On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – May 8

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“Oz belongs to everyone”
– Matt Zoller Seitz

UK lobby card for "Babes In Arms" starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney
UK Lobby Card provided by Fred Hough. Thanks, Fred!

May 8, 1939:  A productive afternoon for Judy at the MGM Recording Studio.  She rehearsed both the “Opera vs. Jazz” and “Good Morning” songs for Babes in Arms.  The former with Betty Jaynes, the latter with Mickey Rooney.  After that was accomplished, Judy and Ray Bolger re-recorded their duo version of “We’re Off To See The Wizard” for The Wizard Of Oz.  All of this work was completed between 1 and 4:55 p.m.!!

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

May 8, 1940 Alone

May 8, 1940:  Judy pre-recorded “Alone” for Andy Hardy Meets Debutante.  Only Take #3 was printed and went unused.  To date, it’s not known to exist.  She had another pre-recording session on May 10th at which time she pre-recorded “Alone” again (Take 6 was printed and used in the film) as well as the short reprise of the song (Take #2 was printed).

Listen to Take 6 of “Alone” from the May 10, 1940, pre-recording session here.

May 8, 1941:  “Judy Garland To Tell Truth” – News of Judy’s possible engagement to musician David Rose was popular fodder for the gossip columnists and with good reason.  Judy was still just 18-years-old and it was no secret that she was ready to grow up and get out of teenage parts on the screen.  It was assumed that the couple would announce their engagement on Judy’s upcoming 19th birthday on June 10th, but they actually announced their engagement at Ciro’s Restaurant in Hollywood on May 28th.

Text from the article reads:

Judy Garland May Tell EngagementRumors Hint Actress to Wed Song Writer"Ziegfeld Girl" starring Judy Garland, James Stewart, Hedy Lamarr, Lana Turner

Every girl as a right to celebrate her birthday, but there was a strong suspicion in Hollywood yesterday that when Judy Garland, film actress, observes her 19th natal day next month she will surprise her friends by announcing her engagement to Dave Rose, song writer.

Judy is going to a lot of trouble and plans for the event, scheduled at her home in Bel-Air on June 10, and is already sending out invitations.

A big crowd of her young friends in the film colony are expected to gather for her birthday party.

But as for a betrothal announcement, Miss Garland said nothing doing yesterday.“I don’t know anything about such plans,” was her comment.  “It’s merely a birthday party and nothing else.  It’s true, Dave and I are great friends but we are not thinking of marriage.”For over a year Miss Garland, one of M.G.M.’s top-ranking stars, has been wearing a ring on her little finger, a gift from Rose.

Meanwhile, Ziegfeld Girl was still doing amazing business in theaters and still getting great reviews.

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


Judy Garland Lost Tracks

May 8, 1945:  Judy took part in the AFRS’s (Armed Forces Radio Service) VE Day Special Victory Program.  The show was recorded “a few weeks earlier” although the exact recording date is unknown.  What is known is that it was broadcast on VE Day, May 8, 1945.  Headlining the show with Judy were Bob Hope, Frances Langford, Dinah Shore, Ginny Simms, “G.I. Jill” (Martha Wilkerson, the popular DJ of “G.I. Jive” on the AFRS), Johnny Mercer, Loretta Young, Charles Boyer, Lin Yutang, Herbert Marshall, and Bishop Fulton Sheen.  Judy sang a medley of “We’re Off To See Herr Hitler”, “I’ve Got Sixpence”, “When We Go Rolling Home”, “Bless Them All.”

Judy’s little medley was remastered and included on the fabulous 2010 “Judy Garland – Lost Tracks” 4-CD set.

Listen to, and download, Judy’s medley here.
Listen to, and download, the entire show here.

Judy Garland Gene Kelly Walter Slezak Gladys Cooper

May 8, 1947:  The Pirate filming continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Manuela’s Bedroom” set.  Judy was due on the set at 9:45 a.m.; she arrived at 11:35 a.m.; dismissed at 3:05 p.m.

The Assistant Director’s notes state:  “11:44-12:00: Wait for Miss Garland, called for a 9:45 a.m. on set; 11:35 a.m.: changing into wardrobe and body makeup from 11:35 to noon.  Note: Director arranged 1st setup so that only Miss Garland’s dress showed in shot and off stage dialogue was read for her lines.  1:47-1:55 – Wait for Miss Garland and Mr. Minnelli; 1:55-2:20 – Mr. Minnelli changed setup: Shooting close cut of Mr. Sleak and Mr. Allen while waiting for Miss Garland who is in her dressing room waiting to talk to Mr. Freed.  2:46-3:05: wait for Miss Garland.  3:05 -Finish.  Note: Miss Garland too ill to continue.”

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

Judy Garland in "Annie Get Your Gun" (April 1949)

May 8, 1949:  Judy had a rehearsal of “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly” for Annie Get Your Gun.  She was due on the set at 2 p.m. and arrived on time; dismissed at 3:25 p.m.   It’s unclear what this was really for.  Judy had filmed the number a month prior and had moved on to the “I’m An Indian, Too” sequence.  Also, this date was a Sunday which was typically a day off.  She might have gone into the studio to rehearse either some changes to the song or some blocking for retakes.  The original director, Busby Berkeley, had been replaced on May 5th and Charles Walters was immediately brought in as his replacement.  Walters might have requested this short 90 minutes of rehearsals for some new staging since it was agreed by everyone that most of the footage Berkeley had shot was terrible.

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

Judy Garland on stage at the Sands in Las Vegas, with Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, October 14, 1958.
Judy Garland on stage at the Sands in Las Vegas, with Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, October 14, 1958.

May 8, 1957:  Newspaper gossip columns at this time reported on an alleged quarrel between Judy and Frank Sinatra which by this date they had “made up.”  Judy was currently performing at The Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas and the alleged quarrel was due to, “Judy’s managers booked her into a hotel other than the Sands in Las Vegas.  Judy says she will not be losing any weight for a while.  ‘I’m happy and have enough strength to belt out the songs,’ she adds.  Her new album, ‘Alone with Judy,’ is now out.” (Sheilah Graham).   Judy and Frank were very close friends so any quarrel was most likely short-lived and simply trumped up by the columnists to sell papers.

Judy Garland in Texas, May 1961
Judy Garland in Texas, May 1961

May 8, 1961:  Judy’s concert tour took her to The Music Hall in Dallas, Texas for one night.  She had previously performed at the Dallas State Fair on February 21st which was the “official” start of her 1961 concert tour.  The show was essentially the same one-woman show that she had perfected in 1960 and would bring to its apex at Carnegie Hall on April 23rd and would perform, with some variations, for the rest of her life.

The photo above was taken while Judy was in Texas in May 1961, but I’m unsure if it was taken in Dallas or in Houston.  If anyone knows, please let me know and I’ll change the info.  Thanks!

May 8, 1989:  This nice piece on Judy aired on “Entertainment Tonight.”


May 8, 1998:  The end of an era:  The last network broadcast showing of The Wizard of Oz on CBS-TV.  The film had aired annually since its return to CBS in 1976 and was not aired on broadcast TV again until it was shown on the WB Network in 2002.

This article explains the history of the film on TV:

May-8,-1998-TV-SHOWING-DETAILS-Tampa_Bay_TimesTurner Networks add Oz to cable kingdom

New York Daily News

For five decades, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly lion have been singing “We’re off to see the Wizard” on broadcast network television.  After tonight’s CBS telecast of The Wizard of Oz at 8:30, though, viewers wanting to see The Wizard will have to turn, and subscribe, to cable.

And with that, another durable TV tradition melts away, like a wicked witch doused with water.

The classic 1939 movie musical, starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, first was televised in 1956, when viewers, most of them watching on black-and-white sets, couldn’t distinguish between the muted tones of Kanas and the brilliant colors of Oz.

No matter, The Wizard of Oz, for that original CBS showing, was hosted by Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion himself) and featured the 10-year-old Liza Minnelli, Garland’s daughter, as special guest.  It was a major hit, and three years later, CBS began a stretch featuring other guest hosts: Red Skelton in 1959, Richard Boone in 1960, Dick Van Dyke in 1961 ad 1962, and then, after a year off, Danny Kaye, whose 1964 introductions and farewells were repeated by CBS annually, along with the film, until 1968.

That’s when NBC took over, in an undisguised effort to use the Yello Brick Road to popularize color sets produced by its parent company, RCA.  On NBC, The Wizard of Oz ran annually, without hosts (except for one appearance by Gregory Peck the year after Garland died), and continued to serve as Must-See TV for the entire family.

CBS regained the rights to Oz in 1976 and has shown the movie every year since.

At the same time Dorothy and her friends were returning to CBS 22 years ago, and Atlanta entrepreneur named Ted Turner was making TV history by beaming the signal of his small, independent station to a newly launched satellite, and making it available nationwide to cable TV operators.

That station, WTCG-TV, eventually became TBS, the first of Turner’s many cable stations.  One generation later, The Wizard of Oz, after Friday, moves from broadcast TV to cable, with Turner and MGM having snagged the TV rights.  Starting next year, it will be seen, from now on, on the Turner networks.

When that happens, one more jewel for broadcast TV falls from its crown.


Matt Zoller Seitz of Newhouse News Service had a more emotional response to the loss of the film as a yearly network broadcast event that is heartfelt, even if he incorrectly quotes some lyrics and a line from the film:

May-8,-1998-TV-SHOWING-Honolulu_Star_BulletinOz belongs to everyone.

That’s why I’m sad about today’s broadcast of “The Wizard of Oz” on CBS.  The date marks the last time the 1939 Children’s classic will air on network television.  Starting in 1999, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion – and Toto, too – will move to cable channel TBS, the flagship station of Ted Turner’s far-flung media empire.  Which means you have to pay to see it.

Granted, as plot twists go, that’s nowhere near as scary as the scene where the Wicked Witch of the West leers at the captive Dorothy, flips over an hourglass and shrieks, “This is how long you’ve got to liiiiiive!”

TBS is included in most basic cable packages across the land, and cable has become much more accessible in the past decade.  It now reaches 60 percent of American households.  And if “Oz” has to shift ownership, Turner’s about as reputable a caretaker as any fan could hope for.  Except for his ill-fated colorization experiment, the man has proved himself to be a true friend of cinema, pouring millions into restoring old films for broadcast on his networks.

Still, I can’t help feeling that “Oz” on cable will be a less magical experience.  Whether you’re a kid or an adult, part of the fun of watching it on TV is the subconscious realization that everybody else in the country is watching it, too – could be watching it – and that its appearance inspires cross-generational bonding in homes you’ve never visited and never will.

I saw the film for the first time with my younger brother at my grandparents’ house.  We laughed at the Munchkins, cried along with homesick Dorothy and bolted from the room when the Wicked Witch kidnapped Toto, set the Scarecrow on fire and unleashed the flying monkeys.

In each case, we took comfort in the fact that we weren’t watching the film alone.  It was a family affair.  There were relatives in the room to share the merriment, reassure us during the scary parts and tell us about the first time they saw it – way back in 1939, during its original theatrical run.

Grandma hissed the wicked witch and sang along with the characters.  Grandpa just about laughed himself off his chair when the Cowardly Lion sang “If I Only Had Some Nerve” in a goofy Brooklyn accent.  On good days, when a silly mood hit him, sometimes he’d sing the song himself:

“Oh, it’s sad to be admittin’
I’m as vicious as a kitten
Widout de vim and voive!
I could show off my prowess,
Be a lion not a mowess
If I only had de noive!”

My grandparents are gone now, but if they were around today and wanted to watch “Oz” with me, my wife and our baby daughter, they’d have to come to our place.  They never subscribed to cable while they were alive; like a still sizable part of the population, they thought the idea of paying for TV was nuts.

Of the surviving members of my family, I’d say maybe three out of five have cable.  That’s slightly better than the national average, but it doesn’t exactly disprove my point: Either a national treasure is available to everybody or it’s restricted.

There’s another factor to consider: old films that air on network TV are a reminder of our common pop culture heritage.  They clue younger viewers to the fact that life did not begin when they were born – that the past can come alive again and inform the present.

“Oz” is still one of the only old films that is still aired regularly by commercial networks.  “Gone with the Wind” hasn’t been seen on commercial TV in years, nor have the first couple of “Godfather” films; they’re on cable now, like pretty much everything made before 1990.

Except for “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Ten Commandments” and one-shots like last year’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” on ABC, the major networks don’t visit the cinema’s past much anymore.  Just like every other American institution; if it’s not new and hip, they aren’t interested.

The systematic shifting of older programming to cable mirrors the fragmentation of the medium in general – and the fragmentation of America, for that matter.  These days, instead of the whole family gathering around a single set, everybody goes off and watches their own programming.  The household becomes a cacophony of other voices in other rooms.

That I would even say such a thing merely confirms, yet again, that this entire line of argument is fueled by irrational nostalgia for an era that’s gone and isn’t coming back.  Whether I’m longing for a pre-cable broadcasting era or my own childhood is open to question.  Either way, there’s no denying that something fine and lovely has passed.  There’s no place like home.



  1. I have details about the two portraits you feature of Judy in her fur coat (Dallas TX 1961).
    I know the photographer. Please contact me.

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