The 1960's began with the death of the tormented Marilyn Monroe and it ended with the death of another embattled star, Judy Garland. She died in her apartment in London on June 22, 1969 at the age of 47. Like Monroe, the cause of death was determined to be from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. Much of Judy's adult life was a series of mental breakdowns and career triumphs with serious financial difficulties regularly lurking in the background. Her tragic end arrived much too soon.
Gay men were drawn to Garland not only by her tremendous singing and acting abilities but also by her struggles with pills, booze and weight fluctuations. And while there's no indication that she specifically acknowledged her gay fan base (she exclaimed that she adored everyone in her audience) it's interesting to note that her father was gay as were her second and fourth husbands, Vincente Minnelli and Mark Herron. (And then there was daughter Liza's gay hubbies Peter Allen and David Gest.)
Judy's body was returned to the U.S. and her funeral was held in New York on June 27. Legend has it that despair over her death was the spark that ignited the Stonewall riot in Greenwich Village the night of her funeral. However, such stories have largely been disputed and attributed to a snide remark made by a homophobic newspaper reporter.
Here's a marvelous moment of levity to remember Judy by from a 1964 appearance on Jack Paar's late night talk show: