On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – May 23

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“The incomparable Judy sings with a heart-catching blend of tenderness, torchiness and irrepressible vitality.” – Capitol Records ad, 1957

May 23, 1925:  “The Gumm Sisters” performed at their father’s theater, the New Grand Theater in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  It is believed that the girls appeared in “The Kinky Kids Parade” impersonating Al Jolson in blackface.

The Gumm Sisters in 1930

May 23, 1930:  Judy and her sisters, “The Gumm Sisters,” were billed as “The Hollywood Starlets Trio” performing as part of the annual Milk Fund Benefit at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.  24 years later the Shrine was featured in the plot of Judy’s big film comeback, the masterpiece A Star Is Born, with pivotal scenes in the beginning and end of the film shot and/or taking place at the venue.

The event took place over the weekend of May 23rd, 24th, and 25th, and featured quite a few stars including Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Bill Robinson, and future “Tin Man” Jack Haley.  It’s unknown if Haley performed the night Judy did and/or if they met during the event.  It’s nice to think that maybe they did.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on A Star Is Born here.

May 23, 1935:  “The Garland Sisters” continued their successful run at the Paramount Theatre in Los Angeles.

May 23, 1937:  Judy took part in a huge swing event at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.  The event was called “Jam Session Benefit for Joe Sullivan” and in the first article shown here (printed a few days before the event) she is listed as one of the “greatest swingsters in the nation” who would be participating.  An hour of the event was broadcast (see second clipping) on local radio although no recording is known to exist and it’s unknown what Judy sang, just that she sang with “the Swing Choir.”

May 23, 1939 I Cried For You

May 23, 1939:  Pre-recording session for Babes in Arms.  Judy pre-recorded her solo “I Cried For You,” plus “Babes in Arms” with Mickey Rooney, Douglas McPhail, Betty Jaynes, and the MGM Studio Chorus.  The assistant director’s notes state that filming continued on the “Interior Jim’s Saloon” and “Exterior Moran Home” sets but noted that “JG was prerecording.”  Unfortunately, the Daily Music Report for the “Babes in Arms” session hasn’t survived.

Listen to “I Cried For You” (with dialog) here:

Listen to “I Cried For You” (extended version without dialog) here:

Listen to “Babes in Arms” here:

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

Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in "Strike Up The Band"

May 23, 1940:  Strike Up The Band filming continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Classroom” and “Locker Room” sets.  Time called: 10:30 a.m.; dismissed: 6 p.m.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on Strike Up The Band here.

May 23, 1940:  This article about recent recordings made for the Decca Records label includes a note about Judy and Johnny Mercer’s recording of “Friendship” and Judy’s solo of “Wearing of the Green.”  “Friendship” was recorded on April 15, 1940, and “Wearing of the Green” was recorded on April 10, 1940.  As the article states, the two were released on Decca Single #3165.

Listen to “Friendship” here:

Listen to the alternate take of “Friendship” here:

Listen to “Wearing Of The Green” here:

Check out The Judy Garland Online Discography’s Decca Records Section for more about the recordings Judy made for the label.

Label images provided by Rick Smith.  Thanks, Rick!

May 23, 1942:  For Me And My Gal filming continued with the “Ballin’ the Jack” number on the “Interior Newark Palace” set.  Time called: 10 a.m.; dismissed: 6:50 p.m.

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

Also on this day, this news blurb about Judy becoming proficient at tennis.  Judy did play tennis off and on in the late 30s and early 40s.  Judy was photographed on April 21, 1940, playing tennis and raising money for the British War Relief Fund.

Below are better versions of the images seen above

May 23, 1943:  “Men in the Life of Judy Garland” – this photo collection shows Judy with various men who worked with her on Presenting Lily Mars.  Accompanying it was this article:

May-23,-1943-The_Cincinnati_Enquirer-1“Judy Has Chance To Act Part She Learned In Life”
By E.B. Radcliffe

FROM all the dope I can pick up about Judy Garland’s forthcoming picture, “Presenting Lily Mars,” it is a picture which adds musical interludes to a story similar to Booth Tarkington’s book about the trials and tribulations of a stage-struck girl.

Because the outline of the story includes experiences similar to those of Miss Garland’s own career in show business, and because it is for the most part a straight role for her, it is a picture which should be of special interest to Garland fans – of which, as the saying goes, there are more than a few in these parts. 

Consensus of opinion among reviewers up and down the country is that Miss Garland has shown ability to match her singing with an equally refreshing, sincere, simple, and effective brand of acting.  This has been evident in those pictures which required her to appeal to the deeper emotions on occasion.  Since this picture gives her her first dramatic part since “Life Begins For Andy Hardy,” it will be interesting to see how she has improved, and what she can do with a solid part that requires her to show how it feels to strive, struggle, and fail frequently before she enjoys success.

IT GOES without saying that in Thursday’s forthcoming Palace feature those parts calling for her to sing with the bands of Tommy Dorsey and Bing Crosby will be well taken care of.

But the manner in which she shakes off ridicule and meets reversals – and otherwise works out the destiny of the Tarkington 19-year-old small-town girl who grimly set out to prove the justice of her faith in her dramatic powers – will be something else again.

However, she should be able to bring conviction to her part if she capitalizes on her own personal experiences.

FOR THE biographical information which the studio releases about Miss Garland reveals the following facts:

She was born in the small town of Grand Rapids, Minn.  Her father, Frank Gumm, operated a theater known as the New Grand Theater.  He and his wife had toured the vaudeville circuits previously, but had settled in Minnesota for a time.  Judy made her acting debut when she was three years old and wandered out onto the stage to sing “Jingle Bells” eight times in a row for an entranced audience during a Christmas week show.  Her father carried her kicking and screaming off the stage – even then she loved the footlights.  Her two older sisters, Virginia and Sue, were a singing team at the time.

Some years later Judy and her family decided to go to California.  They worked there at any small theater that would book them and eventually settled in Lancaster, Calif., where Mr. Gumm took over the local theater.

For nine years the family lived in this small desert town.  Winter found the girls studying hard in school; summer found them working hard o the road.  They played every theater on the West Coast that would have them, but it wasn’t easy.  Audiences often walked out and managers and critics panned them.  One Christmas found the girls and their mother eating Christmas dinner at a drugstore near the theater.  It didn’t stop them, however; the hardship only made them mad and gave them the courage to go on.

Some time later Virginia and Sue got married.  By this time Judy was as familiar with singing and dancing routines as they were, having worked with them in a trio act. 

During one of the last appearances of this act a talent scout spotted Judy and signed her to an M-G-M contract.  But the way was still thorny.  She was given small parts and worked slowly toward more important roles.  However, after an appearance in a short subject with Deanna Durbin titles “Every Sunday Afternoon,” executives began to notice her and in rapid succession she appeared in “Pigskin Parade,” “Broadway Melody of 1938,” “Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry,” “Everybody Sing,” and “Love Finds Andy Hardy.”

By this time her future was set.  She had learned through a hard struggle, overcome obstacles, and had mastered the technique of pictures.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on Presenting Lily Mars here.


May 23, 1945:  Columnist Bob Thomas writes about Judy and The Harvey Girls.

What’s The Rush? – – Judy Garland!

HOLLYWOOD – It is an eerie feeling to be watching Judy Garland on the screen and then hear her voice beside you.
I was watching Judy play a scene in the MGM extravaganza, “The Harvey Girls.”  She was supposed to be holding up a frontier saloon and she twirled two revolvers and even shot one of them.  It was a fairly convincing performance for a girl who is deathly afraid of guns.

When the lunch hour was called, Judy asked me to come along with her to see some rushes.  Rushes are the rough, uncut prints of shots made during the previous days of the picture.

On the way to the projection room, I asked Judy if she always looked at the rushes.

“Oh yes,” she said, “particularly during the first few weeks of a picture so I can see how the makeup and hair and costumes look.”

“And it helps to keep me in character, especially when the picture isn’t being made in continuity and you’re filming the beginning of the picture last and the end first.  Sometimes, too, I might be doing a closeup in which I say, ‘John Hodiak, you’re a dirty rat,’ when in reality John Hodiak is miles away from MGM.  It’s hard to remember what you’re trying to do without seeing rushes.
When we got to the projection room, Judy snuggled into a soft leather chair.  I sat beside her.  Judy signaled to the operator and we watched a romantic outdoor scene with her and John Hodiak.

Rushes are quite funny for the average movie goer to watch.  First we see a man holding a board which gives the number of the scene.  Then he disappears and we see the two performers.  Hodiak is gazing abstractly at the sky and Judy is rubbing his nose.  Then a voice says “action” and they go into an emotional scene.

After a minute or two of dialogue, a voice says “cut.”  Judy and Hodiak break their embrace and stand with bored expressions until the screen is blank again.

We watched several takes of the same scene and Judy observed them very carefully.  What appeared very good to me often drew her disapproval.  Hearing her voice on the screen and beside me at the same time was an amazing sensation.

Next we saw the “Atchinson [sic], Topeka, and Santa Fe” number from “The Harvey Girls.”  It is one of those musical comedy production numbers which could never happen in real life.  It is also quite wonderful.  I told Judy so.

“Thank you,” she said.  “My friends tell me that after ‘The Trolley Song’ and ‘Atchinson [sic], Topeka, and Santa Fe,’ I am going to be known as Miss Transportation of 1945.”

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

May 23, 1946:  Ziegfeld Follies of 1946

May 23, 1949:  The news of Judy’s suspension from Annie Get Your Gun was still making the columns, including renewed talk about her playing the Palladium in London, England.

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


May 23, 1951:  Judy’s recent triumph at the London Palladium put her name in the columns again in regard to the casting of various films.  Here, Louella Parsons reports that Judy might stay in London to star in the film version of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate.”  Lucky for us Judy didn’t stay in London but instead returned to the U.S. and her legendary appearance at The Palace Theater that fall.  “Kiss Me Kate” was brilliantly filmed by MGM in 1953 starring Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson.

For more information about the various projects that Judy was allegedly or definitely wanted for, check out The Judy Room’s “Films That Got Away” pages.


May 23, 1952:  It’s rare to see articles that focus on Judy’s musical mentor Roger Edens.  This one is from the Oakland Tribune, and advertises Judy’s upcoming appearance at San Francisco’s Curran Theater, and features Edens, as well as a photo of the British comedian Max Bygraves, who was a part of Judy’s show at that time.

Special Lyrics For Garland Show

Roger Edens, Broadway and Hollywood film composer, wrote special lyrics and musical arrangements for the Judy Garland Show, which launches the 1952 festival of the San Francisco Civic Light Opera as a pre-season event at the Curran Theater, May 26.

In addition to arranging the music for the show, Eden [sic] is responsible for writing special lyrics for two of Miss Garland’s big numbers in the show, “The Old Palace Days” [The “Judy at the Palace” Medley] and “This Is My Town.”

Edens deserted Broadway to make the special arrangements for Ethel Merman in the film version of “Kid Million.”  He is co-author of the song it, “Eadie Was a Lady.”  At M-G-M, Edens worked on several films, notably “Broadway Melody of 1936,” “The Great Ziegfeld,” and such Judy Garland films as “Strike Up the Band,” “Love Finds Andy Hardy” and “Little Nellie Kelly.”

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

May 23, 1954:  Judy and her husband Sid Luft were seen out and about in Hollywood.  A Star Is Born had just finished principal photography with a rough cut having been screened at Warner Bros. for producers and directors on the lot.  The word was out that the film was fantastic.  However, it was decided that a production number that showed Judy’s “Vicki Lester” becoming a star was needed.  That morphed into “Born in a Trunk” for which Judy began prerecording on May 28th.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on A Star Is Born here.

Judy Garland at the Riviera in Detroit, Michigan May 30, 1957

May 23, 1957:  Advertisement for Judy’s upcoming appearance at the Riviera Theater in Detroit Michigan.  Judy played there on May 30th, the show was the same as her recent show in Las Vegas earlier in the month.

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

Meanwhile, Judy’s flawless album for Capitol Records, “Alone,” was in stores.  This ad states: Here is the music of aloneness.  The incomparable Judy sings with a heart-catching blend of tenderness, torchiness and irrepressible vitality.  Backed by the great Gordon Jenkins, the Garland magnetism is showcased on such all-time favorites as By Myself, Blue Prelude, Mean To Me and others.

New York City May 1963 Bobby Waters.jpg

May 1963:  Here is a snapshot of Times Square featuring I Could Go On Singing in the foreground.  Photo provided by Bobby Waters.  Thanks, Bobby!

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on I Could Go On Singing here.

May 23, 1964:  Judy’s recent departure from Australia was all over the papers and it wasn’t good press.  The disaster in Melbourne plus the addition of this very unflattering photo of Judy leaving Sydney for Hong Kong (May 22nd) resulted in bad press.  This was the beginning of the press’s tabloid-esque coverage, usually bad or at the very least, snarky, of Judy’s life and career that plagued her for these last five years of her life.  Tap on the images of the article to read them.  The transcription below is from the Sydney Morning Herald:

May-23,-1964-AUSTRALIA-The_Sydney_Morning_HeraldJudy Garland: 15 Fans At Airport

Judy Garland, accompanied by American actor Mark Herron, left Sydney last night by Qantas jet for Hong Kong in a surprisingly quiet scene at the airport.

Only 15 fans farewelled her at Mascot, but about a hundred people waited for her outside the foyer of the Chevron Hilton Hotel.

Her quiet departure last night was in contrast to the arrangements made earlier in the day to get her aboard an aircraft which left Cydney for Hong Kong at 11:30 a.m.

Customs, police and airline officials took elaborate steps to ensure that Miss Garland was farewelled without fuss and with dispatch.

But she did not turn up.

Later, an announcement was made that her booking for the morning flight had been cancelled [sic].

Fans who had waited for hours to farewell her dispersed.
It was the fourth time Miss Garland had been late for Australian appearances.

Remained In Hotel
May-22,-1964-AUSTRALIA-Beckley_Post_HeraldShe was late for her performance in Sydney, late for her appearance in Melbourne on Wednesday night and late for her flight out of Melbourne on Thursday.

She remained in her hotel suite all day yesterday and refused to see anyone.

At 9 last night, hotel security officers were told Miss Garland would soon leave the hotel for the airport.

But it was 10 p.m., and many false alarms later, when she appeared.

People on their way to a ball in the hotel crowded the foyer waiting for her.  

Finally, Miss Garland, smiling but looking drawn under a huge, floppy hat, stepped out of the lift.

She strode quickly through the crowd, clasping at the hands held out to her by dozens of people.
There were dozens of warmly spoken farewells: “Goodby, Judy, come back,” and, “We love you, Judy.”

She arrived at the airport by car at 10:20 and was driven straight to a private reception room in the overseas terminal which faces the tarmac.
May-22,-1964-AUSTRALIA-The_Bristol_Daily_Courier-(PA)When a crowd of reporters gathered outside the room, her agent, Mr. S. Field, arranged an interview with Miss Garland on condition that the reporters would leave immediately they were asked to do so.

Would Like To Come Back

In the reception room, Miss Garland was seated by herself.

Miss Garland said she was leaving with good impressions of Australia.

“I would like to come back,” she said.  “I don’t think my fans got a fair impression of me.”

Asked if she had been given fair treatment by the Press, she said: “Not quite.”

She said a non-committal answer to every question except whether she would return and whether she planned to retire.

To that she smiled, and said, “Oh! Are you offering any money?”

The reporters were then told the interview was at an end.  It had lasted two minutes.
Miss Garland waited with friends in the reception room.

She appeared, smiling and happy, at 10:50 and crossed the tarmac to board the plane.

She posed for photographs and waved to the few fans seeing her off.  She was dressed in the same yellow coat and hat she had worn when she arrived.

Miss Garland and Mr. Herron were the last passengers to board the airliner, which left on schedule at 11 p.m.

May-22,-1964-AUSTRALIA-The_Honolulu_AdvertiserNEW YORK, May 22 (A.A.P.) – Miss Garland’s Wednesday concert in Melbourne and her departure from Melbourne on Thursday made headlines in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Riled Aussies hoot Judy off stage,” headlined the New York “World Telegram” in a long double column story on the front page.

New York’s largest circulation evening newspaper, the “Journal-American,” ran the story in the middle of its front page under the black heading: “Judy Booed Off Stage.”

“Curtain Calls”

The tabloid “Post,” which carried a local headline and a picture on its front page, put the story over three columns on page three with the headline: “For Judy: Curtain Catcalls.”

In London, Miss Garland’s dramatic night flight from Melbourne was told in front-page stories and pictures in several national newspapers.  The five-column headline on the front page of the “Daily Herald” aid: “Tour ends with concert fiasco – and unhappy fans see her leave . . . Judy is dragged to her plane.”

“Daily Sketch” – “Judy Breaks Down At Airport.”

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


May 23, 1968:  Judy arrived in Boston and checked into a suite at the Sheraton Plaza.  Judy was in Boston for her upcoming concert at the Bay Back Theater.  On this day she, along with daughter Lorna and son Joe, visited wounded servicemen at the Chelsea Naval Hospital.

Here is a short video of Judy singing “Over the Rainbow” while at the event.  No word as to whether video exists for the entire song.  The second video features Judy visiting with patients.

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

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