Renee Zelweger plays Judy Garland in a new biopic

The London public can be so ungrateful for visiting US show business royalties. So hard to please, so stingy with their applause. However, the reception that Judy Garland received during her five-week run at the Talk Of The Town nightclub in the West End must have been extremely humiliating.

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The critics did not know if they had to laugh or cry for performances that were described as an "emotional car accident".

One of the most respected screen goddesses in the history of Hollywood, she was just on her fifth marriage, broke, hopelessly addicted to pills and in such a mess that when she managed to get on stage – sometimes at least an hour too late – she was hardly coherent.

Judy Garland, pictured here in 1950, appeared in London in 1969 at the age of 46, at a time when her life got out of hand

Judy Garland, pictured here in 1950, appeared in London in 1969 at the age of 46, at a time when her life got out of hand

Dressed in spangly lame outfits with her short hair swept over her head, Garland swung her way through a repertoire that always ended when she got this far, with Over The Rainbow. The public agreed with the critics and limped mercilessly. One night when she was an hour and 20 minutes late, a particularly hostile crowd pelted her with packs of cigarettes, sandwiches, and the contents of ashtrays.

She tried three songs before leaving the stage after a man performed, grabbed the microphone and shook her by the shoulder. A glass ashtray followed her and crashed on stage when she left.

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It was January 1969, 30 years ago that she had skipped the yellow stones in The Wizard Of Oz, but the former children's superstar was only 46. Only eight years earlier she was the first woman to receive a Grammy Prize for Best Album won, in the same year that she was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress for judgment in Nuremberg. However, her tantrum reputation and eternal unreliability (repeatedly relying on promises) had finally ended her Hollywood career.

Within five months she would be dead in dirty conditions found on the toilet in her rented Belgravia home after an overdose of barbiturates.

An upcoming biopic starring Renee Zellweger, pictured, while Garland will map the downward spiral and chaotic final months of the star

An upcoming biopic starring Renee Zellweger, pictured, while Garland will map the downward spiral and chaotic final months of the star

An upcoming biopic starring Renee Zellweger, pictured, while Garland will map the downward spiral and chaotic final months of the star

An upcoming biopic starring Renee Zellweger while Garland will map the downward spiral and chaotic final months of the star.

Directed by Rupert Goold, the artistic director of the Almeida Theater, and based on the critically acclaimed play End Of The Rainbow, Judy also plays Michael Gambon as Bernard Delfont – the theater scenario that lured Garland to the Talk Of The Town nightclub (the old London nightclub) ) Hippodrome off Leicester Square).

Rufus Sewell plays Garland's sloppy and presumably insulting third husband, Sidney Luft. Amazingly considering its enormous fame, it will be the first film that has brought Garland & # 39; s life to the big screen.

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Less surprising, given the controversial subject of the film and the fact that it allegedly relies heavily on Mr. Frank's candid memoirs, Garland & Oscar's daughter, Liza Minnelli, condemned it. Rumors shoot that she was involved in the project and & # 39; connected & # 39; was with Zellweger, the Cabaret star, now 73, wrote acid on Facebook: & I've never met or talked to Renee Zellweger.

"I don't know how these stories start, but I don't approve of the upcoming movie about Judy Garland in any way. All opposing reports are 100 percent fiction. & # 39;

The film concerned Zellweger, star of Bridget Jones’s Diary, training intensively to sing like Garland. She spent two hours a day on makeup to get prostheses, contact lenses and wigs that looked like her.

Although they do not shrink from the weaknesses of Garland, the makers of Judy seem to intend to portray them as sympathetically as possible. The film is said to show her after 45 years on stage, haunted by memories of a youth stolen by Hollywood and determined to be home with her children again.

Zellweger insisted that her goal is to celebrate & # 39; Garland & worship & # 39 ;, and added: & # 39; what she had to overcome in a time when women did not necessarily feel they had power over had their own lives the way we do today – that stayed with me and I hope people will be touched by that too. & # 39;

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Despite all her moving words about the superstar, there is no sign that members of the Garland family are involved in the film. The same goes for Minnelli's half-sister, Lorna Luft, who wrote her own story about the life of her mother, Me And My Shadows (who became a mini-TV series).

In 1969 it was 30 years ago that Garland played Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz

In 1969 it was 30 years ago that Garland played Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz

In 1969 it was 30 years ago that Garland played Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz

She revealed Garland's decades-long drug addiction and alcoholism, and her own early life for her emotionally unstable mother. Luft also recorded Garland's hard-fought attempts to austerity and her efforts to bring Liza into detox programs.

Yet Luft's revelations were nothing compared to those in a 2015 book by Stevie Phillips, the long-suffering former personal assistant and constant companion to Garland, who later became a Hollywood agent himself.

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During the four years that she worked for Garland in the 1960s, Phillips says the star attacked her with a kitchen knife, tried to seduce her in the back of a limousine, got a weekly overdose of prescribed pills and once cut her wrists – smiling as she splashed the young Phillips in blood from head to toe.

Garland's "suicidal episodes" were not meant to be fatal, but were about "manipulation and power," and mostly focused on the man she'd fallen for, she said.

Slinger once set herself on fire while she was smoking in bed and watched without moving as Phillips hurried to extinguish the flames with her bare hands.

In the sixties, Garland lived a chaotic lifestyle, which is shown in the new film by Renee Zellweger, depicted

In the sixties, Garland lived a chaotic lifestyle, which is shown in the new film by Renee Zellweger, depicted

In the sixties, Garland lived a chaotic lifestyle, which is shown in the new film by Renee Zellweger, depicted

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At the Savoy Hotel in 1963, Phillips watched with horror as Garland got into a fistfight with the wife of a man she had an affair with. & # 39; Both were bleeding, torn coats, almost naked in the corridor on the fifth floor, & # 39; she remembered.

Slinger suffered terribly from insomnia – an important reason for much of her massive drug use – and collapsed on a glass coffee table on a late night in Las Vegas. A doctor confiscated her pills, but when she regained consciousness, she blamed Phillips for the disappearance of the drugs and met her with a kitchen knife such as & # 39; a madman & # 39 ;.

It got even worse: in the Bahamas & # 39; s once a stoned Garland stood on her hotel balcony in her underwear and roared over the rainbow as shipmakers shouted obscene encouragement from the street.

Another time, on an airplane, Phillips was amazed to see Garland smashing her compact mirror against a window and powdering her face with the shards of broken glass.

Phillips thought Garland should have been in the hospital, but, she said, "everyone was too busy to exploit her." That abuse had demonstrably started when Frances Ethel Gumm (the real name of Garland) was only two and a half and her stage mother, Ethel, wanted her to sing.

Garland – who quickly earned the nickname "Little Leather Lungs" – said Ethel would stand up and threaten her as she administers sleeping pills to help her daughter sink while she is on her way.

Judy signed with the MGM film studio at the age of 13, but the heads were worried about her weight and would rob her of food and make her constantly hungry. MGM chief Louis B. Mayer said to Garland, who had a bent back: & You look like a whistleblower. We love you, but you are so fat that you look like a monster. & # 39;

MGM's callous behavior left her with a lifelong crippling uncertainty about her figure, and she saw psychiatrists by the age of 18. The studio even pushed her medication and encouraged her to take amphetamine to make her slim and energetic hold through a ruthless movie schedule and sleeping pills to calm her & # 39; s night.

"Accelerate her, slow her down," said an insider in the studio who claimed that Garland ran "like a clock."

Studio managers also abused her and repeatedly suggested having sex from the age of 16. Mayer liked to show that he thought she was singing from the heart by putting his hand on the teen's left breast.

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"I often thought I was lucky not to sing with another part of my anatomy," Garland said wryly.

The film was about Zellweger, star of Bridget Jones & # 39; s Diary, training intensively to sing like Garland. She spent two hours a day on makeup to get prostheses, contact lenses and wigs that looked like her

The film was about Zellweger, star of Bridget Jones & # 39; s Diary, training intensively to sing like Garland. She spent two hours a day on makeup to get prostheses, contact lenses and wigs that looked like her

The film concerned Zellweger, star of Bridget Jones’s Diary, training intensively to sing like Garland. She spent two hours a day on makeup to get prostheses, contact lenses and wigs that looked like her

According to third husband Sid Luft, Garland even claimed that some of the dwarf actors who played "munchkins" in the Wizard Of Oz had sexually harassed her during the eight months of filming. Garland was then 16 and only 4ft 11in.

She married five times, the first when she was 19 and usually with younger men every time. They were a bastard and she accused at least two of her of beating her. Garland had three children later in her career, after having had at least two abortions – both times under pressure from a husband, her mother or her studio, they all worried about her career.

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Her own mother was a terrible role model and Garland had a difficult relationship with her own children, wildly wild between being overly affectionate and shouting at them. "If she was happy, she wasn't just happy, she was ecstatic," said Liza Minnelli. "And when she was sad, she was sadder than anyone." Lorna Luft said she was "damaged" but also "funny and sweet."

Lorna & # 39; s Hollywood producer father, Sid, claimed that Garland (who had three nervous breakdowns by the time she was 23) was an emotional wreck, took obsessive stimulants, and took diet pills to & # 39; camera slim & # 39; to stay, but in the end claimed that she just couldn't perform without knocking down.

Her drug addiction increased, he said, when she started suffering from post-partum depression and received additional medication.

Garland tried to kill herself countless times, even after being fired by MGM.

Luft, who denied Garland's allegations that he hit her during their marriage from 1952 to 1965, said that he had once found her in the bathroom after she had tried to cut her throat. Another time she showed him she had cut her wrists. & # 39; Which demons inhabited her soul when life seemed so rich and productive? & # 39 ;, he thought.

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Slinger herself insisted that she be happy, and expressed frustration that & # 39; people always insist on seeing a tragedy around me & # 39 ;. But a year before she made her last visit to the UK, she didn't sound so sure. "Do you know how hard it is to be Judy Garland?" She asked an interviewer.

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Those difficulties were exacerbated by financial misery in her last years. Because Garland was notoriously drunk and plagued by mismanagement and embezzlement.

Leaving Hollywood, she sang in bars in the mid-1960s for $ 100 a night, but could count on the support of her daughter Liza, whose own fame increased.

It is claimed that when Garland appeared in The Wizard of Oz, she was harassed by film studio executives

It is claimed that when Garland appeared in The Wizard of Oz, she was harassed by film studio executives

It is claimed that when Garland appeared in The Wizard of Oz, she was harassed by film studio executives

She could barely reject the Talk Of The Town residence, which was reportedly worth £ 2,500 a week (today worth nearly £ 43,000) with an audience of 750 people. She arrived in Heathrow in December 1968 with fiancé (and future husband) Mickey Deans to immediately receive a Supreme Court from two American businessmen who said she was exclusively signed to them until the following June.

She went on anyway. The critic of the Observer newspaper started to see her perform and described her acid as & # 39; now thinner, almost wild & # 39; in an orange sequin suit.

"With her hand on her hip, she staggers and stomps and sniffs – tiger-like and restless, her big brown eyes shoot beneath the audience for a friendly face."

It was a bizarre, confused version – in which her words "became more and more unclear", but in the end she silenced the doubters with a moving rendering, cross-legged, of Over The Rainbow.

Rosalyn Wilder, the show's production assistant (played in the film by Irish singer Jessie Buckley) admitted & many people threw things & # 39; most nights. to a star that was sometimes so late and erratic that & # 39; one had to make an informed decision about whether to allow her to continue or not & # 39 ;.

Wilder blamed the people around Garland, especially the "terrible" deans, a musician, for exacerbating her addiction problems.

Garland married Deans, who met her when he delivered her a package of pills, to the Chelsea Register Office in London in March 1969. Her daughter Lorna said that by that time Garland was in the worst depths of drug addiction and & # 39; dying before his eyes & # 39; & # 39 ;. But Judy rejoiced and said, "Finally I am loved."

In June, Deans found her body in their rented stable house. Her death as a result of an overdose of barbiturates was considered coincidental. "She has never had the chance to become a normal child or adult," said her friend, Ray Bolger, who played the Scarecrow in The Wizard Of Oz. & # 39; She always had someone hovering over her. & # 39;

Slinger placed her sense of helplessly differently. She once said, "Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a snowstorm, an absolute snowstorm."

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