She was adored by millions and was one of the first international sweethearts.
From her appearance in the 1939 Wizard of Oz film in those ruby red slippers at the age of 17, Judy Garland became an instant superstar.
Now her memory lives on thanks to the International Judy Garland Fanclub, which has hundreds of members from around the world – and is run from a bedroom in Armley by superfan Marielle O’Neill.
The 26-year-old is secretary of the official fanclub with Gary Horrocks, from Beverley, who is president and editor of the journal ’Judy Garland: A celebration’.
The club have hundreds of Judy fans from around the world including members in South Korea, the US, Australia and across Europe
Marielle, who works for an engineering firm, originates from Batley, where her dad is a Labour councillor.
She said: “There was nothing fake about Judy Garland. If I had to use two words to described Judy they would be ‘empathetic’ and ‘real’. She revealed her true self, her essence in every one of per performances.
“There are moments when I am truly amazed by her talents, not only is she a film icon, but she is one of the greatest singers of all time with a legendary concert career.”
The Hollywood starlet, who had been performing since the age of two, was no stranger to appearing in the UK and even sang on stage in Leeds in 1960 at the Odeon Cinema on the Headrow.
Marielle said: “She first came to the UK in 1951 after her MGM career came to an end, touring the UK to launch her concert career.”
The fanclub is appealing for anyone who has memories of the Leeds show to get in touch and also planning a huge Judy-themed weekend in October in Beverley to celebrate her life and achievements with a celebratory dinner and cocktail reception.
It will be a rare opportunity for fans to meet up and indulge in their fascination for their idol.
Visit: www.judygarlandclub.org for more details about the fan club.
Fan’s shoes helped Judy’s steps to stage career
It may be almost 54 years since Judy performed in Leeds at the Odeon Cinema, on The Headrow on October 16, 1960, but nostalgia of the event lives on.
It was a popular concert venue and the first night of her UK provincial tour.
On the night Judy forgot her shoes, but legend has it she borrowed some from a front row fan.
She is reported to have said on stage: “I remembered to have my hair fixed but I quite forgot the shoes.”
She performed with a small jazz group and sang Noel Coward’s ‘Love were all’ and ‘Bittersweet’ with piano accompaniment.
At the gig Judy road tested her new show which later became the legendary ‘Judy at Carnegie Hall’.
Judy said of her Leeds gig: “Leeds .... they gave me such a wonderful welcome there.”
Judy, who married five times, died in 1969 aged 47 from an accidental drugs overdose.