Recently, a photograph featuring famous American actress Judy Garland in blackface has resurfaced on social media, prompting controversy.
The picture is a still frame from the 1938 film Everybody Sing and portrays a teenage Garland with darkened skin, exaggerated white lips, and dreadlocks. In the musical comedy, Garland portrayed Judy Bellaire, a character who adopts a blackface persona to escape her troubled family by participating in a music show.
Despite the film being nearly 85 years old, many individuals got to know about it for the first time after a user named @browardbully shared the still on August 16th on X. Accompanying the image with a shot of Garland from the movie musical The Wizard of Oz the subsequent year, @browardbully remarked, "two movies. a year apart. same b****. shoutout to Gen Z for teaching me this."
This post garnered over 36 million views and provoked a significant reaction online, though not primarily due to the blackface depiction. Fans swiftly rose to the star's defense, spotlighting the well-documented history of abuse Garland suffered at the hands of her parents and studio executives.
Queen Minaj, a user, commented, "She was a child forced to do this. It wasn't 2023."
Judy Garland, born in 1922, made her initial stage appearance at the age of 2 and rapidly rose to prominence as a musical sensation. She signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1935 and gained widespread recognition through her iconic role in The Wizard of Oz (1939), which she undertook while under contract with the studio.
However, Garland's tragic early life is extensively documented. When she was 4 years old, her parents relocated from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, to Lancaster, California, with her mother, a vaudeville actress, being resolute about turning her three daughters into stars. Starting at age 10, Garland was administered amphetamines in the morning and sedatives at night, and her diet was meticulously supervised from her time at MGM onward. Over the seven years she spent at the studio, the young star endured a strenuous schedule, including three hours of schooling, vocal practice, and full days of filming. By age 15, Garland was grappling with pill addiction.
Her demanding routine was reportedly coupled with instances of sexual harassment. As an adult, Garland's career was marked by ups and downs, as well as battles with addiction and financial hardships. She passed away in 1969 from a barbiturate overdose at the age of 47.