25 Fun Facts About Judy Garland

In 1939, Judy Garland charmed moviegoers with her portrayal of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, earning her a spot in our collective hearts for all time. In honor of her birth month, here are 25 tidbits about Judy that may surprise and entertain you.

  1. Her birthday is on June 10.
  2. Prior to The Wizard of Oz, Judy was one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “featured players.” But during the production of the movie, she was elevated to “star” status and given her own portable dressing room.
  3. She was frightened of thunderstorms and earthquakes.
  4. According to California law, Judy could work only four hours a day on The Wizard of Oz. She was required to have three hours for schooling and an hour of recreation. She was left-handed and studied best with her left shoe off.
  5. She was said to attend movies every day because she felt it helped her learn how to act. She wanted to be as great an actress as Bette Davis, and her favorite actors were Spencer Tracy and Robert Donat.
  6. While making The Wizard of Oz, Judy was at work on a screenplay for a movie she hoped to star in titled “Blame My Youth” (also known as “Blame It On My Youth.”) In it, Judy would play an aspiring singer who gets involved in a love triangle with her lady employer’s fiancé. No doubt M-G-M considered the idea far too racy for the girl-next-door image they created for Judy.
  7. Her favorite foods were chocolate cake and ice cream (onions, raisins, and fruit cake she liked least). Both desserts were forbidden on her strict diet to slim down for the part of Dorothy. Florence Baum, a granddaughter of Wizard of Oz book author L. Frank Baum, used to sneak mashed potatoes with gravy to Judy when visiting the Wizard of Oz set.
  8. Judy’s favorite subject in school was reported to be history followed by language studies and English literature. While making The Wizard of Oz, she was tutored by Rose Carter.
  9. The genre of books she most enjoyed reading was mysteries. As Judy said in 1939, “I’ve always liked unusual things and that’s why my part in The Wizard of Oz is my favorite so far.” Once she was cast as Dorothy, it was said that Judy read every Wizard of Oz book she could get her hands on.
  10. To help her slim down for The Wizard of Oz, M-G-M hired former Olympic swimmer Barbara “Bobbie” Koshay to be Judy’s personal trainer. Bobbie was also Judy’s camera double (it’s Bobbie—not Judy—who falls into the Kansas pigpen).
  11. Toto, the female Cairn terrier, was said to have become so attached to Judy that she wouldn’t let Judy leave to go to lunch without following along. After filming The Wizard of Oz, it was Toto—not the Scarecrow—that Judy said she missed most of all.
  12. While making The Wizard of Oz, Judy’s best friend was Delia Bogard, an actress, and dancer whom Judy knew from Lawlor Professional School for performing children.
  13. Judy had four dogs at the time she starred in The Wizard of Oz. They included a cocker spaniel, a Pekingese named Phooey, and a St. Bernard named Sergei.
  14. She best liked the color green and enjoyed drawing in her spare time. It was reported that she drew Toto’s portrait as a pastel sketch while getting acquainted with her canine Wizard of Oz costar.
  15. In 1939, Judy said that after making The Wizard of Oz, she wanted to learn how to ski. She also hoped to ride her bicycle throughout the countryside on a European vacation she and her mother had planned but due to the outbreak of World War II, those plans were canceled.
  16. Other recreational activities that Judy enjoyed were baseball, riding, swimming, and golf.
  17. Judy had a new house built while making The Wizard of Oz. She polled her friends for a title to christen her new residence and favored those names that were inspired by the stories of Oz.
  18. In March 1938, Judy told reporters that she wasn’t planning to make movies her main career. “No, I’m not going to stay in pictures long,” she said. “What I want to be is a nurse.”
  19. When cast in The Wizard of Oz, Judy was thrilled to be playing Dorothy, especially because she was initially to be outfitted with a blonde wig. “I’ll bet every girl in the world with dark hair wishes she could have long golden tresses,” she said. A plaster cast was also made of her face on which to experiment with a rubber prosthetic to cover the “gap” in the bridge of her nose. Both of these would-be accessories also foreshadowed the scene in Judy’s 1954 film A Star is Born during which she is made “screen ready” in a blonde wig and false nose.
  20. In her spare time, Judy enjoyed reading the “funny papers.” One of her favorite comic characters was Popeye the sailor.
  21. In July 1939, it was announced that Judy had reached the “pinnacle of fame” when the landmark Reuben’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in New York named a sandwich after her.
  22. When she wasn’t before the cameras or being tutored, Judy knitted a pink wool sweater for the newborn baby of an electrician on The Wizard of Oz. Shortly after making The Wizard of Oz, Judy began designing clothes for animals. Mickey Rooney placed an order for a hat for his parrot.
  23. Dousing the Wicked Witch of the West with a bucket of water was initially fun for Judy, she reported in 1939. But after the first take, she said it got tiresome.
  24. When the Paris, Missouri graduating class of 1940 asked Judy to be the guest of honor at their production of The Wizard of Oz, she was unable to attend but sent a huge bouquet of California flowers as her proxy to the class banquet.
  25. Judy only saw The Wizard of Oz for the first time in its entirety a year after it was released; M-G-M screened a print of the movie for her in a studio projection room. Prior to this, she had been on such a hectic schedule that she never had an opportunity to take in the picture from start to finish.
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