“Watch me” – Judy Garland to the doctors who, in 1959, told her she’d never work again.
June 30, 1936: Judy pre-recorded “Waltz With A Swing” and “Americana” for her very first official MGM film appearance, Every Sunday, co-starring Deanna Durbin. This was the first time that Judy recorded on the famous MGM recording stages.
Miraculously, several takes from this pre-recording session have survived and can be heard, and downloaded, at The Judy Room’s “Judy Sings! Soundtracks” page.
June 30, 1939: Judy’s last day of work on The Wizard of Oz consisted of various retakes. She had been working on Babes In Arms since that previous April when she was called back for these Oz retakes. The Babes In Arms assistant director’s notes state: JG on Wizard of Oz retakes: [Babes In Arms] Company Not Working Due to Fact Judy Garland Working on Wizard of Oz Retakes.
June 30, 1940: Judy shows off her new car.
Also on June 30, 1940: Above is a fun article about the Andy Hardy series, how it came into being, how street on the backlot was created, and more. Below is an example of a typical multi-panel film synopsis, this one for Andy Hardy Meets Debutante.
June 30, 1943: This photo was taken of Judy rehearsing for her first concert which took place the following day (July 1, 1943) at the Robin Hood Dell in Philadelphia. According to this blurb, Judy sprained her ankle after hearing the news that she was asked to do the concert.
June 30, 1948: Judy and her Easter Parade co-star, Fred Astaire appeared on “The Tex and Jinx Show” for WNBC Radio in Hollywood, CA. The appearance was to celebrate both Irving Berlin (who wrote the songs for Easter Parade) and the film’s New York Premiere which took place on this day. Judy and Fred sang “It Only Happens When I Dance With You” (which Berlin had written specifically for Judy).
Listen to that performance here:
At this time, Judy was in rehearsals for The Barkleys of Broadway, also co-starring Astaire, but called in sick apparently to save strength for the radio show. Even the film’s assistant director’s notes stated that Judy “can’t work and be on the radio too.” Judy also sang portions of “Blue Skies” and “How Deep Is The Ocean?” on this broadcast.
In reality, the shot was a composite of Judy and Fred walking on part of that standing set, but the bulk of it was shot at the end of “Drumhead Road” on MGM’s Lot 3 on a specially constructed set built to match the famous photos (show above) shot around the same time period the film is set in, 1912.
Easter Parade premiered on June 30, 1948, at MGM’s Loew’s State Theater in New York. It went on to become one of the biggest moneymakers of the year (#6 or #8 depending on which list you look at) as well as becoming MGM’s #1 hit for 1948.
June 30, 1954: Production on A Star Is Born continued with the first day of filming the “Swanee” number for the “Born In A Trunk” sequence. Time started: 8:10 a.m.; finished: 6 p.m.
June 30, 1955: Judy’s upcoming show in Long Beach, California, was getting some great advance press, including the fact that the town’s mayor bought the first ticket. She show benefitted the Exception Children’s Foundation.
June 30, 1964: These snapshots were taken of Judy and Mark Herron after their arrival in London from Copenhagen, where they had stayed overnight after a long flight from Tokyo. The couple stayed in London through the new year into 1965.
June 30, 1969: The seventh in a series of articles about Judy published immediately after her death.
The JUDY GARLAND Story
The Story That Couldn’t Be Told While She Lived . . .
By LEO GUILD
THE FOLLOWING IS A STORY, never told before about Judy Garland. It has bee kept quiet for obvious reasons. Now that Judy has passed on there is no reason anymore to keep it secret.
In the mid-1950s Judy was 30 pounds overweight and getting fatter. She hadn’t worked in five months.
Sid Luft and her friends had long talks with her about cutting down on her food and drink input, but she answered honestly that she hardly ate anything.
And she confessed that not only was she putting on weight but she felt awful and was sick to her stomach most of the time.
Now she wanted to work again despite feeling ill.
She wouldn’t go to a doctor. She was sick of doctors, and she didn’t believe they could help her.
SID HAD BOOKED HER into the Metropolitan Opera House and New York was electrified over Judy’s appearance. Opening night was sold out. The aisles and the back of the house were filled.
Backstage Judy had difficulty getting into a gown which weighted 100 pounds designed by the famous Irene Sharaff. With her own weight and the weight of the gown, it was hard for her to walk.
She waited backstage for Gordon Jenkins to finish the overture and begin her downbeat. Sid asked her how she felt. “Awful,” she said.
The spotlights started to creep across the stage to pick her up, and she moaned, “I have to throw up.”
She ran to the ladies room.
She came back, perspiration oozing from the back of her neck, and just caught the spots and started the first four bars.
She forgot her nausea and went into “New York, New York What a Wonderful Town.” The crowd screamed its approval. She was off.
She got through two hours of singing, dancing with John Bubbles and making several costume changes. She never faltered. When she got off stage, she threw up again.
FROM THE MET SHE WENT on a singing tour. She hardly ate or drank, and got fatter and fatter. She was constantly sick to her stomach.
Sid finally got her to a doctor and he insisted she needed a long rest and had to go on a strict diet. As it turned out, it wasn’t a very good diagnosis.
At the time Judy confessed she felt sorry for all the fat people in the world. She breathed with difficulty. She passed mirrors with her head averted. She was grotesque.
She found it difficult to sit down or get up, bend, walk, dress, sleep or make love.
She was a prisoner in her own fat.
But the doctor had said “rest and diet,” so she went to an expensive diet ranch in the San Fernando Valley. She took the children and as a lark, they all went on the same diet. It was a diet of raw vegetables, seeds, and juices. IT was amusing for the kids but grim for Judy. As it turned out, it was the worst kind of diet for her.
THE LONGER JUDY STAYED at the ranch the fatter and sicker she got. After six weeks, because it was going her no good, she left the ranch and went back to her Beverly Hills home.
This time she really was fed up with doctors and told Sid she wouldn’t see any.
Sid had a friend come to the house for dinner. Unbeknownst to Judy, this was Dr. Bill Dodge. Sid just passed him off as a school friend. Judy seemed to like him and some of her good spirits returned.
The trio sang around the piano and Bill had his hands on Judy’s shoulders. Later he took Sid aside and said, “Sid, your wife is ill. There’s something seriously wrong with Judy. When I put my hands on her I can feel that she’s water-logged. That’s not fat. That’s water. It could be very serious. You have to get her to a doctor right away.”
When Sid broached the matter of doctors, Judy screamed and said she wouldn’t see a doctor. She wanted to die in peace. She now felt it was only a matter of time.
Sid talked to several doctors, mentioning the serious water retention. But without seeing her, they couldn’t make a diagnosis.
SID THEN WENT TO AN ELABORATE HOAX to get Judy to New York because she had always liked the doctors at Doctor’s Hosptial, and he thought if he could get her into New York he could entice her over to Doctor’s Hospital.
The hoax was that Elsa Maxwell along with Aly Khan wanted to throw a big party for Judy with celebrities attending from all over the world. She fell for it.
She had been hanging around the house in a robe and when it came to dressing, she had to rip seams to get a dress on. They were held together with diaper pins. Her feet were so swollen, she had to wear huge men’s slippers.
In the meantime, everyone at Doctor’s Hosptial had been altered. Sid didn’t know how he would do it, but he was going to get her there.
Everyone at the party was wonderful to Judy, with not one mention of her weight problem. When she brought it up, they laughed it off as unimportant.
At the end of the party, Judy said to Sid, “Now I just want to die. I feel awful. Just give me a bottle of vodka and it’s goodbye.”
SID WAITED UNTIL SHE WAS DRUNK enough and then, with the help of friends, got her in a cab and over to the hospital. Physicians who were expert in matters of water retention waited for her.
Their first prognosis was that she was in critical condition. The first diagnosis was that she had an infected liver and could go into a heptatonic coma any moment and never come out of it.
The first thing they did in the hospital was drain off 28 quarts of water over a period of a month. Most of that was the “fat.”
Her liver had expanded to four times its normal size and had blocked off all her vital organs. She was drowning in her own fluids.
It was a heptatonic liver, terribly diseased. It had spread from spleen to chest. Liver specialists were flown in from all over the world.
After a month of treatment, the doctors told Sid “If she recovers, she’ll be an invalid the rest of her life. She can’t possibly work again.”
OBVIOUSLY THAT ISN’T THE WAY it happened. Spirit is a human’s most powerful force. It supersedes the physical every time. Judy was told she would never work again and she just scoffed at it.
“Watch me,” she told the doctors.
Their answer was that if she exerted herself, it could kill her. Her reply to that was she’d be dead someday anyway.
Fans and admirers constantly rang the phone and tried to get to see her. She insisted on answering the phone and held court in her hospital room. She was so proud of the fact that she had lost 50 pounds. Yes, that’s right – 50 pounds.
After three months fo hospitalization, with no one ever knowing exactly why she was in the hospital except her closest friends and relatives, Judy said she was fed up with being sick and wanted to go to England to think.
She was also upset that some of the press aid she was being cured of alcoholism and wouldn’t work again. She wanted to show them.
Judy went to England and thought her life out. She felt she was now on velvet and that by rights she should be dead. But she felt fine again. She had no fear about working too soon.
She had Sid call the Palladium to see if they would want her again. The first time Fanny Brice had fixed it for her to go to the Palladium. Now they knew her.
The Palladium said they’d be delighted to book her.
She threw a party at which all her medication and hospital clothes were burned, and she was the re-born Judy Garand – ready to conquer more worlds.
TUESDAY: Conversation – and cheese – in New York.