“I guess learning tunes by ear makes it a pretty dodgy business, but I’ve gotten by without learning music, anyhow.” – Judy Garland, 1964
May 11, 1927: “The Gumm Family” performed at the All Souls Church Mississippi Flood Food Benefit, Wilshire Masonic Hall, Los Angeles, California. The show started at 8 p.m. and the tickets cost $1.
May 11, 1935: “The Garland Sisters” performed at the “Sisterhood of Temple Israel Mother and Children’s Day” festivities at the Temple Israel, Hollywood, California.
May 11, 1937: Judy’s weekly appearance on the CBS Radio show “Jack Oakie’s College.” Judy sang “Trailing Along In A Trailer.” No recording of this performance exists but a transcript of the show survives. Download that transcript (PDF) here.
Note: This is the date that has incorrectly been given as the date that Judy sang “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” but as this transcript shows, she only sang “Trailing Along In A Trailer.” This date was confused with her performance a week before, on May 4, 1937. The error is most likely due to the fact that a surviving transcription disc of Judy’s performance of “They Can’t Take That Away” is incorrectly dated the 11th rather than the 4th.
Also on this day, this ad out of Algona, Iowa, reflects the fact that Judy’s 1936 short, Every Sunday, still made the rounds.
May 11, 1939: Judy was on the MGM Recording Stage pre-recording “Good Morning”; “Opera Vs. Jazz” and “Where or When” for Babes in Arms. Time called: 12:30 p.m.; dismissed: 5:40 p.m.
Here are a couple of Judy-related news items published on this date. The boyfriend story is another example of studio-created “news” items which kept their stars’ names in the public eye.
May 11, 1940: This fun spread appeared in The Australian Women’s Weekly news magazine, focusing on the Oscar ceremony of 1940.
The caption below Judy’s photo reads: “Judy Garland, who was handed her award as the best juvenile in pictures for 1939, by the 1938 winner, Mickey Rooney, obliges with a song. Appropriately enough she chose ‘Over the Rainbow’ from The Wizard of Oz – named the best original song of the year – and brought the house down.”
Also on this date, Harrison Carroll reported in his column about the filming of part of the “Nell of New Rochelle” number in Strike Up The Band. Included below is a blurb about Judy redecorating her dressing room trailer. This is another studio fabrication. All of the photos of the inside of Judy’s dressing room trailer at this time show no nautical theme. In fact, she kept it decorated fairly simple manner.
May 11, 1941: Judy was featured in the “Sunday Magazine” newspaper insert. Below, a story about Judy and Mickey Rooney’s alleged involvement in the campaign for Youth China of United China Relief. MGM might have allowed the use of Judy and Mickey’s names and images in conjunction with the cause but it’s doubtful the duo had any real active role, they were much too busy at the studio and with other MGM-related commitments such as radio appearances.
May 11, 1942: Filming continued on For Me And My Gal, specifically scenes shot on the “Interior Hotel Lobby and Elevator” sets. Time called: 10:00 a.m.; dismissed: 2:50 p.m.
Here’s another studio-provided blurb about Judy’s niece visiting the set.
May 11, 1943: The last day of location shooting in Palm Springs, California for Girl Crazy. The scenes shot were more of the “Exterior Roads” sequence. Time called: 8:30 a.m.; dismissed: 1:55 p.m. The assistant director’s notes state that: “Travel to LA approx. 4hrs.”
May 11, 1958: Judy performed at the Minnesota State Centennial Celebration, singing to a crowd of 20,000. This was Judy’s home state and was the last time she performed there. She was backed by the 32-piece Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. Judy sang several songs in the sweltering heat.
At one point Judy asked for a glass of water and Congressman Walter Judd, who was also a doctor, rushed from the back row to the stage and handed Judy a glass with orange juice in it. “What’s this?” Judy asked. “Orange juice, I think,” replied Judd. “Are you sure?” said Judy as she sipped it, then she said, “You’re right!” Judy then sang “Over the Rainbow” completing her set. Offstage she said “I’ve never been so scared in my life. I’m afraid I just wasn’t good.” After assurances that she was great, she signed autographs. Judy was expected back on stage for the finale, joining in the singing of “God Bless America” but she failed to appear. She was suffering from severe laryngitis and had been since the day before. She most likely needed to rest her voice.
Listen to, and download, selections from this concert here:
“Here I Am” (Judy stops midway, joking about missing a lyric, and said “Isn’t this terrible? And I was trying to be so classy!”
“Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody”
“Over The Rainbow”
May 11, 1959: Judy opened at The Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Judy was the first female pop singer to play the Met. The engagement benefitted the Children’s Asthma Research Institute and Hospital in Denver, Colorado, and grossed $190k during its run through May 17, 1959.
On this same day, the mayor of New York, Robert Wagner, presented Judy with a special citation for “Distinguished and exceptional service” in her work and her charitable work.
Listen to, and download, selections from this concert here:
“Almost Like Being In Love/This Can’t Be Love” (note that this recording is from Judy’s 1959 Opera House Tour although it’s unknown which venue)
“When You’re Smiling”
“Almost Like Being In Love/This Can’t Be Love”
“The Man That Got Away”
“I’m In Love With A Wonderful Guy”
Unfortunately, the recordings are not of the best quality as they were not recorded through the sound system.
May 11, 1961: Judy left Houston, Texas, at 7:00 a.m. for her next concert which was scheduled for the next day in Detroit, Michigan.
May 11, 1964: Judy arrived in Sydney, Australia for the start of her Australian tour. She gave several interviews in a large press conference/reception in her honor.
May 11, 1965: Judy and former husband Vincente Minnelli attended daughter Liza’s Broadway debut, in the musical “Flora, The Red Menace” and the party afterward at Ruby Foo’s – next door to the Alvin Theater on West 52nd Street where “Flora” played.
At the party, Judy and Liza sang “Swanee” and “Together” and also attempted “Don’t Rain On My Parade.” It’s too bad there’s no recording of these performances!
Liza won the Tony Award for her performance, making her the youngest recipient of the Tony for “Best Leading Actress In A Musical.”
May 11, 1970: The LP “Judy. London. 1969.” was re-released in May 1970 prompting this error-laden review by William D. Laffler. The album was originally released in late 1969 and was made up of performances from Judy’s last few weeks of appearances at the “Talk Of The Town” cabaret in London. She performed there, off and on, from December 30, 1968, through February 1, 1969. The exact dates of many of the recordings are not known, as they were culled from tapes made by both Judy’s husband at the time, Mickey Deans, and her friend and companion John Meyer. The only difference between the two releases is that the second release featured the banner “Judy Garland’s Last Performances! Her Very Last Recording!”
The version of “I’d Like To Hate Myself In The Morning” on this LP is actually from Judy’s appearance on the Merv Griffin show on December 19, 1968, in New York City.
In reality, the recordings on the LP were not Judy’s final performances. She still had several performances ahead of her including the Scandinavian tour. Nor was it her very last recording. Judy’s then-husband Mickey Deans recorded Judy, himself, Anita O’Day, and Charlie Cochran rehearsing for their appearance at the Half Note Club in New York on June 16, 1969. These are the last Garland recordings known to exist. You can listen to these recordings on The Judy Room’s “Judy Sings! Miscellaneous” page.