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Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress, singer and vaudevillian. Described by Fred Astaire as "the greatest entertainer who ever lived" and renowned for her contralto voice, she attained international stardom throughout a career which spanned more than 40 years, as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on the concert stage. Respected for her versatility, she received a Juvenile Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award as well as Grammy Awards and a Special Tony Award.
She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the remake of A Star Is Born and for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1961 film Judgment at Nuremberg. She remains the youngest recipient (at 39 years of age) of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime- achievement in the motion picture industry.
After appearing in vaudeville with her two older sisters, Garland was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager. There, she made more than two dozen films, including nine with Mickey Rooney, and the 1939 film with which she would be most identified, The Wizard of Oz. After 15 years, she was released from the studio but gained renewed success through record-breaking concert appearances, including a return to acting, beginning with critically acclaimed performances.
Despite her professional triumphs, Garland struggled immensely in her personal life, starting when she was a child. Her self-image was strongly influenced by film executives, who said she was unattractive and constantly manipulated her onscreen physical appearance. She was plagued by financial instability, often owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. She married five times, with her first four marriages ending in divorce. She also had a long battle with drugs and alcohol, which ultimately led to her death at the age of 47.
In 1997, Garland was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1999, the American Film Institute placed her among the ten greatest female stars in the history of American cinema.
On June 22, 1969, Garland was found dead by Deans in the bathroom of their rented house at 4 Cadogan Lane in Chelsea, London. At the subsequent inquest, coroner Gavin Thursdon stated that the cause of death was "an incautious self-overdose" of barbiturates; her blood contained the equivalent of ten 1.5-grain (97 mg) Seconal capsules. Thursdon stressed that the overdose had been unintentional and that there was no evidence to suggest she had committed suicide. Her autopsy showed that there was no inflammation of her stomach lining and no drug residue there, which indicated that the drug had been ingested over a long period of time, rather than in one dose.
Her death certificate stated that her death had been "accidental." Even so, a British specialist who had attended her autopsy said she had been living on borrowed time owing to cirrhosis. She had turned 47 just twelve days before her death. Her Wizard of Oz costar Ray Bolger commented at her funeral, "She just plain wore out."
On June 26, Deans took Garland's remains to New York City, where an estimated 20,000 people lined up for hours at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel in Manhattan to pay their respects. On June 27, James Mason gave a eulogy at the funeral, an Episcopal service led by the Rev. Peter A. Delaney of St Marylebone Parish Church, London, who had officiated at her marriage to Deans. The public and press were barred. She was interred in a crypt in the community mausoleum at Ferncliff Cemetery, in Hartsdale, New York.