Judy Garland, who helped lift America’s spirits during the later stages of the Depression in the 1930s and continued to turn in strong performances into the ‘40s and ‘50s (plus a few in the early ‘60s), would have turned 100 on June 10. She was one the brightest stars during Hollywood’s Golden Era, but a tragic one as well. She scaled the heights of fame, appearing in such films as “A Star is Born,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and “Easter Parade,” but battled drug and alcohol addiction throughout her career.
To determine the best Judy Garland movies, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, weighting all ratings equally. Directorial and cast information also came from IMDb.
America has always had a soft spot for Garland, the youngest daughter of vaudevillians from Minnesota. Her mystique is such that in 2019, 50 years after her death, a Garland biopic was a box-office success and won a Best Actress Oscar for Renée Zellweger.
Her early films were infused with optimism and energy at a time when America needed both. She appeared in five lavish Busby Berkeley productions, and was paired with Mickey Rooney in 10 films. Garland put on her dancing shoes for films with hoofers Gene Kelly (“For Me and My Gal”) and Fred Astaire (“Easter Parade”). She played few straight dramatic roles, but won plaudits for them. (See where Garland’s films fared among the best musicals of all time.)
Garland’s addiction, which began as a child when her mother gave her stimulants to perform and depressants to rest. Movie moguls only made her life worse, restricting her diet because they thought she was overweight. She died at the age of 47 – $4 million in debt, according to some sources. (Here are 20 celebrities who died broke.)
The public either didn’t notice Garland’s problems or didn’t care. They were captivated by her charm and ability to seemingly live the songs that she sang. Garland’s character of Dorothy Gale from “The Wizard of Oz” – the wide-eyed Kansas farm girl with pigtails and a blue-checkered dress – would become one of America’s most iconic film images.
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