Fame and Fortune Don’t Add Up to Happiness: The Sad Legacy of Judy Garland


She sang the number one song of the 20th century: Somewhere Over the Rainbow, in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz”. She was 16 years old.

But as time progressed, Judy Garland felt increasingly empty. Money and fame could not feed her human desire for love – to simply be wanted.

She tried to commit suicide at 28, was fired for being an emotional wreck, owed a large sum in back taxes, and was addicted to drugs.

Today, as we look back at this enormously talented actress, singer and dancer- we can take comfort in knowing that our life is just fine, thank you very much. Big money and stardom are not, as Judy Garland would have told you, what it’s all about.

“If I’m such a legend, then why am I so lonely?”

Garland was married five times, but never found the stable relationship she needed. She had few “real” friends, often complaining of being lonely. The emptiness we all feel from time to time cannot be filled with money or fame. That horrible feeling is a yearning to love and be loved.

“There have been times when I have deliberately tried to take my life… I think I must have been crying for some attention.”

Judy Garland craved the limelight. But what happens when the applause stops? Money was not her motivation, but rather, the need for praise and recognition. The happiest people on the planet are those who love being by themselves. They are their own best friend.

“I certainly didn’t ask to be a legend. I was totally unprepared for it.”

Fame is a strange thing. People adore the image, not who the person really is.  Judy Garland knew this. She knew that people loved her characters, singing and dancing – but could never know her personally. There was always distance. Building quality relationships with friends, family and co-workers is infinitely more meaningful than acquiring fame.

In the 1930’s, movie mogul Luis B. Mayer of MGM fame considered Garland to be ugly – not the glamorous star he was hoping for.

At 4 foot 11, Garland was, in his words, “a little hunchback” (a label which made her extremely insecure, apparently for the rest of her life). But she was the perfect match for the 5 foot 2 Mickey Rooney, and the two would make numerous “Andy Hardy” movies together.

Her first taste of romance was a fling with band leader Artie Shaw who cruelly left her and eloped with Actress Lana Turner. It would be Garland’s first taste of love gone wrong.

It is believed that Judy Garland first got hooked on drugs by her mother who wanted to sustain her energy. She would be addicted for the rest of her days, tragically dying of an overdose at the young age of 47 in 1969.

Judy Garland was a troubled soul. International fame, riches beyond her wildest imagination and endless praise from critics…none of it could give her what she really wanted.

Let us not envy the rich and famous.

Love those Close to You. Accept Your Life. And be Happy.

Following Judy Garland’s Oscar for The Wizard of Oz in 1939, she was the most bankable star in Hollywood. Garland is at the top of her game in this 1940 performance in the movie “Little Nellie Kelly.” Here, she sings the song “Singin’ in the rain” ten years before Gene Kelly made the song famous in the 1952 movie of the same name. Louis B. Mayer was wrong. Garland’s natural beauty and charm shines through in this lively performance.

One thought on “Fame and Fortune Don’t Add Up to Happiness: The Sad Legacy of Judy Garland

  1. Cory this is the first sad story and lesson I have read from you. It is a tragedy that all we need is love in this world, and its the one thing money, fame and fortune can buy. Love is free, but many times not easily given..or received.
    Thanks again

    Liked by 1 person

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