Fascinating Facts About Judy Garland You’d Never Guess From 'Wizard Of Oz.'

A Very Vaudevillian Beginning

Most of us know her best as Dorothy Gale from the 1939 technicolor film The Wizard of Oz but Judy Garland's life and career went far beyond Kansas and the land of Oz.

Born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, on June 10, 1922 as Frances Ethel Gumm, she began training in vaudeville — variety entertainment featuring acts of song, dance, magic tricks, theater, and more — with her two older sisters. They were known as the Gumm Sisters but were encouraged to change their name to appeal to audiences. They decided on Garland by 1934.

By 13, Judy was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) but the studio wasn't quite sure what to do with her. As a teen, she was too old to play a child but still too young and wholesome in appearance to play any sultry, glamorous roles. Throughout her career, she faced body image and self-esteem issues, struggling to fit into the girl-next-door image the studio created for her. She was reportedly given amphetamines and tobacco to suppress her appetite and pills to stay up and keep her in line with hectic scheduling.

The pressures of Hollywood reportedly led her to drug addiction, suicide attempts, and eventually to her tragic death from a barbiturate overdose on June 22, 1969 shortly after celebrating her 47th birthday.

Despite her tragic departure, Garland remains a legend for her mastery in drama, contralto vocals, and dynamic live performances.


Before she was Judy Garland, she was called 'Baby' and performed alongside her two older sisters, Mary Jane and Virginia, in a vaudeville trio called The Gumm Sisters.