From her gradual ascent to stardom in the 1930s to her death from a drug overdose at age 47 in 1969, former vaudeville baby Frances Ethel Gumm, aka Judy Garland, endured a string of personal and career ups and downs that continues to color her reputation as an icon whose tragedies outweighed her triumphs. This TV biopic, based on the first half of daughter Lorna Luft's book Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir, attempts to humanize Garland's legend by presenting the singer/actress' story from an insider's point of view. Tammy Blanchard plays the young Garland, an MGM contract player with an overbearing mom (played by Marsha Mason) who helped push her daughter to stardom -- and, along with studio boss Louis B. Mayer (Al Waxman), into a lifelong addiction to booze and barbiturates. From her early performances alongside Mickey Rooney to her breakthrough role in The Wizard of Oz, Life With Judy Garland paints the performer as a sweet kid who just wanted to please her mother, especially after the death of her gentle, beloved father (Aidan Devine). Australian actress Judy Davis takes over as the grown-up Garland as the film traces her five marriages, exile from MGM, countless film and stage comebacks, and crippling addictions. The film's final section concentrates on the home life of Luft, her brother Joey, and their half sister Liza Minnelli, as the kids and their broke mom moved from one hotel to another and Luft nursed Garland through depressions and binges. Life With Judy Garland premiered in February of 2001 on ABC, earning Emmy awards for both Davis and Blanchard.
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