On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – May 12

Posted by

“I want to come back to the theater.  I like its warmth, the contact with people . . . I can’t put it in words.” – Judy Garland, 1961

May 12, 1928:  “The Gumm Sisters” were part of a float in the Annual Health Parade in Lancaster, California.

May 12, 1929: “The Gumm Sisters” performed at their father’s theater, “The Valley Theater,” in Lancaster, California.

May 12, 1938:  MGM kept Judy’s name in the papers including these three examples.

May 12, 1939:  Judy’s first day of filming on Babes In Arms with Mickey Rooney.  The two filmed the “Good Morning” song on the “Interior Randall’s Office” set.  Per the assistant director’s notes: “JG – Time called 9 a.m.; arrived on set at 8:52 a.m.; 9:14-9:20 – wait for Judy Garland, putting on wardrobe; 9:30-9:44 – fix Judy’s makeup and hair, lunch was from 12:30-1:30 p.m.; time dismissed: 5:40 p.m.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Page on Babes in Arms here.

Judy gets her wish - Judy Garland in "Ziegfeld Girl"

May 12, 1941:  Judy gets her wish.

Judy Garland and Jackie Cooper in Though Judy plays her first “glamour girl” role in “Ziegfeld Gir” now at Loew’s, she is still a little put out because the romance in her film life is still of the puppy love variety and does not permit her a single kiss from her beau, Jackie Cooper, throughout the film.

Lana Turner kisses or is kissed by James Stewart, eight times, and by Ian Hunter twice; Hedy Lamarr kisses Phillip Dorn five times and Tony Martin once – but Judy goes kissless.

“What’s the matter with me?” she demanded of Director Robert Leonard.  “Not a thing,” he answered, and to prove it, the next time Judy played a scene with Charles Winninger, who appears as the father in the musical, Leonard shot an extra “take in which she kisses Winninger.”

Photo provided by Kim Lundgreen.  Thanks, Kim!

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

May 12, 1942:  Filming continued on For Me And My Gal, specifically scenes shot on the “Interior Harry’s Room” set.  Time called: 10:00 a.m.; dismissed: 5:45 p.m.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on For Me And My Gal here.


May 12, 1943:  For Me And My Gal was still playing in theaters around the country and the rest of the world, as this fun advertisement from Melbourne, Australia’s “The Age” newspaper shows.

On this day at MGM, Judy was out sick for the day after having returned from the Girl Crazy location shooting in Palm Springs, California, the day before.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on For Me And My Gal here.

May 12, 1944:  Judy Garland, playwright/author.  The news of Judy allegedly writing a three-act play titled “Swoon Song” was in the Hollywood columns.  This is yet another example of the very active MGM Publicity Department.


May 12, 1945:  The last day of a rare three-day break for Judy during the filming of The Harvey Girls.  Judy had no other professional obligations during this break.

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

May 12, 1947:  Filming on The Pirate continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Manuela’s Bedroom” and “Interior Sebastian Hotel Bedroom” sets.  Time called: 9:45 a.m.; dismissed: 6:20 p.m.

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

May 12, 1953:  Columnist Sheilah Graham noted that Judy and her husband Sid Luft arrive in Los Angeles on this date, presumably to begin work on A Star Is Born.

Alone LP

May 12, 1957:  Here is a review of Judy’s latest album for Capitol Records, the sublime “Alone.”

Judy Garland Hits Top Form Musically
Judy Garland Hits Top Form Musically -

THE RELEASE from Capitol of an album by the one and only Judy Garland is something to crow about – particularly when the LP is the finest she has ever turned out.

In arrangements, orchestra backgrounds and individual interpretation, the storm=ridden Judy has never appeared to better advantage on record.

She possesses an incomparable showmanship, the kind that wins lifetime fans.  Her personality is part and parcel of her talent.  She doesn’t, she can’t get lost in the crowd.

The Garland girl’s 11 numbers bunded in a misty, elegant package called “Alone” will hardly get lost in anyone’s record library, either.

Judy, whose nerves can play havoc with her voice – and frequently have on television – is caught in a relaxed, bluesy mood for such songs as “By Myself,” “Little Girl Blue,” “Among My Souvenirs” and “Mean to Me.”

Judy’s musical imagination evokes a melancholy atmosphere through both sides of the LP.  She becomes a solitary singer, hitting the intimate mood and emotions of a real torch singer.

Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra provide her with a fine, beguiling background.  You can hear in many of the arrangements hints of the composer-conductor’s favorite, so it would seem, theme – that haunting “Never leave me, never leave me” phrasing from his “Manhattan Towers.”

Check out The Judy Garland Online Discography’s “Alone” pages here.

Liza Minnelli on stage with her mother, Judy Garland, at the Flamingo in Las Vegas, May 1957.

May 12, 1957:  This article by Harold Heffernan was published.  Judy was in the middle of a three-week run at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It’s interesting that the paper chose to run a photo of Judy from the early 40s.

‘Be Sincere,’ Tip From Judy Garland
Judy Garland says "Be Sincere"HOLLYWOOD – Just before taking off to break in a new nightclub act at the roughest proving ground of them all, Las Vegas, Judy Garland offered a couple of pointed suggestions to the ever-increasing crop of new singing sensations now sweeping into the clubs, the TV airways and Hollywood movies.

“Sing as though you mean every word of it,” she advises.  “And if you can’t believe the lyrics of your song don’t accept it.  Too many fine voices don’t ring with sincerity of the words.”

Judy labels Frank Sinatra the outstanding example today of the soloist who sings what he means and means what he sings.  She likes nothing better than to watch and listen to him in action.”

In a chatty and occasionally reminiscent mood between rehearsals of the expensively dressed variety show she is breaking in at Vegas’ Flamingo Hotel, the one-time teenage darling of the MGM lot was bursting with plans not only for a continuing nitery tour, but for more television specials and a motion picture feature.

None of these is in a form tangible enough to be discussed just yet, she said.

In Judy’s “I Remember” moments, she was recalling those exciting days when as a mere kid of 15 she was going to school on the MGM lot along with Deanna Durbin, Freddie Bartholomew, Mickey Rooney and other “name” youngsters of that era, and how Mickey taught her most everything she came to know about acting in front of the camera – or in front of anything else, she added.

“I’d been in vaudeville for several years with my family,” Judy explained, “but never had I been asked to read a line until I was suddenly cast in one of the ‘Hardy’ pictures.”

“I was frightened to death until Micke, the old veteran – he was 19 then – put his arm around me and said: ‘Honey, you’ve got to believe in what you’re saying and doing – that’s the whole secret of acting.  And when you sing, make like you’re singing as though you mean it – and live the part.’ “

That made her pause and ponder – hard, Judy said, before long she was vastly improved in both voice and delivery; simply by putting Mickey’s words into action.

And, she recalled, it wasn’t many weeks after when she was ushered into a recording studio to sing the undying Garland theme song, “Over the Rainbow.”  When he heard it play back Mervyn Le Roy, directing her in “The Wizard of Oz,” commented: “That little girl’s vocal chords are heart-strings.

Dressed in black silk tights over a pair of legs that would cause Jayne Mansfield to stare and a floppy black silk jacked, Judy breezed through a final practice routine in a rental hall before boarding the train for Las Vegas.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

MGM MOVIES on Channel 4 in Tucson, Arizon May 12, 1957

Meanwhile, as this advertisement from Tucson, Arizona’s “Arizona Daily Star” shows, MGM was marketing its film catalog as television events.  They certainly were!  How many of us out there still remember staying up all night, or even calling into work “sick,” to catch a Garland film on TV?  In those pre-cable, pre-home media, pre-Internet years we scoured every TV Guide and newspaper listing hoping for showings of Judy’s films.  It’s all we had!

May 12, 1961:  Judy’s 1960/1961 one-woman-concert tour took her to The Masonic Auditorium in Detroit, Michigan.  Judy had recently given her concert at the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas for a whopping 9,400 people in attendance.

From the Detroit Free Press, May 7, 1961:
The Rainbow Is Shining Again
BY JAMES POOLER – Free Press Special Writer

JUDY GARLAND is coming to Detroit for a one-woman, one-performance show at Masonic Temple Friday.

Miss Garland is etched in our memory as a gay child from “The Wizard of Oz” who sang some lasting songs and disported herself to some fickle fame with the Straw Man, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.

But this is considerably “Over the Rainbow” – some years have passed during which we have grown some grey grass above our years – and Miss Garland, from the young star of such other movies as “Meet Me in St. Louis,” has had the bitter and the sweet.

SO WHAT NOW about her riding the crest again – with movies and concerts, having just wowed them in Carnegie Hall?

So we picked up the phone and there was Judy’s voice,  young and buoyant with the upbeat of success again in it.

(Good Gosh, is Judy now 38 with the oldest of her three children at 15 older than Judy was when she was starring in the movies . . .)

It was drizzling in Detroit but the sun was shining in New York – an omen of rise and shine – and from such amenities as the weather we passed on to other things.

SUCH AS the night we accompanied a trainload of stars, including her, from Chicago to Detroit and sat up all night playing poker with a couple of male stars and a famous cameraman.

Judy had forgotten it of course – she was just a child then – but we remembered it fondly, having won $31 because that cameraman kept betting into pairs showing.

Having thus established some intimacy with the beginnings of the Garland saga – (the poor kid probably had to go to bed early on the night of one of our few poker triumphs) – we could proceed as old acquaintances to question the how-now of the topsy-turvy career she began as a toddler of two in the old vaudeville act of “The Gumm Sisters.”

THE CRITICS had enthused about her Carnegie Hall appearance, but what about her return to the movies?  In “Judgment at Nuremberg,” her first picture since she made “A Star Is Born” six years ago?

“It was wonderful working in it,” Miss Garland said.

“Why wouldn’t it be . . . working for Stanley Kramer . . . working with such stars as Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark and all the rest.  It should be a marvelous movie considering its subject matter.”

Then Miss Garland added modestly, “I have only eight minutes of it.  But it is great being part of a great movie.”

HAS IT LED to other things?

“Oh, yes,” she enthused.  “I’m making three more movies.

“Two more for Stanley Kramer.  He’ll have to announce them.  And one with my own movie company . . . a picture called ‘The Lonely Stage’.”

You have your own movie company?

“Yes, ‘Kings Row’, in London,” she said on.

It turned out that Judy Garland – now somewhat separated from Hollywood – maintains homes in both New York, where her children go to school, and in London, from which base the family takes junkets in Europe summers.

“I DON’T know how I’ll find time for all these movies,” she sounded very happy, “what with the tours and going into a Broadway play this September.”

You’re going into a play?

“Yes,” said Miss Garland, “But again, I’m not the one to announce it.  Oh, it’s wonderful to be busy.  I like it that way.”

Did she like movies – high revenue for a star – or playing to live audiences better?

“I’d never do movies solely again,” she said.  “I want to come back to the theater.  I like its warmth, the contact with people . . . I can’t put it in words –.”

WAS IT true she knocked herself out playing to live audiences – such as when she comes to Detroit?

“Yes,” said Judy, “I won’t schedule more than three appearances in a week.  I can’t do shows every day.”

“Every time I come on stage I do a 2 1/2-hour show . . . I sing at least 43 songs . . . I do, as you say, knock myself out.”

THERE WERE children’s voices now in the background, coming home from school – Judy’s three are 15, 8, and 5, she said – and we decided this was a happy note on which to say goodbye.

For stars are born – they have their personal tragedies – they come and they go – they all have their personal tragedies – they come and they go – they all have a compulsion to please us and knock themselves out trying – and they have their happy times when they’re high riding the tide.  

They can’t be happy winning $31 at poker.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

May 12, 1964:  Here is some early gossip about Judy and her new boyfriend, Mark Herron.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

May 12, 1972:  Part Five of the excerpts from the Mickey Deans “bio” on Judy, “Weep No More My Lady.”  Deans was Judy’s last husband.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.