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Judy Garland was called 'fat pig' and forced to starve herself to play Dorothy in 'Wizard of Oz'

Judy Garland was called 'fat pig' and forced to starve herself to play Dorothy in 'Wizard of Oz'

The actor was hungry all the time that she fantasized about eating chocolate sundaes. They also bound her body to look thin.

Very few have led a dichotomous life on and off-screen as much as Judy Garland, the darling of the silver screen. Judy Garland had an illustrious movie career spanning 45 years but she lived a life of pain and sadness. Judy Garland was one of the brightest stars from Hollywood's Golden Era but her acting career also drove her to depths that one cannot even fathom. She had a drug addiction problem and is believed to have died from a fatal overdose at the age of 47. Her life was plagued by trouble right from her childhood. Her mother Ethel Marion saw the immense potential in her from a very young age but she was very ambitious and pushed Garland to the very edge to achieve success. 

Getty Images | Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive
Getty Images | Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive

 

Her first tryst with fame came when Metro Goldwyn Mayer's Louis B. Mayer signed Garland following a personal audition, reported AmoMama. She was just 13 at the time. Mayer and the other executives at MGM wanted to mold Garland into the kind of star they perceived in mind and that was the start of trouble in her acting career. She debuted in a musical comedy titled "Pigskin Parade" but MGM's producers were not impressed with her looks in the film and told her she looked like a "fat little pig with pigtails." They then proceeded to put on a strict diet that bordered on inhumane. They often ridiculed her and called her "fat." They also tried to change her appearance by having her teeth capped, and forcing her to wear rubber discs that changed her nose's shape. She was hungry all the time that she fantasized about eating chocolate sundaes. It would remain nothing but a dream.



 


She landed the role of Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," in 1939 and delivered a knockout performance. Some of the horrific abuse during the filming of the classic still evokes horror. The studio gave Garland barbiturates and amphetamines to help her cope with demanding shooting schedules. They also bound her body to stop her from being voluptuous. “She was 16, 15, or 16. Her body was just starting to change and I think that one of the tools that they used to keep her slim besides binding her and trying to keep her weight down — because they didn’t want her to be voluptuous, because they had finally found a way to market her as the girl next door and God forbid that Dorothy be sexy. So they bound her, kept her weight down and the drugs,” said Rene Zellweger, who played the actor in her biopic titled "Judy," reported Variety.



 


Garland later complained that the studio had stolen her youth and accused her mother of not protecting her. She married David Rose at the age of 18 and her husband was shocked at her strict diet being enforced by the studio. Mayer had Garland living on just black coffee, chicken soup, and appetite-suppressing cigarettes. All this to keep her weight at about 98 pounds. It took a heavy toll on her physical and mental health. She starred as an adult for the first time in "Little Nellie Kelly" and was received very well. She became pregnant at the time, but her mother and the studio forced her to have an abortion citing her career. Garland tried to take her life.



 


Vincente Minnelli a director had a make-up artist remove her dental caps and nose discs and urged the artist to amplify her natural beauty. Garland was overwhelmed with the decision and was immensely thankful for the new look. She soon fell in love with Minnelli and the pair got married. They welcomed their daughter, Lisa. Her acting career and drug addiciton was taking a toll on her personal life and her work. In 1947, she had a complete nervous breakdown during filming and was put in a sanitorium. She returned to MGM in 1948 to make "Easter Parade" with Fred Astaire. At this point, she was drinking heavily and doing drugs. MGM suspended her failing to turn up for work on "The Barkleys of Broadway." Soon, she and Minnelli divorced.

Getty Images | Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive
Getty Images | Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive

 

In 1969, she married musician Mickey Deans but was found dead in the bathroom of her Chelsea home barely three months after marriage. She is believed to have died of an accidental drug overdose. She was 47 at the time. Garland's ex-husband, Luft wrote in his memoir "Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland" that her struggle with food and the demands to stay thin for the screen drove her to drug addiction.

Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Hulton Archive



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