On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – May 19

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The story of Judy is almost entirely of and in theater.”
– Uncredited article, 1957

May 19, 1933:  The first of a two-night engagement for Frances (Judy) at the Fairfax Theater in West Hollywood, California.  This engagement has also been noted as taking place on May 25th & 26th.

May 19, 1934:  Judy and her sisters, as “The Gumm Sisters,” were on the second of a three-night engagement as part of the “Film Star Frolic” at the Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

May 19, 1938:  Newspapers around the country noted that on the “Good News of 1938” program for this night, Judy was a featured guest along with Joan Crawford, Fanny Brice, Frank Morgan, the Max Terr chorus, and Meredith Willson’s orchestra.  There are no known records of what Judy sang although it’s most likely that she sang something from Everybody Sing which was in theaters at the time.  The only known content was the featured dramatic “sketch” titled “Dark World” written by the NBC playwright Arc Oboler and starring Joan Crawford.  It was also noted that “The MGM Theater of the Air, a new dramatic presentation starring Hollywood’s leading film players, will be inaugurated as a weekly feature of the Good News of 1938 program during the broadcast this evening.”  This is interesting in that MGM created a program titled “MGM Theater of the Air” that premiered over ten years later in 1949.  This was either a precursor to that program or something entirely different.

The same cast (Crawford, Brice, Morgan, and Willson’s orchestra) joined Judy for the October 20th edition of “Good News of 1938” newly titled “Good News of 1939.”

UPDATE! – The wonderful Kim Lundgreen provided a copy of the program and Judy was not a part of the broadcast.  She was promoted and listed as being one of the guests, in almost all the papers, so we assumed that she had to back out at the last minute for reasons unknown.  Mystery solved.  Thanks, Kim!

May 19, 1941:  Recording session for Life Beings For Andy Hardy.  Judy pre-recorded “America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee).”  Judy eventually recorded and filmed four songs for the movie but for some reason they were all cut, making the film technically Judy’s first “straight dramatic role.”

Although the film footage has been lost, the audio of all four songs (“America”; “Easy To Love”; “Abide With Me”; and “The Rosary”) survive and were first released on the 1994 laserdisc release “Judy Garland – The Golden Years at MGM.”

Listen to the recordings here, all newly remastered:

America (My Country ‘Tis Of Thee) (remastered) (recorded May 19, 1941)

Easy To Love Part 2 – Take 4 (remastered) (recorded June 4 & 25, 1941)

Abide With Me – Take 7 (remastered) (recorded June 4, 1941)

My Rosary – Take 3 (remastered) (recorded June 4 & 25, 1941)

More rare recordings can be downloaded on The Judy Room’s “Judy Sings!” pages.

May 19, 1942:  For Me And My Gal filming continued with scenes on the “Interior Palace” set.  This was the first day of shooting the original finale which featured Judy with Gene Kelly and George Murphy.  The finale was re-recorded and re-filmed in late June, eliminating Murphy from the number to better feature Kelly.  Time called: 10:30 a.m.; dismissed: 5:15 p.m.

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

May 19, 1943:  Filming was completed on Girl Crazy save for a brief dubbing session that following June 9th.  Scenes shot on this final day were those on the “Exterior Road to Station” set.  Time called: 10 a.m.; dismissed: 3:30 p.m.

Girl Crazy was the last of the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney musicals and arguably the best.  Judy and Mickey would appear on-screen only one more time: a brief guest spot in Words and Music in 1948 in which they performed one song together (“I Wish I Were In Love Again”).

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

May 19, 1943:  Judy’s upcoming concert at the Robin Hood Dell in Philadelphia, PA, was in the news.  The concert took place on July 1st, not June 24th as reported here.  It was Judy’s first time “in concert” and pre-dated the beginning of her famous “Concert Years” by seven years.

Also on May 19, 1943:  MGM had Judy sign this agreement giving her permission to appear on the “Mail Call” radio show that this agreement states was to take place on this night.  However, no “Mail Call” show was recorded nor broadcast on this date.  Judy took part in a “Mail Call” show on January 9, 1943, which was apparently her only appearance on the show in 1943.  It’s possible that a “Mail Call” was planned for May 19, 1943, but that it never happened.

May 19, 1943:  Here is a blurb about Judy’s two older sisters, Mary Jane and Virginia, and their employment at the MGM Studios.  Over the decades, urban legends have sprung up that claim either sister (take your pick) was on screen with Judy as one of the stock dancers in a few (or just one, depending on the story) of her films.  Neither sister was ever on-screen with Judy in any of her films, or anyone else’s films.  The IMDB entry for Virginia incorrectly lists her as on-screen in several MGM films, thanks to incorrect info being provided by zealous fans.  The oldest of the three sisters, Mary Jane, is also incorrectly listed at IMDB as being a dancer in the “Hoe Down” number in Babes on Broadway (1941).  There is no documentation to support these legends.  The “Hoe Down” assumption is based on the misguided attempt by an overzealous fan who claims one of the dancers “looks like Judy’s sister.”  It’s a nice thought, but completely untrue.

May 19, 1946:  Judy and Liza.

May 19, 1946:  The Harvey Girls.  Note how the “Indianapolis Star” used a photo of Judy from Meet Me In St. Louis (released in 1944) to promote The Harvey Girls.

May 19, 1948:  The Pirate was all set for its U.S. premiere at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

May 19, 1949:  This blurb in the trade magazine “Motion Picture Daily” reported on MGM borrowing Betty Hutton from Paramount to replace Judy in Annie Get Your Gun.  The magazine incorrectly states that Judy walked off the set at lunch and refused to return.  That was one of the stories put out by MGM, which wasn’t what actually happened.  See the May 10 entry for details about the day that Judy was fired from the film.

May 19, 1951:  Columnist Louella Parsons reported that a sequel to Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) was in the works.  Judy’s good friend Barron Poland was attached to the project.  The sequel never happened.

Check out more about Judy’s “Films That Got Away” here.

May 19, 1954:  Judy entered the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital for what was described as her annual checkup.

Judy Garland - Carrying on a tradition

May 19, 1957:  Not all of the legends and fabrications about Judy’s life and career were churned out by the MGM Publicity Department.  Long after Judy had left the studio, the legends and fabrications continued, as this article from the Detroit Free Press shows.  Judy was scheduled to bring her show to the Riviera Theater in Detroit on May 30th and this article was part of the build-up.


Show Girl from the Old School

May-19,-1957-DETROIT-Detroit_Free_Press-(ad-for-May-30)-CROP-2Show business in the great tradition of Jolson, Sophie Tucker, George M. Cohan and the Rooneys, father and son, is embodied in the person of a slight young woman named Judy Garland.

Judy and her company of entertainers will open a short engagement May 30 (Memorial Day at the Riviera Theater) using the format that brought her enormous success at the Palace Theater, New York.

THE STORY of Judy is almost entirely of and in theater.  It is a story one, punctuated with near-tragedy and heroic comeback from emotional disturbance.

Judy began life in Grand Rapids, Minn.  Her parents, Frank and Ethel Gumm had met in a motion picture theater where Frank was a vocalist and Ethel a pianist.  

The debut of the small Judy came at the age of 3, when she marched herself on stage and launched into a solo of “Jingle Bells.”  It was, of course, a smash hit

THE FAMILY moved to Lancaster, Calif., where Judy’s two sisters entered public school and Frank took over management of a theater.  Judy, too young for school, went into show business on her own, with neighborhood kids for audiences.

Her efforts didn’t make theater history.  They did, though, influence her parents to send her to a childs’ dramatic school, where she became a member of the famed Meglin Kiddies.

Gus Edwards, producer of juvenile acts, wanted the three Gumm sisters to act as a trio.  Their first sound offer came from the Oriental Theater in Chicago.

George Jessel, after seeing the girls billed as the “Glum Sisters,” quickly changed Judys’ name to Garland, “because you’re as pretty as a garland of flowers.”

Judy’s big break came after appearing on a special vaudeville program in Los Angeles.  A contract with MGM set her family on the path to fame.

A teen-age crush on Clark Gable entered her in the lists of song writers with her vocal coach, Roger Edens.  The song, “Dear Mr. Gable,” later became a hit when she introduced it in her “Broadway Melody” of 1948 [sic].

It brought her a charm bracelet from her dream man, with the inscription, “Judy, my favorite actress.”  Her career in pictures was sensational, culminating in an Academy Award for her role as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.”

THE PACE increased as the years passed, until the resistance of the sturdy young actress yielded under pressure, resulting in an emotional collapse.

In 1951 she made a spectacular comeback in her first show at the Palace, and in 1954 made the movie “A Star Is Born,” believed by many to have been her finest achievement.

Last year she returned to the Palace, where she remained till the current brief tour.

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

Judy Garland at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas

Also on May 19, 1957:  Judy was still enjoying great success at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Her 90-minute act included “Lucky Day”; “How About Me?” (soon to be released on her new “Alone” album from Capitol Records); “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby”; “Mean To Me”; “By Myself”; “The Man That Got Away”; “Come Rain Or Come Shine”; “A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow”; “A Couple of Swells”; and “Over The Rainbow.”  Judy was joined by Sid Krofft & His Puppets, and she joked to the press that the puppets’ wardrobe cost more than hers, allegedly a $50,000 Balmain wardrobe.

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

May 19, 1958:  Judy returned to Capitol Records in Hollywood, California, to begin work on her next album for the label, “Judy In Love,” arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle.

On this day Judy recorded “Day-In, Day-Out”; “This Is It”; and “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart.”

Listen to “Day-In, Day-Out” here:

Listen to “This Is It” here:

Listen to the mono version of “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart” here:

Listen to the stereo version of “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart” here:

Aside from being one of her best, “Judy In Love” is notable for being her first to be recorded in stereo.  Judy had previously recorded the songs for the soundtrack to “A Star Is Born” in stereo but the album was released in mono and stayed that way until its first CD release in 1988.

Judy In Love” was released on LP in both mono and stereo editions.  The mono version was released first on November 3, 1958, and the stereo version was released on February 16, 1959.  Both LPs used the same masters, aside from “Zing!” which featured a slightly different ending on the stereo LP than on the mono version.

Check out The Judy Garland Online Discography’s “Judy in Love” Pages here.

May 19, 1962:  The now-famous gala birthday celebration for President John F. Kennedy took place at New York’s Madison Square Garden.  This is the event at which Marilyn Monroe famously sang “Happy birthday, Mr. President.”  The event was star-studded and Judy was originally a part of the lineup but could not attend due to being in England still filming I Could Go On Singing.  The first poster above is an advance promotion that lists Judy as one of the scheduled stars.  By the time the ticket order ad was sent out, Judy’s name had been dropped.

Imagine how the event would have been if Judy had performed in addition to Monroe’s legendary performance.  What a night!


May 19, 1964:  Judy traveled by train – a twelve-hour trip from Sydney to Melbourne – for her next concert.  Black and white newsreel footage exists of her arrival, looking exhausted.  Judy did not give any interviews to the press before her concert.

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

May 19, 1965:  These snapshots (shown in the first two articles) were taken of Judy at the Santa Monica superior court where she gave her final testimony and was granted her divorce from Sid Luft.  The divorce would not be final until the following September.

Santa Monica, Calif (AP)

Judy Garland ended her tempestuous 13-year marriage to Sid Left by getting a divorce, testifying Wednesday:  “He struck me many times.  He did a lot of drinking.”

The 42-year-old singing star testified also that Left, 46, had tried to take their two children from her by force and had used “profane language before both me and the children.”

Her voice was low.  She wore dark glasses as she testified in Superior Court.  She wore a bright yellow suit with mink collar and tiny matching pillbox hat.

Judge Edward R. Brand, inquiring about support of the children, Lorna, 12, and Joseph, 10, asked her:  “Is Mr. Luft Working?”

“I don’t believe he is.  I don’t know,” said Miss Garland.

“Has he been contributing to support the children?”


“I don’t know why he should be relieved of supporting his children,” the judge said, ordering Left to pay $150 month support for each child.

He granted Left reasonable visitation rights but forbade him to take the children from Los Angeles County without court permission.

Two witnesses supported Miss Garland’s testimony.

Karl Brent, her personal manager testified that Left attempted to take the children forcibly from a Las Vegas, Nev. ranch in 1962.

Mattie Oliver, housekeeper, said she found Judy sleepless and upset one morning and that the singer told her:  “Because of Left, I can’t sleep.  I’m afraid.”

Miss Garland’s complaint charged cruelty.  It listed July 26, 1963, as the date of separation but she told the judge the couple actually parted in January 1960.

Miss Garland filed but withdrew three previous divorce suits against Left – two in California, one in Nevada.

In 1951, she divorced film director Vincent Minelli [sic], by whom she has a daughter, Liza May, 18.  In 1944 she divorced composer-conductor David Rose.  Left formerly was married to actress Lynn Bari.


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