How The Wizard of Oz led Judy Garland to fame, and misery

How The Wizard of Oz led Judy Garland to fame, and misery
Judy Garland

NZ Herald- Reports have surfaced ahead of the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz that its star Judy Garland was sexually assaulted by multiple men on set.

The Sun reports Garland was drugged on set, put on a “prisoner-style diet” and was molested by men at just 16 years old.

The publication says this may have led to her issues with drugs and alcohol, and may have ultimately led her to take her own life at the age of 47.

According to a 2005 memoir by the third of Garland’s five husbands, Sidney Luft, the actress was molested by the actors playing the film’s munchkins; he says, “They thought they could get away with anything because they were so small.

“They would make Judy’s life miserable on set by putting their hands under her dress. The men were 40 or more years old.”

The biography also revealed Garland was repeatedly propositioned for sex by executives at film studio, MGM.

According to the Sun, studio boss Louis B. Mayer would compliment Garland’s voice by “putting his hand on her left breast pretending to touch her heart, which is where he said she sang from”.

When she told him to stop his inappropriate behaviour, Mayer reportedly cried and declared his love for her.

Garland also said she was abused by another executive at the studio, who summoned her to his office and demanded she have sex with him – “Yes or no, right now — that was his style”.

When she refused, he “screamed” at her, saying: “I’ll ruin you and I can do it. I’ll break you if it’s the last thing I do.”

Luft’s biography also told how Judy was first given amphetamines by studio executives – she later went on to become a lifelong drug user once filming wrapped.

The drugs were not only to keep her awake and fresh throughout 18-hour days on set, but to kill her appetite and help her lose weight.

Her weight was reportedly scrutinised by the studio and she was put on strict diets – the MGM cafeteria was reportedly told to only give her food like soup and lettuce – and sometimes even having food taken away from her completely.

She soon fell into a cycle of taking stimulants to get through the days and sleeping pills to switch off at night and by the time she was an adult, she suffered from insomnia.

Later in life, Garland attempted to take her life on at least two separate occasions, which Luft graphically detailed in the book.

When she eventually died in June, 1969 it was from an accidental overdose in London.

Luft says: “A lot of people took advantage of her. The years of abuse had taken their toll on her tiny frail body.”