“Her voice, I think, was the greatest in the first part of our century. She went right through the bone and flesh into the heart.” – E.Y. Harburg, 1969
July 13, 1931: Here’s a review of the current show at the Wilshire-Ebell Theater in Los Angeles, California, Maurice Kussell’s “Stars of Tomorrow.” The show was an all juvenile revue that ran from July 10 through July 17, 1931. Judy and her two sisters, as “The Gumm Sisters,” were a part of the show. This review doesn’t mention them by name, but they were featured in three song and dance numbers including: “Puttin’ On The Ritz” where they played “Harlem Crooners,”; “Garden of Beautiful Flowers,” in which they played “gardenettes,”; and “Floatin’ Down the Mississippi.” Frances (Judy) allegedly had two solos and was teamed with Miss Betty Jean Allen for “A Plantation Melody.” Judy’s mom, Ethel, directed the show’s eight-piece orchestra.
Of all of the “Stars of Tomorrow” who performed in the show, only one was indeed a “star of tomorrow” and that was little Frances Gumm.
July 13, 1932: Judy and her sisters, as “The Gumm Sisters,” rated a mention in this article about the Fox Dome Theater in Venice, California. The theater launched a new policy of featuring stage shows “presenting big-time vaudeville” (the sisters were noted as “youthful harmonists”) and “Ralf” Pollock and his Fox Dome Orchestra. All of this accompanied the latest film showing at the theater which was the main attraction. This was the first of a three-night engagement at the theater for the sisters.
July 13, 1939: Filming began on the “Finale” for Babes in Arms on the “Interior Madox Theatre” set which was shot on MGM’s soundstages 5 & 6.
Soundstages 5 & 6 were connected, containing the only permanent indoor set on the lot, the “theatre set” originally built for 1925’s Pretty Ladies. Stage 5 contained the seats and balconies while Stage 6 contained the proscenium-arched raised stage. Any film with a big theatre opening or other big theatre scenes was shot on these stages, including several of Judy’s films. One of its last uses was for the 1977 film New York, New York starring Judy’s daughter, Liza Minnelli.
July 13, 1940: A long afternoon and evening for Judy, Mickey Rooney, and the rest of the cast of Strike Up The Band. Filming on the “Finale” sequence on the “Interior Radio Theatre” set lasted from 1:00 p.m. to 11:33 p.m. Luckily there was no call for the next day so luckily they didn’t have to get up early. That we know of.
July 13, 1940: Here is another two-page trade ad place by MGM in the “Motion Picture Herald” magazine, promoting their latest hits.
July 13, 1944: Judy had a short rehearsal of “The Interview,” a.k.a. “A Great Lady Gives An Interview,” a.k.a. “Madame Crematante” for Ziegfeld Follies. Time called: 4:00 p.m.; dismissed: 6:00 p.m.
July 13, 1948: The first of a rare five days off for Judy. She wasn’t on call for either The Barkleys of Broadway or Words and Music. Considering how much she was working at this point, it’s safe to assume she enjoyed the time off. On this day, columnist Bob Thomas’ column was making the rounds of most papers in the country, which made note of Judy portraying Sarah Bernhardt in The Barkleys of Broadway.
July 13, 1948: Easter Parade was proving to be not just a hit but a mega-hit for MGM.
July 13, 1951: Judy was on the second day of a week-long engagement at the Hippodrome in Birmingham, England, when she received a surprise visit from daughter Liza.
July 13, 1954: A Star Is Born filming continued with more shooting of the “Black Bottom” number on the “Interior Stage” and “Interior Backstage” sets, plus the “Rehearsal” sequence” on the “Exterior Stage Door and Sign” set. Time started: 6 p.m.; finished: 2 a.m. The filming schedule had been moved to starting later in the days/evenings to accommodate Judy’s body clock.
July 13, 1955: The Wizard of Oz was a success in its second theatrical re-release. Meanwhile, A Star Is Born was still playing in some locations around the country. In this instance, it was the feature at the local drive-in theater in Rochester, New York. The Oz ads are also from Rochester which is a good example of how in many markets audiences had the chance to see both.
July 13, 1962: Judy completed filming on what would be her last film, I Could Go On Singing. The film premiered in London on March 6, 1963.
Scans of the May 1963 “Screen Stories” article provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
July 13, 1964: This photo is dated as being from Judy’s appearance in a Santa Monica, California, courtroom on this date, but she was actually in London, England, with Mark Herron. Judy and her husband Sid Luft were arguing over custody of their two children. The press reported that Judy was due back in court in Santa Monica on July 16th but that would be postponed due to her being out of the country.
July 13, 1967: This photo was taken of Judy on her third night of a five-night run at the Camden County Music Fair in Camden, New Jersey.
July 13, 1969: Judy’s untimely passing was still news. There were many articles that covered many aspects of her life and career. Here is one with a really great caricature that gives “Over the Rainbow” lyricist E. Y. Harburg’s take.
July 13, 1975: Nostalgia for Old Hollywood was big. A year earlier, in the summer of 1974, That’s Entertainment! surprised everyone when it became a big hit. The MGM auction of 1970 was still stinging fans. Mel Torme’s horrible Garland book had already come out, as had the one from her last husband, Mickey Deans, but the summer of 1975 gave us the first serious comprehensive biography about Judy, “Judy” by Gerold Frank. It’s still the only biography written with the full cooperation of Judy’s family. Anne Edwards’ biography about Judy, “Judy Garland,” had been published before the Frank book, but it was the Frank book that got most of the attention. The Frank book was so huge that as late as 2001, the ABC miniseries “Life With Judy Garland” used a few passages, quoting verbatim, in the teleplay.
Above is another article published on this day which is about the new wave of nostalgia including Hugh Fordin’s fantastic new book about the Freed Unit, “The World of Entertainment: Hollywood’s Greatest Musicals!” (later republished as “The Movie’s Greatest Musicals – Produced in Hollywood USA by the Arthur Freed Unit” and then “MGM’S Greatest Greatest Musicals – The Arthur Freed Unit”).