“She’s sick. She needs help and understanding. A long rest in a sanitarium is the only answer to her problem.” – Comment by an unnamed colleague, 1949
May 29, 1928: Frances (Judy) sang at a dinner held at the home of Joseph A. Martin, in Lancaster, California.
May 29, 1932: The first night of a two-night engagement for “Baby Gumm” (Judy) and a boy named Galen Reed at her father’s theater, The Valley Theater, in Lancaster, California. Judy and her family had settled in Lancaster in 1926. Galen Reed was allegedly Judy’s “first love.”
May 29, 1935: Another “Variety” listing for Judy and her sisters, “3 Garland Sis,” which was a reflection of their current extended and successful engagement at the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles, CA.
May 29, 1936: Sidney Skolsky mentioned Judy’s recent appearance at the Trocadero nightclub in New York City. The exact date of Judy’s appearance is unknown, but it was most likely right after she arrived which was around May 27 or 28 (the exact date of Judy’s arrival is also unknown). Judy appeared on the radio in New York with regularity and also recorded two singles for Decca Records on June 12. The two recordings became the first Judy Garland single, released that July.
May 29, 1938: These posed snapshots of Judy, Mickey Rooney, and their schoolmates were featured in many newspapers in the late spring and summer of 1938, usually accompanying articles about “Hollywood Youngsters” and even one in March about “Judy’s Gang.”
The published captions for each photo above are as follows, from left to right:
ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES EVEN A FILM STUDIO A DULL PLACE
In the carefully allotted time of a child film actor play is not forgotten. Here M-G-M school youngsters are seen at recess, boys opposing girls in a game of keep-away. In the noisy group are Judy Garland, Suzanne Larson, Cosmo Millardi, Ronald Sinclair, Frieda Starr, Elena Quirici and Betty Jaynes.
LUNCH TIME AT SCHOOL
School hours sometimes vary with studio requirements. But this day Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney were in school at the noon hour, and, like village students, sat on the schoolhouse steps as they ate their lunch.
JUDY GARLAND AND MICKEY ROONEY DO THEIR LESSON
They are seen working on their French assignment at the M-G-M studio school. Here, as at other studios, a school offering studies from primary grades through high school is maintained. For California state law requires that every screen actor of school age shall devote four hours daily to study.
May 29, 1939: Babes in Arms filming continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Judge Black’s Office.” Time called: 9:00 a.m.; dismissed: 3:15 p.m.
May 29, 1941: Here’s another Ziegfeld Girl ad/tie-in. This time it’s a coloring contest.
May 29, 1942: Judy covered a lot of ground filming scenes for For Me And My Gal. One hour in the morning (10 a.m. – 11 a.m.) was spent on the “Interior Theater” set, whiled 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. was spent filming scenes on the “Interior Cathedral” “Interior YMCA” and “Interior French Cafe” sets.
May 29, 1944: According to this news blurb, Judy was sporting a new hairdo called the “Lazy Bones.” Included here is a photo of Judy taken around this time in which her hair looks similar to how it’s described in the blurb. In reality, Judy wore her hair back in this style quite a bit in the 1940s.
May 29, 1945: Filming on The Harvey Girls continued with scenes shot on the “Exterior Train in Desert” set. Time called: 10 am.; dismissed: 3:50 p.m. This was most likely the scene at the end of the film that was filmed on location in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley.
May 29, 1947: Filming on The Pirate continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Don Pedro’s Salon” set. Time called: 9:45 a.m.; Judy arrived at 10 a.m.; dismissed: 5:55 p.m.
May 29, 1948: MGM moved quickly. Here is the playback disc for Judy and Mickey Rooney’s duet of “I Wish I Were In Love Again” which was pre-recorded the day before, May 28th. The studio had the playback disc ready in just one day. Judy and Mickey performed the duet in Words and Music which was their final appearance on the big screen together.
Listen to “I Wish I Were In Love Again” here:
Disc image from The John Newton Collection. Thanks, John!
May 29, 1948: Here is an early review of Easter Parade as published in the trade magazine “Motion Picture Herald.” Written by Liam R. Weaver, it’s a great review that notes the perfect cast, saying that Judy “equals her best previous singing and clowning and adds a brilliant demonstration of dancing ability” and that the film “is clean and clear as a Berlin melody, and possesses the same universality of appeal.”
Also published in this issue is the listing for the film’s release date and other data.
May 29, 1949: Judy entered Peter Brent Bringham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, to cure her dependency on prescription medicine. The newspapers reported that she was on “a rest.” She had just been fired from Annie Get Your Gun and it was finally realized by the studio (at least a little bit) that she needed serious help.
Judy stayed at the hospital through the summer, with occasional trips away, once to Los Angeles to discuss Summer Stock and once to Cape Cod for the July 4th holiday (with daughter Liza Minnelli visiting). She returned to Los Angeles in early September but did not return to MGM for Summer Stock rehearsals until early October. In that short month, she pre-recorded appearances for “The Bing Crosby Show” on CBS Radio. Crosby always came through for Judy!
As you can see from these “Annie” costume test photos, Judy was obviously not well.
Several of the clippings above were provided by Rick Smith. Thanks, Rick!
May 29, 1949: The great Sophie Tucker, still going strong in her 60s.
May 29, 1952: In his syndicated column, Leonard Lyons reported on the fact that Judy had some of the recent Palace recordings made into records for friends. These closing night recordings (February 24, 1952) have since been released on LP and CD. Listen to them here (zip file).
May 29, 1959: Judy and husband Sid Luft arrived on the Chief at Chicago’s Dearborn Station. She was in town for the second stop on her “Opera House Tour.” She opened at the Chicago Opera House on June 1st. These photos are small, but all I have as they were shared with me by a member of The Judy Room’s Facebook Group.
May 29, 1963: This letter from President John F. Kennedy’s Overseas Committee Chairman, John A. Ryan, references Judy’s appearance at the “Koncert for Kennedy” in Wiesbaden, German, on October 26, 1960. At that time Kennedy was still a Senator and presidential candidate. This letter from Ryan was written to Kennedy’s personal secretary, in an apparent attempt to have Kennedy repeat some of the personal appearances he had made in the 1960 election season.
May 29, 1964: In Hong Kong, Judy came out of her 15-hour coma (see yesterday’s post) only to find out that her sister, “Susie” (Mary Jane Gumm), had committed suicide the previous Tuesday (May 26th) in Las Vegas.
The newspapers reported that Susie died from “a chronic infection of the pancreas” as told by her friend, John Morrissey, at whose home she succeeded in taking her life. Sister “Jimmie” (Dorothy Virginia Gumm) later stated: “It was a sordid domestic mess. Living in Las Vegas, that’s not a particularly tranquil atmosphere – the gambling, the girls, the temptations – that was the end for her. She went the sleeping pill routing. Somehow the Garland females can’t stand loss of love.”
Judy did not address it publicly but it’s assumed that, naturally, she took the news badly. As with her relationship with her mother, Judy’s relationships with her two sisters were complicated and although she had some contact with Susie in the early 1960s, Jimmie had broken ties with Judy over Judy’s behavior towards their mother, Ethel, and towards Susie.
May 29, 1965: Judy was in concert at the Cincinnati Gardens in Cincinnati, Ohio. Judy completed the first act in fine vocal form but had to cancel the second half when her doctor announced – with Judy on-stage – that she could not continue, as she had a virus infection and a temperature of 102. Judy had reportedly been paid $20,000 for the concert, according to one report: a $5,000 advance, then the remaining $15,000 apparently an hour before the concert; another report had Judy earning a guaranteed $40,000 against 60% of the gross; 4,500 people had paid from $3.75 to $7.50. Judy’s songs in the 32-minute first half were: “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands”; “When You’re Smiling”; “Almost Like Being In Love”/”This Can’t Be Love”; “What Now My Love?” (standing ovation); “Do It Again”; and “San Francisco,” all backed by a 30-piece orchestra.
[from “Judy Garland – The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend” by Scott Schechter]
Margaret Josten of The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that prior to the intermission “Miss Garland was visibly annoyed several times … by fans running to the stage to pop flashbulbs in her face. The guards worked overtime keeping them back. Finally, at intermission, it was announced that Judy would be very happy if nobody else tried it.”
Newspapers reported that the crowd was not happy that Judy canceled the rest of the concert, with approximately 1,000 people demanding their money back and then they “besieged her dressing room, not allowing the singer to leave until more police arrived.”
May 29, 1967: This agreement was signed by Judy and 20th-Century Fox. It states that she would be paid $37,500.00 and that her obligation to the studio for Valley of the Dolls would be canceled, “…with the same force and effect as if the same had never been entered into between us.” As noted in the agreement, Fox took $5k out of that $37,500.00 per a previous promissory note. The agreement was stamped as approved by Fox on June 2, 1967.