“Little Frances will undoubtedly go places – but not with mama and sisters Virginia and Mary Jane.”
– Wood Soanes, The Oakland Tribune, 1934
May 25, 1937: 14-year-old Judy Garland performed “A Shine On Your Shoes” on the popular CBS Radio show “Jack Oakie’s College” hosted by the film star Jack Oakie.
Since her January 5, 1937, premiere appearance on the popular CBS Radio show “Jack Oakie’s College” hosted by the film star Jack Oakie, 14-year-old Judy Garland had become a series regular. On this week’s appearance, Judy sang both “A Shine On your Shoes” and “Swing High, Swing Low.” During the time of this broadcast (May 25, 1937), Judy was in pre-production on the MGM film Broadway Melody of 1938 which was her first feature film for the studio. A week and a half before this broadcast Judy had pre-recorded the song that would become her first “identifier” song, “(Dear Mr. Gable) You Made Me Love You.”
This previously unreleased recording is presented here thanks to the generosity of collector John Newton. Thank you, John!
May 25, 1939: Filming on Babes In Arms continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Patsy’s Bedroom” and “Interior Judge Black’s Office” sets. The production notes state: “JG – Time called: 9 a.m.; time dismissed 1:30 p.m.; lunch 12:18 – 1:18.” The assistant director’s report notes: “1:25 – 1:30 – Note: Judy Garland, who had a bad cold all morning, informed Bill Ryan that she could not work this afternoon.” The scene in “Patsy’s Bedroom” must have been cut as there is no such scene in the finished film.
May 25, 1940: Filming on Strike Up The Band continued with scenes shot on the “Morgan Home” and “Bare/Riverwood Street” sets (on MGM’s Backlot #2). Time called: 2:30 p.m.; dismissed: 10 p.m.
May 25, 1945: Judy’s first dramatic film, The Clock, premiered. The total cost was $1,324,000 and it grossed $2,783,000 on its initial run. Several cities tied the opening of the film to bond drives which proved quite successful in raising much-needed monies for the war effort.
An example of the great reviews the film received:
Judy Garland takes a considerable step forward as an actress in “The Clock,” given its first showing at United Artists Thursday.
It is a simple and heart-warming love tale in which Judy does no signing, but finds plenty of dramatic employment. She gives a characterization that lends a very perceptible lift to a recital of varied and frequently wild happenings to a small down GI on a two-day furlough in New York and a lonely little working girl.
Robert Walker is the corporal bewildered by the turmoil of a big city until he meets Judy, quite by accident, as he retrieves a heel she lost on an escalator.
THEREAFTER they are two souls with but a single thought, as some poet once phrased it.
An amusing and sometimes disconcerting series of adventures befall them.
Among these are the taking over od deliveries for a milk truck driver temporarily incapacitated, and breakfast with him and his wife; a meeting under the clock at the Hotel Astor; separation in a subway jam; eventual reunion at the clock spot; decision to marry pronto, and the whiled chase for a license and someone to tie the knot, as the hours race by.
This necessitates a lot of fast work by the pair, and calls for considerable credulity from the observer. But it is managed so well, particularly by Judy, that it registers pleasantly.
THE ACTIVITIES of the young lovers almost turn “The Clock” into a two-character picture, but not quite.
There is refreshing variety to the work of Judy that holds interest, quite apart from the romantic angle, skillfully skirting the temptation to too much sweetness.
Walker is wholesome and likable as the corporal.
KEENAN WYNN does an effective bit of scene-stealing as a talkative and not too obstreperous spouse, making his every moment count humorously.
James and Lucille Gleason are the milkman and his practical wife with sound marital philosophy.
[about the companion film]
AS THE inheritor of a big shipyard, Jane Randolph finds plenty to do thwarting efforts to discredit her ability in a business way in “A Sporting Chance.” She wins out, of course, with John O’Malley playing opposite her.
May 25, 1952: (Above) Judy’s recent triumphant return to Hollywood was still making the entertainment pages of papers around the country, with lots of photos of the star-studded audience and opening night party.
(Below) – In advance of Judy’s appearance at San Francisco’s Curran Theater, the Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) ran this article about the author’s 1934 review of Judy and her sisters when they appeared at the Curran in December 1934. That show ran from December 25, 1934, through January 1, 1935, and was titled “Irving Strouse’s January Vaudeville Frolics.” It was the same show that was performed in Hollywood on December 23, 1934, although in Hollywood it was titled “Irving Strouse’s Sunday Nite Vaudeville Frolics.” The author, Wood Soanes, predicted great things for “little Frances.” How right he was!
The 1952 article reads as follows. Note: The original 1934 review referenced in this article is the second clipping in the text below.
It has remained for David Suransky, the walking encyclopedia of the Curran Theater staff, and the possessor of a vast collection of programs and reviews, to bring to light the astounding information that this reporter is a sort of the midget-sized Drew Pearson when it comes to making predictions.
Recently, Tony Buttitta, the official herald of the Civic Light Opera, was wracking his pretty brain trying to dig up some new angle to arouse even further interest in the forthcoming Judy Garland vaudeville show, which will launch the series tomorrow evening at the Curran Theater. He was getting nowhere fast when Suransky entered the office.
“Why don’t you look into the 1934 file of reviews, and get some dope on the first vaudeville appearance of la Garland,” suggested Suransky. “The show was called ‘January Frolics’ and came in around the holidays.”
And He Proved It
Shortly afterward, Buttitta called No. 204 in great excitement to announce that I am a prophet of purest ray serene and he had my review of “January Frolics” to prove it. Furthermore, he proposed to write a Sunday story on the matter. Since I had forgotten all about “January Frolics” and didn’t even bother to put a program or a review in the files for future reference, the news was a little startling.
The review began:
“Vaudeville, long since given up as dead, opened its eyes at the Curran theater and began to ask in a small faint voice the inevitable ‘Where am I?’ and the mourners forthwith began to pat their hands and utter hallelujahs . . .”
“Of the group (‘January Frolics’) the Garlands have the best novelty. They consist of three girls with mother at the piano and they sing. But the virtue of their performance lies in the talent of the youngest, little Frances.”
“I loathe child actors, particularly in vaudeville, but this youngster sings a song called, I think, ‘Night and Day’ in a fashion that would do justice to a Helen Morgan. Little Frances will undoubtedly go places – but not with mama and sisters Virginia and Mary Jane.”
Well, that certainly made everything clear and while I don’t suppose Mama Garland, nee Gumm, or sisters Virginia and Mary Jane remembered me in their prayers, let alone their wills, they did have the good judgment to step aside and let little Frances become Judy Garland. She was 12 at the tie and two years later landed in pictures, shooting swiftly to prominence by 1939 in “Wizard of Oz,” in which she introduced the memorable “Over the Rainbow.”
But to get back to Buttitta and “January Frolics.” he writes: “On that memorable, nostalgic bill, if you will allow me to freshen your memory, there were several top acts. You treated them all kindly, perhaps due to the general feeling of good will toward all men that sprouts at that time of year (the show opened on Christmas Night), but you obviously refused to work as usual and did not review it until December 27. Also, you may have wanted the little venture to bring vaudeville alive, to succeed once more in your lifetime.
“The act with the biggest type turned out to be one of the most disappointing on the bill, according to Suransky. It was that of Gilda Gray, the famous shimmy dancer. She was billed as ‘the greatest shimmy dancer of all time’ but she had just gone high hat and refused to do so much as a small wiggle. The bill included William Demarest, who also directed it; Ruth Mix, daughter of Tom, who did rope tricks; Ann Codee, the French comedienne, and Frank Orth; Billy and Elsa Newell; Jimmy Ray, and the Garland troupe.
“Judy Garland, born Frances Gumm, the daughter of two troupers, started her career at the age of three singing ‘Jingle Bells.’ Some years later when the Gumm Sisters appeared on the same bill with George Jessel in Chicago, they found a good reason to change their name. When they arrived at the theater for rehearsal they found themselves billed in the lobby as ‘The Gumm Sisters.’ It was Jessel who suggested that the name be changed and since Robert Garland was even then a well-known New York drama critic, they appropriated his surname. Later Frances became Judy.”
The story of Judy Garland’s rise to fame from the modest start in support of Stuart Irwin in “Pigskin Parade” to her final departure from Hollywood is too well known for repetition. Suffice it that when her health was restored she went to England for a holiday and conceived the idea of putting together a variety show for display at the Palladium in London. It was a long chance but a lucky one and for four weeks Miss Garland did a land-office business, following the London date with a tour of the provinces.
Her success was duly heralded in the American newspapers and arrangements were made for an engagement at the hallowed Palace in New York, once the mecca of all vaudeville actors but for many years a movie house. Miss Garland, with five big-time acts, did a sensational business for 19 weeks, regardless of the fact that the run was interrupted once or twice by her illness.
“As Judy was about to call it quits,” Buttitta continues in his note, “General Director Edwin Lester of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Civic Light Opera talked her into bringing it out here as the pre-season event of the 1952 festival. He had to promise high guarantees to do t – guarantees which are possible because of the combined resources of both these organizations, and the substantial subscription plan, built up over the last decade.
“The Judy Garland Show” opens at the Curran tomorrow night and will remain for four weeks to be followed by a return engagement of “Song of Norway,” the world-famous operetta, on June 23. Other musicals in the series are “South Pacific” and “Call Me Madam,” which will play at the War Memorial Opera House on June 30 and July 28 respectively. The festival closes with “Jollyanna” at the Curran starting August 11.
“When Lester huddles with S. Laz Lansburgh and William J. Zwissig, president and general manager, respectively, of the San Francisco Civic Light Opera, about the prospects of the Judy Garland show, there was some hesitancy about putting it on a light opera series. True, they argued the series which originally presented revivals of old-time favorites has steadily moved into the modern musical comedy field with such shows as “Where’s Charly?” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Kiss Me Kate,” and “Guys and Dolls.”
Played It Safe
“In order to play safe and not offend any of their subscribers, some of whom joined in 1939, they thought it wise to put Judy Garland on as an ‘optional event,’ leaving it up to the subscribers to take it or leave it. It turned out, as nobody could have guessed, that 98 percent of the subscribers wanted Judy too, and those who didn’t at first made frantic calls later, asking that she be added on their subscription.”
“And since any well organized Sabbath lecture should have a moral, here it is: People who don’t set out to do something may accomplish it a lot better than those who announce their intentions with fanfare. The impresario, who brought little Frances and ‘January Frolics’ to the Curran in 1934 and beat the drums about bringing vaudeville back, is now dead and forgotten, but little Frances Gumm, or Judy Garland, who never thought of bringing anything back is the gal who did it, for vaudeville is back not only at the Curran, where it is a distinguished visitor, but at its New York shrine – the Palace!”
May 25, 1958: Judy in a TV version of “Little Women”? That would have been interesting. She was too old to play the lead (“Jo”) so perhaps they were thinking of her to play the mother, “Marmee.” Whatever the case, the show never happened.
May 25, 1965: These snapshots were taken of Judy with Mark Herron as they arrived in Cincinnati for Judy’s upcoming concert at the Cincinnati Gardens on May 29th.