“I’m learning to sleep all over again – without sleeping pills.” – Judy Garland, 1949
June 6, 1937: Judy was the featured guest on the first episode of the 15-minute radio show, “Frank Morgan’s Varieties.” Morgan was an MGM featured player and of course later he became the Wizard of Oz. This new limited series featured Morgan with Freddie Rich and His Orchestra, and a guest or guests. Judy was listed as being a part of the shows that aired on June 6th, 14th, 21st, 28th; July 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th; and August 2nd & 9th. She’s not listed in the final three episodes on August 16, 23, & 30.
No recordings of the shows are known to exist, nor are any records of the contents of the shows outside of what’s printed in the newspaper listings which don’t mention what Judy sang. It’s most likely that the content of the guest appearances were pre-recordings, probably taken from the MGM Air Trailers which were large records that MGM sent out to radios stations to play and promote MGM’s latest films, hence the term “Air Trailer” – they were trailers broadcast over the air. However, Judy hadn’t yet made a feature film for the studio (she was currently in the middle of work on her first feature for MGM, Broadway Melody of 1938) so it’s anyone’s guess as to what the contents of these short shows were.
Also on June 6, 1937: This photo, along with an entire set (see below), featured Judy along with other MGM youngsters on a field trip to the Venice Pier (Venice Beach) in Los Angeles. The spread of photos appeared in various papers around the country over the next several months.
The text for the photo above reads:
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starlets recently had the time of their lives when their teacher, Miss Mary McDonald, took them to the Venice Pier for an afternoon of hilarity and play. They saw all the sideshows and played all the concessions. After hot dogs and pop all afternoon they were ready to go home with their many prizes, happy but tired. Shooting straight. Suzanne, Betty Jaynes, John Arlington, Freddie Bartholomew, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney try their luck at the rifle range. Bartholomew and Rooney took top honors.
June 6, 1939: A busy day of filming on Babes in Arms. Judy had a 9 a.m. call which she was on time for. Lunch was 12:15-1:15 p.m.; dismissed: 5:50 p.m.
The production managed to film scenes on the following sets: “Exterior Patsy’s Home”; “Exterior Moran Home” and “Interior Paty’s Hall and Stairs.” The latter was on a soundstage, the first two were on MGM’s backlot #2, the “New England Small Town Street” which soon became known as the “Andy Hardy Street.”
June 6, 1941: This photo of Judy singing at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois, is dated with this date. However, Judy was not in Chicago at the time. She was busy filming Life Begins For Andy Hardy at MGM in Culver City, California. In fact, Judy was not in Chicago in all of 1941. It’s possible that this photo was taken during her tour of Army camps in January and early February 1942, although during that tour she did not have an engagement in Chicago. So the actual location is a mystery. Regardless, it’s a great photo!
June 6, 1945: Judy and John Hodiak posed for poster stills for The Harvey Girls at MGM’s Portrait Gallery Studios. Time called: 1 p.m.; dismissed: 5 p.m.
June 6, 1947: Filming on The Pirate continued with more scenes shot on the “Exterior Gallows” set. Time called: 10:15 a.m.; dismissed: 6:05 p.m.
June 6, 1949: Judy held a press conference at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts during which she bravely announced her addiction to prescription medications. She told reporter George Scullin that she was “learning to sleep all over again” and noted “I just close my eyes and I’m off for 10 or 12 hours at a stretch. No pills. It’s wonderful.” Judy was accompanied by her friend and unofficial representative Carlton Alsop.
Judy had been at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston since May 29th, attempting to cure her dependency on prescription medicines. Judy stayed at the Ritz-Carlton through her birthday on June 10th during which she was joined by daughter Liza.
Photos: Judy stepping out of the Peter Brigham Hospital accompanied by Nurse Lillian Goodman; newspaper clippings.
Meanwhile, MGM’s first re-release of The Wizard of Oz was enjoying great success in theaters around the nation.
June 6, 1950: More rehearsals for Judy for Royal Wedding. time called: 10:30 a.m.; Judy arrived at 11:15 a.m.; dismissed: 4:45 p.m.
Photo: A costume test of Judy and co-star Fred Astaire in costume for the “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I’ve Been A Liar All My Life” number, taken on June 16, 1950.
June 6, 1957: Two notices for Judy’s upcoming concert appearances, one for her two-week engagement at the Texas State Fair in Dallas, Texas beginning June 10th and the other for her two-week engagement at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California beginning on June 25th.
June 6, 1964: This is the date that Judy joked (on June 11) that she and boyfriend Mark Herron had been married on the Norwegian freighter “Bodo” which was docked in Hong Kong, where Judy had just recovered from an accidental overdose. Judy said, “Mark and I were married five days ago” at a party she attended at a hotel nightclub. The news hit the papers on the 12th.
Also hitting the papers was the fact that Judy had told the marriage story as “a gag” and her press agent, Guy MacElwaine, said the story circulated because the press overheard Judy joke about it and took her seriously. She was still legally married to Sid Luft at the time. The newspapers didn’t know what to report by the 12th. Some claimed Judy was married, others said she wasn’t. Readers of the day must have been quite confused! Judy and Herron were legally married (after Judy’s divorce from Luft was final), on November 14, 1965.
Photo: Judy and Mark Herron arriving in London on June 30, 1964.
June 6, 1965: “Judy’s Jitters Rate Sympathy” by James Wilber for “The Popular Beat” column out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Wilber is referencing Judy’s May 29 appearance at the Cincinnati Gardens during which Judy had to cancel the second half of the show on doctor’s orders because she had a fever of 102.
JUDY GARLAND made some remarks at her press conference which, in the light of the May 29 fiasco at The Cincinnati Gardens, take on special significance.
For the writers and radio announcers, she spoke of how terrified and panic-stricken she gets concerning her performance; of how nervous she was, “much more so than Liza,” when she saw her daughter playing in “Flora And The Red Menace.”
Judging from what she said, it’s not unlikely that her failure at the May 29 concert was a plain case of “nerves”, “the lump”, “jitters”, call it what you will.
Stagefright can seize everyone who appears before an audience. There’s no limit to personality changes that this torture can bring about, particularly if an individual insists on talking about how nervous he becomes.
Most successful performers I have known try to forget about being nervous. They make a conscious effort to divert attention from themselves. Often, just before going on stage, they will purposefully talk about something trivial and unrelated to their performances.
I once asked Anton Witek, a famous violinist who had played concerts all over Europe and America, what he thought about when he went to the stage to play a concerto. He replied that he thought about the steak he was going to eat after the concert.
Before a concert, Fritz Kreisler was asked if he wasn’t going to warm up his fingers before going on the stage. Mr. Kreisler said that it wasn’t necessary. “The fingers get warm as soon as I get out there,” he said.
It’s cruel when some TV emcees tell their guest stars (especially amateurs) “don’t be nervous, relax.”
Judy got the buck (no pun intended) and obviously she hasn’t discovered the proper method of overcoming it. Until she does, she deserves all the sympathy she can get.
All this, however, is of scant concern to those who contributed to the reported $20,000 fee for 20 minutes of song.
This installment is titled “Judy Garland Recalls Bitter Experiences Of Childhood”
HOLLYWOOD (UPI) – “All right, Miss Smarty, you didn’t behave tonight so I’m leaving you forever.”
With that Mrs. Gumm, mother of Frances Gumm, little girl singer and dancer, abandoned her in a flea bag hotel in a small town in Oregon. She packed up her bag and left the child sitting on the bed.
“I was frozen with fear,” the grownup Frances Gumm recalled. The little girl was Judy Garland before she’d changed her name and she was less than 10 years old. “I sat on that bed all night and cried. It happened several times.”
But Judy’s mother always returned the next morning. They’d pile into a broken down old car and head for the next play date in third rate theaters.
Judy never recovered from those frightening nights alone. To this day she has trouble sleeping, frequently calling friends at 3 or 4 a.m. and asking them to chat or come over for a drink.
At age 12 she walked into MGM where she made her screen debut in “Every Sunday.”
“You’d think I lived like a princess. Wrong.” Judy recalls her days at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a nightmare. They put her in one picture after another. She needed pep pills to keep her singing and dancing before the cameras – then sleeping pills so she could rest at night.
Then in 1938 she starred in “The Wizard of Oz” and joined the immortals of the screen. Even today when the picture is shown on television half the country stops what it’s doing to watch.
In an effort to escape the dictatorship of her mother and the horrors of studio life, Judy found sanctuary in her marriage to composer David Rose in 1941. The marriage dissolved in 1944.
Less than a year later she married director Vincente Minnelli who made many distinguished pictures – AT MGM.
Shortly after the divorce from Minnelli, Judy married Sid Lift, a man of many and varied careers. If her marriage to Minnelli was stormy, her 13 years with Luft might be described as a hurricane. They didn’t need friends, they needed a referee.
He helped guide her career and eventually perfected her left jab. Thereafter Judy’s health broke down, her weight ballooned and her career went into decline.
She was pronounced washed up by the industry when she was fired from the title role in “Annie Get Your Gun” to be replaced by Betty Hutton.
“I was in my dressing room getting ready for a scene when one of those simpering jerks in a black suit walked in with a note,” Judy remembers. “it was very subtle. I think it read something like: “Get out’.”
Judy jokes about it now, but it almost killed her.
Next: Judy’s roller-coaster career of triumph and tragedy, comeback and crash.