Had Judy Garland not died tragically at 47 of an accidental overdose she would be turning 87 years-old today. Okay, so she might have died by now but we would have had much more of her work to enjoy. To give you an idea of how young that is for a world class entertainer, consider people who outlived her.
Had Frank Sinatra died at 47 his career would have ended with The Manchurian Candidate. He'd have never recorded his signature song "My Way" or any of his live records. Had Shirley Maclaine died at 47, she would never have sent up Debbie Reynolds in Postcards from the Edge or made Terms of Endearment which was arguably her greatest screen triumph. Had her co-star Jack Nicholson died at 47, Terms... would have been his last film: no Prizzi's Honor, Witches of Eastwick, Ironweed, The Departed, About Schmidt. Had Paul Newman, only three years Judy's junior, died at 47, "Judge Roy Bean" might have been his finale. No classics like The Sting, The Verdict or that long awaited Oscar win for reprising his role from The Hustler. Had Meryl Streep died at 47, The Bridges of Madison County would have been her swan song. No "Miranda Priestley", The Hours or Angels in America, no miraculous rebirth as a top box office draw in her late 50s. She would never have become the most nominated performer in Oscar history.
This is all a long way of saying that Judy Garland's death, while providing a fascinating spark to rush the gay liberation movement (more on Stonewall when it hits its 40th anniversary in a couple of weeks), was a great loss to the world. So here's to Judy in the celluloid heavens. Her cultural immortality is greatly deserved.
Related post: Nathaniel's 100 favorite actresses of all time. His harem (?) imaginary celluloid mansion (?) actress castle (?) has many wings but Judy's throne is very elaborate. She rules the afterlife wing alongside Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Wood.