Judy Garland overdose death
One of the most versatile American performers of the 20th century, Judy Garland’s extraordinary talent secured her a permanent place in entertainment history. Born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, she entered the realm of entertainment only to become simultaneously celebrated and scrutinized for the rest of her life. Once her acting and singing capabilities were recognized by Hollywood, Judy quickly found a place at MGM studios.
Already insecure about her appearance, she was openly criticized by executives who debated her capacity as an effective money-maker. Judy became highly self-conscious and self-doubting after being told that she was unattractive and overweight, and endured several demeaning nicknames from her employers.
To keep up with the demand of the film circuit, Judy and her fellow childhood costars were allegedly given amphetamines to remain alert for production and reduce weight, as well as barbiturates to induce sleep after a long day’s work. Categorized alongside the glamorous starlets of the time, Judy to supersede her employers’ and her own skepticism to gain acceptance as a star and security within the studio. Her early roles demonstrated her talent, but she became typecast by her young age and “girl-next-door” appearance, which took an immense emotional toll. She began seeing a psychiatrist at the age of 18 and became known for her emotional breakdowns.
Her self-consciousness exacerbated her prescription drug abuse and elevated her anxiety into adulthood. Judy suffered from a nervous breakdown in 1947 and was treated at a sanitarium. Throughout her adult life, Judy attempted suicide on multiple occasions; her first attempt in 1947 landed her in a psychiatric hospital. During filming throughout 1947 to 1950, her substance abuse was becoming more apparent. She was taking several legitimate and illegitimate prescription medications at the time, including sleeping pills and morphine. Her struggle with weight began to be evidenced on screen as her fluctuating weight was captured on film, even within the same movie. Often, Judy would appear late on the set or even fail to arrive. Her episodes of depression, illness, and anxiety would consequently cause her to lose her roles and cost studios exorbitant amounts of money. These losses caused her to incur large debts and aggravated her depression. From 1941 until her death, Judy was also strained by her relationships, having married five times with four ending in divorce—some involving torrential custody battles.
Challenged by financial instabilities, poor health, and unremitting insecurity, Judy would venture from film to recording studios, vaudeville revivals, stage, television, and concert halls. She remained extremely popular and became an incomparable entertainer, although she was occasionally faced with harsh criticism for her tardiness and fractured voice. In 1959, she was diagnosed with hepatitis, which may have developed in her system as much as three years prior, due to the innumerable amounts of medications prescribed to her by various doctors. Although she recovered, she would later suffer from other such illnesses as pleurisy and recurrent laryngitis.
Her struggle to perfect her image, lifestyle, and celebrity proved to be an unrelenting battle as Judy finally succumbed to her addiction. She died at the age of 47 on June 22, 1969 in Chelsea, London, from acute overdose on barbiturates. Her fifth husband, Mickey Deans, discovered her body in the bathroom of their rented house. Despite her many previous suicide attempts, the official cause of death was determined to be accidental overdose of barbiturates; about 970 milligrams of Seconal was found in her bloodstream. The coroner confirmed that the death was unintentional since there was no indication of suicide; she had no inflammation or drug residue in her stomach, suggesting that the drugs were ingested over a long period of time, not at once. She was believed to also be suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, which potentially could have influenced her demise.