Judy Garland was married five times throughout her life, but the iconic Hollywood star never seemed to find a good match.
Judy Garland entranced countless people with her iconic performances in movies like The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St. Louis. But behind the scenes, she was plagued by depression and substance abuse. Judy Garland’s spouses witnessed that struggle firsthand for years.
Garland was practically born into show business and exclusively married people in the entertainment industry. Throughout her life, she tied the knot with five different men. She first married composer David Rose in 1941 when she was just 19 years old, and the couple divorced in 1944, shortly before Garland tied the knot with director Vincente Minnelli in 1945.
While this union led to the birth of Garland’s first child Liza Minnelli — who became an iconic entertainer in her own right — the marriage crumbled in 1951. Soon afterward, Garland married producer Sid Luft in 1952 and had two more children, Lorna and Joey Luft, but the pair split in 1965. That same year, she wed actor Mark Herron. They separated just months later. Though Garland seemed to be overjoyed to marry her fifth husband, musician Mickey Deans, it was he who found Garland dead of an overdose in 1969.
These are the true stories of the five men who married Judy Garland.
David Rose: Judy Garland’s First Husband
David Rose was a British-born composer and orchestra leader. Garland, who had entered show business at the age of two, was one of the brightest stars of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) by the time she was a teenager. The two reportedly met at a radio broadcast, and a romance developed later on.
Rose had been previously married to actress Martha Raye, but their marriage ended after less than three years together. Eventually, Rose and Garland bonded over their common interests in music, and they tied the knot in 1941.
Both MGM and Garland’s mother strongly disapproved of the relationship due to the age difference — Garland was just 19 at the time of the wedding, and Rose was 31. The age gap allegedly led MGM executives to do everything in their power to sabotage the marriage, including placing Garland at undesirable tables at award shows that she attended with her husband.
According to People, when Garland became pregnant during the marriage, her mother arranged for her to have a secret abortion.
Though Garland and Rose remained married for three years, their personalities ultimately proved incompatible, as Rose was a homebody and Garland enjoying going out to parties and dancing. They divorced in 1944.
Vincente Minnelli: Judy Garland’s Second Spouse
Judy Garland met her second spouse, Vincente Minnelli, on the set of the 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis, one of MGM’s highest-grossing films of the era. Garland was the star of the film, and Minnelli was the director. They would later work on two more movies together, The Clock and The Pirate.
Minnelli, who was nearly 20 years older than Garland, encouraged Garland to retire her girl-next-door image for a more mature, sophisticated look — what would later become known as her signature style. The pair married in 1945, and one year later, Garland gave birth to the couple’s daughter, Liza Minnelli.
Garland was bedridden for weeks following the birth, and it’s now believed she struggled with postpartum depression. The next year, she suffered a nervous breakdown and was admitted to two psychiatric clinics. To make matters worse, Garland often self-medicated with drugs like amphetamines and barbiturates — which she had used since her early days of stardom.
She attempted suicide at least twice during the marriage.
Meanwhile, according to Town & Country, Minnelli was secretly gay and reportedly had affairs with men while still married to Garland.
Garland soon embarked on an affair of her own — with the man who would become her next husband — until she and Minnelli divorced in 1951.
Sid Luft: Judy Garland’s Third Husband
The third of Judy Garland’s spouses, Sid Luft was a Royal Canadian Air Force veteran who transitioned into show business after becoming the manager of dancer Eleanor Powell. He and Garland had known each other for years, but after Garland’s second suicide attempt, Luft said he felt “an electrical force” to be at her side in his memoir Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland.
Garland was still married to Minnelli when she and Luft began seeing each other, but after her divorce with Minnelli, she and Luft soon tied the knot in 1952. The pair would ultimately stay together for 13 years, Garland’s longest marriage. They also welcomed two children, Lorna and Joey Luft.
Sid Luft also helped Judy Garland make her professional comeback. At the time the two started dating, the actress was at a low point and had been out of work after being released from her MGM contract. As Garland’s manager, Luft helped Garland get cast in the 1954 film A Star Is Born. Garland’s performance was so impressive it earned her an Oscar nomination.
Despite this, Garland continued abusing drugs. Her pill addiction coupled with her depression reportedly led her to attempt suicide several more times, and tension in the marriage steadily increased. Luft later claimed, “If I were to show concern, she’d abruptly tell me to ‘f**k off.'”
By 1962, the two were living “virtually separate lives” despite still being married. When they divorced in May 1965, Garland alleged that Luft was an alcoholic who’d been physically abusive, according to Us Weekly. Luft denied the allegations, but Garland was granted custody of the couple’s children.
Mark Herron: Judy Garland’s Fourth Spouse
It took mere months for actor Mark Herron to become the fourth of Judy Garland’s spouses. They ceremoniously tied the knot in 1964, despite the fact that Garland was technically still married to Luft. And then they made their matrimony official with a Las Vegas wedding in November 1965.
Herron, who was also a tour promoter, produced some of Garland’s concerts, including performances she did with her daughter Liza.
However, their romance would be very short-lived, and they reportedly separated after just five months together. Like Vincente Minnelli, Mark Herron was secretly gay. And like Sid Luft, Herron would also be accused of physically abusing Garland while they were married.
The couple’s divorce was finalized in 1967, after Garland claimed in court that Herron had beaten her during their marriage. According to the Los Angeles Times, Herron claimed that he “only hit her in self defense.”
Mickey Deans: Judy Garland’s Fifth Husband
Musician Mickey Deans first met Judy Garland around 1966 — under troubling circumstances. At the time, Deans was posing as a doctor to deliver stimulants to Garland’s hotel room in New York.
Garland, who was clearly still struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues, was also deep in debt and struggling to perform during her concerts. And Deans, who was 12 years younger than Garland, raised numerous red flags for Garland’s loved ones. Garland’s daughter Lorna later called Deans the “most unsuitable person to take care of” her mother and said that he “gave in to her and fed her all the things she wanted.”
Still, Garland dated Deans for about three years before tying the knot with him in March 1969 in London. According to Vanity Fair, Garland was visibly ecstatic following the couple’s nuptials, telling reporters, “This is it. For the first time in my life, I am really happy. Finally, I am loved.”
Tragically, the bliss would not last. Just three months later, Judy Garland died of a barbiturate overdose at age 47 on June 22, 1969. Deans was the one to discover her body in the home they rented in London.
It was a tragic end for one of Hollywood’s brightest stars, who had dazzled audiences since she was a child. For Judy Garland’s loved ones, the late actress and singer ideally rests somewhere “over the rainbow” — as her iconic song from The Wizard of Oz so sweetly and vividly described.