The Truth About Judy Garland's Real Name

Singer and actress Judy Garland starred in such films as "The Wizard of Oz" (1939), "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944), and "Easter Parade" (1948), per IMDb. But Garland started out her career under a very different-sounding name. Garland came from a theatrical family, with her parents, Frank and Ethel Gumm, being seasoned vaudeville performers (via Britannica). The child who would become Judy Garland was born on June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and she was only a toddler when she made her stage debut with her two older sisters, according to the Judy Garland Museum.

In those days, Garland went by her birth name, Frances Ethel Gumm, performing as "Baby Gumm," says Biography. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1926, where the Gumm Sisters performed in theaters and on the radio. In 1929, they made a few appearances in short films. Garland soon became the standout performer in the act, winning praise for her tremendous singing voice.

Garland needed a Hollywood style name

As interest in Garland grew, someone suggested that Frances Gumm needed a new, more theatrical sounding name, according to the Judy Garland Museum. That person was comedian George Jessel, and he came up with the last name "Garland." It was Garland herself who found a replacement for "Frances." She picked "Judy," which came from a popular song by Hoagy Carmichael and Sammy Lerner. And thus one of the most famous stage names was created in 1934.

The following year, a 13-year-old Judy Garland signed her first film contract with MGM studios. She was apparently so good that she didn't even need a screen test, per Britannica. After tackling a few smaller parts, Garland teamed up with Mickey Rooney for "Thoroughbreds Don't Cry" (1937). The two proved to be a popular pair on screen and made several more movies together, including "Love Finds Andy Hardy" (1938) and "Babes in Arms" (1939). The teenage performer then netted one of the greatest roles of her early career, playing Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz." Garland earned a special Academy Award for her work on the film.