Judy Garland was penniless, virtually homeless and making $100 a night in bars

Think of Judy Garland and you'd be forgiven for conjuring the image of an angelic faced teenager, wearing a blue pinafore dress and red shoes with her hair tied up in pigtails as she skips along a yellow brick road.

Playing the part of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, was what rocketed Garland to stardom back in 1939, when she was just 16.

But at the end of her life, Judy Garland was penniless, addicted to drugs, virtually homeless and reduced to singing in bars for a measly $100 per night.

Due to mismanagement and alleged embezzlement, any money Garland once had was long gone and it's said she owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes to the IRS.

In December 1968, just a few months before her death as a result of an accidental sleeping pill overdose, Garland had landed in London to appear in a five-week run of shows run at Talk of the Town cabaret club in Leicester Square.

But her performances were erratic.

Some nights, Garland would put on an incredible show, others she would turn up late, demanding a cocktail of pills to help overcome her stage fright.

At the time, a review from January 14 in The Observer described Garland as "thinner now, almost haggard, her hair flicked back like a boy's. Her orange sequinned suit makes her jaunty – a pantomime principal boy got lost in the East End.

"With hand on hip, she struts and totters and stomps and prowls – tigerish and restless, her great brown eyes darting amongst the audience for a friendly face.

"'I love you all,' she cries. She drinks and toasts herself. Her words become more and more slurred […] The audience heckles and interrupts."

Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota on June 10 1922, Garland was the youngest of three, with two older sisters – Mary Jane and Dorothy Virgina Gumm.

Her first stage performance was when she was just two years old, thanks to her mother Ethel, who tried to shape all three of her daughters into stars.

It was Ethel that put 10-year-old Frances on a cocktail of drugs – amphetamines in the day to give her energy to perform, and sleeping pills in the evening so she could rest, according to biographer Gerald Clarke, author of Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland.

In 1934, the Gumm sisters rebranded themselves as the Garland sisters. Frances gave herself the new name “Judy” after a popular song by Hoagy Carmichael.

At the age of 13, after performing around the US in various stage shows and competitions booked for her by her mother, Garland had gained attention from Hollywood.

She signed a contract with Metro Goldwyn Mayer and went of to appear in dozens of films for the studio, often starring alongside her friend Mickey Rooney, who was also a teenager at the time.

Her first feature film was a musical comedy about football coaches called Pigskin Parade, released in 1936 when Garland was 14.

At just 4ft 11in, and with girlish looks, Garland came under constant scrutiny from MGM bosses who were worried about her gaining weight and looking too 'womanly'.

One exec even referring to her as a "fat little pig with pigtails".

As a result, Garland would be placed on a series of strict diets, with reports she could consume only chicken soup, black coffee and cigarettes, along with pills to reduce her appetite.

By the time she had finished filming The Wizard of Oz, Garland was addicted to drugs, something she would go on to struggle with, along with issues with alcohol, for the rest of her life.

Years later, Garland told biographer Paul Donnelly: "They had us working days and nights on end. They’d give us pills to keep us on our feet long after we were exhausted.

"Then they’d take us to the studio hospital and knock us out with sleeping pills­ – Mickey [Rooney] sprawled out on one bed and me on another.

“Then after four hours they’d wake us up and give us the pep pills again so we could work 72 hours in a row. Half of the time we were hanging from the ceiling but it was a way of life for us.”

At 19, Garland got married for the first time – to an American songwriter, composer and orchestra leader named David Rose, who was 12 years her senior.

The union was short lived and the pair did not have any children, although biographer Gerald Clarke claims that Garland underwent at least one abortion during the marriage, insisted on by both her mother and her husband, as well as MGM.

Garland and Rose divorced in 1944.

From there, Garland went on to have a string of high-profile relationships. In 1945, she married director Vincente Minnelli.

Together, they had a daughter Liza, but Garland's crippling insecurities and drug abuse began to drive a wedge between the couple.

She took a break from her film career in April 1947 after suffering a nervous breakdown. She was able to complete filming but in July of the same year, she made her first suicide attempt.

Over the next three years, she was cast in a string of other projects but often arrived late to set, and sometimes failed to turn up at all.

Eventually MGM made the decision to fire her in 1950, which reportedly led Garland to attempt suicide several more times.

Her severe depression eventually contributed to the breakdown of her marriage.

Garland and Minnelli divorced in 1951.

She wed her next husband, Sidney Luft in May 1952, and they had two children, Lorna and Joey Luft, during their 13-year relationship, Garland's longest by a long way.

But her drug addiction, suicide attempts and constant struggle with her weight ultimately drove them apart.

In his memoir, Luft wrote: "If I were to show concern, she'd abruptly tell me to f*** off."

By 1962, they were living "virtually separate lives" in the same home. They finally divorced in May 1965.

It was just months later that Garland married actor and tour promoter Mark Herron in November 1965 in Las Vegas.

The couple separated after five months and divorced over a year later.

Garland was married to her fifth husband, musician Mickey Deans, for just three months before she died.

According to his autobiography, Weep No More, My Lady, they met in 1966 in a New York hotel Garland was staying in.

Deans claims he was posing as a doctor while delivering the singer a package of stimulant tablets.

The pair dated on and off for three years before tying the knot on March 15, 1969.

Towards the end of her life, with money rapidly running out, Garland was said to perform in gay piano bars for just $100 a night.

Just three months after her wedding, while the couple were in London, Deans discovered Garland dead in their bathroom on the morning of June 22, 1969.

She was just 47.

An obituary in the LA Times stated that although Garland had tried to take her own life several times, Scotland Yard had told media that there was no indication she had committed suicide.

It went on to say that "illness had plagued her constantly […] She had suffered from hepatitis, exhaustion, kidney ailments, nervous breakdowns, near-fatal drug reactions, overweight, underweight and injuries suffered in falls."

A coroner later recorded a verdict of accidental "incautious self-overdosage" of sleeping tablets she had taken since she was a child.

Her body was later flown back to New York where she was buried in the Ferncliff mausoleum in Hartsdale.

Some 50 years after her death, Garland's daughter, Liza Minnelli, made the decision to move her mother's gravesite to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in LA.

Many fans were horrified by the macabre thought Garland's body being dug up, but Liza Minnelli later told media that her decision was made so that, that in the future, she and her siblings can be buried alongside their mother.

If you are affected by any issues in this story or are experiencing depression and need support, please contact Samaritans on 116 123. All calls are free and will be answered in confidence.

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