“No adult player on the company’s long list of personalities has come anywhere near them [Judy and Mickey] in public favor.” – Harold Heffernan, 1938
June 19, 1938: “Budding Movie Stars.” Columnist Howard Heffernan puts the spotlight on child stars becoming huge movie stars. Naturally, Judy is featured. Out of the child/teen stars featured in the article, only Judy and Shirley Temple have lasting iconic fame and name recognition to today’s general audiences, with Mickey Rooney and Deanna Durbin coming close. Ask anyone under the age of 30 (who’s not a classic movie fan) who Judy Garland or Shirley Temple was, they’ll know the names and most likely a film or two. The others? Sadly, not as much.
June 19, 1939: Babes in Arms filming consisted of rehearsals of the “Minstrel Number” and also scenes shot on the “Interior Bus” which included Judy’s timeless rendition of “I Cried For You.” Time called: 9 a.m.; lunch: 1:10-2:10 p.m.; time dismissed: 6 p.m.
June 19, 1940: Strike Up The Band filming consisted of scenes on the “Interior Country Club” set, including Judy’s rendition of “Drummer Boy,” with co-star Mickey Rooney on the drums. Time called: 2 p.m.; dismissed: 11 p.m.
Also on June 19, 1940: This article was allegedly written by guest writer Mickey Rooney. Mickey writes about writing a song as well as a revue show titled “Public Deb, No. 1” that he and his pal Sidney Miller was writing for Judy. Mickey also talked about teasing Judy and calling her “the kid” as she hadn’t yet graduated from high school. This is most likely more studio-written fodder for the papers to promote the stars and their films.
June 19, 1941: Little Nelly Kelly was still making the rounds of theaters across the nation. This wasn’t unusual at the time because even most small towns had at least one or two (many times, more) theaters owned by the studios. This ensured a steady stream of films for the theaters and audiences for the studios. A film would many times be in circulation for well over a year as it made its way from the cities to the small towns.
June 19, 1948: Judy had a rare day off from her work at MGM. She must have enjoyed it since she called in sick on both June 21st & 22nd. Considering how much she had been working she certainly couldn’t be blamed for needing some rest.
June 19, 1950: One of the worst days in Judy’s life and career. Having just been suspended by MGM from Royal Wedding, a distraught Judy attempted suicide at home.
Around six o’clock this evening, Judy had been talking with husband Vincente Minnelli and her secretary, Myrtle Tully, when she ran into the bathroom and slammed and locked the door. She was screaming, part of which was “Leave me alone, I want to die!”
Minnelli later recalled that he pounded on the locked door and finally grabbed a chair to break it down. Judy had scratched her throat with a broken bottle. Minnelli phoned their friend and unofficial agent Carleton Alsop who rushed over. Minnelli was distraught, allegedly running around, hysterical, and yelling “they finally killed my beautiful wife!” Luckily for all Judy’s wound was superficial, requiring little more than a band-aid. Judy later recounted that she just wanted to blot everything out, including the past and the future.
Instead of alienating her or ruining her popularity with her public, the attempt brought people closer to her. Her fans (and most of her Hollywood peers) rallied to her support, which caught MGM off guard. Originally they tried to distance themselves from the incident and Judy, with one representative who, while leaving Judy’s home and asked by a photographer (reporters and photographers had flocked to the scene in record time), “What happened?”, he quickly and coldly drew his finger across his throat. Alsop witnessed this and pounced on the guy, allegedly saying “Goddamnit, how could you do such an f-ing, stupid thing, and do it to Judy? You have people hiding that nympho with her affairs in Harlem, and that phony stud with the little boys he picks up – you cover them up, yet you do this…” The MGM rep’s reply was “Oh f-you, you’re so goddamn important, so goddamn arrogant, we will withdraw all MGM support.”
When Summer Stock opened the following September, it proved that the public loved Judy and the film was a hit despite this negative incident. Her fan mail had quadrupled with 90% of it supportive. Money talks and the studio toyed with the idea of keeping Judy under contract. But it was not meant to be. Judy and MGM mutually agreed to part ways and the studio released her from her contract on September 29, 1950. For decades after the public assumed that Judy was fired, but in fact, her departure was by mutual agreement.
On this day, the newspapers were reporting about Judy’s suspension. The news of her suicide attempt didn’t hit the papers until the following day, June 20th, not as instantaneous as today!
Within a year, Judy would be back on top at the beginning of her legendary “Concert Years.”
June 19, 1962: Filming on Judy’s last film, I Could Go On Singing, hit a temporary snag while on location for retakes of some of the Canterbury scenes. The “Red Dean” of the school objected to the appearances of the kid extras in the school’s uniform. Apparently, this created an argument between the dean and the director, Ronald Neame. Things were worked out and shooting resumed. Read the clippings for the rather amusing quotes attributed to the dean.
June 19, 1963: Judy’s a proud mama. No article, just this fun pic!
June 19, 1964: The news, or rather the rumors, of Judy’s marriage (which didn’t happen) to Mark Herron was still news. Apparently, even Liza was quizzed about it.
June 19, 1968: Ad for Judy’s upcoming appearance at the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey on June 25, 1968.
June 19, 1969: Judy stayed home (at the mews cottage in London, England, that she was sharing with husband Mickey Deans), engrossed in the book “Nicholas and Alexandra.” She also made a piece of molding from a tube of ready-mixed plaster that Deans had brought home; Deans then painted it gold and heated it in the kitchen until it was hard; he finally placed it by her bedside, in a Tiffany box that had held pearls Tony Bennett had given her for Christmas 1968.
Photo: Judy and Mickey just outside the cottage in London, England, where they were staying in June 1969.