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Judy Garland Was ‘Sacrificed’ By Hollywood; The Harrowing Truth

today20 April 2021


While we enjoy her rendition of Dorothy Gale for which she won an Academy Juvenile Award, the horrors of what Judy Garland went through growing up in the harsh limelight was kept locked and hidden away. Her stunning voice and magnetic onscreen presence have garnered her a reputation as one of the most iconic performers to ever come out of Hollywood’s Golden Age (which began after the silent film era to the early 1960s). 



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Some of her unforgettable roles include Esther Smith in ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ and Esther Blodgett in ‘A Star is Born’, from which birthed the award-winning remake starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.


But what was happening to poor Garland off-screen?


The glitz and the glam are not what it appears to be when you take your eyes off the camera lens. 


Garland’s lifetime of substance abuse, which inevitably claimed her life, can be blamed on the very root of all her woes: Hollywood.

She signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Studios at the tender age of 13 and was constantly criticised for her physical appearance. She was often referred to as an “ugly duckling,” a “hunchback,” and a “fat little pig with pigtails” by Studio Head Louis B. Mayer. Due to this, MGM forced the teenager to wear rubber caps on her teeth and uncomfortable nose discs to reshape it and make her look more “appealing.” 



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Also, a year before filming began on ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ memos about Garland’s weight were passed around. Desperate to make her look as young as possible, she was forced to wear constricting corsets to conceal her naturally growing figure. Imagine what a hit this was on a young girl’s self-esteem!


Around this time, she was also put on a strict diet that consisted of chicken soup, black coffee, cigarettes, and diet pills.



Before you assume that she got hooked on amphetamines in order to cope with the pressures that she was facing (which would be understandable), nope, MGM studio execs made her take them so she could keep up with the demands of the film industry! And to counter the stimulants so she could sleep soundly and perform at an optimum level, Garland was fed barbiturates (a drug that acts as a central nervous system depressant). However, Mickey Rooney, her co-star, denied this. He was quoted as saying, 


“Judy Garland was never given any drugs by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Mr. Mayer didn’t sanction anything for Judy. No one on that lot was responsible for Judy Garland’s death. Unfortunately, Judy chose that path.”


Various celebrities have called out on the abuse that goes on in Hollywood, including child star Alyson Stoner. Stoner suggested that having a “qualified, third-party mental health professional on every set,” particularly if there are minors present, would go a long way in ensuring a safe working condition as well as a safe space for misconducts to be reported. 


Because something needs to be done, and something needs to be done now. 


*Cover image via Silver Screen Collection 

Written by: Farah Qistina

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