Judy Garland was born Frances Gumm on June 10, 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. She made her first feature film at age 14, shot to stardom in The Wizard of Oz, and starred in a series of hit movie musicals during the ensuing decade. A Star is Born in 1954 marked her spectacular comeback from a period of personal difficulties and in the years until her death on January 22, 1969 she remained a revered concert attraction, as well as hosting a TV variety series in 1963-1964.
Garland was a darling of the Tin Pan Alley composers writing film musicals during the 40’s and 50’s. Her mature interpretation in the classic “Over the Rainbow” has led many to describe her “As electrifying a performer as ever sang on an American concert stage.”
Unique to Garland was, however, the success she had with singles she performed in her many film musicals. Perhaps only Bing Crosby was more successful with this extrapolation. In 1939, “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz reached #5; “I’m Nobody’s Baby” from Andy Hardy Meets Debutante hit #3 in 1940; the title song from the film For Me and My Gal was another #3 hit in 1942; “The Trolley Song” from Meet Me in St. Louis reached #4 in 1944; collaborating with Bing Crosby in 1945 on “Yah-Ta-Ta Yah-Ta-Ta (Talk, Talk, Talk)” went to #5; and “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe” hit #10 in 1945.
Judy Garland remains one of the most recognizable voices and a study in tone and voicing for all genres of American popular music.