Judy Garland’s daughter blamed the actress’ fifth husband, Mickey Deans, for her untimely death. Coincidentally, the former couple met through drugs, the same thing that ended her life.
Singer and actress Judy Garland lived a short but iconic life. Sadly, it ended abruptly due to her substance abuse, but her family considered that her fifth husband, Mickey Deans, should take the blame.
Judy Garland and her fifth husband Mickey Deans in the 60s | Photo: Getty Images
Unlike most Hollywood relationships, Garland and Deans didn’t meet working together in a film or TV show. Deans was not even involved in the entertainment industry at the time.
According to Deans’ book about Garland, “Weep No More, My Lady,” the former couple met in 1966 when she and actor Mark Herron were still married.
In her autobiography “Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir,” Garland’s daughter, Lorna Luft, claimed that her mom met Deans in 1967 when she and Herron had already parted ways.
Promotional photo of Judy Garland in the 1950s | Photo: Getty Images
Loft and Deans may have provided different dates, but both mentioned that drugs made that first meeting possible. Loft wrote that she and her mom were in New York, and Garland ran out of Ritalin.
At the time, the singer had already become reliant on the stimulant to keep herself active during late shows, so 14-year-old Loft called one of Garland’s friends in California to see if he could find some.
Judy Garland on her way to London in 1963 | Photo: Getty Images
Hours later, two men showed up with the pills. One of the men was Deans, dressed as a doctor and introduced as “Dr. Deans.” He wasn’t an actual doctor, though.
Born in Garfield, New Jersey, Deans – 12 years younger than Garland – was the owner of a disco, a jazz pianist, and a drug dealer.
He gave in to her and gave her all the things she wanted.
Judy Garland and Mickey Deans in London on March 15, 1969 | Photo: Getty Images
Since Garland struggled with substance abuse since her teens, the star’s family disapproved of their daughter’s relationship with a drug dealer.
When Garland was just a girl touring with her family singing group, her mom Ethel would give her stimulants and sleeping pills to keep up with the schedule.
Judy Garland at the premiere of "A Star Is Born" in 1954 | Photo: Getty Images
Years later, MGM used a similar strategy (but added diet pills to the mix) to help her go through her 20-hour days. When Garland met Deans, addiction had its strongest hold on her.
According to author Rick Lertzman, Garland was broke at the time, had a massive debt in back taxes, and would perform at nightclubs to make ends meet. Still, she would take any drug she could get her hands on.
Judy Garland at an airport circa 1955 | Photo: Getty Images
Knowing her mom’s battle with substances, Luft believed that “Dr. Deans” would take care of her, but she was wrong. After describing him as a “dreadful man,” Luft wrote:
“If she put an advert in a newspaper for the most unsuitable person to take care of her, she wouldn’t have had a better response.”
Luft added that Garland probably decided to be with Deans even though he wasn’t the perfect bachelor because he gave in to her and gave her all the things she wanted.
Garland and Deans were in an on-and-off relationship for about two or three years (depending on who’s telling the story) before finally tying the knot in London in March 1969.
Luft was not the only member of Garland’s family who had a bad feeling about Deans. Her eldest daughter, Liza Minnelli, didn’t attend the wedding and even promised her mom she would be present at her next one.
He had the reputation of frequently visiting gay bars.
Not even Garland’s assistant, Rosalyn Wilder, liked Deans. She once pointed out that her boss had people around her who “didn’t help” and even said Deans was a “terrible mistake” who married the singer just for money and fame.
Garland’s friends and family may have been against her relationship, but she was in love. In her last interview, she admitted she only knew what a “rich life” was after meeting Deans. She added:
“I’m happily married to a man who is about to give me the protection and help I need, and I can just do a concert now and then, when I feel like it.”
Judy Garland at the Mayfair Hotel in London on August 29, 1960 | Photo: Getty Images
Unfortunately, Garland and Deans’ marriage was far from perfect. He initially tried to help her finances by filming a documentary and launching a chain of movie theaters, but nothing ever materialized.
They eventually moved to London, but her physical and emotional state suffered. He supposedly forced her to perform even though she was too unwell to do it.
If that wasn’t enough, Deans supposedly sold some of her clothes (and kept doing online until he died) and had the reputation of frequently visiting gay bars.
Judy Garland on July 31, 1967 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images
On June 22, 1969, only three months after tying the knot, Deans found Garland’s dead body in their bathroom. Authorities reported that she died from a barbiturate overdose, so the same thing that once got them together ended their relationship.
Garland’s family quickly blamed Deans. In his memoir, her third husband, Sid Luft, wrote that Garland’s addiction was so severe that she would take pills like candy and ask him not to put more than three by her bed.
He added that Deans probably knew that, too, but instead of watching her as Sid had done before, he just “disappeared” while Garland had a few dozens of pills next to her bed. For that reason, Sif believed Deans did it on purpose.
Judy Garland and Sidney Luft at Londonderry House in October 1957 | Photo: Getty Images
Luft also blamed Deans for her mom’s passing. She lost the last bit of respect for him when he scheduled a meeting with a publisher to discuss Judy Garland’s biography on their way back from her funeral.
Although Deans never remarried, he was in a relationship with another woman, adopted a son together, and moved to Cleveland. In 2003, he passed away from congestive heart failure.
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