A Sad Day
Today is the anniversary of the untimely death of Judy Garland. She was just barely past her 47th birthday (June 10, 1969) at the time she passed. It’s been noted before many times but bears repeating: In that short time she built a legacy like no other performer in entertainment history. Now she has been gone longer than she was alive yet Judy’s legacy has grown in the decades since her death, with her life and career being celebrated and honored and most of all, her work is enjoyed by each new generation. Her legacy and achievements have secured her place as a true legend of show business.
On June 22, 1969, approximately between the hours of 2:30-4:40 a.m. Judy passed away. She was discovered by her husband Mickey Deans in the bathroom of the mews cottage at 4 Cadogan Lane, London, England that they were living.
Deans had been awakened at 10:40 a.m. London time by friends Charlie Cochran and John Carlyle who were calling from California (where it was 2:40 a.m.). Deans didn’t see Judy on her side of the bed so he went to the bathroom to knock on the door. When he didn’t get any response he told Cochran that he’d call them back. He climbed out of the dressing room window, walked over the roof, and looked into the bathroom window where she saw Judy sitting with her arms on her lap and her head resting on her arms. When he picked her up, he knew she had passed and he gently put her back in the same position and called the police and an ambulance.
The official cause of death was an accidental overdose of “barbiturate poisoning.” The news spread around the world generating an avalanche of shock and sadness. At Judy’s funeral in New York that June 27th, over 22,000 people went to pay their respects.
On the day of her death (the news of her death didn’t hit the papers until the 23rd), her name was in the news not for any concert triumph but because ex-husband Sid Luft was news due to passing a few bad checks.
The following are what Judy was doing on this date throughout her life, followed by a sampling of the many, many articles, headlines, and notices published after her death.
June 22, 1926: The Gumm Family working vacation to California continued with a one-night engagement at the Liberty Theater in Leavenworth, Washington. They were billed as “Jack and Virginia Lee and Three Kiddies.”
June 22, 1937: Judy’s final appearance on the “Jack Oakie’s College” radio show. Judy sang “There’s A Lull In My Life” and promoted the upcoming release of Broadway Melody of 1938 with “Everybody Sing.” No recording of this show is known to exist.
June 22, 1939: Judy rehearsed the “Minstrel Number” and prerecorded “Babes In Arms” for the film of the same name. Time called: 9:00 a.m.; lunch: 12:00-1:00 p.m.; dismissed: 4:10 p.m.
June 22, 1940: In the “What The Picture Did For Me” feature in the trade magazine “Motion Picture Herald,” Dean Deaver of the Elkton and Drain Theatres, in Elkton and Drain, Oregon, said this about Babes In Arms: “Personally I heartily disliked this one. However, a very large audience enjoyed it immensely and that’s what counts in this business. Mickey and Judy are ‘box office’ together.”
June 22, 1949: (Well, according to the wall calendar).
Here are three eerie screenshots from Summer Stock. The date of June 22, 1949, is exactly 20 years before Judy’s untimely death.
June 22, 1952: Judy’s last night at the Curran Theater in San Francisco. This performance was recorded and was released on CD in 1993.
Listen to “A Couple Of Swells” here: