Judy Garland was an iconic actress and singer who had tremendous success in her career, though her earnings were often mismanaged. Estimates of Garland’s net worth when she died in 1969 at age 47 have varied widely. Examining her assets, career earnings, and financial difficulties provides the best picture of her financial situation.
Judy Garland’s Assets and Career Earnings
Over the course of her career, Garland earned big money as an actress and singer. Her assets and earnings included:
- Film earnings: Garland starred in over two dozen films, earning millions from pictures like The Wizard of Oz, A Star is Born, and others. She earned huge sums for some films:
- The Wizard of Oz (1939) – $500 per week – $9,000 total
- Presenting Lily Mars (1943) – $5,000 per week – Over $100,000 total
- A Star is Born (1954) – $200,000
- Television series: Garland headlined “The Judy Garland Show” on CBS from 1963-1964, earning $24 million in today’s dollars.
- Record sales: Garland sold millions of records, including gold records for hits like “A Star is Born.” Her music earnings ran into the millions.
- Concert performances: At her peak, Garland earned as much as $55,000 per week (over $500,000 today) for her concert tours. Her 1951 tour grossed over $2 million.
Partial List of Judy Garland’s Assets
|TV series earnings
|Homes in California and New York
|Jewelry, furs, art collection
Based solely on her career earnings, Garland’s net worth should have run into the tens of millions by the time of her death. However, she ran into serious financial trouble on several occasions.
Judy Garland’s Financial Difficulties
Despite her substantial earnings, Garland suffered from financial difficulties throughout her career due to a number of factors:
- Tax issues: Garland ran into major problems with back taxes in the 1950s, including IRS liens against her property for over $80,000.
- Overspending: Judy lived an extravagant lifestyle with luxurious homes and spending on travel, clothes, jewelry and more, running up debts.
- Healthcare costs: Garland’s extensive health issues led to huge medical bills that could exceed $100,000 in today’s dollars.
- Bad investments: Judy’s agents and partners reportedly mismanaged her wealth, sinking money into bad investments that lost huge sums.
- Personal problems: Garland’s issues with substance abuse and mental health crises often left her unable to work, hampering her ability to earn money.
These problems drained Garland’s earnings, leaving her in dire financial straits later in her career. By the 1960s she was forced to sell assets and do projects solely for money.
What was Judy Garland’s Net Worth at Her Death?
Estimates of Garland’s net worth when she died in 1969 have ranged from a few hundred thousand dollars to over $20 million dollars. Based on assessments of her assets and debts, a reasonable estimate is:
Judy Garland Net Worth at Death in 1969: Approximately $800,000 to $1 million dollars.
This net worth estimate is supported by the following details:
- Remaining assets: Garland still owned her New York townhouse and a house in Hollywood at her death, worth over half a million dollars combined. She also retained many valuables like jewelry and art.
- Debts: Judy reportedly still owed back taxes and had other debts from her overspending amounting to a few hundred thousand dollars.
- Recent earnings: While she had earned over $1 million in the 1960s, much of this went to the IRS and creditors. She had earned substantially less in the year or two before her death.
So in summary – while Judy Garland earned tens of millions over her storied career at her peak, financial troubles left her with a reduced net worth of just under $1 million by the end 1969. The lavish lifestyle and unpredictability that characterized her turbulent personal life was reflected in her finances as well.
Judy Garland’s incredible talent and iconic performances should have left her dying a very wealthy woman. But the lavish living, poor choices and predatory behavior by handlers ultimately led to her fortunes being frittered away.
The highs and lows of her career mirrored her lifelong struggles with substance abuse disorders and mental health spirals. Her vulnerability left her open to financial abuse even as she charmed audiences worldwide. Despite earnings which should have left her with a nine-figure net worth and financial security for life, she died with a modest estate of under $1 million according to most accounts.
While her star never faded and still shines bright decades later, the money woes caused by others and self-inflicted tragedies left Judy Garland unable to leave the legacy of wealth her rare talents deserved. The ups and downs of her finances make clear both the timeless appeal of her work but also the fragility of a sensitive soul who couldn’t escape demons that ran deeper than just financial trouble.
Garland’s career spans eras and her magical on-screen presence endures. The financial hardship she faced off-screen similarly reflects both triumphs and tragedy of an unforgettable icon.Copy
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Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding Judy Garland’s net worth and money issues.
How much did Judy Garland earn for The Wizard of Oz?
For starring in the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland earned $500 per week, which amounted to $9,000 total for her several months of work. This is equivalent to about $180,000 today – a sizable sum at the time.
Did Judy lose all her money?
Judy Garland did not lose all of her money during her lifetime, but she did squander most of her huge career earnings due to overspending and poor money management. By the 1960s she was often desperate for cash, forcing her to sell homes and valuables. She still had assets worth nearly $1 million when she died in 1969.
Why was Judy Garland poor when she died?
Garland struggled financially late in life and at her death mostly due to back taxes owed, unpaid medical bills, overspending on luxuries, and being robbed of funds by unscrupulous agents and partners over the years. Substance abuse and inability to work consistently also derailed her finances despite once being a very wealthy actress.
Who inherited Judy Garland’s money?
After Judy Garland died in 1969, the bulk of her estate went to her children Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft, and Joey Luft. This included proceeds from the sale of her homes and valuables. The children also inherited a portion of future royalties from her films and music over time. Garland’s husband Mickey Deans was also left a share of property after her debts were settled.
Did Judy lose her fortune due to bad management?
Judy Garland did lose much of her multimillion dollar fortune over the years in large part due to being taken advantage of by agents, accountants and other advisors who mismanaged or stole funds. For example, a firm named Freddie Fields Associates was sued for robbing Garland of over $5 million in earnings in the late 1950s.
So in summary – Garland’s one-time fortune was drained due to extravagance but also due to exploitation by unethical business associates over many years. This left her cash-strapped later in her illustrious yet troubled career.