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This Is How Old Judy Garland Was In The Wizard Of Oz

There are icons, and then there are ICONS. By any metric, Judy Garland is an ICON. With a career beginning at age two and lasting 45 years until her untimely death in 1969, Garland did it all. She acted, sang, danced. She found success on stage, in movies, on television, and on radio, earning nominations or awards in each medium. In 1962, she became the first woman to be awarded the Grammy for Album of the Year (per Biography). She took a stand against the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare of the late 1940s and early '50s (per LAist).

While Garland's list of accomplishments is long, international audiences likely best know her as Dorothy Gale in 1939's "The Wizard of Oz." Though studio executives at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (now typically known as MGM) had initially wanted child star Shirley Temple for the part, the studio was unable to borrow her from Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (per Biography). Thus, the role went to Garland, who was much older than Temple.

Studio execs wanted Judy Garland to appear much younger than her age

Judy Garland signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer when she was 13. Three years later, she was cast as Dorothy Gale. Since the studio had originally envisioned Temple, who was nearly six years younger than Garland, in the role, execs took numerous steps to make Garland look younger. She was made to wear a corset to trim her waist and wraps around her chest to flatten her curves (per The Telegraph). The studio, with the support of Garland's mother, also controlled Garland's diet and sleep habits. As reported on Biography, the studio's forced diet was largely limited to chicken soup and black coffee. It is also believed that Garland's mother and the studio put the teen actor on a variety of diet pills, "pep" pills, and sleeping pills in an effort to keep her slim and energized.

Garland was just 17 when the film hit theaters. Though "The Wizard of Oz" is arguably her most famous role, for which she received a Juvenile Academy Award, Garland suffered during its production and began the path to a life marred by addiction and mental illness.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).