“You don’t have to sing or dance to entertain the soldiers. All you have to do is talk. Just pull up a chair, sit down and be prepared to answer a lot of questions.” – Judy Garland, 1943
May 28, 1926: The first of a two-night engagement for the entire Gumm family, as “Jack and Virginia Less and Kiddies,” at the Grand Theater in Bemidji, Minnesota.
May 28, 1940: This photo was taken of Judy with her mother, sister Virginia, and Virginia’s daughter Judaline. The occasion was Judaline’s 2nd birthday. Judaline’s granddaughter, Audra May, is currently a very successful alternative rock/blues singer.
MGM shot some footage of Judy at this birthday party, which has been shown in various documentaries about Judy, including the wonderful A&E Biography which although it’s over 20 years old now, it’s still fantastic!
On this day at MGM, Judy was filming Strike Up The Band, specifically scenes shot on the “Interior Holden Home” and “Exterior Barbara’s Car” sets. Time called, 9:00 a.m.; dismissed: 4:00 p.m. Because of this, the photos above must have been taken right after Judy’s day ended at the studio.
May 28, 1941: Judy was on MGM’s backlot filming scenes for Life Begins for Andy Hardy with Mickey Rooney on the “Andy Hardy” Street. That’s the nickname of the street, its official name was “New England Street.”
For more details about all the backlot locations where Judy filmed scenes in her film, check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland on the MGM Backlot” section.
Later that evening, Judy and composer/conductor David Rose announced their engagement at Ciro’s Restaurant in Hollywood. It hit the news the next day.
Also on May 28, 1941: This fun advertisement promoting Troutman’s department store in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, offered free Judy Garland photos in the children’s center. Ziegfeld Girl was playing at the local theater.
May 28, 1942: This article by Robbin Coons was apparently written while Judy was filming For Me And My Gal. On this day filming continued with scenes shot on the “Exterior French Square.” There is no such scene in the final film, but it could have been the set for the recently recorded and filmed “Three Cheers For The Yanks” which was deleted from the final cut. The outtake recording was remastered and released on the 2013 deluxe 4-CD set, “Judy Garland – Creations 1929-1962 – Songs She Introduced.”
HOLLYWOOD – Miss Judy Garland, practically out of her teens, was moved today to look back down the long corridor of the years and reminisce.
She had ample urging. Her new movie, “Me and My Gal” is a yarn about vaudeville when there was a Palace and all vaudevillians dreamed of playing it. Judy herself is a veteran vaudevillian of the later days when all of them dreamed of playing Grauman’s Chinese – and wowing the movies.
Judy was two years old when the Gumm Sisters initiated a new member in their song-and-dance act. She was 13 when, with the other Gumms married and retired, and Judy carrying on alone, she was picked up by the movies.
Her first picture was that famous short of Metro’s – the one in which two little girls named Garland and Durbin showed off their voices, after which Miss Durbin was dropped and Miss Garland kept on the payroll in a small way. Then Miss Garland was loaned to 20th to play a raucous little girl in pigtails for “Pigskin Parade,” thus beginning her own pigtail parade.
Miss Garland in due course attended the preview, and cried for three days.
“I’d always imagined that anybody in pictures automatically became glamorous,” she recalled, looking very glammy in a 1917 evening gown and hair-do for the picture. “But I wasn’t.”
So she cried for three days, one day more than she cried when a reviewer covering the Gumm act described Judy as a leather-lunged singer who sang “Stormy Weather” and inspired in the listener a fervent hope that the thunder would drown her out.
Then there was the time the Gumms, motoring from stand to stand, settled down at the Chicago Century of Progress exposition and, by dint of warbling and stepping and hoarding the proceeds for weeks, bought a complete new set of costumes; four outfits for each of the three girls, four “changes” for their mother-accompanist. They headed west for Hollywood and the Chinese, their new wardrobe in a trunk strapped to the rear bumper. Somewhere outside St. Joseph, Mo., the trunk – not the other one containing “junk” – was lifted. The act got to Hollywood and bought four sweater-and-skirt sets.
But Judy is a glam-gal now. In this picture she has eleven costumes, nine evening gowns, eight suits and five coats. She has 19 different hair-do’s. Fun, Judy?
“Of course I like it. But why did I complain before? It used to be I could run into the wardrobe department, try on a gingham frock, and that was that. Now it’s hours of fitting. And two hours earlier in make-up. And I have to guard against picking up new freckles, and I can’t go bowling – no broken finger nails for me until the picture’s over. I guess I never really appreciated those pigtail parts.”
May 28, 1943: This little news blurb may not be true but it’s definitely in keeping with Judy’s very real support of our servicemen and women.
Also on this day, Wood Soanes of the Oakland Tribune reported on Judy’s experiences performing for the military in her tours of Army camps.
CURTAIN CALLS: JUDY FINDS SOLDIERS ENTERTAINING, TOO
‘You Don’t Have to Sing or Dance for Them – Just Talk Of Hollywood,’ She Says
By WOOD SOANES
A good many columns have been written about the reactions of the boys in the service to the entertaining of Hollywood celebrities, but it has remained for Judy Garland to give some information on the other side of the story.
“You don’t have to sing or dance to entertain the soldiers. All you have to do is talk. Just pull up a chair, sit down and be prepared to answer a lot of questions. That’s one thing I found out during my tour of the camps. All the fellows want to know about Hollywood and the motion picture stars, and I wanted to know all about them.”
Of course Miss Garland didn’t spend all her time batting the breeze, as the soldiers say, she did some entertaining too, quite a lot, according to the Victory Committee’s records. What the V.C. didn’t report was that Miss Garland had a bad case of stage fright on her first appearance.
“The first time I sang for the soliders I was scared to death,” she said. “My knees shook and my voice trembled with a severe case of stage fright.”
“It seems silly now, as I look back on it. Every performer dreams of stopping a show but believe me, no show was ever stopped with the thunderous applause and appreciative response that greets an entertainer playing to a group of soldiers.”
“In a way, touring the camps was like my old vaudeville days. Making overnight jumps on milk-trains and playing four-a-day instead of the usual two. It was like ‘old home week.” maybe of the performers were people with whom my mother and father, as well as my sisters and I, had played in vaudeville.”
“It was wonderful to see these people, headliners 25 years ago, return to bring the house down in Army camps all over the country. One of the troupers told me he never hoped to experience a greater moment than the day he opened at the Palace Theater 18 years ago. But he did, when with the same act, he received an even greater ovation at Fort Knox in Louisville.”
“Willie Shore the ‘Abba-Dabba Man’ who was my favorite comedian when I was a little girl, played with us at one camp. He does an act with a soda bottle and I used to sit out in front with the soldiers and watch him. It never failed that when he squirted the water, it hit me.”
“Camp shows have not only brought entertainment to the soldiers. They have revived vaudeville and opened a new field for young hopefuls who, up to now, have had no opportunity to appear before an audience. A new cradle for talent has been found.”
Of course it wasn’t all milk and honey. There was, for instance, the food and young Miss Garland’s face was clouded.
“The only bad part was the food,” she groaned. “I gained eight pounds. We ate in the mess hall with all the boys and a steady diet of steak and potatoes, fried chicken and pie worked hardship on the brand new figure I had struggled so hard to acquire.”
Another problem she had but didn’t solve was the distinguishing of rank.”
“I was introduced to the colonel one night,” she said, “and acknowledged the introduction, to the frenzied delight of the boys with “I’m very happy to meet you, corporal.”
I imagine that the colonel’s laugh was as hearty as the pfc’s.
May 28, 1945: Judy had a rare day off from the studio. She was not on call for the film she was currently making, The Harvey Girls, nor did she have any other studio obligations.
On this day the columnist Louella Parsons reported about a recent party that fellow columnist Walter Winchell had at which Judy danced “a terrific rhumba with Walter, who only missed dancing while he was being host.” She also reported of the same party, “Vincente Minnelli and Judy talked a long time to Darryl Zanuck [head of 20th-Century Fox Studios], but I didn’t hear their conversation.”
May 28, 1947: Judy and Vincente Minnelli’s daughter, Liza Minnelli, visited her parents on the set of The Pirate. Judy had a 9:45 a.m. call for filming on the ‘Interior Don Pedro’s Salon” set. The day’s filming was completed at 6 p.m.
May 28, 1948: Judy and Mickey Rooney pre-recorded their duet of “I Wish I Were In Love Again” for Words and Music. Rooney starred as Lorenz Hart and Judy guest-starred as herself. It was the duo’s final film appearance.
Listen to “I Wish I Were In Love Again” here:
Photos were taken of the recording session (seen here). As she had done exactly a year earlier, a now three-year-old Liza Minnelli (Judy and Vincente Minnelli’s daughter) visited her mom and dad at MGM. The session lasted a quick hour and 45 minutes, from 3 to 4:45 p.m. Producer Arthur Freed was on hand during the session and is seen in one of the pics with Judy and Liza.
May 28, 1950: Judy had another day of rehearsals for Royal Wedding. Time called: 11:00 a.m.; Judy arrived at 2:25 p.m.; dismissed: 5:15 p.m.
The clipping above: A notice about Judy replacing June Allyson in the film as published by “The New York Times.”
May 28, 1951: Judy was in concert in Edinburgh, Scotland, through June 3rd. It’s unknown what theater she performed at.
May 28, 1952: Judy appeared on “The Bing Crosby Show” which was pre-recorded in late April or early May 1952. Judy sang “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby,” “Carolina In The Morning,” and, with Crosby, “Noodlin’ Rag”,” “Isle Of Capri,” “April In Paris,” and “For Me And My Gal.”
Listen to “For Me And My Gal” here:
Listen to “Isle of Capri” here:
For more of Judy’s radio performances with Bing Crosby, check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Sing! On The Radio page.
May 28, 1954: Judy began recording the songs and narration for the “Born In A Trunk” number for A Star Is Born. The prerecording of this extensive production number lasted through June 21, 1954.
May 28, 1955: The UK fan magazine, “Picturegoer,” published this wonderful article promoting the recent release of A Star Is Born.
May 28, 1962: Here is a nice blurb about Judy and her performance in Judgment at Nuremberg. referring to her as a “consummate actress.”
May 28, 1964: Typhoon Villa struck Hong Kong, and the twenty-second floor of the Mandarin Hotel – where Judy and Mark Herron were staying – swayed and shook. At some point very late that night or in the very early morning hours of Friday, May 29, 1964, Judy took an overdose of pills; was found by Herron, and rushed through the typhoon, three blocks to a small Catholic hospital, called Canossa Hospital Judy stomach was pumped – damaging her vocal cords with the tubes – and she was in a coma for 15 hours. At one point a valve actually broke on her oxygen tent; until it was fixed, Judy hadn’t moved; therefore, a nurse left the room saying Judy had died; this news traveled throughout the world, although the information was, thankfully, incorrect. (it actually was reported on the radio that Judy had died, although it was corrected before being printed in newspapers.). Judy did survive – barely. Among other ailments, Judy had pleurisy in both lungs, and her throat, and her heart was damaged. Due to the tubes damaging her vocal chords, she was told not to sing for a year. Most people were (and are) unaware that her vocal cords were damaged – to say nothing of her heart and lungs, amongst other damages. What Judy Garland was to give to the world the last five years of her life is perhaps even more astounding when considering the state of her physical condition.
[from “Judy Garland – The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend” by Scott Schechter]
Also on this date, Judy’s friend Bobby Kennedy sent her this “get well” telegram upon hearing of her heal issues. It helps to have friends in high places! Also shown above is Judy’s response from June 8th.
Both items from the Rick Smith Collection. Thanks, Rick!
May 28, 1965: Judy was in Cincinnati, Ohio, for her upcoming concert but was still feeling ill so her personal physician, Dr. Kermint, was flown in from New York to attend to her.
May 28, 1967: Here is an interesting and amusing Q&A column focused on Judy, her recent appearance on Jack Paar, and her leaving Valley of the Dolls.