“As a child I lived in a lot of houses, but what I wanted most was a home” – Judy Garland, 1958
May 9, 1930: Judy’s second film appearance, as one of “The Gumm Sisters” in their brief appearance in 1929’s short A Holiday in Storyland, was shown at their father’s movie theater in Lancaster, California (where the family currently lived). Naturally, the trio also performed on stage in support of the film. This is the first known showing of a Judy Garland film at her father’s theater which had recently been equipped to handle the then-new technology of sound films.
The film does not survive but the audio does:
“Where The Butterflies Kiss The Buttercups Goodbye”
(Judy Garland’s very first film solo)
Photo: Is that Judy Garland’s first leading man? “Baby Gumm” on the Warner Bros./First National Studios backlot, circa 1929, with John Perri.
May 9, 1939: This photo of Judy and Mickey Rooney was taken by an MGM studio photographer. The two were in production on their first co-starring musical, Babes in Arms. The production notes state that the production had the day off due to Judy’s rehearsing for the NBC Radio show “The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope” which she appeared on later that evening. This photo was most likely taken during that rehearsal.
In the show that night were Hope’s regulars Skinnay Ennis and His Orchestra, Six Hits and a Miss, Patsy Kelly, and Jerry Colonna. No other information about this show is known to exist and no recording is known to have been made and survived.
May 9, 1942: For Me And My Gal filming continued with the scene on the “Interior Newark Dressing Room” set in which Gene Kelly’s character, Harry Palmer, receives his draft notice. Time called: 10 a.m.; dismissed: 5:50 p.m.
May 9, 1945: The Harvey Girls continued filming on MGM’s Backlot #3, on the “Billy the Kid Street” which was dressed up as the fictional town of “Sandrock.” This was a night shoot and Judy was scheduled to be on the set at 8 p.m., she arrived at 8:45 p.m.; dismissed at 11:30 p.m. The scenes shot were most likely those of Judy and the rest of the cast arriving back in town from the ultimately deleted “March of the Doagies” reprise.
For more about Judy’s time on MGM’s famous backlots, check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland on the MGM Backlot” pages here.
May 9, 1955: A high-pressure life. This article focused on the suicides and attempted suicides of Hollywood stars and the “fixers” who are usually able to keep the events out of the headlines. Twelve years later Judy and Susan Hayward would again share the entertainment headlines when Hayward replaced Judy in the role of “Helen Lawson” in Valley of the Dolls.
High Pressured Life Takes Heavy Suicide Toll
Susan Hayward’s Attempt Recalls other Tragedies
By HAROLD HEFFERNAN
HOLLYWOOD – Behind movie headlines:
Susan Hayward’s try at suicide, emblazoned in headlines throughout the world, again posted the question:
How many other important screen personalities, wearied and worried by personal or career problems, have made similar attempts?
Closely guarded medical and hospital records hold the secret, but Hollywood insiders – mainly those serving in publicity departments of major studios – know that a complete listing of actors who in the past have tried to die and failed would shock their adoring fans to the core.
Under any such fragile circumstances as those surrounding Susan Hayward’s early-morning rendezvous with sleeping pills, the studio to which the star is under contract is among the very first to be notified.
This sets off an immediate chain reaction destined to cover up the deed or make as light of it as humanly possible.
Every top studio in the business has among its sharp publicity workers one man known among them as “the fixer.” In most instance, he is an ex-policeman or a former police reporter. In any event, he is thoroughly familiar with crime of every type and how news of it is disseminated.
If it’s 3:30 in the morning, as was the time of Miss Hayward’s attempted departure, he is notified in a matter of minutes after the police have taken over.
Somebody in the department usually knows that “Joe” over at Colossal or “Gus” on the Spectacular Lot is vitally interested in what’s going on. Whoever it may be, the fellow is phoned.
Distraught Stars Protected By the Studio’s Mr. ‘Fixer’
The studio “fixer,” possibly fast asleep at the time, then gets on the job. His aim, first of all, is to barricade the door of the afflicted glamorite, cut off the phone service and take up a stand himself as the head information dispenser.
High-pressure life in the movie world has taken its heavy suicide toll during the years, dating far back to when beautiful Olive Thomas, silent-day star, swallowed poison after a quarrel with husband, Jack Pickford.
Lupe Velez’ love for a bit player resulted in a similar act. Most sensational in more recent film history was the suicide of Carol Landis, a tragedy that brought English Actor Rex Harrison into the limelight.
Judy Garland slashed her wrists in a death try five years ago after career and love involvements and was saved only by the quick action of a servant.
But the really big story of Hollywood unhappiness and frustration in the face of high salaries, fan worship and mink-lined swimming pools is the one that may never be told.
Among many others, it would detail the death attempts of a top singing actor, of the one-time bobby-soxer idol, of the 20-year veteran leading man and of the fatal hushed-up suicide of the star whose wife ran off with a big producer.
All of them were saved from ignominy by the unsung hero of the movie lots – the fixer.
May 9, 1958: Judy “pooh-pooh’s” analysis of her childhood. Walter Winchell’s column presented Judy’s response to the analyses of her childhood:
Judy Garland has made a contribution to the field of self-analysis, noting: “People who have written about me have tried to analyze my childhood, to explain in the most involved psychological jargon the things that have made me the way I am. But actually I don’t think anyone has ever done an accurate portrait of me. The point that they all seem to miss is that I was pretty much an average adolescent girl. But it took me six years to convince people that I wasn’t permanently 12 years old, a little girl in pigtails.”
Miss Garland later added a significant, contradictory confession: “As a child I lived in a lot of houses, but what I wanted most was a home.” The star now finds the warmth and security of a home in the admiration and applause of audiences.
May 9, 1959: Ad for Judy’s upcoming concert at Chicago’s Opera House. Note how the previous act was Mantovani and His Orchestra. Judy and Mantovani were reunited, sort of, on the 1983 LP “Merry Christmas” which featured performances from “The Christmas Episode” of “The Judy Garland Show” on one side, and Mantovani on the other.
May 9, 1962: These photos were taken of Judy while she was recording the songs for I Could Go On Singing. Judy recorded the score during the week of May 7th at the Abbey Road Studios in London, England. Filming began in London on May 14th.
Judy’s kids (Liza, Lorna, and Joe) can be seen sitting and watching with a rather large group of family and friends on hand to witness the session. Judy’s co-star in the film, Dirk Bogarde, is also seen with her.
Photos provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
May 9, 1963: Judy attended Danny Kaye’s performance at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York, along with CBS affiliates and the president of the network, James Aubrey. After the show, Aubrey, his daughter, Judy, and about seven other people went to an empty Italian bar where Judy proceeded to treat them to a private concert, which included “Over The Rainbow” sung directly to Aubrey’s daughter.
Photo: Judy and Kaye during a photoshoot for the cover of the 1963 edition of “Show Magazine.”
NOTE: It’s also been reported that on this same date Judy and daughter Liza Minnelli were on the other side of the country, in the audience at the Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe, California for Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin’s show. They didn’t go unnoticed and Judy was coaxed to come up on stage and join them for an impromptu rendition of “The Birth of the Blues.”
Which is true? The former scenario, for sure. Judy’s time in New York in March, April, and May of 1963 is well documented. It’s also well documented that on May 9, 1963, Sinatra was in Honolulu, Hawaii.
But when did the Cal-Neva show happen? No one knows. A recording of the Cal-Neva show in question exists, having been recorded through the lodge’s sound system and while it’s not the best it’s still listenable (listen to “The Birth of the Blues” here).
On July 31, 1963, Judy and “The Judy Garland Show” producer George Schlatter (the show was currently in production) flew to Las Vegas for relaxation and to scout acts for the show. They returned to Los Angeles (where the series was being taped) on August 2nd. However, according to newspaper archives, the act playing at the Cal-Neva Lodge was singer Trini Lopez of the Reprise Records label, followed by Tony Bennett on August 2nd. So the Cal-Neva trip couldn’t have happened during with short Vegas trip (and with Liza tagging along for no reason).
The date of this Cal-Neva show with Frank, Dean, and an appearance by Judy is unknown. If anyone knows the actual date or has more information about the performance, please let me know.
The photo above right is from the 1962 taping of the “Judy, Frank, and Dean” TV special.
[UPDATE] Thanks to our friend Bobby Waters, it turns out that the Tahoe show took place on September 5, 1963. Somewhere along the line the month and day were switched. A YouTube posting of the audio also has the date incorrect. What probably happened is that someone who used the day/month format of dating switched from the American format of month/day. Mystery solved! 🙂
May 9, 1967: Here’s another article about Judy’s short time working on the film Valley of the Dolls.
May 9, 1970: Here are a couple of items regarding the album “Judy. London. 1969.”
May 9, 1972: Another installment from the pseudo-biography of Judy by Judy’s last husband, Mickey Deans.