It looks like they’re having a good time in the picture above, doesn’t it? Like maybe they’re good pals off screen and are highly supportive of one another? Think again. Judy Garland was a wreck from the time she was 15 and never really got any better throughout what was left of her career. In fact the poor girl was so overwrought and stressed out that it’s a wonder she lived as long as she did. A big part of it was the diet that was imposed by the head of MGM at the time Louis Mayer. Aside from the pills and adrenaline injections that were forced upon Garland and other actors at the time was the fact that she had to smoke upwards of 80 cigarettes a day and eat nothing but chicken soup. Mayer even had his people spying on her to make certain that she was doing as she was told to keep her girlish figure.
Anyone trying to do such a thing to an actor these days would be ruined. It’s not just the unhealthy nature of it, but also the idea that anyone could have this kind of control over another person. People in show business are already believed to be overly-neurotic and unhappy with their image as it is, they don’t often need another person telling them that they look fat or in any way less than pleasing to the eye. Mayer was notorious it seems for being the kind of guy that would take advantage of her insecurities and even more than that. To MGM Garland was little more than a piece of property to be used and kept tucked away when they saw fit.
Even her costars didn’t help, as the trio that played the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man were so resentful of the attention she received that they feared that she might upstage them. The only support she received from anyone on the cast came from the woman that played the Wicked Witch, which is ironic in the extreme. It’s pretty sad that she couldn’t even turn to her mother, since the woman that gave her birth was the same one that had thrust her so forcefully into show business in the first place.
The kind of treatment that Garland had to go through during her career would have killed most anyone else or at least driven them to suicide after a while. She had to undergo cosmetic enhancement, keep her shape at any cost, and even had to have tape applied to her breasts at some point to appear younger. Yeah, it’s disturbing, and it’s the way that Hollywood used to be run. How things are going now might not be the same as back then, Â but it would seem that things are still not on a completely even keel.
I can’t even imagine how charred her lungs must have looked by the time she passed away. 80 cigarettes per day seems like enough to kill a couple of people and put a person on a permanent smoke break.