Today is a one topic post.
On June 27th, 1969, the funeral took place of Judy Garland.
Frances Gumm came into the world on June 10th 1922, and passed away in 1969 at the age of 47.
The youngest daughter of a vaudeville family, Baby, as her family knew her made her first stage appearance at the age of two. In a Christmas show at her parent's theatre, she joined her two older sisters singing the chorus of Jingle Bells again and again. Dragged, kicking and screaming from the stage, she didn't want to stop. A star was born.
The three sisters performed as both the Gumm and the Garland sisters in theatres accompanied by their mother on the piano, the original 'Dance Mom'.
Her father couldn't keep his hands off his male employees, so they moved around from Minessota, eventually landing in California, where the sisters continued to perform. Her father passed away when Frances was twelve.
Aged thirteen, she was signed by Louis Mayer (as in MG Mayer), and her name changed to Judy Garland. She was initially a puzzle, too old for a child star, but still too young to be cast in adult roles.
In the Broadway Melody of 1938, she hit the screens singing a version of 'You made me Love You' to Clark Gable, a song she had sung at a studio birthday party for him the year before.
Along with Mickey Rooney and other youngsters, a sort of 'brat pack' of their day, they were prescribed amphetamine during the day to keep them awake, and barbiturates at night-time to help them sleep. Over her life, Judy battled with addiction to prescription medications, and her death was a result of an accidental overdose of a sedative prescribed to help with insomnia.
In 1939, the role she is most famous for landed. MGM were set to make a film version of the L.Frank Baum book, The Wizard of Oz, and had their sights on Shirley Temple to play the role of Dorothy. The problem was that Shirley was contracted to 20th Century Fox at the time, and they were reluctant to lend her.
So, after a positive screen test, Judy got the role. At the time, the movie made a loss, but has over the years handsomely repaid the studio.
A whirlwind overview of Judy's career is...
Darling of MGM. Great films like Meet Me in St Louis and Easter Parade. Whirlwind romance and marriage. Birth of a daughter (Liza Minelli). Post natal depression. The Harvey Girls (with Angela Lansbury no less). Nervous breakdown. Suicide attempt. More big film parts, illness and addictions though lost them mid-production. Ginger Rogers got the Barclays of Broadway, and Jane Powell got Royal Wedding, both roles opposite Fred Astaire.
Returned to the stage and succeeded in both the US and the UK, largely successfully, won a Tony.
Fabulous film comeback with A Star is Born. Oscar nominated...robbed. Won the Golden Globe though.
Fabulous show in Carnegie Hall in 1961. Grammy award winning and still one of the best nights in show business history, you can buy the album here.
After sadly passing away in her rented house in the Chelsea, London, Judy's body was embalmed and flown back to the US. Her funeral took place in Manhattan on June 27th 1969, with James Mason giving the eulogy.
After the funeral, a number of fans went to a gay bar in Greenwich Village to celebrate her life. That bar was called the Stonewall Inn, and on that evening of June 27th 1969, actually, in the early hours of June 28th, the bar was raided by the police.
The Stonewall Inn was an unlicensed bar and raids were common. This particular raid though was highly charged and resulted in a riot. This disturbance is considered the beginning of the gay rights movement, and gave the organisation Stonewall, the charity set up in 1989 to champion LGBT rights and inclusion, its name.
So a life of incredible highs and desperate lows, a story of public adulation and private lonliness, Judy Garland will forever be remembered with her ruby red slippers, dreaming of somewhere...over the rainbow. You can read about her amazing life here.
Thanks for reading.