Judy Garland (pictured) died of an overdose at home in Belgravia, central London, but owners of the house refused to allow a blue plaque and it was then demolished
English Heritage has revealed that it spent almost 15 years trying to commission a blue plaque to commemorate Hollywood legend Judy Garland.
The charity – which manages historic buildings and monuments – was keen to commemorate Judy at 4 Cadogan Lane in Belgravia, where she died 50 years ago.
But the owners would not give permission for the marker because they feared their central London property being associated with a tragedy.
Child star Garland, who was plagued by prescription drug addiction, will no doubt find a new fan base this summer with a new film on her life starring Renee Zellweger to be released in September.
It focuses on the time the singer and actress spent in London in her final months, when she undertook a disastrous sell-out run at the nightclub the Talk of the Town.
Months before her death she married musician Mickey Deans at Chelsea Register Office and they moved to 4 Cadogan Lane, where she died of an accidental overdose on the toilet on June 22, 1969 – 50 years ago this summer. She was just 47.
But despite ongoing efforts to secure a plaque at the site, fans of the star have been left stumped.
Number 4 Cadogan Lane was originally part of a plot that also included 25 Cadogan Place, built in the early 19th century. The mews house at the rear had been added by 1819.
Only this unofficial tribute stands at the site on which Judy Garland’s house used to sit in Belgravia, central London
Pictured: The house in which Judy Garland died was demolished to make way for this property under new owners, who have allowed an unofficial tribute to the star. English Heritage can no longer place a blue plaque because this is not the original building
English Heritage and Judy’s fan club had tried to get the owners to agree to a memorial since 2001, but failed.
It is understood the property changed hands in 2015, when a planning application to redevelop it surfaced. Planners said 4 Cadogan Lane was so unattractive it needed to be pulled down.
In the planning application – approved in August 2015 – the applicants wanted to divide the mews building into two and add an underground swimming pool.
The application states: ‘The mews is certainly not a heritage asset and it is clearly at odds with the character of the area, such that it is unquestionably a detractor.
‘Sensitive redevelopment of the mews would be more than simply acceptable: it would constitute as considerable and indisputable improvement to the quality and character of the area. It must, therefore, be taken as a considerable benefit in the planning balance.’
Pictured: The original building in which Judy Garland died. It was demolished and replaced with a new property, on which an unofficial tribute to the actress has been placed
English Heritage tried for 15 years to secure a blue plaque for Judy Garland on Cadogan Lane in Belgravia, but were thwarted by concerns of the new owners
Building work is still unfinished on the mews development, but a makeshift memorial to Judy now stands on the site. It is now hoped the new owners may reconsider the idea for a plaque.
The night before Garland’s death, she and new husband Deans had apparently watched a documentary on the royal family, after which they had an explosive row. He said she ran into the street and disappeared, then he went to bed.
Waking up the following morning, he still couldn’t find his wife, but discovered the bathroom door was locked.
After climbing onto the roof to get access to the bathroom window, he saw Judy hunched forward on the loo and broke through the window to find her skin discoloured and blood coming from her nose.
Renee Zellwegger is pictured playing Judy Garland in the upcoming biopic about the Hollywood legend, set to his cinemas in September
She had been dead for an estimated eight hours from an overdose of the sedative drug Seconal.
At the inquest, Chelsea Coroner Gavin Thurston wrote ‘This is a clear picture of someone who had been habituated to barbiturates in the form of Seconal for a very long period of time, and who on the night of June 22nd/23rd perhaps in a state of confusion from a previous dose (although this is pure speculation) took more barbiturate than her body could tolerate.’
Not long before she died, Judy had said she felt at home in the city. She told the Sunday Express: ‘I don’t know if London still needs me, but I certainly need it! It’s good and kind to me. I feel at home here.
‘The people understand me, and I’m not aware of the cruelty I’ve so often felt in the States.
Garland died of an overdose in the Belgravia property, after moving to the area with the musician Mickey Deans
‘I’ve reached a point in my life where the most precious thing is compassion – and I get this here.’
A spokesman for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council said: ‘Planning don’t appear to have been contacted by English Heritage about this.
‘I believe English Heritage would notify a local authority of their intention to install a blue plaque when they were ready, and to apply for any statutory consent such as listed building consent that would be needed, but they would not involve the local authority in the planning stages for the plaque.’
The Judy Garland Collection – an Instagram fan site dedicated to the star – said it was considering approaching the authorities to try and get the idea resurrected.
Pictured: Judy Garland stars in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz
Owner Nathan Tunbridge said: ‘I’ve considered writing a letter to the owners to consider a permanent plaque or similar once the build is finished.’
Judy shot to fame aged just 16 after she played Dorothy in MGM’s 1939 smash the Wizard of Oz.
She married five times and had three children, including the performer Liza Minnelli, but her life was plagued with eating disorders and prescription drug addiction.
Gary Horrocks, spokesman for the UK-based International Judy Garland Club, said they had fought ‘tooth and nail’ to try and get the previous owners of 4 Cadogan Lane to agree to a plaque.
He said negotiations began in the late 1990s, with English Heritage getting onboard in 2001.
‘Judy loved London,’ he said. ‘She came in 1951 after her MGM career, she came in 1957 for a season at the Dominion, and again in 1960. London was her lucky city. We worked overtime to try and articulate an argument for a plaque.
‘English Heritage were very very receptive. We were on the verge of getting a plaque but the private owners said that they refused to allow a blue plaque to be placed on their property because Judy Garland was associated with a tragedy, because she died there. We were appalled. We got really close to it. We had been pushing it for years.
‘There was even a discussion about the proximity of the plaque and whether it could be put on the pavement and not on a wall. It was very much a decision made by the private owners. They had their right to, but we found it extraordinary.’
The Wicked Witch of the West (portrayed by Margaret Hamilton) stars alongside Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz in 1939
He said that even though the mews home Judy would have known had been torn down, there were ‘ongoing efforts to celebrate her life and memory’ in London.
James Wright, of the Belgravia Residents’ Association, said so many celebrities and mega rich people lived in the area that blue plaques were not always supported.
He said: ‘It may well be that the resident base were not particularly keen on it and may not have wanted a blue plaque.
‘The residents’ association is quite happy to see blue plaques wherever they may be, but only if they are supported by residents.’
A spokesman for English Heritage said: ‘English Heritage’s London Blue Plaques panel decided to award Judy Garland a blue plaque in 2001 – the panel was keen to celebrate her remarkable and illustrious career as an actor and singer as well as her cultural significance.
‘However in order for a blue plaque to be erected, English Heritage needs the permission of the owner of the building in question and despite our numerous requests, we were denied this permission. The house was later demolished.
‘A key criterion of English Heritage’s London Blue Plaques scheme is the requirement for a surviving – and relatively untouched – building associated with the figure from the past. Unfortunately, there are currently no other known surviving addresses associated with Judy Garland in London.
‘English Heritage blue plaques scheme is not the only memorial or plaque scheme in the capital and we would be pleased if another scheme decided to erect its own plaque to Judy Garland, so the star could be remembered at the site where her home once stood.’
The spokeswoman added: ‘We tried intermittently – to see if the owner had had a change of heart – until we learned from the land registry that the building had changed hands.’
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Why Judy Garland's final home never got a blue plaque: English Heritage says it spent 15 years trying to honour Chelsea house where star died 50 years ago but owners wouldn't allow it have 1795 words, post on www.dailymail.co.uk at August 6, 2019. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.