A life in pictures: Judy Garland and her tragic downfall
In 1954, singer and actress Judy Garland appeared in what was going to be her last iconic role as Esther Blodgett (aka Vicki Lester) in A Star is Born.
At only 32 years old, Garland had already spent most of her life on stage and on screen, with a career that greatly impacted her mental health.
"I’m the queen of the comeback,” Garland said during an interview in 1968. “I’m getting tired of coming back. I really am. I can’t even go to… the powder room without making a comeback.”
It would only be a year later that Garland would pass away under tragic circumstances.
In 1969, Garland’s new husband Mickey Dean would break down the door to the locked bathroom and find Garland dead at the age of 47 years old.
The coroner, Gavin Thurston, announced to the press following the autopsy, “This is quite clearly an accidental circumstance to a person who was accustomed to taking barbiturates over a very long time. She took more barbiturates than she could tolerate.”
Barbiturates were a then-common sleep aid, but Garland had a history of depression and alcoholism. She had attempted suicide several times, with her third husband Sid Luft alleging that she tried to take her own life on at least 20 different occasions.
However, addiction was in Garland’s history, with her mother giving her pills to keep her energy up and bring her down and sleep at the young age of ten. This is according to the biography Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland.
The problem only worsened when Garland was signed onto MGM, as she was expected to work at a breakneck pace.
"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–[co-star Mickey Rooney] sprawled out on one bed and me on another," Garland said, according to Paul Donnelley's biography of the actress. "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."
Garland didn’t have much success in her personal life, as she went onto marry five different people. She was 19 when she married bandleader David Rose and following their divorce in 1944 went onto marry Vicente Minnelli.
Garland married Sid Luft in 1952, Mark Herro in 1965 and finally Mickey Deans in 1969, which was just three months before her death.
Towards the end of her life, debt was slowly taking over and Garland played solo concerts to pay off thousands in taxes she owed to the IRS.
"It took drugs ... to get her back to a level place where you could have a conversation with her, where you could get her to sign checks, sign contracts, talk about business," Garland's manager Stevie Phillips told Inside Edition of the star's later years.
Scroll through the gallery to see Garland throughout the years.
Join our community of over 400,000-plus members today and get the latest Over60 news, offers and articles.
Get all the latest Over60 news, offers and articles.