Judy Garland was 'fun' but desperate for money and attention, ex-lover reveals: 'She’d keep moving the goal posts'

Toward the end of her short life, Judy Garland was joyful but profoundly desperate for attention and money, according to a man who became her lover and confidante.

Garland was 46 when she met 26-year-old pianist John Meyer, and the two were immediately infatuated with each other. Meyer, now 79, spoke at length with People about their romance, which rapidly escalated in some part because Garland had nowhere to live: The star, by then short on money and work, had recently been booted from her hotel residence for skipping out on bills.

It was a spirited roller coaster of a relationship, Meyer told the outlet, that combined sex with business. "We did a lot of role playing. We’d do scenes back and forth," he claimed. "It was a lot of fun. That was more important to her than the actual sex."

Despite her financial woes and a plaguing addiction to dangerous substances — Garland ultimately died at 47 of an accidental overdose — "she thought her life was a gas, a ball," Meyer said. "She didn't think her life was painful. She was funny. She experienced joy. She loved sex. She didn’t love food. She loved to sing and she loved the attention."

The aversion to food was a perpetual issue for Garland, who faced enormous pressure as a young woman to be excruciatingly thin. One of her husbands, Sid Luft, claimed he fruitlessly tried to steer Garland toward a healthy diet, but she had difficulty choosing between eating lots of food or nothing at all.

PHOTOS: Judy Garland with Sid Luft and their children

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Judy Garland with Sid Luft and their children
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Judy Garland with Sid Luft and their children
Sidney Luft und Judy Garland 1954 (Photo by RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
4th November 1960: American film star, Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) with her husband, film producer, Sid Luft and their children, Liza (14), Lorna (7) and Joe (5) at their home in Chelsea, London. (Photo by Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Singing star Judy Garland who recently announced she'd make her permanent home in England, but according to rumor has changed her mind, and will live in New York, is shown at the Harwyn here, with her husband Sid Luft.
American screen star Judy Garland arrived at Southampton with her husband, film producer Sidney Luft, and children Lorna, four and Joe, two. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 10/4/1957-New York, NY: Actress Judy Garland poses with her two children, Lorna, 4, and Joseph, 2, as they prepare to sail for Europe aboard the United States Lines' flagship United States here October 4th. Also going with Judy is her husband, Sid Luft, an actor's agent and film producer
(Original Caption) Judy Garland and her manager husband, Sid Luft, are playing with Liza, 10, Judy's daughter by her second marriage, in their Plaza Hotel Suite. Judy was returning to the palace, where she scored some of her greatest triumphs to climax her great comeback. After her New York engagements, Judy was scheduled to take her show to London.
(Original Caption) Actress Judy Garland holds her son, Joseph, who is photographed for the first time since his birth a year ago. Joseph would make his photo proxy television debut April 8th, when his famous mother would sing a song to his picture. The lad's father is Actor's agent Sid Luft. Joe also has an older sister aged three and a half.
(Original Caption) Actress Judy Garland shows off her "Little Joe: who made his television debut by photo proxy on the Judy Garland Show, on April 8th, 1956. This was one of the first public appearances of the year old tyke whose daddy is producer Sid Luft.
(Original Caption) Actress Judy Garland an and husband Sid Luft appeared in court here when actress Lynn Bari brought Charles against Luft, her former husband on $3,627 in unpaid alimony for 1952. Miss Bari stated that Luft had agreed to pay her 10 percent of his income but Attorney S. S. Luft was hiding his true income as Agent for Miss Garland by filing two different income tax returns, one for the Government and the other showing losses for his first wife.
(Original Caption) Screen star Judy Garland gets an affectionate kiss on top of the head, and an orchid from husband Sid Luft, as she arrived in London from Paris here. Judy, who had just completed the film A Star Is Born, had been vacationing on the Rivera and in Paris with her husband. Luft arrived in London a few days before she did. They left the vacationing spots for the United States the day before this photograph.
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As for Garland's craving for attention, Meyer said, it poisoned many of her relationships. "Her big overriding motivation was 'love me.' And she made people prove it in all of her relationships," he said. "She would escalate the levels of commitment until you were staying up with her for 36 hours a day."

He continued, "She'd keep moving the goal posts until the person just had to drop. And then she could say, 'You deserted me, see.'"

The romance was both overwhelming and intoxicating, and Meyer found himself reeling when she quickly disappeared from his life, returning to her on-and-off lover Mickey Deans. The two wed in March 1969, three months before her passing.

PHOTOS: Judy Garland with Mickey Deans

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Judy Garland and Mickey Deans
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Judy Garland and Mickey Deans
American actress and singer Judy Garland (1922-1969) walks with her 5th husband to be Mickey Deans on the day of their wedding at Chelsea Register Office in London on 15th March 1969. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American actress and singer Judy Garland (1922-1969) posed with her new 5th husband to be Mickey Deans (1934-2003) at home on the morning of their wedding at Chelsea Register Office in London on 15th March 1969. (Photo by R. Powell/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) The wedding bells have belled and Judy Garland and her husband, New York businessman Micky Dean are set to take big slice out of wedding cake following their marriage ceremony at the Chelsea Registry Office here March 15th. Miss Garland, 46, announced a time back that they had been married on January 9th but Dean, 35, said it wasn't legal because Judy's divorce papers from a fourth marriage hadn't been cleared.
15th March 1969: Toasting bride Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) are the best man, singer Johnnie Ray, left, and the groom Mickey Deans, during the wedding reception at Quaglino's, London. (Photo by Ian Showell/Keystone/Getty Images)
American singer and actress, Judy Garland (1922-1969) pictured together with her new husband Mickey Deans (left) and his best man, singer Johnny Ray outside Chelsea Registry Office on their wedding day, London, March 15th 1969. (Photo by Michael Webb/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American musician and entrepreneur Mickey Deans (1934 - 2003) and American actress, singer, dancer, and vaudevillian Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) on the day before their wedding, UK, 14th March 1969. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American musician and entrepreneur Mickey Deans (1934 - 2003) and American actress, singer, dancer, and vaudevillian Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) on the day before their wedding, UK, 14th March 1969. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Actress and singer Judy Garland, with her husband Mickey Deans, January 28th 1969. (Photo by Express/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
American actress Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) and her fiance, American musician and entrepreneur Mickey Deans (1934 - 2003), UK, 31st December 1968. (Photo by C. Maher/Daily Express/Getty Images)
American singer, actress, and vaudevillian Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) with her fiance, American musician and entrepreneur Mickey Deans (1934 - 2003), after announcing their marriage, UK, 27th January 1969. (Photo by Joe Bangay/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American actress, singer and vaudevillian Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) and her fiance, American musician and entrepreneur Mickey Deans (1934 - 2003), UK, 28th December 1968. (Photo by Dove/Daily Express/Getty Images)
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In retrospect, Meyer says his fixation on his short-lived romance with Garland was "a compulsion ... I realized that this mission of mine to restore Judy to her former greatness and be the guy who rescued her was not going to work."

Garland died in June 1969 of an accidental overdose. Several of her exes attended her funeral; former husband Luft wrote in his unpublished memoir that at the time of her death, "she couldn't have weighed more than ninety pounds. She was totally burned out. Destroyed."

Renewed interest in Garland's life is in part related to "Judy," which came out earlier this year with Renee Zellweger starring as the late icon. The film is considered to be a viable Oscar contender.

PHOTOS: Judy Garland with daughter Liza Minnelli

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Judy Garland with daughter Liza Minnelli
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Judy Garland with daughter Liza Minnelli
"Liza Minnelli with her mother Judy Garland. May 13, 1965. (Photo by Jerry Engel/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)"
(Original Caption) Actress Judy Garland places a loving kiss on the cheek of her daughter Liza, upon returning to Hollywood from a vacation in Florida. When reporters asked the actress if she planned to marry Sid Luft, Judy declined to answer.
(Original Caption) Judy's daughter Liza is shown greeting her mother on Judy's return from rest cure.
1953 Lorna Luft, with step-sister, Liza and mother, Judy Garland. Photo courtesy of Lorna Luft
UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 08: Garland (1922-1969) with two of her children, shortly after she settled in England. Garland started performing as a young child. In 1939, aged 17, she starred in �The Wizard of Oz�. Despite a successful Hollywood career, psychotropic drugs which she had originally been prescribed to control her weight, destroyed her mentally and physically. She died of a drugs overdose in a London hotel. Like their mother, her daughters Liza Minnelli (born 1946) and Lorna Luft (born 1953) are both actresses and singers. Her son Joseph Luft (born 1955) is on the left. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
circa 1960: American film actress and singer Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) (right) with her daughter, actress, singer and dancer Liza Minnelli. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
4th November 1960: American film star, Judy Garland (1922 - 1969) tries a new Dior hat on her 14 year-old daughter, Liza at their home in Chelsea, London. (Photo by Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Getty Images)
Singer Judy Garland (R) waits with children (left to right) Liza Minnelli, age 16, the daughter of a previous marriage, Lorna Luft, age 9, and Joey Luft, age 7, children of her estranged husband Sid Luft, at New York's Idlewild Airport.
(Original Caption) Liza Minnelli is shown with her mother, Judy Garland, as the two rehearse for her mother's new television show (beaming next fall), in which Judy and Liza sing and dance in remarkable mother-and-daughter act.
Judy Garland hugs daughter Liza Minnelli on the second night of Minnelli's performance in "Best Foot Forward". Minnelli was 17 at the time.
Judy Garland and her daughter Liza Minnelli are returning to the London Palladium for a repeat performance of their gala 'Judy and Liza at the Palladium'. It is to be filmed by Associated Television for future showing, 8th November 1964. (Photo by Eric Harlow/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Liza Minnelli, 18, is pictured with her mother Judy Garland, 42. Liza has flown to London to talk about her big chance - a British television show they are to star in together. 11th September 1964. (Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Liza Minnelli, 18, is pictured with her mother Judy Garland, 42. Liza has flown to London to talk about her big chance - a British television show they are to star in together. 11th September 1964. (Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
American actress and singer Liza Minnelli with her mother, American actress and singer Judy Garland (1922 - 1969), backstage after she opened in 'Flora the Red Menace' at the Alvin Theatre, New York, US, 11th May 1965. (Photo by Regan/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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