If you are the kind of person that believes in Hollywood myths and idolizes all of the old classic stars, then we would like to suggest that you keep an open mind while watching this video. Today, we are going to discuss the reality of that strange, mysterious world.
This video has the potential of upsetting some of Judy Garland’s die-hard fans who remember her fondly as little Dorothy Gale of The Wizard of Oz, but by the time she was 16 and making Oz, she had already been through the MGM ringer.
Judy’s Early Years Foreshadowed The Difficult Road Ahead Of Her
Judy was born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1992, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. She had two older sisters- Suzanne and Virginia. The girls’ father, Frank Gumm, was a closeted gay man.
The family packed their things and moved to California when Judy’s father was accused of seducing local boys. Judy was a talented singer and by the age of three, she was already performing with her sisters as The Gumm Sisters. They became a huge hit in the vaudeville scene and appeared in several film shorts together.
Judy was offered a contract with MGM Studios in September of 1935. Just two months later, her father died of spinal meningitis. She was then given supporting roles in Everybody Sing and Broadway Melody in 1938.
According to Garland’s close friend Mickey Rooney, when Judy was just 15, 38-year-old Spencer Tracy was regularly seducing her. Mickey revealed that Judy had told him what was going on and pretty much everyone else at the studio knew about it.
His abuse, because let’s just call it what it was, went on for three years. She was the victim of one of Hollywood’s many sleazy, selfish predators. Everybody on the inside could see clearly what sort of person Tracy was, but the public had no clue what was going on behind closed doors.
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Stick around to see how a tragic accident sent Judy Garland down a dark road of drugs and depravity that would lead her to nothing but pain and suffering.
Drugs Consumed Her At Young Age
In 1938, Judy was involved in a serious car accident that left her badly injured. She sustained several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and back injuries that would trouble her for the remainder of her life. Studio doctors didn’t think twice about sending her right back to work just eight days later. They pumped her full of drugs to help ease the pain, but she obviously would have benefited from taking some time off to recover.
By the time she was working on Oz in the Fall of 1938, she was already hopelessly addicted to the pills that her doctors gave to her like candy. To maintain her petite figure, she was only allowed to eat soup and cottage cheese.
To hide her breasts, the studio ordered her to wear a painful and humiliating truss to hide them. MGM kept her working like a dog for 15 hours a day, loading her up with Benzedrine – which is basically just pharmaceutical methamphetamine – and phenobarbital – a dangerous central nervous system depressant – to make it through her shifts. They also gave her a grab bag of other drugs like seconal and amphetamines to keep her performing like their little puppet.
She took sleeping pills to just catch a few hours of sleep before guzzling down uppers to keep her awake and spry for up to 72 hours at a time. The studio and her handlers couldn’t have cared less about her well-being. All they cared about was having her in front of those rolling cameras.
By the time she was 18, she was lost in a pit of hopeless addiction. Howard Stickling, MGM’s Head of Publicity, had her see psychiatrists five mornings a week for the next two decades. She suffered from severe psychotic episodes, debilitating insomnia, intense hallucinations, crippling headaches, and extreme fatigue. And on top of all of that, she was also suicidal.
Garland Sought Solace In The Company Of Men And Women Alike
Judy soon found that she desperately needed men in her life – especially older men like Tracy – but if none were available to fit her needs, she would sleep with women. Just how many of her life choices can be directly attributed to her addiction we will probably never really know, but what we can say is that she was perpetually in a state of confusion and exhausted agitation. She was overworked and treated like a commodity. The only thing that people in her orbit saw her as was a money-maker. They weren’t concerned about her happiness or health – which is especially upsetting considering the fact that she was still just a kid.
It was around this time that Strickling placed Betty Asher as Judy’s shadow. He ordered a similar thing when he placed Les Peterson as Mickey Rooney’s shadow. Betty, who happened to be the sister of producer and director William Asher of Bewitched and I Love Lucy fame, was also the daughter of acclaimed film producer Ephraim Asher of Universal Studios.
Bill Asher later confirmed that his sister was indeed bisexual and that she had fallen head-over-heels in love with Judy. And even though she did once have an affair with Judy’s first husband David Rose, she loved Judy deeply.
Failed Marriages, Bisexual Lovers, And Her Affinity For Gay Men
When she was 17, Judy became enamored with bandleader Artie Shaw, a two-time divorced wife-beater who easily seduced the young starlet while cheating on her with Lana Turner and various other young women. After Strickling ordered Betty Asher to become Judy’s confidante and friend to try and steer her away from Shaw, Betty ended up doing a lot more than just that.
It’s reported that she became Judy’s lover as well as a spy of sorts keeping track of her every move and whim. She also taught garland how to drink per order of MGM’s fixer, Eddie Mannix, who thought that a drunk Judy just might divulge more information. Asher would routinely report back to him what she learned, delivering her intel more often than not while sharing his bed.
Betty had previously worked with Lana Turner, so she already had the experience needed to steer the naive, young blonde towards the ever-so-eager Mr. Shaw. To a lot of people’s surprise, Turner and Shaw suddenly got married in 1940. Judy was devastated and immediately slept with Shaw’s best friend in a desperate attempt to make her former bedmate jealous. But as it turned out, their marriage only lasted three months.
Lana, who had become pregnant, hastily arranged for an abortion through Mannix, and after having the procedure done while she was supposedly on a publicity tour in Hawaii, she returned back to the mainland and started sleeping around with every attractive male star that she could set her sights on.
In 1941, Judy and bandleader David Rose eloped in Las Vegas. The marriage turned out to be a huge disaster and was over within just four short months. But in that brief window, Judy had become pregnant. MGM then secretly arranged for their star to have an abortion without even giving Rose the courtesy of knowing about her condition.
She then moved back in with her old lover Asher despite still not being privy to her spying for both Mannix and Strickling. Before long, the two ladies were seen all over Los Angeles, shopping, holding hands, going to movies, and attending shows together.
Garland’s Sexuality Was A Known Secret
Garland was definitely not a lesbian, but she was bisexual and had no qualms engaging in intimate acts with either gender. Her last husband, Mickey Deans, revealed that Judy preferred to date gay men. She once even married Vincente Minnelli who was openly bi-sexual. In Judy’s opinion, women were better at addressing another woman’s sexual needs than men, so naturally, she preferred women in bed.
In 1942, she met Tyrone Power. He was married to the androgynous, bisexual actress Annabella, and he was also bisexual. Ty and Judy fell for each other, but since both stars were married to other people at the time, MGM got nervous and devised a plan to break them up.
Judy continued to give Betty her total trust until her marriage to Minnelli. Asher in fact had been her maid-of-honor at her wedding. But when Minnelli let Judy know what Betty had done to her in the past, Judy realized that Asher was not loyal to her like she had long thought she was. She put the pieces together and finally understood that she was just a pawn of those snakes in the grass, Howard Strickling and Eddie Mannix. She then fired Asher once and for all leaving her heartbroken and confused.
Betty never really recovered from that chapter and a few years later she committed suicide. Her brother Bill confirmed that she was heartbroken over Judy’s shunning of her and she couldn’t bear to live with that fact.
On June 22, 1969, Garland was found dead in the bathroom of her rented house in Cardogan Lane, Belgravia, London. The cause of death was determined to be an acute, accidental overdose of barbiturates.
What a tragic end to an equally troubled life. Garland never really ever found happiness – not in the company of her many lovers, male and female alike, nor in drugs, alcohol, or any other of her destructive vices. She was without question a talented and gifted actress, but the way she was treated by all of those studio execs and ‘fixers’ was nothing short of dehumanizing.
But, now’s your turn to have your voice be heard. In the comments section below share your favorite memory of Judy Garland. Perhaps you will always see her as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, but others may look back fondly at her performance in A Star Is Born – a role that earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1954.
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