Judy Garland Died 50 Years Ago Today – How Hollywood Reacted
Judy Garland’s third husband, Sid Luft claimed that Judy tried to kill herself at least 20 times in their 13 years of marriage.
The public knew of Judy’s ups and downs and her problems with pills and alcohol. What they didn’t realize was just how unhappy the star had been for most of her life and her multiple attempts at suicide. And few people, some close friends and her doctor, realized how ill Judy had been during the last few years of her life.
Judy’s self-destructive path culminated when she was found dead in her London apartment June 22, 1969 of a drug overdose. She was only 47-years-old.
In 1961, Judy’s London physician, Dr. Philip Lebon had diagnosed her with cirrhosis of the liver and insisted she stop drinking. Dr. Lebon warned Judy that she only had five years to live at most.
After her death, eight years after making that prognosis, Dr. Lebon said, “Death could have come at any time. How she lived this long I don’t know.”
Judy Garland was a beloved public performer who couldn’t seem to sustain a happy private life.
Here is what other Hollywood luminaries said the day after her death.
“Her name was Frances Gumm and she was around 11-years-old., but she sang like a woman three times her age with a broken heart. They laughed when I introduced her as Frances Gumm, so one day I said ‘Judith Garland’. I loved her very much. If they want me to say something at the funeral I will.” – George Jessel, vaudevillian and actor who apocryphally claimed to give Judy her name, and was known to speak at the drop of a hat at any celebrity’s funeral.
“Judy was a child who had no childhood. She was a child who never grew up. I last saw her a year ago. I thought then that maybe she didn’t have much time to live. She looked so thin. She didn’t look well at all.” – Wizard of Oz co-star Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow.
“Judy was only 17 when I met her… a darling little girl. When you work with someone on a picture you only know that side of them, but as far as I knew she was a gay, darling, bubbly person, terribly talented. Everyone loved her. – “ Wizard of Oz co-star Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch.
“She was a great talent and a great human being. She was… I’m sure… at peace, and has found that rainbow. At least I hope she has.” – Mickey Rooney, Judy’s most frequent co-star.
“She was a unique entertainer, a wonderful singer. It’s tragic. She is somehow the painful product of the worst part of Hollywood.” – Eli Wallach
“I did only one movie with Judy and found her a delightful person to work with. I feel very badly about what happened.” – Fred Astaire – co-star in Easter Parade
“Judy was enormously witty, the best raconteur in the world and the greatest company. Judy was obviously a very talented woman, but many people missed the great essence of Judy – which was that she was an extremely sharp, an extremely intelligent person. But all her wit and all her intelligence couldn’t save her.” – George Cukor, director A Star is Born