MICKEY DEANS, PRODUCER AND SINGER; TRAGIC JUDY'S LAST TRUE LOVE
JUDY GARLAND ran into the street yelling at her fifth and final husband,
waking neighbours around their rented London home, as he angrily stormed
out. When Mickey Deans later returned home he assumed that the tormented
Wizard Of Oz star was asleep. Only hours later did he search for her, and
found the bathroom door locked.
Crawling through a window, he discovered Garland slumped lifeless on the
toilet, lost to booze and barbiturates. The coroner found that the
47-year-old actress had died of an "incautious selfoverdosage". Deans was
the last anchor of hope in the star's final months adrift on a sea of drugs,
deteriorating health, dire financial straits and mental torment. "This is
it, " said Garland on their marriage in March 1969. "For the first time in
my life, I am really happy. Finally, finally, I am loved." Three months
later she was dead.
It was a love that haunted Deans for decades - and he never remarried. "She
was the love of his life, " says adopted son Richard Driscoll. "Her death
devastated him. For years he couldn't bear to listen to her recordings, it
was too painful. But in recent years he loved to hear her albums. He'd drink
a few stingers, play the piano and talk about her fondly."
Deans never returned to the intense spotlight that shone on his brief
marriage to Garland and at her memorial service, where more than 22,000
mourners filed past her coffin.
A raffishly handsome, harddrinking, rough, tough lounge singer and pianist,
he kept dangerous company and was later embroiled in the infamous Cotton
Club murder inquiry when his boss, movie producer Roy Radin, was
assassinated. He moved to Cleveland, Ohio, becoming a wealthy producer of
police fundraising events, and bought a Victorian castle that he lavishly
renovated. He was a colourful local figure until his death.
Born Michael DeVinko, in New Jersey, the youngest of three children of Mary
and Michael DeVinko, he grew up in a musical family, playing the piano and
accordion. "My parents encouraged him to be a musician, " recalls his
sister, Caroline Tassely, aged 75. "He was very talented and played popular
music in clubs in the Fifties and Sixties."
He played the piano at top Manhattan nightclub Jilly's and Frank Sinatra
used to go just to hear him.
In 1968 he was working as manager of the chic New York discotheque Arthur,
owned by Richard Burton's ex-wife Sybil, when he met Garland, who was 12
years his senior. She had torn through four turbulent marriages - to band
leader David Rose, film director Vincente Minnelli, producer Sid Luft and
actor Mark Herron - but plaintively asked: "If I'm such a legend, why am I
Her descent into drugs and booze, provoking increasingly erratic behaviour,
left her emotionally vulnerable and she clung desperately to the muscular,
magnetic Deans, who won her confidence by supplying her with the pills she
craved. Garland wanted to marry quickly but Herron was slow sending divorce
When she travelled to London for a concert tour in early 1969, Deans
followed as her manager.
However, drug-dependent Garland struggled: her voice ragged, forgetting
lyrics and rambling incoherently. One night she was heckled and bombarded
with cigarette butts by an angry audience.
Finally divorced, she and Deans exchanged vows at the Chelsea register
office on March 15, 1969.
They smiled in public but fought in private. On June 21, three months after
marrying, they had a blazing row at their home near Sloane Square. Deans
fled, returning to find his bride dead.
HE SLIPPED from the public eye, becoming a showbusiness producer. He was New
York impresario Roy Radin's right-hand man until the latter was kidnapped
and killed in 1983 in a feud over profits from Francis Ford Coppola's movie
The Cotton Club. Taking over Radin's Ohio operations, he moved to Cleveland,
producing revues and charity events.
His memoir of his brief marriage to Garland, Weep No More My Lady, was
published in 1972.
He did find romance again, with Rose Driscoll, adopting her 19-year-old son
Richard in 1975. But after four years they parted without marrying. "He
never stopped loving Judy Garland, " says Richard. "He always spoke of her
frailty, and how he felt very protective of her. He wished he had been able
to do more to help her and keep her alive."
Mickey Deans, born New Jersey, US, September 24, 1934. Died Ohio, July 11,
2003, aged 68.