“It was an awe-inspiring evening for myself and those that were present.” – Pianist Goldie Hawkins, 1955
June 14, 1935: This day marked the last time Judy and her sisters, (now going by “The Garland Sisters”) appeared on stage at one of their father’s theaters. Frank Gumm managed the Lomita Theater in Lomita, California. The occasion was the premiere of the Frankie Darro movie “Burn ‘Em Up Barnes.” Darro made a personal appearance at the theater with the sisters. No information has survived as to what the girls sang.
June 14, 1937: Judy appeared on the “Frank Morgan’s Varieties” radio show. Morgan was an MGM featured player and of course later he became the Wizard of Oz. This new limited series of 15-minute shows featured Morgan with Freddie Rich and His Orchestra, and a guest or guests. This edition, according to this newspaper notice, featured Dorothy Lamour and Frances Langford along with Judy. Quite a lot to pack into 15 minutes!
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 are known to exist of any of the shows nor is there any information as to what Judy sang.
June 14, 1939: Babes in Arms filming continued with more scenes shot on the “Interior and Exterior Bart Theatre” scenes. Judy had a call for 10 a.m.; dismissed at 4:10 p.m.
June 14, 1945: An eventful day for Judy. She finished up her work on The Harvey Girls by providing “loops” (dubbing) for the film. Time called; 10 a.m.; arrived at 10:15 a.m., dismissed at 11:20 a.m. The film became one of her biggest hits ever, and is still one of her most popular films to this day, grossing over $5,175,000 in its initial release on an investment of $2,524,315.06. No one could deny that Judy Garland was box office gold!
Later that day, Judy and Vincente Minnelli obtained their marriage license at the home of Rosamond Rice (head of the Marriage License Bureau) as seen in this photo and reported on in the articles. Rice was apparently doing the dishes when the couple showed up, hence the photo of Judy and Vincente with Rice in the background, drying a dish!
Judy and Vincente were married the following day (June 15). Of note is the fact that just two days prior Judy’s former co-star and early rival, Deanna Durbin, was also married. Several papers ran both stories next to each other with a photo of newlywed Deanna as seen in one of the clippings above.
June 14, 1948: Judy began rehearsals for The Barkleys of Broadway, co-starring Fred Astaire, which at this time was still titled “You Made Me Love You.” That original title was a deliberate look back at Judy’s first hit song of the same name from Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937). Judy was scheduled to reprise the song in this new film.
Judy had a 10 a.m call to be on the set, she arrived on time. Dismissed at 5:30 p.m.
June 14, 1954: Judy pre-recorded both “Swanee” and “Black Bottom” for the “Born in a Trunk” number in A Star Is Born. Time started: 2:15 p.m.; finished: 5 p.m.
Photos provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
June 14, 1955: This photo of Judy visiting Las Vegas for the opening of pal Mickey Rooney’s show on June 8th at the Riviera was published. The Riviera had just opened on April 20th with Liberace as the featured performer. At the time this photo was taken, Judy was living in Los Angeles and was in rehearsals for her new stage show/tour which opened in Long Beach, California, on July 5th.
Also on June 14, 1955: Pianist Goldie Hawkins was the guest columnist for Dorothy Kilgallen’s “The Voice of Broadway” column while Kilgallen was on vacation. Hawkins relays a story that is a wonderful example the stories about how Judy would sing her heart out at parties:
I GET A WARM feeling when I remember the night, some years ago when Judy Garland was in great trouble before her Palace come-back. She came into my place and sat quietly in a corner and I used every pianistic skill at my command to get her to sing. I felt it would be good for Judy if she would sing. I played all her favorites, in that special low key of hers, over and over again . . . and finally, sitting quietly and unassumingly in a corner, she sang – for two hours. It seemed to be a wondrous release for her and it was an awe-inspiring evening for myself and those that were present.
June 14, 2011: This article, written by Tim Grobaty, was printed in the Long Beach Press Telegram and was about Judy’s show at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium on Monday, July 9, 1955.
THE GREATEST SHOW IN TOWN:
After more than three decades thinking that the best show to take place in the magnificent Long Beach Auditorium was the Quicksilver Messenger Service and Mark-Almond Band concert in 1973, a year before the building was razed, we realize now we were off by several measures of magnitude.
Our friend and co-citizen Steve Harvey, who wrote a column for the L.A. times before it was cool, sent us this reminder of a show held in the Auditorium on July 11, 1955, featured Judy Garland and more stars than you’d see on Oscar night.
“Crazy, the stuff you find websurfing,” writes Harvey, who found YouTube audio of part of the show. “Not sure what was going on but it sounds like one of the greatest collections of talent on one state in Long Beach history.”
It surely was. Even if the entire cast of the star-packed “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” which included a lot of footage in Long Beach, had hopped up on stage, it would’ve been blinded by the talent that joined Garland for that one show in ’55.
Garland, billed, with not a bit of hyperbole, as “America’s No. 1 Entertainer,” had just opened her touring stage act in San Diego and had expressed a desire to not perform any closer to the L.A.-Hollywood area, but she was lured here by a charity close to her heard: The Long Beach Exceptional Children’s Foundation.
And, if it had been her dream to not have any Hollywood big-shots in attendance at her show in Long Beach, she failed on an epic scale.
Garland, who was 33 that night, opened with “the Man That Got Away,” which was met with loud and long applause.
The evening went on in a revue style, with Garland coming and going. She’s sing a number, like “We’re A Couple of Swells,” before turning the stage over to singer-comic Frank Fontaine (from “The Jackie Gleason Show”), the Hi-Lo’s singing group, her backing Jerry Gray & His Orchestra, and the Wiere Brothers, three screwball violinists who engaged in fencing with their bows while balancing their fiddles on their noses.
She sang “You Make Me Love You,” “For Me and My Gal” and others before she closed with – what else? – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which earned her a standing ovation that didn’t end until she returned to do several encores, including “Liza” and “Swanee.”
And then the crowd-pleasin’ began.
“Would you like to meet some of my friends?” she asked, still out of breath from her performance.
She brought up Frank Sinatra, who talked about the “bus full of my idiot friends,” which he and his pals chartered to attend the show. Sinatra called up Humphrey Bogart, a classier act than Sinatra. Bogart actually sang for a second, just the opening snippet of “My Melancholy Baby,” which Garland sang in “A Star Is Born.” (In the film, she sings the song in response to a drunk hollering the request fro the audience. The drunk was play by an extra, but, the story goes, Bogart supplied the voice.)
Bogart bantered a bit then called up his wife, Lauren Bacall. Then, Bogart and Sinatra decided to quit with the one-star-at-a-time bit and just started dragging all their “idiot friends” up onto the Auditorium stage, while a crowd of 4,300 kept up a constant cheer: Dean Martin, Van Johnson, Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Betty Hutton, Leslie Caron, Sammy Davis Jr., Dick Powell, June Allyson and Edgar Bergen.
They’d all come to Long Beach on the same bus, and it was swamped by fans outside the Auditorium before the show.
Inside, with all of the friends onstage together, you’d think they would have at least started singing something “She’ll Be Comin’ Around the Mountain,” anything – but the greatest talent of the age stood around fidgeting, with no screenwriter to write them out of the scene.
Finally, Bogart, bless his heart, grabbed the microphone and said “Let’s he the hell off,” and so they did, bringing the curtain down on the greatest show in Long Beach.
As for Garland’s good cause, the concert brought in $15,000 for the Long Beach Exceptional Children’s Foundation – thanks in large part to the towering $10 a seat that the stars paid. Tickets farther back were $4 and $5.
Photos: A clipping of the ad for the show; Clipping of the 2011 article; Judy and Bogart on that chartered bus.