On January 5, 1937, Judy Garland made her first appearance on the popular CBS Radio show “Jack Oakie’s College” hosted by the film star Jack Oakie. She sang “Hold That Bulldog,” a song she had recorded in the summer of 1936 for inclusion in her feature film debut, Pigskin Parade (1936 – 20th Century-Fox).
The film was released in the fall of 1936 but Judy’s recording of “Hold That Bulldog” was not featured. It’s unclear if the song was actually filmed or not as no footage survives and the pre-recording remains lost.
This 1937 radio performance is the only extant recording of Judy singing “Hold That Bulldog.” In spite of the scratchiness of the disc Judy’s voice and performance shine through and gives us an idea of how the song might have been performed in the film.
There are no records documenting why the song wasn’t included in the finished film. It could be that Judy already had two powerhouse solos, “The Texas Tornado” and “It’s Love I’m After” plus the bulk of the production number, “The Balboa.” Perhaps Fox was afraid she’d dominate the film too much if she had yet another solo in “Hold That Bulldog.”
Pigskin Parade was a hit for all involved and remains a joy to watch. Its stars, Jack Haley and Patsy Kelly, usually played supporting roles but this time they’re supported by the talented Stuart Erwin, Dixie Dunbar, Tony Martin, Betty Grable, and 14-year-old Judy Garland. Erwin’s performance was recognized with an Academy Award nomination in the newly created category of “Best Supporting Actor” but lost to Walter Brennan in Come and Get It.
Pigskin Parade was the only time Judy Garland’s home studio, MGM, loaned her out. If the loan out was meant to see how she would fare in a feature release she passed the test with flying colors. Critics and audiences marveled at her voice and she showed that she had some serious screen presence, even at that young age. Everyone knew it was just a matter of time before she became a huge star.
Judy was reunited with Haley when he played the Tin Man to her Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in 1938/39. She was reunited with Tony Martin when they starred in MGM’s 1941 extravaganza Ziegfeld Girl. By that point, Judy was one of MGM’s most popular stars. She’d come a long way in those five years between the two films.
Betty Grable went on to become Fox’s biggest musical star of the 1940s and the most popular pin-up girl of World War Two. When she made Pigskin Parade she became a lifelong Judy Garland fan. Judy’s A Star Is Born (1954) was reportedly Grable’s favorite film and the last film she saw before her death.
Judy’s January 5, 1937, appearance on the “Jake Oakie’s College” radio show (broadcast out of Los Angeles at 6:30 pm local time) was her first for the weekly series. She did not appear again until February 23, 1937, at which time she became a series regular, appearing each week through her final appearance on June 22, 1937.
This previously unreleased recording is presented here thanks to the generosity of collector John Newton.
Thank you, John!