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‘Wizard of Oz’ star Judy Garland’s crippling insecurities ‘a huge demon’ she couldn’t put to rest: author

Judy Garland’s star was burning out when she filmed 1950’s “Summer Stock.”

The “Wizard of Oz” actress, who was an alcoholic and drug addict before turning 30, was fired from her previous film, “Annie Get Your Gun,” and hospitalized for 11 weeks. Despite being hailed as one of MGM’s greatest assets and a familiar name at the box office, she was granted an early release from her contract.

Book cover for Summer Stock

David Fantle and Tom Johnson have written a new book, “C’mon, Get Happy: The Making of Summer Stock.” It focuses on Judy Garland’s final film with MGM. (University Press of Mississippi)

The musical was her final film for MGM. It’s now being explored in a new book written by David Fantle and Tom Johnson, “C’mon, Get Happy: The Making of Summer Stock.” It explores how Garland completed the movie as she struggled behind the scenes and what went on when cameras stopped rolling.

Joe Pasternak in a tux looking at Grace Kelly in a satin white gown

Film producer Joe Pasternak with Grace Kelly, circa 1956. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“[Pasternak] purposely surrounded [Garland] with people that she loved and trusted,” Fantle continued. “For Judy, trust was everything. … And Gene Kelly, his first film was with Judy. … He owed everything to Judy, he said. And he would do anything to help her, including staying in that film for a year if it took that long. … [The cast] formed this giant security blanket around Judy to help her get over the finish line.”

Judy Garland dancing in a short suit and fedora

“Summer Stock” was plagued with problems, but Judy Garland was not solely to blame. (Getty Images)

Fantle stressed that Garland’s woes were just one of several reasons why “Summer Stock” was plagued with problems. He noted that the musical had “a six-month production window,” which was significantly longer than most during that time. After shooting scenes, it was discovered there weren’t enough songs to complete the film. With the principal lyricist gone, other composers were brought in. After the new songs were composed, they then needed to be orchestrated and recorded. New solos also had to be filmed.

Still, Garland “got the brunt of the blame” from the press.

Judy Garland looking serious in a tux

“A Star is Born” was Judy Garland’s Hollywood comeback. It led to an Oscar nomination. Grace Kelly ended up winning. (Getty Images)

Following “Summer Stock,” Garland returned to the stage. And her 1954 musical “A Star is Born” was recognized as her comeback, leading to an Oscar nomination. Despite being favored to win, it was Hitchcock blonde Grace Kelly who won the best actress award for “The Country Girl.”

A close-up glamorous shot of Judy Garland from MGM

Judy Garland from her MGM years. (Getty Images)

Garland found love again with Luft, whom she married in 1952. They welcomed two children, a daughter named Lorna Luft and a son named Joey Luft. But the couple divorced in 1965. A year later, she was completely broke after new managers embezzled large sums from her, People magazine reported. She married twice more between 1965 and 1969.


Garland died from an accidental overdose in 1969. She was 47.

actress singing Get Happy in a suit and fedora as men huddle around her

Judy Garland singing “Get Happy” in “Summer Stock,” directed by Charles Walter. (Getty Images)

Today, Fantle and Johnson hope their book will introduce readers to a Garland musical that they believe is grossly underrated.

“Judy was a trooper,” said Johnson. “She had … addiction problems, had insecurities, had a workload that would kill anybody today … and yet she did it. … She faced it — all those demons and all those insecurities and all those deficits.

“You don’t see any of those demons. That’s what, to me, is just amazing about her performance in the film. … That’s a true professional right there.”

Stephanie Nolasco covers entertainment at


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