“She Never Had A Lesson – That’s Judy Garland”
– Bob Thomas, 1949
May 4, 1927: “The Gumm Sisters” (Judy and her sisters) performed at the Kiwanis Club Meeting at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, California.
May 4, 1934: This photo was printed by the “Rutherford Courier” published out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Murfreesboro was the hometown of Judy’s father, Frank Gumm. The information in the caption, including referring to the sisters as “The Trio Unusual,” was derived from a letter to the editor from Frank that was published by the paper on April 27, 1934 (see below).
May 4, 1935: This review of Judy (mistakenly listed as “Julia”) and her sisters appeared in the “San Francisco Examiner.” Ada Hanifin wrote about the opening night (May 3rd) of the “Fanchon and Marco Hollywood Revue” which accompanied the latest Ann Sothern film at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco, California. The show ran through May 9th.
Among his featured performers, little Julia [sic] Garland is the star, and incidentally, a “find.” She is only 12. But this little bundle of vitality and vivacity has much individually.
She dances, talks to the audience with the aplomb of one who was practically born on the stage, has the fullness of voice that comes with much older years, and sings songs in English, Yiddish, Polish, Spanish, and French. When she was in the Southland, the movie moguls wasted no time putting her under contract. She has been given a role in “The Great Ziegfeld.”
Her two sisters, the three are known as the Garland Sisters, make good harmony, but for the most part they are just background for Julia.
Thanks to Rick Smith for finding this review!
May 4, 1937: Judy made her weekly appearance on the radio show “Jack Oakie’s College.” She sang “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “Alabamy Bound.” She also closed the show duetting with Oakie on his “Oakie College Song.” Check out the complete transcript of this show here (PDF).
Note that the disc label shown here is of this May 4 performance even though it’s mislabeled as May 11th. The performance has been verified by the disc’s owner, John Newton. Thanks, John!
A recording of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” is the only recording from this broadcast that’s known to exist. Listen to the “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” here:
This week’s episode featured movie funnyman Edward Everett Horton as the guest professor along with series regulars Shaw & Lee, Georgie Stoll and His Orchestra, and Benny Goodman’s “swing group” joining from New York (the show was broadcast out of Los Angeles).
More Judy Garland radio performances, including previously unreleased recordings, can be heard and downloaded at The Judy Room’s “Judy Sings! On The Radio” pages.
May 4, 1939: MGM ran this extensive sixteen-page promotion in the trade magazines celebrating the studio’s 15th anniversary (click on the images to see the larger versions). The Wizard of Oz had not yet been released but that didn’t stop the studio from listing Judy along with the rest of its big stars, and what a lineup it was!
May 4, 1940: Filming on Strike Up The Band continued with scenes shot on the “Exterior R.R. Tracks” and “Interior Attic” sets. Time called: 10:30 a.m.; Dismissed: 5:10 p.m. (Judy went home sick at 5:10 p.m.).
May 4, 1942: Filming continued on For Me And My Gal with scenes shot on the “Interior Eve’s Apartment” and “Interior Palace Backstage” sets. Time called: 11 a.m.; dismissed: 5:50 p.m.
May 4, 1943: Filming continued in Palm Springs on Girl Crazy with scenes shot on the “Exterior Dusty Road” and “Exterior Cliff” sets. Time called: 9:30 a.m.; dismissed: 1:15 p.m.
May 4, 1945: Filming continued on The Harvey Girls with scenes shot on the “Interior Alhambra House” set. Time called: 10 a.m.; Judy arrived at 10:30 a.m., Dismissed: 6 p.m.
May 4, 1946: “Picture Show” magazine plus a review and ad from Rocky Mount Telegram (North Carolina).
May 4, 1949: Annie Get Your Gun filming continued with the “U.S. and European Montage – London, Italian, French Box (Interior Royal Box).” Per the assistant director’s notes: “JG – First call: makeup, time first called: 7:30 a.m.; due on set: 9 a.m.; arrived on set: 9 a.m.; time dismissed: 11:50 a.m.”
Judy went home ill and her director did not show up. She felt so badly about it that she called the production manager, Walter Strohm, at 2:15 p.m. and asked that she not be paid for the day.
Photos above are from a fan magazine released in 1970. Scans provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
May 4, 1949: This article written by Bob Thomas (two versions shown above) was published, allegedly written by Thomas after he visited Judy on the set of Annie Get Your Gun.
Hollywood (AP) – For most of her life, people have been telling Judy Garland she will lose her voice if she doesn’t stop singing so loudly. Today she is still going strong – and as loud as ever.
In one of her rare moments of talking about herself for print, Judy reflected on her voice: “Sometimes it’s so loud it surprises me. But that’s the way I’ve always sung. I’ve never strained my voice, possibly because I use the right muscles in my throat.
Sent to Vocal Coach
“When I was a kid in vaudeville, people would say I’d lose my voice before I got much older. That alarmed my mother, so she sent me to a vocal coach.
“The first lesson had me trying to blow off a piece of paper pasted to my forehead. ‘Breath control,’ she said. Next she had me singing with a pencil in my teeth. ‘Poor diction,’ she said. I told her I didn’t usually sing with a pencil in my teeth.”
When Judy revolted against such methods, the teacher said: “You don’t want to sing like Kate Smith, do you?”
“If I’m lucky, yes,” 12-year-old Judy replied.
She hasn’t had a lesson since. She can’t even read music today. Her new songs are played or sung to her and she catches on the way. She never practices between pictures and doesn’t sing in the bathtub.
No Dancing Lessons
And though she has danced with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly on the screen, she has never had a dancing lesson.“
I think a lot of young talent is dried up by too many lessons,” she opined on the “Annie Get Your Gun” set. “If you’ve got it, it usually comes out anyway.”
To use the words of one of the “Annie” songs, Judy has made her way by doin’ what comes naturally. It has done well by her, too; she is one of the screen’s highest paid stars. She is also one of the most misunderstood.
Actually, there is little that is mysterious about her. When she is available to the press (not always), she is congenial, but not too confiding. She dislikes crowds of strange people but loves friendly parties.
She is not easy to get to know, but has a wide circle of intimate friends. They are mostly talented folk such as Cole Porter, Noel Coward, Katherine Hepburn, Fanny Brice, Irving Berlin, etc.
The main thing to remember about Judy is the fact that she has been in show business continually since she was three. It has been her life. She has no hobbies, completely flopped when she tried to take up sewing. Her only exercise is walking.
She has had fears and has indulged in psychiatry. She knows bad things are often printed about her, but she has learned to disregard them. She knows that musicals are her strong suit, and has no yen to be a dramatic actress. Her one non-musical, “The Clock,” didn’t fare too well.
May 4, 1953: Columbia Records released “Send My Baby Back To Me” and “Without A Memory” on Columbia single #40010.
The two songs, along with “Go Home, Joe” and “Heartbroken” were recorded by Judy for the label on April 3, 1953. It was Judy’s first studio recording session in 5 1/2 years. Her last studio recording session was for Decca Records on November 15, 1947. In the interim MGM Records released a few of her soundtrack recordings in albums and in the singles format.
Listen to, and download, the 1990s Robert Parker “surround sound” restorations of the recordings here:
Listen to “Send My Baby Back To Me” here:
Listen to “Without A Memory” here:
May 4, 1954: Judy had a dress rehearsal for retakes on the “Lose That Long Face” number in A Star Is Born. Time started: 2:00 p.m.; finished: 5:00 p.m.
Photo: There are no photos from this date. Shown above is Judy in a costume test for the same number on January 28, 1954.
May 4, 1959: Judy’s Capitol Records concept album, “The Letter” was released. It was recorded on January 15, & 16, 1959, with John Ireland, the Ralph Brewster Singers, and Gordon Jenkins’ Orchestra. The LP was re-released as “Our Love Letter” on September 3, 1963.
Photos: Scans of the original letter that came attached to the original album release.
May 4, 1967: Judy’s recent departure from Valley of the Dolls was still news.
May 4, 1970: Here are two more articles about the now-infamous MGM auction.