On this day…
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April 28, 1938: This syndicated article by Paul Harrison first appeared in papers on this day in 1938. It was the sixth and last in his series of articles about child stars. The focus is on Judy and is surprisingly candid about her diet regimen at MGM and her disdain for it, that is, as candid as an article in 1938 could be.
HOLLYWOOD – Judy Garland is 14 and definitely precocious. But good fun. Her wisecracking is garnished with modesty, and her trim little figure is obscured by unflattering, juvenile frocks. Judy is trying her very best to remain a child until Metro=Goldwyn-Mayer decides that she can be an ingenue. That will be in a little more than a year; her sixteenth birthday will be June 10, 1938.
No Can Eat
THE studio decided she didn’t look childish enough for her role in “Everybody Sing,” so she put on a routine of diet, exercise and massage which reduced her hips three inches. She’s still on a diet. I had lunch with her and her mother the other day and she was grumbling about it.
“Everybody in the restaurant is watching to see that I don’t snitch an extra dessert or something,” she said. “at least I feel that everybody’s watching. maybe it’s my conscience.”
She recently was announced for the role of Dorothy in Metro’s version of “The Wizard of Oz.” The selection drew a good deal of adverse comment, and as much from Judy Garland fans as from anyone else. She herself seems a little uneasy about it.
The Dorothy of L. Frank Baum’s stories was a much younger, simpler girl. The assumption is that Judy will introduce swing music into the Emerald City, and will teach the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman how to do the Big Apple. Maybe they’ll change the title to “The Wizard of Jazz.”
It’s a Great Life
MISS GARLAND has a great deal of vitality, a love of excitement, and a chronic detestation of routine events. In a rapid, sarcastic sing-song she recited her Hollywood working schedule and it was easy to guess that she doesn’t like it much. Rising, acting, classes, luncheon, acting, recording, more classes, lying on a roof n the sun (“That’s a rip-roaring experience, I can tell you”), radio rehearsals, radio broadcasts, study, reading, bedtime – all these are mapped out pretty rigidly.
Those are some of the reasons why she likes personal appearance tours such as she recently made to eight cities. Another reason is that Judy is a veteran of eight years of vaudeville. Her parents were professionals and her father, Frank A. Gumm, now is a Los Angeles theater owner. [Note that this is puzzling as Frank had been deceased for over two years when this was written] She and two elder sisters toured as a singing trio until Suzanne married and broke up the act. Judy then walked into the Metro casting office, hot-cha’d a couple of numbers, and got a job. As simple as that.
Anyway, she still likes the road, “You know,” she said, “the most fun is to finish the last show and get a bunch of actors together and go out and get big steaks somewhere and sit around and talk. They won’t let me do that here.”
SHE worked hard on her tour. After doing five shows and dozens of interviews a day in New York, Judy and Mrs. Gumm went to Providence hoping to get a little rest before she played Pittsburgh.
“Instead,” said Miss Garland, “we were met at 7:30 in the morning by a 93-piece band, the governor, the mayor and 7000 people. I played eight shows a day there, besides benefits for the firemen and plumbers and grass widows and who-all. It wasn’t dull, anyway.”
Speaking of benefits, Victor Orsatti, Miss Garland’s agent, came to her table and told her she was to go to New York soon to appear at some extra-special benefit there. “Clear to New York for one benefit?” Judy gasped. “Why, that’s as silly as playing a split week in Swizterland!” [sic]
Mrs. Gumm joined my hee-haws at that one. She’s amused by her daughter, and should be. She recalled, “Judy was funny on the stage in Minneapolis. At the end of her act she had to say ‘… and I hope you all see my latest picture “So-and-So,” which will open at this theater Monday.”
“Judy hates anything like that, so she said it in a monotone and then added, apologetically ‘… if you don’t mind the commercial.’ Everybody howled. The management was awfully mad.”
Miss Garland’s next picture probably will be “Listen Darling,” a Katherine Brush story which she has not yet read.
Judy is a junior in high school, likes languages, dreads mathematics. “I just want to know enough to be able to count my salary,” she insisted.
Her voice is widening in range, and she can sustain C. “I don’t know what kind of voice it is, exactly,” she said. “I told an interviewer back east that it was a mezzo-vacuum contralto and it put it down that way.”
Also on April 28, 1938, Judy made her weekly appearance on the “Good news of 1938” radio show broadcast by NBC. The show was sponsored by MGM so naturally, it was used to present new MGM talent and promote their films. This edition featured Robert Young stepping in for regular host Robert Taylor, Max Baer, Betty Jaynes, and Douglas MacPhail. Judy sang “Thanks For The Memory” with special lyrics by Roger Edens.
No recording of this broadcast is known to exist, but you can hear Judy’s January 1939 version of this arrangement of “Thanks For The Memory” here.
More Judy Garland radio performances can be heard and downloaded at The Judy Room’s “Judy Sings! On the Radio” pages here.
April 28, 1942: Filming on For Me And My Gal consisted of scenes on the “Exterior Railroad Station” set, which was the standing railroad station set on MGM’s Backlot #2 that is seen in so many MGM films, including Judy’s Meet Me In St. Louis where it stood in as the trolley car station, and Strike Up The Band. Judy was due on the set at 2 p.m., apparently, she was on time; dismissed: 6:45 p.m.
Check out the “Garlands for Judy” article “Judy on the Backlot” for information about the various locations on MGM’s famous backlot and the locations where many scenes for Judy’s films were shot (two example pages below):
April 28, 1943: MGM recording session for Girl Crazy. Judy and Mickey Rooney prerecorded their duet of “Could You Use Me?” Time called: 1 p.m.; dismissed: 3:30 p.m.
April 28, 1953: Judy arrived by train in Lexington, Kentucky where she would headline “The Blue Grass Festival” at the Memorial Coliseum the following day. The festival was a part of the new “Derby Week” event. Judy was backed by Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra and concluded her set with “My Old Kentucky Home” in which she was accompanied by a single violin and received a standing ovation.
April 28, 1962: Judy, along with Liza, Lorna, and Joe, flew to London where Judy began work on her next (and ultimately final) film, The Lonely Stage, which was retitled I Could Go On Singing. Obviously, they flew on Pan Am which no doubt was a wonderful experience as this was the era of jet travel in which all of the airlines spoiled their passengers regardless of whether they were in first class or coach. Judy hated flying so it’s debatable whether she had a chance to enjoy the flight or not!
These photos were taken of the family upon arrival in London. The press enjoyed (as you can read in the middle clipping below) the fact that Judy and husband Sid Luft were on the outs at the time. Sid had forbidden her to take the kids to England but she did anyway. Les Perkins, the film’s PR man, was able to secure a secret address for Judy and the kids to stay at. To thank him, Judy, Liza, and Lorna put on an impromptu show for him which included the song “Food, Glorious, Food,” from the musical “Oliver!” which was a family favorite. Later Judy was able to have Lorna and Joe declared “wards of the court,” ensuring that Sid would not be able to take them out of England. Oh, the drama!
April 28, 1967: The “Daily Mirror” published this unflattering photo (and article) noting Judy’s recent departure from filming Valley of the Dolls the day before (April 27). In the ensuing years, rumors have spread as to why Judy left the film that portrays her either being fired or quitting with the details varying from story to story. Some claim she didn’t show up, others claim that she saw nude scenes being filmed and quit on the spot. Others claimed she was flat out fired for being completely unreliable and/or drunk or drugged. Whatever the case, it’s good that Valley of the Dolls didn’t become Judy’s final film. While the film is a fun camp classic the role of Helen Lawson in the context of how the film ended up just wasn’t right for her.
In 2009, Patty Duke, who played “Neely” (a character based on Judy), stated that the director, Mark Robson, was quite nasty towards Judy. He insisted that Judy be on the set early in the morning but kept her waiting in her dressing room until late in the day. Duke reported that Judy got restless and by the time they were ready to film her, she wasn’t in the best shape. Watch this interview below.