“I’m always being compared to Al Jolson, which doesn’t help a woman’s vanity!” – Judy Garland, 1968
July 12, 1937: Here’s another feature on MGM’s child stars/featured players. Judy and a few others weren’t stars yet but they were on their way. Judy and Mickey Rooney would soon be the personification of teenage America if not in reality then at least on film.
On this day, Judy was in the final two weeks of filming on her first feature film for the studio, Broadway Melody of 1938 (released in August 1937).
July 12, 1938: Judy appeared on “The Rinso Program, Starring Al Jolson” for CBS Radio, substituting for Martha Raye. Almost 30 years later, Judy would sub for Raye again in Las Vegas in 1966. This show was Judy’s first radio show since her auto accident on May 24th. Unfortunately, no audio recording from this 1938 radio appearance has survived.
This was the first time Judy worked with the great Al Jolson. During her concert years, Judy was oftentimes compared to Jolson as a stage performer. In 1968, Judy joked about it: “I’m always being compared to Al Jolson, which doesn’t help a woman’s vanity!”
Also in the show was Alan Hale, who was in Listen, Darling with Judy which was currently filming at MGM.
Judy worked again with Jolson when the two appeared on the NBC Radio show “Kraft Music Hall” on September 30, 1948. The two duetted on “Pretty Baby” which is the only known recording of Judy Garland and Al Jolson singing together.
Listen to that 1948 duet of “Pretty Baby” here:
More Garland radio performances can be found (and downloaded for free) at The Judy Room’s “Judy Sings! On The Radio” page here.
Photo: Judy with Al Jolson and Oscar Levant during rehearsals for the “Kraft Music Hall” radio show on September 30, 1948.
July 12, 1939: Babes In Arms filming continued, with rehearsals and the pre-recording of “God’s Country” which was the last recording session for Judy for the film. Time called: 9 a.m.; lunch: 12:30-1:30 p.m.; time dismissed: 6 p.m.
Also on July 12, 1939: This blurb appeared which tells of Bobbie Koshay being Judy’s personal trainer. Koshay was Judy’s stand-in on The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms.
Photos: The clipping; Judy and Koshay on a break on the Munshkinland set of The Wizard of Oz.
July 12, 1945: The Harvey Girls was previewed in Inglewood, CA. Judy was in New York on her honeymoon with Vincente Minnelli at the time so was unable to attend.
The film wasn’t released until January 18, 1946, after another preview in Chicago on January 3, 1946.
The reason for the delay in its release is simply that MGM had quite a lot of films in release and The Harvey Girls had to wait its turn. It proved to be worth the wait as it became one of Judy’s, and MGM’s, biggest hit grossing over $5,175,000 on a cost of $2,524,315.06 to make.
On this day, producer Arthur Freed had a phone conversation with Judy’s personal physician, Dr. Schelman. Freed dictated a memo detailing the conversation:
Subject: JUDY GARLAND – ILLNESS
From: Arthur Freed
July 12, 1948 – 3:30 p.m. – memorandum of telephone conversation with Dr. Schelman, Judy Garlan’s personal Physician.
I called Dr. Schelman to ask how Miss Garland was and he said he had given her medication to sleep. I asked him in his opinion as her physician if it would be wise to start her working on an important picture. He replied that it would be a risky procedure. He said that she possibly could work four or five days, always under medication, and possibly blow up for a period and then work again for a few days. He was of the opinion that if she didn’t have to work for a while it might not be too difficult to make a complete cure but that her knowledge of having to report every morning would cause such a mental disturbance within her that the results would be in jeopardy.
I told him that I was anxious for Judy to get well, and he volunteered to come in and have a talk with me within the next few days.
He thanked me for my interest and courtesy in the matter.
Just a few days later, on July 18th, Judy was removed from the film.
Check out The Judy Room’s “Films That Got Away” page for more details about Barkleys and the other films Judy was either scheduled to make or in the running to star in.
July 12, 1952: Debbie Reynolds was a Judy fan, according to this fun article in which Reynolds is quoted, “I’m a big Judy Garland fan, too. I’ve got all her records – albums and albums and albums of ’em. She’s the end!” Whether she really said this or not, Reynolds was, in fact, a Garland fan. But then again, most of Hollywood was.
Reynolds had just hit it big with Singin’ In The Rain. She was one of several female musical stars at MGM who took over the types of roles that Judy would have been can in had she not left the studio.
July 12, 1953: A rare mention of Judy’s recordings for Columbia Records. It appears that Harvey Southgate didn’t care for the single.
Judy had recorded four sides for the Columbia Records in 1953 (“Send My Baby Back To Me”; “Without A Memory”; “Go Home, Joe”; “Heartbroken”), which weren’t big hits. The label also released the soundtrack to A Star Is Born in 1954 but by that point, Judy’s contract had expired and she moved to Capitol Records in 1955.
Listen to the 1990s Robert Parker “surround sound” restorations of the recordings here:
“Send My Baby Back To Me”
“Go Home, Joe”
“Without A Memory”
July 12, 1954: A Star Is Born filming continued with the “Black Bottom” number on the “Interior Stage” and “Interior Backstage” sets, plus the “Rehearsal” sequence” on the “Exterior Stage Door and Sign” set, both of which were part of the extensive “Born In A Trunk” sequence. Time started: 5 p.m.; finished: 4:10 a.m. The filming schedule had been moved to starting later in the days/evenings to accommodate Judy’s body clock.
Hedda Hopper’s recent column notes that not only was Judy allegedly in the running for a film version of the Lerner & Lowe Broadway hit “Finian’s Rainbow,” as well as mentioning that “Rex” of Beverly Hills provided the hats for “the ballet” in A Star Is Born. This prompted (per Hopper) her query about spending so much money on the “ballet sequence.” The sequence she’s talking about is the “Born In A Trunk” production number. These extended numbers were called “ballets” due to the success of recent similar “ballets” in A American In Paris, Singin’ In The Rain, and The Band Wagon (all produced by MGM).
Most of the photos here were provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
July 12, 1967: Two articles, one is an interview and the other is a review of Judy’s Sorrowtown concerts which were still going, with the last night being July 15th. The headline makes Judy seem old at just 45. She was in many respects.
July 12, 1973: Vernon Scott’s column spotlights Mervyn Leroy, producer of The Wizard of Oz, in his explanation that the two biggest Hollywood classics are Oz and Gone With The Wind.
Photos: The column; a snapshot of Judy with Leroy on the set of The Wizard of Oz