On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – May 21

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“I was so enthralled by all that was happening, Judy’s wonderful voice filling this huge theater and the audience’s appreciation of witnessing musical talent at its best …” – Tom McGee

Judy in 1931

May 21, 1932:  Local girl, 9-year-old Frances Gumm (Judy Garland), took part in the “Annual May Musicale of the PTA” at the Lancaster High School Auditorium, Lancaster, California.  It’s reported that she sang “Only God Can Make A Tree” and “Cherie.”

May 21, 1941:  Judy’s appearance in Life Begins For Andy Hardy was her final in the series.  She had outgrown the “good pal” Betsy Booth role and was more than ready for adult roles.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on Life Begins For Andy Hardy here.

May 21, 1941: Judy Garland records for 9 cents each
May 21, 1941: Judy Garland records for 9 cents each.

Judy Garland's great aunt passed away

May 21, 1944:  The Tennessean Sun in Nashville, Tennessee, reported on the death of Judy’s great aunt.  Judy’s father, Frank Gumm, was originally from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and the town still reported on the comings and goings of the family both before Judy hit it big and naturally afterward.  It’s unclear if Judy ever met her great aunt or not but probably not.  After Judy and her sisters were born the family never visited the town.

Meanwhile, Judy’s MGM career was at its apex, with MGM allowing her to finally branch out and play a straight dramatic role (The Clock).  One year later The Clock was enjoying success with audiences and critics.  To this day remains one of Judy’s best film performances.

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

May 21, 1947:  Judy was given the plum role of Annie Oakley in MGM’s version of the smash Broadway hit, “Annie Get Your Gun.”  Sadly, exactly two years later newspapers were filled with the news that Betty Hutton was replacing Judy in the film.

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

May 21, 1951:  Here’s Judy entering and in concert at the Empire Theater in Glasgow, Scotland.

Judy Garland and Alfred Ellsworth, MBE, in Glasgow, Scotland, May 21, 1951
Judy Garland and Alfred Ellsworth, MBE, in Glasgow, Scotland, May 21, 1951

Judy had recently opened at The London Palladium which began her legendary “Concert Years.”  This week-long engagement in Glasgow was part of a tour of Great Britain that helped put Judy back on her feet professionally and prepped her for her record-breaking appearance at The Palace in New York.

Here is an account of Judy’s show written by Tom McGee and published in 2001 in a Betty Grable fan publication.  Although McGee has his month incorrect, the article is a wonderful read (tap on the image to read it.  A big thanks to Kim Lundgreen for sharing the article and the photos.

May 21, 1951 Glasgow 2001 Article for Grable pub

May 21, 1952:  “The Bing Crosby Show” aired on CBS Radio, with Judy as Bing’s guest.  Judy sang “When You’re Smiling”; “Mean To Me” and duetted with Bing on “When You Wore A Tulip.”Judy Garland - Classic Duets - from JSP Records

Listen to, and download, the complete show here.

Crosby’s shows were pre-recorded a week or two in advance which is why so many have survived for us to enjoy.  Judy and Bing are magic together!  The performances have been released on various LP and CDs, including the recent deluxe 4-CD boxed set “Classic Duets.”

May 21, 1961:  Judy returned to Carnegie Hall in New York, just a month after her legendary concert of April 23rd. Silent footage from this show exists (see video).  Liza joined Judy on stage for a second rendition of “Swanee.”

May 21, 1964:  Judy’s disastrous appearance in Melbourne, Australia was big news.  The recent triumphs in Sydney were almost forgotten due to being overshadowed by the more dramatic, tabloid-esque aspect of the Melbourne debacle.  Here are a few articles (tap the images to read them).  The report transcribed below is from the Chicago Tribune.


Jeered by Audience in Melbourne

SYDNEY, Australia, May 21 [Reuters] – Singer Judy Garland evaded reporters here today after arriving by plane in the wake of a storm she created in Melbourne.

She was dragged struggling to the plane at Melbourne airport earlier today after last night’s concert when she was jeered by an audience she kept waiting 65 minutes.

Miss Garland and her party were whisked off by two cars when they arrived at Sydney. Reporters and photographers were kept away until they had left.

Actor with Her

Miss Garland said, in a radio interview, that it may be time for her to quit singing.

She was scheduled to leave for Hong Kong tomorrow morning.

The 42-year-old singer, accompanied by an American actor, Mark Herron, arrived at Melbourne airport today 10 minutes before her plane was to leave. She stayed in a lounge until officials insisted she go aboard.

Walk from hell

Miss Garland cried “no, No,” as she was put on the plane. She tried to break free several times.

Last night she arrived late for her concert at Melbourne’s Festival Hall, tripped going on stage, and sang in a voice which critics described as “harsh and raspy.”

A steady stream of people walked out of the hall. After an extended intermission she sang three numbers and left.

Her performance was described as “the most humiliating professional musicians ever had to bear in Australia,” by J.D. Thomson, secretary of the musician’s union.

After the concert last night her manager, Karl Brent, said he thought the singer had laryngitis.

Brent explained Miss Garland’s struggling at the airport by saying that the zipper on her skirt had broken and she wanted it fixed before taking off.

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