The Untold Truth Of Judy Garland

Judy Garland was the poster-child for old Hollywood glamour. After starring in 1939's The Wizard of Oz, the teenage actress was catapulted into fame. While Dorothy touched American hearts in her search for happiness "Over the Rainbow," the actress behind the wholesome character would never find it.

Behind-the-scenes of her hit movies, Garland's life was marred by a lifelong drug addiction passed to her as a child through the hands of her very own mother. Garland was tormented by studio executives manipulating her every move — from starving her on a diet of coffee and cigarettes to pushing her to abort her first child. Still, Garland was taught at a very young age that the show must go on — and it did, even if that often meant dosing herself with amphetamines to stay awake and covering the self-inflicted scars on her wrists.

Garland spent her life looking for Oz and dreaming of a place somewhere over-the-rainbow where the world was shiny and technicolor. Unfortunately, the yellow brick road through Hollywood would never lead her there.

Garland was molested by Munchkins on set

The behind-the-scenes life of Wizard of Oz's Munchkins has always been surrounded with perplexing lore — from the debunked urban legend that a Munchkin committed suicide on set to rumors of substance abuse and prostitution. It's a striking juxtaposition from their lighthearted, family-friendly nature on screen, which is perhaps why the rumors have stood the test of time.

Though the Munchkins were portrayed as innocent, childlike townspeople, it turns out they really may have been a little bit too friendly helping Dorthy find her way down the yellow brick road. According to Judy Garland's third husband, Sid Luft, the Munchkins repeatedly molested teenaged Garland on set.

"They would make Judy's life miserable on set by putting their hands under her dress ... The men were 40 or more years old," he wrote in his posthumous memoir Judy and I: Life with Judy Garland [via People].

Luft isn't the only one who's spoken out against the Munchkins, which consisted of a group of around 120 different actors. Garland herself hurled some disparaging comments their way in a 1967 interview with Jack Paar.

"They were little drunks ... They got smashed every night, and they picked them up in butterfly nets." she said. Historically, many of the actors who portrayed Munchkins have denied these claims.

Garland started taking amphetamines and sleeping pills at 10 years old

Garland was a child of show business whose family moved to California to pursue fame when she was just 4 years old. At the helm of her career was her pushy mother who she described as "the real Wicked Witch of the West." Garland may have been trying to escape her mother's influence through most of her career, but her yellow brick road was a path to drug addiction and substance abuse.

According to The New York Times, Garland's mother started the young actress on a regimen of "pep pills" when she was just 10 years old in order to keep her and her two sisters lively during auditions. To combat the uppers, she'd dole out sleeping pills to her three daughters in the evening. MGM only compounded these problems after they signed her in 1935 by encouraging the young star to continue to lose weight. At the ripe age of 13 years old, Garland found herself addicted to drugs.  

According to Sid Luft [via People], feeding narcotics to child actors was a common practice that was almost always swept under the rug. It was a dark secret hidden beneath the sheen of old Hollywood glamour and wasn't just limited to 13-year-old Garland. Both Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney experienced similar treatment.

She was forced to have an abortion as a teenage bride

MGM fought to preserve Garland's image as a virginal teen at all costs — including binding the maturing girl's budding breasts and enforcing a strict diet so she could maintain her childlike figure. The actress found herself making very few choices of her own until she ran away to marry composer David Rose in 1941. Garland went directly against the wishes of MGM and her overbearing mother, who forbade the star from getting married in fear that it would tarnish her reputation as a pig-tailed, wholesome girl-next-door. Garland was just 19 years old, and Rose was 12 years her senior.

Shortly after marrying Rose, Garland fell pregnant — a celebrated milestone in any newlywed's life. The actress was not afforded this joy. According to Vanity Fair, MGM feared that the pregnancy would ruin her career, and the studio conspired with her mother to force the star to have an abortion. Rose also recommended that Garland terminate her pregnancy, and as a result, the pair never had children together. Four years after they exchanged their controversial vows, the couple would divorce.

She tried to kill herself when she found her second husband in bed with another man

Garland's hit Meet Me in St. Louis may have gifted the world with the classic "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," but it's also inadvertently spawned Hollywood icon Liza Minnelli. It was on that very set that Garland first met director Vincente Minnelli, who would become her second husband. The pair went on to have daughter Liza, and Minnelli helped Garland shed her girl-next-door image to adopt more mature roles — things were as shiny as they seemed in Oz. But Garland's husband was hiding a deep secret.

According to Vanity Fair, Judy Garland wasn't supposed to be home when she walked into her bedroom to find her husband in a loving embrace with a male employee. The actress immediately ran to the bathroom and starting slitting her wrists with a sharp object. Minnelli forced the tool out of her hand, and just a day or two later, Garland showed up for work at the studio like nothing had happened. The bandages wrapped around her wrists were the only reminders of her trauma. This was her first suicide attempt.

She secretly had a second abortion during her affair with Sid Luft

In 1951, Garland's career was in shambles. According to People, she had been fired from MGM after 15 years of work and was recently released from the hospital after attempting suicide.  Though she had a beautiful young daughter (the talented Liza Minnelli, who later become a full-fledged star in her own right), her marriage to Vincente Minnelli suffered at the hands of her multiple suicide attempts and ongoing struggles with substance abuse.

It was then Garland fell into the arms of another man — but the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the rainbow. Garland had met Sid Luft when she was just 15 years old, but sparks didn't fly until 14 years later. In his memoir Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland [via People], he described the feeling as an "electric force." Unfortunately, their secretive affair resulted in an unexpected pregnancy.

Garland, who was still married to Minnelli, revealed her pregnancy to Luft while they were working on a show at New York's Palace Theatre. He treated the news as an inconvenience which pushed the star to secretly have an abortion.

"Because of my negative reaction, Judy didn't confide in me where and when she was going to have the abortion. I wasn't attentive. I didn't send flowers," he wrote.

Despite the rocky start, Luft and Garland married in 1952, had two children and remained together for 13 years.

She slit her own throat with broken glass

Judy Garland's demons were far scarier than the Wicked Witch of the West, and the biggest house in Kansas couldn't squash her suicidal thoughts. In Sid Luft's memoir, the actress' ex-husband recounts Garland's more terrifying, violent suicide attempts.

Luft claimed that Garland's pill addiction soared to new levels after they got married. She'd hide her vices wherever she could — from pills hidden within packages of cigarettes to empty vodka bottles tucked deep inside her clothes hamper. These pills inexplicably gave Garland an impulse for self-mutilation.

"When Judy came out in her short white lace negligee, her arms were in front of her and she said, 'Look, darling, what I've done,'" Luft detailed in his memoir [via Express]. "Her wrists had been slashed and she was bleeding profusely."

On another occasion, amidst her dissolving marriage to Vincente Minnelli, the actress slit her own throat with a piece of broken glass. Though Vanity Fair describes this incident as a minor injury, The Mirror describes a similar suicide attempt where Garland slashed her own throat and was later found in a pool of her own blood.

She claimed her third husband was a physically abusive alcoholic

Luft and Garland went through numerous separations as the troubled actress struggled with suicide attempts and pill abuse. Luft admitted that whenever he showed concern for her issues — which included crash dieting, drug abuse and self-harm — she would push him away. By 1962, the pair were allegedly living separate lives. When Garland finally filed for divorce in 1965, she told the judge it was because Luft was abusive. Garland claimed that Luft drank in excess and hit her multiple times throughout their 13 years together.

Luft has always been a vocal supporter of Garland, claiming on numerous occasions that he tried to help the star through her multiple mental breakdowns and scary brushes with self harm.

"Whatever bad things happened, you don't fall out of love with somebody like her," he said during a 2001 interview. "All I know is that if anyone tried to save a woman who was breaking apart, I did. I know that I did the best I could do, and it still wasn't enough."

Her fourth husband was having an affair with her daughter's husband

An alarming number of Judy Garland's five husbands were hiding their homosexuality. It was a weird misfortune she inexplicably passed down to her daughter Liza. Catching Vincente Minnelli in bed with another man was one thing — a fluke, a strange misfortune — but for history to repeat made it truly feel like Garland's demons were greater than herself. Did the universe really have it out for the actress?

Love was in the air for both Garland and Liza in the mid '60s. In the summer of 1964, Garland married her fourth husband, Mark Herron, while she was still legally married to Luft (the pair tied the knot for real the following year when the divorce was finalized).  Herron played matchmaker for Liza and introduced her to Peter Allen, the man who would become her first husband. On their wedding night, Liza caught Allen in bed with his boyfriend, setting an unfortunate precedent for the rest of their marriage. What no one knew is that behind closed doors, Allen and Herron were having a secret affair.

Garland and Herron's marriage was short-lived. They divorced 17 months after their Las Vegas ceremony. Garland claimed the actor had beaten her, and he claimed that he had only hit the actress in self defense.

Garland smoked up to 80 cigarettes a day on MGM's crash diet

Dorothy may have gotten along with the Lolly Pop guild in The Wizard of Oz, but the real-life girl behind the rosy character was strictly forbidden from having a single bite of candy. According to The Independent, MGM founder Louis Mayer put JudyGarland on a dangerously strict diet after claiming she looked like "a fat little pig with pigtails" during her first film.

Garland's diet mostly consisted of black coffee, chicken soup and an alleged 80 or so cigarettes a day to help curb her pangs of hunger. The studio monitored her meals with the eyes of a winged monkey, swooping in to take food out of the teenage actress' mouth before she could take a single bite. If Garland snuck out to enjoy a single malted milk, notes would be passed around the studio claiming her costumes needed to be resized. She was encouraged to take diet pills to keep her weight down, an addiction that followed her until her death.

It wasn't just her weight that made the studio executives unhappy. They virtually hated everything about the way Garland looked and also insisted on capping her teeth and making her wear rubber disks that changed the shape of her nose.

Her father's death was the 'most terrible thing' that ever happened to her

Garland had a lion's share of terrible things happen to her in her life — the addiction, the suicide attempts, the alleged domestic abuse. For the actress, none of those things held a candle to the loss of her father, Francis Gumm, which she claimed "was the most terrible thing that ever happened to [her] in her life."

"The terrible thing about it was that I couldn't cry at my father's funeral," she wrote [via The New York Times], "I'd never been to a funeral. I was ashamed because I couldn't cry, so I feigned it. But I just couldn't cry for eight days, and then I locked myself in a bathroom and cried for 14 hours.

Garland's father died of spinal meningitis shortly after the actress signed to MGM. This left her alone with her mother, who pushed MGM's agenda and encouraged flagrant pill abuse and her very first abortion. Though Garland deeply mourned the loss of her father, she admitted that they were not very close. She wanted to be closer to him all of her life, but never got the opportunity.

Many speculate that the early death of Garland's father caused the young actress specifically seek out older partners, including her first husband who was more than a decade older than the star.

Her father's bisexuality strained her parents' tumultuous marriage

Garland followed in the footsteps of her mother Ethel Gumm, in both love and show-biz. Francis Gumm, the actress' father, was vaudevillian performer and a rumored bisexual like Garland's later husbands. There was innumerable tension in her parents' marriage — between Ethel's fierce push for her daughters' fame and Francis' sexuality. According to The New York Times, Ethel and her daughters spent a lot of time away from their father on auditions. The girls performed as a trio called the Gumdrops, a play on their given surnames.

While the girls were performing across California, Francis stayed home running a movie theater he had purchased. It was in this theater that he would allegedly proposition teenage boys to keep his loneliness at bay. The more Ethel was away, pushing his girls into the wicked world of Hollywood, the more Francis would run astray.

This was a unstable environment for Garland, who undeniably felt the tension in her parents' marriage and witnessed the couple argue throughout her childhood.

She died three months after secretly marrying her drug dealer

Despite the fact that Judy Garland already had four unsuccessful marriages, the star didn't give up on love. In 1969, the actress wed her fifth husband, Mickey Deans. Some could say Deans was her true love, but most would probably say Garland married her enabler. Deans was her drug dealer. The couple met in 1966 when the musician pretended to be a doctor in order to deliver Garland a package of stimulants.

By the time Deans and Garland wed, she had already been suffering from a litany of health problems from years of drug abuse and extreme dieting. Despite her teenage daughter's attempts to dilute her pills with sugar, the damage irreversible. A decade prior, when she was just 37 years old, Garland was diagnosed with hepatitis and advanced cirrhosis of the liver. She spent seven weeks in a hospital.

Three months after Deans and Garland exchanged vows during a secret church ceremony, she was found dead in the bathroom of her Chelsea home at the age of 47. The actress had finally succumbed to her addiction. Her cause of death was an accidental overdose of barbiturates.