If there were a real world “Wizard of Oz,” one wish for fans of the famous movie would be to bring Judy Garland back to life.
But that can’t be done, and with June 22 marking the 51st anniversary of Garland’s death, all fans can do is turn back the clock and remember the life of the woman who played one of the most iconic characters in cinema history: Dorothy.
While always best-known for her role as Dorothy, Garland appeared in several movies and also starred on "The Judy Garland Show" in 1963-64.
If Garland were still alive, she would be 97 and probably still fielding a bunch of questions about “The Wizard of Oz,” which in August will celebrate the 80th anniversary of its release.
But just as a fictional tornado swept through Dorothy's town in the movie, Garland’s real life was also full of twists and turns, despite her fame and all-time place in movie lore.
Below are five facts of note about Garland’s life as the world acknowledges the 51st anniversary of her death.
Garland's name change
Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm in 1922, but she and her sisters changed their name from the Gumm sisters to the Garland sisters in 1934. It is suggested on judygarlandmuseum.com that the name change came after a comedian suggested they have a last name that was more theatrical.
Garland also changed her first name to Judy based on a song.
Garland as the third choice
Louis B. Mayer, studio chief of MGM, which helped produce “The Wizard of Oz,” originally wanted Shirley Temple to be cast in the role of Dorothy, but it didn’t happen. Actress Deanna Durbin was approached next but couldn’t do it, and Garland was cast in the role of Dorothy.
Needless to say, it all worked out.
Struggles with drugs, alcohol and finances
Whether it was because of early fame or other factors, sadly, Garland struggled with a variety of issues in her personal life. She owed thousands in back taxes to the IRS and had a lien placed on her home in Brentwood, California.
Garland also had problems with alcohol and drug abuse, and died June 22, 1969, in London of what was reportedly a barbiturate overdose. Her death was ruled an accident on her death certificate.
Garland was married five times in her life, including to nightclub manager Mickey Deans at the time of her death. She had also wed David Rose, Vincente Minnelli, Sidney Luft and Mark Herron.
Her remains were transferred across the country.
In January 2017, at the insistence of her three children, two of whom are actresses Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft, Garland's remains were disinterred from Ferncliff Cemetery in New York and moved to Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Are you a fan of Judy Garland? Let us know what you remember most about her in the comments below.