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Who were Judy Garland’s husbands? How 5 men affected the life of tragic ‘Wizard of Oz’ star

Her 5th husband Mickey Dean found her dead on June 22, 1969, sitting on a toilet seat, reportedly overdosed on barbiturates
UPDATED JUN 11, 2022
Judy Garland with her husband - Vincente Minnelli (L), Sidney Luft (M), & Mickey Deans (R). (Photo: Keystone/Evening Standard for Hulton Archive/Edward Miller for Keystone/Getty Images)
Judy Garland with her husband - Vincente Minnelli (L), Sidney Luft (M), & Mickey Deans (R). (Photo: Keystone/Evening Standard for Hulton Archive/Edward Miller for Keystone/Getty Images)

Judy Garland would have been celebrating her 100th birthday on June 10, had the talented actress lived for so long. Some of her instant classics that immediately come to mind are 'A Star is Born' (1954), Girl Crazy(1943), 'The Clock' (1945), and of course, 'The Wizard of Oz' (1939). Judy started as a child performer and her skills only got better with time. However, her personal life was no less than an epic flick. 

The actress who made her Hollywood debut with 'Pigskin Parade' has seen both, joy and sorrow to the maximum extent. Having a troubled mother and money-hungry execs around her, she was allegedly fed drugs to keep her energy from flagging, reports Variety. The actress died young, she was 47 in 1969. It is said that at least 22,000 people stood in line for hours on end just to catch a glimpse of her final journey.


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Judy lived a life of great joy despite her fair share of personal and professional disasters. However, her turbulent life meant that toward the end she was financially unstable, an alcohol and drug addict and eventually ended up owing thousands of dollars in back taxes, according to The Mirror. But still, in her short-lived life, she married five men, each of whom left an impact on the most popular 20th-century icon. These men were David Rose, Vincente Minnelli, Sidney Luft, Mark Herron, and Mickey Deans. 

American actress Judy Garland (1922-1969), born Frances Gumm, during a press conference at the Savoy Hotel, London, for the film premiere of 'I Could Go On Singing'.(Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

David Rose

David was a man of many talents including songwriting, composing, direction, arranger, pianist, and orchestra leader. He is particularly known for works like 'The Stripper, 'Calypso Melody,' and more. The couple started seeing each other back in 1940 and David quickly gave Judy an engagement ring. However, the concerned TV channel stepped in between and stopped in because David was married to Martha Reye. It's reported to be her first legit relationship. The British-born composer and bandleader, became Garland's first husband just two years after she starred in 1939's 'The Wizard of Oz' the actress was 19 at the time. Town and Country reports Garland and David's natures created a rift between them, her being an extrovert and him being a homebody. Adding to the hostilities, he, along with Garland's mother is alleged to have forced her to have a secret abortion after the star found out she was pregnant. He died aged 80 in 1990. 

Vincente Minnelli

'Meet Me in St. Louis' is Judy's finest work and this is where she met Minnelli. He was a stage and film director, best known for 'Meet Me in St. Louis', and 'An American in Paris and Gigi'. The duo initially had a falling out but they eventually got back together stronger than ever and got married on June 15, 1945. The very next year, their daughter Liza Minnelli was born in March 1946. To little surprise, Liza became an international star herself. Judy finally reached a point where she was now a mother at the age of 26, with more of life to look at. However, few know that after Liza's birth Judy remained bedridden and though it was not diagnosed at the time, many now believe she was suffering from postpartum depression. Judy was off work for a full year but couldn't resume her career completely as she suffered a nervous breakdown that culminated in her stay at two different psychiatric clinics.

Fast forward to 1949, the couple divorced and it was due to a combination of Judy's spiral into drugs (she had been on amphetamines and barbiturates to maintain her weight and help her cope with her workload since she was a child), suicide attempts, and Minnelli's alleged affairs with men, including his prior relationship with sculptor and Fifth Avenue window dresser Lester Gaba. Minnelli passed away in 1986, aged 83. 

Film director Vincente Minnelli (1903 - 1986) kisses singer and actress Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) on the brow at their wedding. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Sidney Luft

Judy was a formidable superstar and a mother, but that didn't stop her from finding love at least three more times. Luft was an American business figure who ended up becoming Judy's tour manager and producer.  When she married him, Luft, already divorced once, was married to actress Lynn Bari. She married him in 1952 and gave birth to Lorna Luft in November 1952, who ended up becoming an actress and singer and to Joey Luft in March 1955. However, at the beginning of their relationship, Judy discovered she was pregnant while preparing for one of her shows in New York and for the second time in her life felt pressured into getting an abortion for the sake of her career. With the children coming into her life, things were cordial between the couple, in fact, Luft biggest contribution to her career was producing the 1954 film 'A Star is Born' as a comeback for the actress. The film garnered six Oscar nominations, including a Best Actress nod for Judy. 

Trouble wasn't far behind as Judy divorced and sued Luft for mental abuse but they would always make up, but they finally got divorced in 1965. This was also due to her issues with depression, drug use, and alcoholism and though he had always appeared publicly as a supportive husband, she told a judge during their 1965 divorce proceedings that Luft had struck her on numerous occasions and also drank heavily. (Luft denied those claims), reports T &C. Luft later passed away in 2005, aged 89.

American film star, Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) with her husband, film producer, Sid Luft and their children, Liza (14), Lorna (7) and Joe (5) at their home in Chelsea, London. Photo by Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Mark Herron 

Herron was an actor and he also produced Judy's two London Palladium concerts with their daughter Liza. The actor later announced that he was engaged Judy on a freighter off the coast of Hong Kong, but she was still married to Luft. Hence, they did not legally marry until November 1965. Once again, Judy claimed and testified that Herron smacked her, and this happened just 6 months after the marriage. Herron died of cancer in 1966, aged 67. 

American actress and singer Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) and her partner Mark Herron (1928 - 1996) attend the 'Night of 100 Stars' at the London Palladium, 23rd July 1964. (Photo by Terry Disney/Express/Getty Images)

Mickey Deans

It's reported that Mickey Deans, an American musician, and entrepreneur, met Judy at his hotel in New York City. A mutual friend of theirs asked Deans to hand over some stimulant pills to Judy, which he did. How their romance blossomed is a mystery, but they did date each other for three years before finally marrying each other. This was also Judy's shortest marriage as it took place a mere three months before the star's death. This is the time when Judy's drug addiction was beyond control and it was impossible to bring her back. Deans, 12 years her senior, proposed marriage in 1969. They married in London that March and rented the house where she would ultimately overdose, just 12 days after her 47th birthday. It was Dean who found her dead on June 22, 1969, sitting on a toilet seat, reportedly overdosed on barbiturates. He died in 2003, having never remarried.

Director Rupert Goold has done a fine job of capturing Judy's life in the 2019 movie 'Judy,' which is highly recommended watch about the icon's life. 

American film actress Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) with her husband Mickey Deans after their wedding at Chelsea Register Office in London. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)