Judy Garland Spent Her Entire Life Until Her Death in a "Fruitless Search for Happiness" in Her Five Marriages

Judy Garland Spent Her Entire Life Until Her Death in a "Fruitless Search for Happiness" in Her Five Marriages

Her parents never wanted her and were considering abortion. Later in life, she grew up being controlled by her mother.

Source: Getty Images | Photos by (L) Central Press, (R) Hulton Archive

Born as Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Judy Garland was a multitalented woman who became one of the well-known icons of Hollywood. A singer, dancer, and actor, Garland was adored by many, but her personal life was marred by childhood negligence, an assertive mother, depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, and lack of love.

According to Biography, Garland's parents were considering an abortion when her mother Ethel Milne Gumm realized she was pregnant. However, they decided not to go ahead with the procedure as it was illegal at the time. The tumultuous relationship of her dad and mum also affected young Garland as she said in a 1963 interview, “The only time I felt wanted when I was a kid was when I was on stage, performing.”



Gumm was also the one who, hungry for fame, introduced her 10-year-old daughter to diet and sleeping pills, as per Gerald Clarke's book, Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland. Her controlling nature and their strained relationship made Garland dub her mother as “the real Wicked Witch of the West.”


Just two years after the actress was awarded a special Academy Award for her portrayal of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939), which made her a household name at just 17, she married her first husband, bandleader David Rose, who was 12 years her senior.



According to Refinery, the actress thought she had found the one she loved but as per Clarke, their personalities were completely different. The actress used to complain that Rose acted “like an old man.” When Garland became pregnant with his baby, Rose and Gumm asked her to go for an abortion. Garland realized she had had enough, and the couple got divorced by 1945.


Just a year after she met director Vincente Minnelli on the sets of Meet Me in St. Louis, they tied the knot in 1945. The couple had a daughter, Liza, and their lives seemed alright to the outside world. However, this was the time when Garland was depressed, anxious, and addicted to pills. Minnelli was the only source of stability in their lives and this took a toll on their relationship.



According to the book Vincente Minnelli: Hollywood’s Dark Dreamer, Minnelli said, “If I'd loved Judy less, I could have been dispassionate enough to laugh her out of the moods that resulted in pill-taking. Sympathy that came too readily just didn't seem to help," as per Refinery.


Garland's condition got worse after she was fired from MGM and she suffered a mental breakdown. It wasn't just the actress who had secrets. According to biographer Emanuel Levy, the renowned director was gay which he covered by marrying women, as per Advocate. In 1951, the couple parted ways. Then came movie producer, and Garland’s manager, Sid Luft.


Luft was her third husband to whom she was married for 13 years. Both loved each other a lot with Luft even saying, "I love Judy. I want to protect her from the trauma she once knew. I don't want her to be bewildered or hurt again. I want her to have happiness. Neither I, nor anyone else, can ever force her to do anything she doesn't want to do," as per The Atlantic.


However, their marriage started crumbling as Garland's stars stopped glittering and she became more and more dependent on diet and sleeping pills. Even though Luft was by her side throughout, their relationship could not handle it for too long. He told The Daily Times, “Whatever bad things happened, you don’t fall out of love with somebody like her,” as cited by Los Angeles Times.

Garland met her fourth husband, actor Mark Herron while she was with Luft. After she divorced Luft in 1965, she married Herron in the same year. But their marriage was stained with domestic violence. According to Refinery, Herron was gay as well. Garland had accused him of beating her to which he had stated that hit her in self-defense. The two got divorced in 1969.


In 1966, when Garland was 44, she met musician and disco manager, Mickey Deans. The man once visited her hotel room to deliver a package of stimulants and won over the actress's heart right then. Deans was 12 years her junior but it didn't matter to Garland. After three years of dating, the pair walked down the aisle in 1969. For her, Deans was everything, as Time quoted her saying, “Finally, finally, I am loved.”

Even though her body was giving up because of all the substance abuse, she seemed much happier, drank less, and more relaxed but it wasn't for too long. She spent her night with the love of her life watching TV at her home. Deans found her the next morning collapsed on her bathroom floor. She was just 47 years old when she died of an accidental barbiturate overdose.


The New York Times obituary wrote that Garland’s “personal life often seemed a fruitless search for the happiness promised in ‘Over the Rainbow,’ the song she made famous in the movie The Wizard of Oz.”