“Broadway’s greatest musical hit, now the screen’s Technicolor masterpiece!” – Advertisement for The Wizard of Oz, 1939
August 15, 1929: The first of a week-long engagement for Judy and her two sisters as part of the Meglin Kiddies “56 Clever Tots” on stage, with the black comedian Stephen Fetchit (he was the headliner), all a part of the Fanchon & Marco stages show at the Loew’s State Theater in Lost Angeles, California. The featured film was the Fox film Salute, followed by the MGM Joan Crawford film Our Modern Maidens.
Images: Advertisements for each day of the engagement.
August 15, 1931: This is the date that Frances (Judy) allegedly had an audition at Universal Studios in Universal City, California. Nothing is known about what Judy performed for the audition. Universal passed on signing the nine-year-old.
August 15, 1933: The last night of the engagement of The Gumm Sisters at the Fox West Coast Theater in Long Beach, California. The “Long Beach Sun” noted listed the act, “The Gumm Sisters, with Frances Gumm, the KHJ sensation.”
Of note is the fact that the “Long Beach Sun” referred to Judy as “the KHJ sensation.” This was a reference to the Los Angeles radio station KHJ. The girls had made appearances on various radio stations in the area although no details about their performances or recordings are known to exist. It’s unclear if the “sensation” note was promotional press given to the theater/paper by Judy’s father, Frank, or if the girls were actually gaining some early radio fame.
August 15, 1935: The end of an era. Just three days after The Garland Sisters filmed their final screen appearance in La Fiesta de Santa Barbara, the Los Angeles Times chronicled their breakup with this news item and fabulous photo.
The caption of the first clipping reads: Judy, Suzanne and Jimmy, left to right, the Garland Sisters trio broken up yesterday by the flight of Suzanne to Reno, where she was to be married to Lee Kahn, orchestra player of the Cal-Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe.
The article text:
CUPID ROBS RADIO TEAM
Suzanne Garland Flies to Reno to Become Bride of Musician
The radio-stage-screen trio of Suzanne, 22; Jimmy, 18; Judy, 12; [Judy was already 13 at this point but apparently mom Ethel shaved a year off her age just as MGM would soon do]; familiarly billed as the Garland Sisters, yesterday became a duet.
Romance, in the person of Lee Kahn, musician, broke up the successful trio when Suzanne boarded a United Air Lines plane at Union Air Terminal for Reno.
Kahn, a member of the Jimmy Davis orchestra playing at Cal-Neva Lodge, Lake Tahoe, drove to the Nevada city to meet Suzanne’s plane. The two were to be married there last night.
With the conclusion of the Tahoe season, Kahn goes to San Francisco for an engagement and the couple will make the Bay City their home, Suzanne said.
During a tearful parting with her two sisters at the airport, Suzanne revealed that Jimmy Garland is now engaged to Frankie Darro, of screen note.
By the summer of 1935, The Garland Sisters had hit their peak as a trio. They had a reputation for being one of THE acts to see up and down the West Coast, with Judy stopping the show with her solos. At this point, it was clear that Judy was the real star of the act. But by the end of the summer, the act broke up after a successful and fortuitous last hurrah in Lake Tahoe, an appearance in an MGM short, and finally Judy’s audition with MGM.
Here are a few clippings that chronicle the act’s end, featuring their successful run at the Cal-Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe, California, and the breakup due to Suzanne’s leaving the act to marry musician Lee Kahn, whom she met at the Cal-Neva Lodge.
Above, an article from June 9, 1935, Nevada State Journal (out of Reno), notes the Lodge’s upcoming opening of its 1935 season. It lists the various acts, including “the three Garland sisters, who have been appearing in M-G-M pictures…”
This is interesting because the date of the filming of La Fiesta de Santa Barbara (the MGM short in which the sisters appeared) is given as August 12th, which is a full two months later. This means that either the sisters were already signed for the short but filming was delayed, or the short was filmed earlier than the August date.
The full-page ad for the Cal-Neva (also from the June 9, 1935, Nevada State Journal) features the sisters as “Harmony Sisters – The Three Garland Sisters, who have been recently in M-G-M pictures and are well known in Hollywood as entertainers, will be featured at Cal-Neva.”
From June 11, 1935, the Cal-Neva ad from the Reno Gazette again features the sisters and states The Three Garland Sisters ‘Harmony Stylists’ Seen recently in M-G-M pictures and Fanchon and Marco Theater Circuits. The opening of the new show and the sister’s engagement began on June 15, 1935.
Although it was the end of an era and perfect timing for Judy, not even a full month later, on September 13, 1935, she was at MGM for that now legendary audition. The audition was the result of their engagement at the Cal-Neva Lodge in June/July. They say “Everything happens for a reason” and the events of that summer in 1935 definitely worked to place Judy in the perfect position to succeed. And succeed she did!
August 15, 1936: Photos were taken on this day of Judy with fellow MGM contract player and star, Jackie Cooper, by studio photographers. Cooper was already a big star while Judy still had a few years before becoming a huge star herself.
August 15, 1937: The Chicago Tribune ran this studio-provided photo (and caption) of Judy with Robert Taylor, Betty Jaynes, and Clark Gable. I’ve posted this photo before but I’m posting it again because it’s such a great image.
Judy had completed filming Broadway Melody of 1938 just a few weeks prior and judging from the responses of the preview audience, she was the highlight of the film, which starred Taylor (pictured) and in which she sang “(Dear Mr. Gable) You Made Me Love You.” Hence this photo of Judy with the two stars, and new studio singer Jaynes. The MGM publicity department wasted no time!
August 15, 1939: The official world premiere of The Wizard of Oz at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, California. Judy was not on hand for the premiere as she and Mickey Rooney had just arrived in New York the day before in preparation for the film’s New York premiere (on August 17th).
The studio went all out for the premiere by recreating parts of the Cornfield, Emerald City, and Munchkinland sets on the courtyard in front of the theater. Several of the little people who played Munchkins were on hand, in costume, to greet the stars as they arrived for the gala premiere.
August 15, 1939: On the same day that LA was preparing for the official premiere of The Wizard of Oz the trade paper “The Film Daily” made note of Judy and Mickey’s arrival in New York for the NY premiere of the film (which would take place on August 17th). The text reads:
IT took 100 – count ’em 10 – of New York’s Finest yesterday…..to handle the metropolitan advent…..of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney…..and for a time it looked as if…..they would have used more…..Yes, sir, Andy Hardy rode high yesterday…..and so did Judy…..thanks to Loew’s indefatigable publicists…..
August 15, 1939: More Ozzy ads and write-ups.
August 15, 1939: Here’s another Ozzy tie-in, this time it’s a story about Judy giving a dog to three lucky children in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, via the “Pet Editor” of the “Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph” newspaper.
August 15, 1939: While in Washington, D.C., Judy ran afoul of the courts due to a law that stipulated no girl under 18 were allowed to appear on stage after 7 p.m. The law didn’t apply to Judy’s co-star Mickey Rooney, it only applied to girls. Since their last show began at 9:25 p.m., they definitely broke the law. The studio no doubt paid the fine, and took care of things because the duo did not miss their next engagement in Connecticut. The case was settled on August 18th (long after Judy and Mickey had left for New York), fan the theater only had to pay a $25 charge.
Also shown above is an ad for Judy Garland dresses.
August 15, 1940: Filming continued on Little Nellie Kelly on the “Interior Court Room” set. Time called: 9 a.m.; dismissed: 4:55 p.m.
August 15, 1941: Filming continued on Babes on Broadway with scenes shot on the “Interior Dressing Room and Corridor” set. Time called: 9 a.m. The assistant director’s notes state: “9:00-9:20 a.m. – wait for Judy Garland to put on wardrobe and fix hair.” Lunch was 12:00-1:00 p.m. The notes continued with: “1:24-1:38 – Dr. Jones on set to look at Judy Garland – complained of feeling badly with pains in neck and back. Dr. Jones said she probably had the starting of a cold but she was able to work.” Dismissed: 3:55 p.m.
August 15, 1944: Filming continued on The Clock with scenes shot on the “Exterior Pond,” “Interior Museum-Interior Gallery-Rodin’s Thinker” sets. Noted was “scene where Joe pulls boy out of water – Alice-Policeman-Children and crowd.” Time called: 10 a.m.; time dismissed: 6:05 p.m.
Photo: Argentinean poster.
August 15, 1948: Judy and Meet Me In St. Louis co-star Tom Drake appeared on the cover of the “CineIllustrato” fan magazine.
Scan provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
August 15, 1949: Judy participated in the AMPAS birthday tribute to Ethel Barrymore in honor of her 70th birthday.
Listen to the radio broadcast of that tribute here:
August 15, 1954: This article appeared in the Danish “Hjemmets Søndag” magazine.
Scan provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
August 15, 1957: Here’s an ad for MGM Records out of Melbourne, Australia. The soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz premiered in 1956 on MGM Records. It was the first and for decades the only, one taken from the original soundtrack of the film. The first edition of the soundtrack to Words and Music was released by MGM Records in 1948.
August 15, 1959: Judy is seen with Leonard Bernstein and Merle Oberon (and a few others) after Bernstein’s concert at The Hollywood Bowl.
August 15, 1966: Judy and Tom Green were in Mexico City for her next appearance (August 17th at the El Patio Nightclub). According to Scott Schechter’s book “Judy Garland – The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend” (of which much of the info in this blog comes from), Judy woke at 11:00 a.m., having a “frugal” breakfast of a glass of tomato juice with vodka, water, and soda, along with two fried eggs. At 12 noon she spent some time of the balcony, then napped. As a “preview” before the press conference at 2 p.m., Tom Green told reporters that Judy would be in Mexico City for 12 days and that on September 9, she would open at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, for which she would be paid $70,000. This engagement would not take place, however. Judy arrived at the press reception about 4 p.m. and told the press she had left Capitol Records and was forming her own label, hoping she would sign Eddie Fisher – whom she expected at her Saturday performance, along with Lorna and Joe – as well as other singers, to the label.
Billboard Magazine, in its August 27 issue, carried an item from this time that Judy was in Mexico City, in which she states that she owned 50% of the new record label, for which her first album would be released in four months, that the songs would be new, and that the album had not yet been “taped,” although most of the songs [had been] selected. Judy candidly admitted “I didn’t leave Capitol – they fired me. But I’m glad it happened: now I can record for my own company.” However, the deal would never actually come to anything; no album would ever be recorded or released for this label; Capitol at this time began to license tracks from Judy’s albums to the label Pickwick, who released a compilation album called “I Feel A Song Coming On,” in 1966. Sears, in turn, issued this LP as “By Myself” in 1967. Capitol would also issue a six-LP set “The Magic of Judy Garland” in June 1968. At the Mexico City press conference, it was also revealed that Judy would sing “The Party’s Over” in Spanish and that she wanted to learn Mexican songs before she left. That evening was spent touring the city, where Judy bought everything that several children on the street were selling, and assigned members of her entourage to look after them while she was there.
Photo: Judy on stage at the El Patio Nightclub in Mexico City, on August 17th.
August 15, 1967: ABC Records released “Judy Garland: At Home At The Palace.”
Judy was in the middle of her successful last run at the Palace and ABC Records was quick to capitalize on it by releasing this LP as soon as possible. Side One of the album was recorded on opening night, Side Two was culled from the second and third nights.
August 15, 1989: As this was the 50th anniversary of the Hollywood premiere of The Wizard of Oz, quite a few Ozzy articles were published. The above is a small sampling of the ongoing anniversary coverage.
August 15, 2013: Warner Home Video released the artwork for their new The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary boxed set of the film in the Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and Digital HD Ultraviolet formats.