“Judy Garland has always played parts so naturally that you actually believe, for that hour and a half at least, that she is the girl in the picture – all the time.” – Veronica Dengel
July 2, 1898: Remembering Judy’s marvelous make-up woman and confidante, Dorothy (Dottie) Ponedel, born on this day in 1898. She was such a big influence on Judy, especially during her MGM years, that she was written into Judy’s new contract with the studio in 1946. The studio stated that Dottie would be Judy’s makeup artist as long as she (Dottie) was “employed by the studio.”
Meredith Ponedel‘s book about Dottie (who was her Aunt) titled “About Face – The life and times of Dottie Ponedel: Make-up Artist to the Stars,” is now available and is a must-read not just for Garland fans but also for all fans of classic Hollywood. Dottie was much, much more than “just a make-up woman.”
July 2, 1928: Frances (Judy) and her sisters performed at sister Virginia Gumm’s birthday party, held at the Gumm family home in Lancaster, California.
July 2, 1936: Judy was listed in the local New York papers as being on the radio this night, as “Judy Garland songs.” She had just been in New York for her first trip to the city, and it was her first MGM personal appearance trip as well. She appeared in a few clubs, recorded two songs for Decca Records, and made regular appearances on the Rudy Vallee radio show. However, on this day, she was already back at MGM and was working on the short Every Sunday with Deanna Durbin. So, this radio listing could be for a now-lost recording of a previous Vallee radio show appearance. A “repeat” so to speak. There are no known details aside from these newspaper radio listings.
July 2, 1939: The MGM Publicity Department was beginning to heavily promote the upcoming release of The Wizard of Oz.
Above is an article that was allegedly written by producer Mervyn LeRoy. It’s difficult to know whether these articles were written by those they’re attributed to or in reality, the publicity departments. The studios were quite adept at creating all kinds of colorful stories.
July 2, 1940: Andy Hardy Meets Debutante was still in theaters. This was Judy’s second of three appearances in the series.
On this day at MGM, filming continued on Strike Up The Band with more scenes shot on the “Interior Gym” set, including the more filming of the “La Conga” number. Time called: 11:00 a.m.; dismissed: 6:00 p.m.
July 2, 1941: Judy and Mickey Rooney appeared on the CBS Radio show, “Treasury Hour.” The episode was titled “Millions for Defense” and the duo performed a comedy sketch and sang “Strike Up The Band.”
Listen to “Strike Up The Band” here:
Above: Two rare radio transcription discs of the show. The one on the left provided by Fred Hough. The one on the right provided by Rick Smith. Thanks, guys!
July 2, 1943: The reviews of Judy’s very first concert engagement at the Robin Hood Dell, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were in and she was a hit.
15,000 people packed the amphitheater well past its 6,500 regular capacity. Another 15,000 people sat on adjoining lawns, and in parking lots; another 5,000-10,000 people left when they could not get within listening distance.
Ironically Judy’s last U.S. concert was also in Philadelphia on July 20, 1968, at the JFK Stadium.
July 2, 1943: Judy arrived in New York’s Penn Station from Philadelphia. These photos were taken of Judy upon arrival at the station. They are sometimes mistakenly labeled as being from her short USO tour which took place from July 8, 1943, through mid-August 1943; or the War Bond Tour which took place from September 4 through September 25, 1943. Note that the clipping above is from July 3, 1943 (hence the reference to “yesterday”).
Also on July 2, 1943: What a difference a few years make. The “kid next door” had grown into a lovely young woman who was being presented, as the two articles show, as a glamorous young star.
July 2, 1944: Here are two mentions of Judy. The first relays a story that was circulating that Judy called the fire department from her home. The fire, which was not in anyone’s home nor was anyone hurt, was contained. Judy indulged the firemen by signing their helmets. The second is an early notice about the upcoming MGM extravaganza, Ziegfeld Follies. Judy pre-recorded and filmed her segment in 1944 although the film wouldn’t be released until 1946.
July 2, 1946: Till The Clouds Roll By previewed. The film didn’t premiere until January 21, 1947.
Photo above: 1962 re-release poster.
July 2, 1948: “The Pirate is here” – the MGM soundtrack album, that is. The album was the second Judy Garland soundtrack album released by the recently formed MGM Records and the first in which she was the featured star. The label issued soundtracks for all of Judy’s films from 1946 through 1950, and reissued them, as well as many compilations, into the 1990s.
July 2, 1951: Judy began a week-long engagement at The Royal Theater in Dublin, Ireland. This was part of her UK tour after opening her new stage show (and ushering in her Concert Years) at The London Palladium that previous April/May.
July 2, 1954: Filming continued on the “Born In A Trunk” number in A Star Is Born. On this day, scenes were shot on the “Interior Stage” and “Backstage” sets which included parts of the “Born In A Trunk” song and “Swanee.” Time started: 9 a.m.; finished: 5 p.m.
Photo: Judy’s daughter, Liza Minnelli, visits her on the “Swanee” set, exact date unknown.
July 2, 1969: The ninth in a series of articles about Judy published immediately after her death.
The JUDY GARLAND Story
Dead Horse Paid Off the Bills for Cancelled Phila. Show
By LEO GUILD
JUDY GARLAND’S sad and untimely passing has stirred up a lot of nostalgia and reminiscences in Hollywood.
Sitting around in the famous Schwab’s drugstore the other night, we heard these stories. Like with all stories about stars, it is possible some are glamorized or exaggerated. But I give them to you as I heard them.
WHEN BARBRA STREISAND GUESTED on Judy’s CBS television show, Judy, as she always did with guests, was constantly running her hands over Barbra’s shoulders and arms.
Barbra brought this up to the director and said, “It gets me very nervous.”
The director suggested Barbra tell Judy.
“Well,” she said, “I don’t want to hurt her feelings but I’ll think of something.”
Later Barbra went to Judy and said, “I’m terribly ticklish and I’m afraid if you touch me I’ll break up.”
IT TOOK TWO YEARS to complete “Wizard of Oz.” When Mervyn Leroy first saw Judy and liked her for the part of Dorothy, he suggested her teeth be capped, she be fitted with a blonde wig and have her nose re-fashioned.
However, after a bit, all they did was to henna and plait Judy’s hair and put her on a diet.
The New York Times said about Judy’s performance, “She is a pert and fresh-faced miss with the wonder-lit eyes of a believer in fairy tales.”
Judy said of her own performance, “I know it took a long time to film but I think if we could have gone a little closer, I could have been better.”
JUDY GARLAND AND MICKEY ROONEY became the best of friends and a nosey news lady wanted to know from Judy if she and Mickey were having an affair. Judy said, “It’s in bad taste to have an affair with a friend.”
ONE OF THE CAUSES for Judy’s occasional crying outbursts when she was younger at MGM was that the studio wanted to keep her image young and she wanted to be a lady.
When she was 19 years old the studio till made her dress in “junior” clothes when she went to parties or premieres.
When she rebelled and took an apartment of her own so she could start looking her age, the studio assigned spies and detectives to her so that they’d always know what she was doing.
Later even her roommate was on the studio payroll as a spy.
THAT WAS WHEN SHE MARRIED for the first time. It was another way of getting away from the studio power. Judy was 19 when she married and she insisted David Rose and she move into the old Jean Harlow home so that she could change her image to glamour and sophistication. It never worked. Judy, more or less, always remained a little girl.
A YOUNG FRENCH ACTOR, who was often at Judy’s side during her adult years, came into Schwab’s one evening and said, “Judy Garland is throwing a party and she’s inviting all of you.”
About ten typical Schwab hangers-on went to the party.
Almost at the height of her popularity, she still didn’t have close friends she could invite to a party at a moment’s notice.
The Schwabaderos had a great time.
In Judy’s early married years her big complaint was that servants didn’t accept her as the lady of the house. They looked on her as a child and ran the house instead of Judy running it. She felt frustrated in her attempt to present authority.
ONE TIME IN PHILADELPHIA on a Saturday night, Judy’s throat dried out from medication and, while she was able to walk out on stage, she couldn’t sing past a whisper.
She announced to the crowded house that she couldn’t sing, and walked off.
The following morning Sid Luft, who was acting as her manager, had to pay off the crew, other acts, and musicians.
He wrote checks to the tune of $11,500. But there was no money to cover the checks in Judy’s account. Even if the bank was in California, he had no more than a week to make that account good.
Sid went to Judy’s agent at the time, MCA, and tried to borrow money from them, but they wouldn’t come across.
He stayed on the phone all night, calling friends all over the world and could only raise a couple hundred dollars.
In the morning Freddie Finkelhoff walked into Sid’s room at the Pierre Hotel, where he was staying, poured himself a double martini and said, “I have some bad news for you.”
Sid’s immediate reaction was “It’s not possible – nothing can get any worse than it is.”
Freddie went on: “Do you own a horse called Rover the Second?” Sid did.
“Well,” Freddie said, “I was reading the Racing Form and I read where the horse broke his leg and had to be destroyed.”
Sid asked, “Are you sure? Did it mention trainer Charlie Wittingham?” It had.
Sid immediately called Charlie in Long Island to confirm it. It was true.
Sid hung up and kissed Freddie. “Why, you old S.O.B.” he said, “the horse was insured for $35,000 and I own half the horse.”
That’s how Sid was able to cover the checks of a concert Judy couldn’t sing.
JUDY PLAYED IN A LONG SKEIN of gay, light pictures and finally reached the point where she wanted to try something dramatic.
Everyone was against such a departure for her. But she insisted.
She had just been married to Vincente Minnelli, who was considered something of a genius, and he said he’d find her the right dramatic role.
What the studio and he came up with was “The Clock” with Robert Walker. While she received good reviews, she was depressed all during the making of the film, and thought she better not do any more dramatic parts. She didn’t then for many years.
THERE IS A BEHIND-THE-SCENES MYSTERY connected with Judy that never was solved though there are enough facts associated with it to convince me there is some truth to the story.
While in London she made a suicide attempt and ended up in a London hospital, getting her stomach pumped out.
That same night a photographer, allegedly assigned by the London Daily Mirror, called Reddie Field’s office (her agent then) in New York.
The photog said he had a picture of Judy, nude to the waist, with a stomach pump in her mouth, looking awful, and he could get a lot of money for it from his paper – but if Judy’s agents wanted the negative he’d sell it to them.
According to our source, there were hurried conferences and because her TV deal with CBS was pending the agents decided it was best to make an offer for the picture.
My source informed me the negative was purchased for $50,000 and it is still in a vault in London. It never made the papers.
EARLY IN 1942 JUDY OF HER OWN volition went to the famed psychiatrist Karl Menninger. After several visits with him, she said she had a tremendous lift and felt so much better able to handle her picture assignments.
But at that time the world wasn’t quite ready for psychiatry.
As Louis B. Mayer put it, “Your fans will think you’ve gone crazy.” He made her stop seeing Menninger.
That might have been a crossroads of Judy’s life.
ALL THE TRAGEDIES AND ILLNESS have been carefully noted in many stories printed about Judy. Yet the problem that nagged her the most all through her life, and remained incurable, was her smashing migraine headaches.
Psychiatrists blamed them on pressure. Doctors gave her medication. Nothing helped.
One day she went in to see the rushes of a picture and, when the lights on the projection room went up, she was writhing in agony on the floor.
She could be perfectly normal and all of a sudden a bright light would flash in her head and a stabbing sick pain would shoot through her skull. There never was any warning.
One night she was being interviewed before a preview of her picture. A migraine hit her and she staggered and fell. A news report said she had over-imbibed.
The headaches would go away as fast as mysteriously as they came. Once in a private ambulance speeding to a hospital after a particularly virulent attack, Judy suddenly sat up and said in wonderment, “The pain is gone. I feel wonderful.”
She ordered the driver to turn back.
THURSDAY: Who had the most influence on Judy’s life?