AS SEEN IN:
"Life With Judy Garland: Me And My Shadows"
AS PLAYED BY:
In 1938, at the age of 16, Garland was cast in the lead role of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939), a film based on the children's book by L. Frank Baum. This role is what Garland is first and foremost remembered for. Many people look back at the role of Dorothy Gale as Judy's stepping stone to stardom. In this film, Garland sang the song for which she would forever be identified, "(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow". Although producers Arthur Freed and Mervyn LeRoy had wanted Garland from the start, studio chief Mayer tried first to borrow Shirley Temple from 20th Century Fox. Temple's services were denied and Garland was cast.
Garland was initially outfitted in a blonde wig for the part, but Freed and LeRoy decided against it shortly into filming. Her breasts were bound with tape and she was made to wear a special corset to flatten out her curves and make her appear younger; her blue gingham dress was also chosen for its blurring effect on her figure.
Shooting commenced on October 13, 1938, and was completed on March 16, 1939, with a final cost of more than $2 million. From the conclusion of filming, MGM kept Garland busy with promotional tours and the shooting of Babes in Arms. Garland and Mickey Rooney were sent on a cross-country promotional tour, culminating in the August 17 New York City premiere at the Capitol Theatre, which included a five-show-a-day appearance schedule for the two stars. The Wizard of Oz was a tremendous critical success, though its high budget and promotions costs of an estimated $4 million coupled with the lower revenue generated by children's tickets, meant that the film did not make a profit until it was rereleased in the 1940s.
At the 1940 Academy Awards ceremony, Garland received an Academy Juvenile Award for her performances in 1939, including The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms. Following this recognition, Garland became one of MGM's most bankable stars.