On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – April 20

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“When Judy Garland appears in ‘Ziegfeld Girl’ she will be making her debut as a prima donna.” – 1941 uncredited article

April 20, 1937:  Judy appeared on Jack Oakie’s “Jack Oakie’s College” radio show and premiered a sizzling version of “Johnny One Note” as well as a fabulous version of Irving Berlin’s “Always.”  Judy Garland on Jack Oakie's College radio show April 20, 1937Judy’s performance of “Johnny One Note” was one of the first performances (if not the very first) of the song to a nationwide audience.   The song had been introduced in the Rodgers & Hart Broadway show “Babes in Arms” just six days prior to this broadcast.  “Babes in Arms” opened on Broadway on April 14, 1937, premiering a stellar score by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.  Among the standards introduced were: “Where Or When,” “I Wish I Were In Love Again, ” “My Funny Valentine,” “The Lady Is A Tramp, ” “Babes in Arms,” and “Johnny One Note.”

Benny Goodman on Jack Oakie's College Radio Show April 20, 1937In 1938, MGM producer Arthur Freed chose “Babes in Arms” as his first project as a producer and the ideal property to co-star Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in what became the first of four “Let’s Put On A Show” musicals.  The film was released in late 1939 and was a smash hit in spite of the fact that “I Wish I Were In Love Again, ” “My Funny Valentine,” and “The Lady Is A Tramp” were all deleted from the score.

Judy recorded a solo studio version of “I Wish I Were In Love Again” for Decca Records on November 15, 1947.  She also recorded the song as a duet with Mickey Rooney in 1948 for the Words and Music soundtrack.  That film (and the MGM Records soundtrack) also featured her only studio recording of “Johnny One Note.”  Likewise, she never recorded a studio version of “Always” and as best as we can tell she never performed the song on the radio again.  Judy reprised “Johnny One Note” on the June 15, 1937, edition of “Jack Oakie’s College.”  No recording of that show is known to exist although it’s likely that Judy sang the arrangement heard here.

Download the complete transcript of this show here (PDF).
The transcription notes “original interpolation by Roger Edens” in the portion of the song where Judy goes into lyrics that are not Rodgers & Hart (the original songwriters).  This verifies that Edens did in fact create the “special material.”

These previously unreleased recordings were premiered on The Judy Room’s YouTube Channel in 2017 and early 2018, thanks to the generosity of collector John Newton.  Thank you, John!

April 20, 1940:  Here are a couple more theater manager/owner reviews of both Babes in Arms and The Wizard of Oz (both released in 1939), published in the trade magazine “Motion Picture Daily.”  John E. Moore of Coronation, Alberta, Canada, didn’t care much for Oz!

BABES IN ARMS:  Rooney has done it again.  The picture presented a series of many clever musical numbers and novel interpretations.  The film was well balanced and every dramatic sequence fitted nicely.  I wonder why all Republicans especially enjoyed the burlesque musical ending?  Some other ending might have proved more popular appeal, although what they did do was very clever.  Patrons will go for this in a big way.  Play it.
Simon Galitzi, Coed theater, Topeka, Kansas.

THE WIZARD OF OZ:  A so called big picture which seemed to click for some reason, possibly because of the mistake of the producers in comparing it to “Snow White.”  Although we had fair crowds, we failed to make money on it due to percentage booking.  Many people left the theatre very disappointed with this picture.
John E. Moore, Star Theatre, Coronation, Alberta, Canada

April 20, 1941:  This article amusingly presents Judy as a “prima donna” in Ziegfeld Girl, which was opening in theaters around the country.  Of course, we know that Judy’s character and performance in the film are far from the stereotype of the “prima donna.”

Judy, Whose Screen Popularity Ranks With Mickey Rooney’s, Is Making Her Debut As Prima Donna

“Ziegfeld Girl” Provides Young Starlet With First Really Grown-Up Part After A Number Of Successes In Juvenile Roles

When Judy Garland appears in “Ziegfeld Girl,” she will be making her debut as a prima donna.  For while she has had singing roles in pictures before, including “Babes in Arms,” “Strike Up The Band,” and “The Wizard of Oz,” in “Ziegfeld Girl,” she will have her first really grown-up part in a musical whose cast is headed by James Stewart, Hedy Lamarr, Lana Turner, Tony Martin and herself.

One of her songs, “Minnie From Trinidad,” will be rendered in the Ethel Merman manner.  She resembles the singer, in style and personality, according to Roger Dens, who wrote the song and has coached both stars.  She will also sing a medley of tune with Tony Martin, and a number called, “Laugh, I Though I’d Split My Side,” with Charles Winninger.

Judy, who’s screen popularity ranks with Mickey Rooney’s, has grown up in pictures.  As a little girl, she appeared professionally on a trip consisting of herself and two sisters.  When the family journeyed from the midwest to California, Judy, then twelve years old, made the rounds of the studios, blithely announcing that she was an actress.  Apparently convincing, she was offered a job and her first picture was a short subject called “Every Sunday.”  Her talent was recognized from the start and feature pictures followed in quick succession, including “Broadway Melody of 1938,” “Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry,” and “Love Finds Andy Hardy.”

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on Ziegfeld Girl here.

April 20, 1941:  Ziegfeld Girl.


April 20, 1943:  Filming continued on Girl Crazy specifically on the “Interior Assembly Hall” set (the “Embraceable You” number and surrounding scenes).  Time called: 10:00 a.m.; Judy arrived at 10:25 a.m.; dismissed: 5:50 p.m.

Photo provided by Kim Lundgreen.  Thanks, Kim!

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on Girl Crazy here.

April 20, 1944:  Decca Records session at the Decca studios in Hollywood, California.  This was the first of two sessions during which Judy recorded studio versions of songs from Meet Me In St. Louis for the label’s “cast album” of songs from the film.  On this day she recorded these three songs in the following order: “The Boy Next Door”; “Boys And Girls Like You And Me”; and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”  The album was released on November 2, 1944, and reached the #2 spot on the new “Album” chart.

Listen to “The Boy Next Door” here:

Listen to “Boys And Girls Like You And Me” here:

Listen to “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” here:

Listen to the alternate take of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” here:

Check out The Judy Garland Online Discography’s “Meet Me In St. Louis” (Decca version) here.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on Meet Me In St. Louis here.

April 20, 1945:  Filming continued on The Harvey Girls.  Judy and the cast were on the “Exterior Picnic Grounds” set filming the ending of the “March of the Doagies” number.  The entire production number spanned the “Interior Harvey House” set, then moved to MGM’s Lot #3 (the “Billy The Kid Street”) then back to a soundstage for this set, which featured the “Judy on Fire” ending of the number.  After all that time and expense, the entire sequence was cut from the film.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy on the MGM Backlot” section for more about the locations of MGM’s backlots where many of Judy’s films were shot.

On this day Judy had a 10:00 a.m. call to be on the set, she arrived at 10:40 a.m.; dismissed at 6:10 p.m.  The photo below, taken on this day, was provided by Kim Lundgreen.  Thanks, Kim!

1945-4-20 HG-Set1c

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on The Harvey Girls here.

April 20, 1949: Judy posed for these wardrobe and makeup tests for Annie Get Your Gun on Stage 4 at MGM. Judy was due in makeup at 10 a.m. then due on the set at 11 a.m., arriving at 11:10. Lunch was from 12 – 1 p.m.; dismissed at 5:20 p.m.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on Annie Get Your Gun here.

April 20, 1951:  Columnist Louella Parsons reported on Judy’s meeting with England’s Princess Margaret.

Judy Garland awaits her L.A. opening at the Los Angeles Philharmonic

April 20, 1952:  Judy was anxiously awaiting her return to the Los Angeles stage after her already legendary successes at the London Palladium and The Palace in New York.  Los Angeles was home for Judy and is where most of her peers were.  She was understandably nervous but of course, her opening night at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Auditorium was another smashing success.  This article by John L. Scott for the Los Angeles Times documented the new Judy and her new life.

Judy, Picture of Health, ‘Joyously Nervous’ While Awaiting L.A. Opening

“It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done, but it’s fun and I love it.”  Judy Garland was referring to her International Variety Show, during which she puts on the longest vaudeville act ever seen in show business, to open tomorrow night at Philharmonic Auditorium.

The 29-year-old songstress, whose life a few years ago resolved into a series of crises, including a nervous breakdown and termination of her long tenure as a top star at MGM, now is the picture of health.  She’s heavier, appears rested and relaxed, and eagerly awaits the gala opening of her show tomorrow evening.

Judy Garland awaits her L.A. opening at the Los Angeles Philharmonic“I’m nervous all right,” she told me as we chatted in her beautiful home off Sunset Plaza Drive in the Hollywood Hills.  “I always am for an opening, but it’s not the kind of nervousness that makes you sick.  It’s a kind of joyous nervousness.”

Rest When She Needs It

I asked to what did she ascribe her present fine state of health.  “Rest when I need it,” Judy replied.  “A person can work awfully hard if he knows he can enjoy complete rest when the job is finished.  That wasn’t possible when I was in pictures – the job never ended.”

“The demands of a player under contract to one studio only are terrific.  Never again for me.  I will make pictures, but under my own conditions.  In other words, we are forming our own organization.  The first film probably will be a musical version of “A Star Is Born.”

This young woman, who has been entertaining the public ever since she sang “Jingle Bells” at the age of 2 in a theater at which her father and mother were appearing, is credited with reviving big-time stage vaudeville.  Yet she smiles away the honor.

Entertainment Liked

“People like to be entertained,” she said.

“I remember when we (the Gumm Sisters) played at the Los Angeles Orpheum in the 1930s,” she reminisced.  “Donald O’Connor was appearing with his family down the street at another theater.  We never got on the same bill though.  He has a terrific talent – I would love to do a picture with him some day.”

Miss Garland brought back memories of the “two-a-day” as she reminisced about playing up and down the West Coast.  “We got as far as Chicago once,” she said, “but that was enough and we headed back for Southern California in a hurry.”

Judy received an ovation when she opened at the London Palladium just a year ago.  Last October she stood theater-wise New Yorkers on their ears with her one-woman show at the venerable Palace Theater, former paradise of vaudevillians.

“We rehearsed the show for about five days in Hollywood,” she told me.  “Charles Walters fixed up our dances and we hoped for at least a two-week run.  We played four months in New York.”

Works for Solid Hour

In International Variety Show, Judy takes over the second half following some top-notch vaudeville acts and, assisted by an agile male partner, works solidly for an hour.

She will duplicate her Palace routines here, except for the opening number which was rewritten to key it to Los Angeles.  “I hope I don’t mix the New York and Los Angeles lines on opening night,” laughed Judy.  “They’ll tar and feather me.”

Songs that Judy sings as no one else can include “We’re a Couple of Tramps” [sic] from the film “Easter Parade,” “The Trolley Song” from “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “The Boy Next Door,” “You Made Me Love You” and, of course, the topper, “Over the Rainbow,” which invariably brings mingled cheers and tears.

Rush on for Seats

When we informed the actress that 2500 seats were sold the first hour the box office here was open, she exclaimed, “Wonderful! Just wonderful!”

Since Judy’s return to health and her smash hits in London and New York, she has been deluged with stage and film offers.  From the way she talks, however, the stage will get first call.

“One man even wants to do a musical version on Broadway of ‘Pygmalion,’” she said.  “It doesn’t sound bad either.  Then there’s a chance I may continue International Variety Show beyond the Los Angeles and San Francisco Engagements.  I’ll wait and see how I feel.  It’s pretty taxing you know – nice shows a week, and I’m on more than an hour each show.  IN New York we did two a day every day in the week.”

“I have dozens of changes of costume and make-up, each must be made n 35 seconds backstage.”

Judy recalled how, on opening night in New York, she almost came a cropper.

“Following a ‘Happy Time’ number in which I am dressed to the teeth, wearing diamond earrings, etc., I do a tramp number which requires me to wear a beard, which I simulate with dark make-up.”

“During the fast change to the ‘Happy Time’ number, while maids were working over me feverishly, I forgot and applied the ‘Tramp’ beard.  I was half way through the wings when I realized what I had done.  You can imagine the scramble then.”

We asked whether television figured in the star’s plans.

Relaxes Before TV

“I’ll wait until more improvements are made in the medium,” she said, “particularly the lighting.  But don’t think I dislike TV.  It’s wonderful to watch.”

Beside stage and movies, Miss Garland has a contract to record for Victor.  This she probably will do in New York, and because her activities will be divided between East and West she has purchased an apartment in New York.

When we suggested that she seemed to have her future fairly well plotted, Judy grinned and said, “Now, how can anyone plan his future accurately?”

With this slight build-up, we posed the question that has been thrown at the actress dozens of times since she divorced Director Vincente Minnelli.  “What about wedding plans?”

‘Here We Go Again’

“Well,” the actress sighed, “here we go again.  So many different things have been written about my becoming the wife of Sid Luft, and so many dates have been guessed at, that I’ll just say I don’t know when, at this time.”  She added, however, that when the Los Angeles and San Francisco engagements have terminated, she and Mr. Luft may arrive at a date for the wedding.

“In any event I will have to find another house here,” she said.  “This one isn’t for children – it’s built on different levels – and there’s school to be considered for my Liza and Sid’s little boy.”

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.


April 20, 1958:  Judy’s upcoming return to her birth state, Minnesota, was covered by the “Star Tribune” out of Minneapolis, which is where she performed on May 11, 1958, for the state’s centennial celebration.  It was her last time in Minnesota.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.


April 20, 1959:  Here’s an ad for Judy’s upcoming appearance in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 27th.  The prices may seem low by today’s standards but at the time they were moderately priced with the $6.50 seats costing $57 in today’s (2019) money.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

April 20, 1968:  The Wizard of Oz was broadcast on the NBC network for the first time after moving from its previous “home” at CBS.  This was also the first time that the film was aired without a hosted introduction.  It returned to CBS in 1976.

Note the last sentence in the “Los Angeles Times” ad above, “But most of all, there’s Judy, Judy, Judy!”

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on The Wizard of Oz here.

April 21, 2021:  The Warner Archive released a newly remastered edition of Annie Get Your Gun on Blu-ray.  Although Judy did not finish the film, her pre-recordings and footage for two songs did survive (“Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly” and “I’m An Indian, Too”), some of which were included as extras on this release.

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