1967
Come back next Wednesday for another Wildcard post! And tune in tomorrow for more Xena!