Judy Garland

The ultimate child star who gave the world Dorothy in the 'Wizard of Oz' but spent her adult years singing for her supper in a cloud of drink and drugs.

Frances Ethel Gumm made her stage debut at the age of two, at her father's movie house and theatre. Judy's parents were small-time Vaudevillians, and they and their daughters would perform almost nightly. After the family moved to California, Judy and her sisters began performing as 'The Gumm Sisters', and were enrolled in a show business agency for children.

She was signed by MGM in 1936, but unsure about Garland, she was loaned to 20th Century Fox where, ninth-billed in 'Pigskin Parade', she stole the show, and returned to MGM in triumph, and was cast as Dorothy. 'The Wizard of Oz' made Garland a star, but MGM couldn't see beyond the little-girl image, and insisted upon casting her as a child until her marriage to composer David Rose in 1941.

Unfortunately, Garland developed an increasing prescription drug dependency, which affected her work. She also began drinking heavily, and her marriage to Rose deteriorated. One of her most successful films was the 1944 title 'Meet me at St Louis', which made the songs 'The Trolley Song', 'The Boy next Door' and 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' well-known hits.

It was here that she met her future husband Vincente Minnelli as he was directing the film. In 1945, she married Minnelli, with whom she had a daughter, Liza, but in 1950, Garland attempted suicide and, after recovering, was fired by MGM.

This was despite Garland making a success of the 1945 film 'The Clock' - her first straight dramatic role with no singing. It was praised by critics and made a profit.

Garland and Minnelli divorced in 1951. Her third husband, Sid Luft, choreographed Garland's triumphant comebacks at the London Palladium, and New York's Palace Theatre. 1954’s 'A Star Is Born', was Garland's best film, earning her an Oscar nomination.

But Garland lost the Oscar and became depressed; her acting was increasingly inconsistent. In 1961, she appeared in 'Judgement at Nuremberg' set in 1948 telling the story of four Nazis being judged for war crimes in the US. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Irene Hoffman.

The same year, she became the youngest recipient of the Cecil B DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the film industry at the age of 39.

A long period of inactivity ended when she began the weekly 'The Judy Garland Show' in 1963, but its success was short-lived, and it was cancelled after a year.

Garland's marriage to Sid Luft, which produced her daughter Lorna, ended in divorce in 1965, and Garland's life and career went into freefall. She married tour promoter Mark Herron in 1965 and separated from him six months later.

A further brief marriage and a stint at a London nightclub were both disastrous and, in June 1969, Judy Garland was found dead in her London apartment by her then husband Mickey Deans, the result of an overdose of barbiturates.

In 1997, the actress was given a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, while several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy hall of Fame.

The American Film Institute named Garland as one of the ten greatest female stars in the history of cinema in 1999.

Tracie Bennett is currently portraying Judy Garland in the hit musical 'End of the Rainbow', which tells the story of the actress's attempted comeback in 1968.