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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Downfall of Child Actresses

On the surface, Hollywood seems like the place where young actors can flourish and begin their long-lasting careers in the movie industry. However, with a deeper dive, some major flaws become more detectable.

Over the century, a majority of child actresses have broken their silence about the true nature of growing up in the spotlight. 

Possibly one of the earliest and most notable cases of abuse in the childhood entertainment industry is Judy Garland and her experience on the set in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”.

Garland is regarded as a notable figure when it comes to films made for kids. Despite her work for children, she did not have much of a childhood herself, beginning her career at the ripe age of 11.

She led an overbearing and fast-paced career, appearing and starring in 15 films over the span of six years. With her rising popularity came a high demand for her appearance in various films–a demand that was almost impossible to keep up with.

Due to her initial blockbuster success playing young Dorothy Gale in “The Wizard of Oz”, Garland was confined to portraying young girls throughout her profession even when she had already grown out of adolescence.

To fit the frame of a little girl, she was placed on a brutal diet both on and off of film sets. While filming “The Wizard of Oz”, Garland’s diet consisted of chicken soup, black coffee, and cigarettes.

She was denied sleep and was instead encouraged to rely heavily on drugs to maintain her energy. These habits pushed Garland down a path toward addiction and dependency, and that eventually led to her death in 1969, when she suffered an accidental overdose of a sedative drug at the age of 47.

Although it has been 80 years since Garland was at the peak of her fame, not much has changed in the Hollywood industry regarding abuse; actors and actresses today continue to share their stories of growing up in the limelight.

One former actress, in particular, caught the public’s attention after the release of her tell-all novel “I’m Glad My Mom Died”. Jeanette McCurdy, best known for her role as Sam in Nickelodeon’s TV series “iCarly” expressed her struggles with mental health and an eating disorder inflicted by the industry throughout her writing.

She began her acting journey on Nickelodeon when she was 15 years old, where she recalled a great deal of abuse from both the creator of the two shows, Dan Schneider, as well as her own mother.

In her book, McCurdy described the malignant dynamic between her and her mother. According to McCurdy, her mother controlled what she wore, ate, and even bathed her until she was 16.

Similar to Judy Garland, McCurdy’s mother restricted her diet in an attempt to keep her youthful and fit for child roles. She recounted the multiple instances in which she was shamed and ridiculed by her mother for growing up, something she had no jurisdiction over.

Being stripped of her independence and under constant supervision, McCurdy developed severe mental health issues that carried into her adulthood. 

By publishing her book, her goal was to escape the career she previously had and currently resents.

Abuse in Hollywood is a continuous problem with long-lasting effects. It is vital for people such as Jeanette McCurdy to speak out about their experiences to spark inspiration and lead as role models.

As time goes on and the controversial tendencies of Hollywood are confronted, improvement will hopefully be pursued, and stories like Garland and McCurdy’s will not be told in vain.

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