Born on this day in 1922: Frances Ethel Gumm
Saturday, June 10, 1922 – Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, delivered by Dr. H.E. Binet of Grand Rapids, at the Itasca Hospital, weighing in at 7 pounds. Judy was the youngest of three children born to Francis “Frank” Avent Gumm and Ethel Marion (nee Milne) Gumm. Her older sisters were Mary Jane (aka “Suzy/Suzanne”) born in 1915 and Dorothy Virginia (aka “Jimmie”) Gumm born in 1917.
The following are highlights of how Judy celebrated her birthday over the years.
Monday, June 10, 1929: By her 7th birthday, Judy was a part of the family Vaudeville act. On this day, she and her sisters, “The Gumm Sisters,” reprised their minstrel show at their father’s Valley Theater in Lancaster, California. Photo: Judy at age six.
Tuesday, June 10, 1930: Judy’s 8th birthday was celebrated at the Lancaster High School “plunge,” and it was reported that she received “many lovely gifts.” Photo: Judy at age eight.
Friday, June 12, 1931: Judy’s 9th birthday party was held on the lawn of the Gumm family’s new, larger house, on the corner of Cedar and Newgrove, Lancaster, California. Photo: Judy in 1931.
Saturday, June 10, 1933: Judy’s 11th birthday. The sisters are mistakenly billed as “The Gum Sisters” for The Scions Annual Spring Dance and Frolic at the Pollyanna Tea Rooms, West Lake, California. Photo: Judy and her sisters in 1933.
Wednesday, June 10, 1936: Judy’s 14th birthday. Judy was in New York, her very first time in The Big Apple, as part of her very first promotional tour after being signed by MGM the previous Fall. Judy had not made a film yet for the studio, not even her official debut in the film short Every Sunday with Deanna Durbin. Photo: Judy in June 1936.
Thursday, June 10, 1937: Judy’s 15th birthday. Judy was in production on Broadway Melody of 1938 while also making weekly appearances on the CBS Radio show “Jack Oakie’s College.” These photos were taken of Judy celebrating her birthday with Deanna Durbin, Freddie Bartholomew, Leonard Sues, and others. The first is Judy with her cake, which was most likely given to her on the set of Broadway Melody which is why she has on a more casual blouse.
Friday, June 10, 1938: Judy’s 16th birthday. Judy was on a forced break from working on Love Finds Andy Hardy due to being in an automobile accident on May 24th. She suffered three broken ribs, a sprained back, and a punctured lung but recovered quickly and was able to participate in a “Sweet Sixteen” birthday celebration in her home and attended by her Hollywood teen friends.
Saturday, June 10, 1939: Judy’s 17th birthday. Photos were taken of the birthday party given for Judy on the set of Babes in Arms. Judy’s birthday was also celebrated at a pool party given for Judy and her teen peers at Louis B. Mayer’s beach house. The pool and house parties took place on Judy’s one day off, Sunday, June 11, as Saturday’s day of filming lasted from 10 a.m. to 5:50 p.m.
Photos above: Judy on the set with Mickey Rooney and director Busby Berkeley; Judy at the pool party with Jackie Cooper and Mickey; three newspaper clippings.
Below: The newsreel short that focused on the party at Mayer’s beach home. Note that the short opens with the narrator stating “Sweet sixteen…” when in actuality it was, of course, Judy’s 17th birthday. The reason for the slip-up is unknown.
Below: The newsreel short that focused on the party at Mayer’s beach home.
Monday, June 10, 1940: Judy’s 18th birthday. Judy was in rehearsals for Strike Up The Band. Publicity photos of Judy and Mickey Rooney were taken on this day, featuring the duo on top of a huge drum. This happened prior to the 11 a.m. rehearsal start time. Judy’s birthday was celebrated “officially” at MGM on Monday, June 24th. A photo was shot of Judy with her mom and MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer looking at her birthday cake in his office. Another photo of Judy with Mayer and what looks to be a gift he gave her was also shot on that day, at a different location. Judy received her very first car – an event that MGM made sure they documented with a publicity photo of Judy posing with the car on the backlot.
Photos above: Judy with her mom and Mayer; the accompanying text for the second photo read: Hollywood, CA: Judy Garland and has studio birthday party. It’s a happy birthday for Judy Garland who recently celebrated her 18th birthday at a studio luncheon given by Louis B. Mayer. The members of the cast of ‘Strike Up The Band,’ in which Judy is co-starred with Mickey Rooney, were guests. The highlights of the festivities was the portable phonograph presented to Judy for her dressing room.
Wednesday, June 10, 1942: Judy’s husband David Rose gave her sables for her 20th birthday.
Thursday, June 10, 1943: Judy turned 21. A comedy record titled “The Saga of Baby Gumm” was made for her by Danny Kaye, Phil Silvers, Keenan Wynn, Dore Schary (future MGM chief), Judy’s assistant Betty Asher, and her sister Jimmie Gumm. You can listen to the recording here. Judy had just completed her fourth, and final, “backyard musical” with Mickey Rooney, Girl Crazy.
Photo: 1943 “Photoplay” magazine image.
Saturday, June 10, 1944: Judy’s 22nd birthday. MGM gave a birthday party for her and forty-six invited guests.
Sunday, June 10, 1945: Judy celebrated her 23rd birthday on the set of The Harvey Girls with husband Vincente Minnelli and the rest of the cast and crew.
Friday, June 10, 1949: Judy celebrated her 27th birthday at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, with her manager Carlton Alsop and her daughter Liza. Judy was in Boston for treatment to cure her dependency on prescription medicine at the Peter Brent Bringham Hospital.
Photos above: Liza is reunited with Judy in Boston; newspaper clipping.
Friday, June 9, 1950: MGM had a birthday party for Judy’s 28th birthday during a break in rehearsals for Royal Wedding.
Photo: Judy with husband Vincente Minnelli and producer Arthur Freed. More photos in the June 9th blog entry.
Sunday, June 10, 1951: Judy spent her 29th birthday traveling to Manchester, England with husband Sid Luft, where she would open the next night.
Monday, June 10, 1957: Judy’s 35th birthday was highlighted by the first concert of a two-week engagement at the Dallas State Fair in Dallas, TX. The show was Judy’s Vegas show. During this time, Judy reunited with her sister, Jimmy, who lived in Dallas. Judy also cut the June 15th show short after singing four songs, distraught over the news of her friend Robert Alton’s (MGM choreographer) death.
Wednesday, June 10, 1959: This rather mean-spirited article appeared in the Australian Women’s Weekly.
Judy Garland tries another comeback
by George McGann, of our New York staff
* Strangely tragic singing star Judy Garland, whose adult career has been spoilt by a mixed-up childhood and a pathetic tendency to overeat, has attempted another comeback.
Judy is the girl who at 16 conquered the world with her sunny songs, most notably in “The Wizard of Oz.”
But, almost ever since, she has battle continually against her own mixed-up psychology – and her, too, too solid silhouette.
And as her figure blooms, her career prospects wither.
This year’s comeback was when Judy successfully stormed the barricades at New York’s sacrosanct Metropolitan Opera House, where “popular” singers are traditionally taboo.
Judy, who has spent all but three of her 36 years in the pitiless glare of the footlight, got a rousing ovation from the glittering Met. audience, which included Prince Aly Kahn, the Henry Fondas, Gloria Swanson, and Elsa Schiaparelli.
Her reception was every bit as enthusiastic as that given the famed Bolshoi Ballet dancers, who had preceded her in the fast Metropolitan auditorium.
But, despite her undoubted talents and the fanaticism of her large following, Judy would never have made it at the “Met” on her own. The only other vaudeville or music0hall singer to appear there was Sir Harry Lauder, whose Scottish accents echoed through the ancient structure in “A Wee Doch and Doris” more than 30 years ago.
Judy got to the “Met” because a charity group (the Children’s Research Institute and Hospital of Denver) rented the house for a week and engaged her and her company to attract the customers.
Following the New York Engagement, Judy and her company will make a tour of opera houses and concert halls, including those in Chicago and San Francisco, on behalf of other charity groups.
Judy’s Metropolitan debut made a tremendous hit with the audience, but critics had some reservations.
All noted her ever-increasing bulk. The “New York Times” said that she was waging “a desperate battle with calories,” without going so far as to say it was a losing battle.
“Variety,” a theatrical weekly, commented that the singer was “registering high Met-abolism – carrying the weight of the short-statured Wagnerian soprano who gives the appearance of an oversized kewpie doll.”
The once-pixyish singer is highly sensitive about the change in her appearance in recent years – so much so that she shies like a frightened filly at the sight of a camera.
She refused several requests by the New York Office of The Australian Women’s Weekly to photograph her in rehearsal for the Metropolitan show.
Press photographers were admitted to the opening night’s performance, but Judy permitted only a brief shutter-snapping session, and photographers had to work from the audience during the show.
Overweight has been Judy’s bugbear for years. Psychiatrists – whom she has engaged by the score since her adolescence – explain that feelings of “inadequacy” drive her to seek solace in food.
In her starring days at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio chief, Louis B. Mayer, assigned a woman companion to watch Judy and restrain her at mealtimes.
Whenever she overate, the lapse was duly reported to Boss Mayer, and he called Judy on the carpet for a tongue-lashing.
Judy’s adult worries stem from a troubled childhood, the psychiatrists say.
She was almost literally “born in a trunk” on a small-town stage. The third daughter of an old-time vaudeville team, she never had a normal home life.
She was shoved on to the stage at the age of three, and told to “sing and dance.” She never had any formal training in either.
Judy worshipped her father, who used to sing her to sleep. He died when she was 12, and since then, say the experts, she has been seeking a substitute “father image” without success.
The experts point out that her three marriages – to musician David Rose, director Vincent Minelli [sic] and Sid Luft – were to men at least 10 years her senior.
To restrain her voracious appetite, Judy resorted to so-called reducing pills. These made her nervous and unable to sleep. Thus came the need for sleeping pills. And her nervous system couldn’t take this kind of repeated assault.
She cracked up and tried suicide in Hollywood. MG.G.M sent her to a high-priced sanitarium in Boston for a rest and cure, but soon after she returned to Hollywood and had a relapse.
M.G.M. reluctantly sacked her after she had cost them millions of dollars in wasted time and effort shoot a film that had to be junked halfway through.
Life was stormy
Judy’s private life has been stormy since she left M.G.M. studios, where she had skyrocketed to fame as a child star.
She married Luft, a strong-minded but soft-spoken former aeroplane test pilot, shortly after her break with M.G.M.
Most people think he has been a good influence although she once started divorce proceedings against him.
Their quarrel was over money. The Lufts live in a typically lavish Hollywood home, but according to visitors the place lacks furniture.
“The fact is that we are broke,” Judy told an interviewer last year. “I’ve always got to work because I have nothing saved from the millions I’ve earned since I was a kid.”
Judy has made only one film in recent years – the successful “A Star Is Born.”
She has done mostly nightclub work, which she hates. She becomes highly nervous before every performance and she has an unenviable reputation for walking out on nightclub engagements, even during the course of an evening’s performance.
One big nightclub in Brooklyn went to bankruptcy last year when Judy stopped working after 12 of her scheduled 50 performances.
She claimed she had been “fired” by the proprietor Ben Maksik, but he alleged she had walked out.
This dispute almost shattered Judy’s opening night at the Metropolitan.
A sheriff’s deputy was waiting in the wings ready to march before the footlights and serve Judy with a warrant obtained that day by Maksik. This warrant attached the singer’s salary for the entire week (said to be £A85,270) in connection with Maksik’s breach-of-contract suit against her for roughly this amount.
However, husband Luft prevailed on the deputy “not to disturb her performance,” and the warrant was served next day to Judy’s lawyer.
It was just one more headache for Judy, and seemed to bear out the prediction of one of her psychiatrists: “The ghosts of her unhappy past will follow her as long as she lives.”
Friday, June 8, 1962: Judy was in London filming I Could Go On Singing. On this particular day, Judy shot studio retakes of the Canterbury Cathedral scene, then celebrated her birthday a few days early, with the cast, crew, her children Liza, Lorna and Joe, and fan Lorna Smith.
Saturday, June 8, 1963: To celebrate Judy’s 41st birthday, the Luft’s eleventh wedding anniversary, their new Brentwood home, and the launch of Judy’s TV series, Judy and Sid gave a housewarming party at their new home at 129 South Rockingham Avenue, in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, just south of Sunset Blvd.
Photo: One of several great photos from Judy’s photoshoot with “Look” magazine in 1963.
Wednesday, June 10, 1964: Judy was in Hong Kong with Mark Herron, and celebrated her 42nd birthday with a small private party in her room at the Mandarin Hotel.
Photo: Judy leaves the Canossa Hospital in Hong Kong on June 1st after being treated for an accidental overdose.
Thursday, June 10, 1965: Judy’s 43rd birthday. Her friend Peter Lawford hosted a birthday party for her.
Photo: Screenshot from the August 25, 1965, interview Judy gave in San Francisco.
Friday, June 10, 1966: Judy celebrated her 44th birthday at the Captain’s Table restaurant in Los Angeles with escort Richard Grant (they had also been seen at the Beverly Hilton’s Escoffier Room), but Harrison Carroll reported in his June 14 column that Judy told him “Richard is just one of my associates in my music publishing firm. I’m very excited about this new project.” Unfortunately, this was another project that never materialized.
Photo: Judy at the opening of Buddy Rich’s show on September 21, 1966.
Saturday, June 10, 1967: Judy and boyfriend Tom Green got off the train they were riding to New York, in Chicago. They had dinner at the Pump Room of the Ambassador East Hotel to celebrate Judy’s 45th birthday. The conditions were not quite fitting for a birthday celebration, though. First, the train had air conditioning trouble, so the temperature climbed to 92 degrees. Then, their arrival in Chicago coincided with a rainstorm, which caused a power failure to the front elevators of the hotel, so Judy had to use the service elevator. Then, the kitchen was flooded in the hotel, so Judy and Tom had their meal prepared at their table. Judy soon decided to take an evening flight to New York, instead of continuing by train. She returned to her suite by the back elevator but had to walk down fifteen flights of stairs when even that elevator wouldn’t work on her way out. In the meantime, her driver had been sent to get her luggage off the train, and as the twenty-three pieces filled the entire back area of the limousine, Judy and Tom rode up front with her driver to the airport!
Photo: Judy at the Palace Theater, 1967.
Tuesday, June 10, 1969: Judy’s 47th – and last – birthday was spent in bed in friend Charlie Cochran’s apartment. Harold Arlen had found out Judy was in New York and sent her flowers. That day, she called her friend John Carlyle. John said that Judy asked him to “let me come to California,” where she often stayed with John, or his friends Tucker Fleming and Charles Williamson. John then kidded Judy that she was a “married lady now – I can’t ask you. I would, you know I would.” When John mentioned that his cat named after Judy was ill and not expected to live much longer, Judy had him put the cat near the receiver, where he heard Judy sing for the last time, softly, and tenderly, “Ju-dy . . . Judy darling, get well, darling, for John and me, please get well…” Also on this day, NBC-TV’s “The Today Show” aired a birthday tribute to Judy.
Photo: Judy at the Falkoner Centret in Copenhagen, Denmark, March 25, 1969.
June 10, 2002: On what would have been Judy’s 80th birthday The Los Angeles Times reviews the late Scott Schechter’s book “Judy Garland – The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend.” The book was and still is, unique in that it provides as complete a timeline of Judy’s life and career as was possible in 2002.
The book is my main reference for these daily updates, along with my own notes written in the margins (and other resources such as other books). Scott’s book is still one of the best Garland books ever printed.
Saturday, June 10, 2006: The U.S. Postal Service celebrated Judy’s birthday with a commemorative Judy Garland stamp, part of their “Legends of Hollywood” series. It would have been Judy’s 84th birthday.