On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – August 16

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“I came to London thinking I was finished, I’d read in all the papers I was finished and I went on stage and got the most fantastic ovation as if nothing had happened.” – Judy Garland, commenting in 1962 about her 1951 debut at the London Palladium


August 16, 1931:  Judy and her sisters, as “The Gumm Sisters,” were a part of Maurice Kusell’s successful kiddie show “Stars of Tomorrow” at the Wilshire-Ebell Theater in Los Angeles and would again be part of Kusell’s next extravaganza which took place on December 24th through December 30th at the Warner Bros. Downtown Hollywood Theater in Hollywood, California.

August 16, 1936:  Here is a little blurb about Judy and Edna Mae Durbin (soon to be Deanna Durbin) and their first film, the short Every Sunday.


August 16, 1937:  Premiering at Loew’s State and Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Wednesday, August 18th (not the 20th as previously reported) Judy’s first feature film for MGM, Broadway Melody of 1938.

August 16, 1939:  Newsreel footage of the luncheon that Judy and Mickey gave at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on this day to promote their appearance at the Capitol Theater beginning the next day, in conjunction with the NY premiere of The Wizard of Oz.  It’s short but still enjoyable as both stars speak a little.   At the luncheon, the duo met their teen representatives from the area (chosen from an MGM promotional contest).

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on The Wizard of Oz here.

August 16, 1939:  More Ozzy-related ads and news items that were published on this day.

August 16, 1939:  Two ads using Judy and The Wizard of Oz to sell their product, plus a very early mention of Judy being given “Mayer’s chicken soup” in the MGM commissary regardless of what she ordered, all in an attempt by the studio to get Judy to lose weight.  The news item makes light of the situation but today it’s no laughing matter.


August 16, 1939:  Advice columnist for the Ottawa Journal, Josephine Lowman, asks young girls “Why Grow Old?”

August 16, 1940:   Judy performed the only death scene of her entire career:  The death of “Nellie Kelly” in Little Nellie Kelly.  Judy had two roles in the film, that of the mother “Nellie Kelly” and the daughter, “Little Nellie Kelly.”  The scene was so effective and Judy was such a brilliant actress that allegedly some of the studio technicians had to quietly leave the set during filming out of fear that their sobbing would ruin the take.

The scene was shot on the “Interior St. Katherine’s Hospital” set.  Time called: 10 a.m.; dismissed: 5:35 p.m. George Murphy is her co-star.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on Little Nellie Kelly here.

August 16, 1941:  Filming continued on Babes on Broadway with scenes shot on the “Interior Backstage (Old Duchess)” set as well as the first day of filming Mickey Rooney’s hilarious impersonation of Carmen Miranda.  time called: 9 a.m.; lunch: 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.  No notes about when the day ended.

August 16, 1944:  Filming continued on The Clock with scenes shot on the “Interior Rodin’s Thinker Room,” “Interior French Gallery,” and “2nd Gallery” sets.

Time called: 10 a.m.  Per the assistant director’s notes: “10:00-10:25 – Waiting for Miss Garland – on set: [She ws] in dressing room getting into wardrobe – finishing fixing hair, makeup, etc. 5:35-5:40 – Discussing setup – set was decided upon and scene could have been shot by 6:30 but Miss Garland did not feel well and felt she could not work that late.”  Time dismissed: 5:50 p.m.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on The Clock here.

August 16, 1946:  Judy’s guest spot as Broadway legend Marilyn Miller in Till The Clouds Roll By was one of the film’s highlights.


August 16, 1947:  This article appeared in various English newspapers around the world:

Long rest needed by Judy Garland

Enthusiasm for her career caused breakdown

By cable from VIOLA MacDonald in Hollywood

Judy Garland’s many friends in Hollywood say that the twenty-three-year-old Judy has changed greatly since she started her career as a plump schoolgirl singing “Dear Mr. Gable.”

A few people were surprised recently when her husband, Vincent Minnelli, and her studio, MGM, reported that because of a breakdown in her health she had gone to a sanitarium in Connecticut for a three months’ rest cure.

Judy, pale and thin after practically non-stop singing and dancing roles in one film after another, left accompanied by a nurse and her baby, Liza.

Minnelli said that the doctors pronounced Judy organically sound but badly in need of rest and relaxation, which she is unable to get in Hollywood due to the constant work both on and off the screen.

With Judy away, her husband is redecorating their new Malibu Beach home for her.

Meanwhile, shooting continues on Judy’s film “The Pirate” after she finished her role opposite Gene Kelly.

Judy did five songs and two dance numbers, while Kelly still has one dance to complete.

Judy’s desire to return to the cameras too soon after her child’s birth is largely responsible for her setback.

Black-eyed and black-haired baby Liza, now 18 months, is the apple of her mother’s eye and has a nursery especially designed by her father, who is an expert interior decorator as well as a famous director.

Liza also has a record album containing songs from all her mother’s pictures, including her latest numbers from “The Pirate,” which were written by Cole Porter.

Chatting with Gene Kelly about Garland, I learned that in “The Pirate” Judy has the role of a convent-bred girl in a mythical Caribbean kingdom who fancies herself in love with a bold pirate whom she has never seen. Her family wants her betrothed o the island’s mayor, played by Walter Slezak.

“I enter the picture as an actor with a strolling troupe of singers,” said Gene.

“I fall in love with Judy and pretend to the notorious pirate whom she thinks she loves. Complications arise when mayor Walter Slezak turns out to be a real pirate and tries to take my life. I have a wonderful opportunity to include in a Douglas Fairbanks type of swashbuckling role, with fighting and leaping about.”

New film planned

“When Judy returns from her rest cure, we hope to do Irving Berlin’s ‘Easter Parade’ as our next starring film.” [said Gene]

The youthful dancing team of Garland and Kelly brings back memories of the days of Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

If Judy retains her bounce and nerve these two may well pass Rogers and Astaire, as their versatility is equally good.

“The Pirate” and “Easter Parade” will be in Technicolor.

Judy’s favorite scene in “The Pirate,” according to Gene, is where she does a clown dance and song with her pretty face white-washed, a red nose and a red gash for her mouth.

She brought baby Liza on to the set to watch the number.

Judy Garland with her big brown eyes and soft brown hair is never likely to win any fashion award. She always dresses simply, and when not working often appears in slacks and a blouse.

For her role in “The Pirate”, she wears gorgeous pure silk frocks in rainbow hues to blend with the lush tropical atmosphere of the West Indies.

Her close friend and companion is her sister Dorothy, who has found a place for herself as one of the best script girls at Metro.

Though Dorothy seldom works on the same picture as her famous sister, the girls usually lunch together, comparing notes on their current productions.

All Hollywood wishes Judy Garland a swift return to good health.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on The Pirate here.

August 16, 1948:  Judy still had two hits playing in theaters, The Pirate and Easter Parade.  The latter was more than just a hit, it was a mega-hit and became MGM’s biggest moneymaker of the year.  The Pirate did well in urban markets but not as well in the rural areas.  This was partly due to its unusual nature and the fact that audiences expected a certain type of film when going to see a “Judy Garland musical” and The Pirate was definitely out of that arena.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on The Pirate here.  

Check out The Judy Room’s Extensive Spotlight on Easter Parade here.

August 16, 1949:  Sheilah Graham notes in her column that Judy was going to leave for England and a four-week engagement at the London Palladium.  In reality, after Summer Stock, MGM assigned Royal Wedding for Judy rather than any vacation overseas.  Judy never completed that film but did eventually open at the Palladium, but not until April 9, 1951, under a different contract than what Graham is apparently referencing here.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.


August 16, 1950:  This display was a part of the promotion of Summer Stock at Loew’s Grand Theater in New York.  Also, Hedda Hopper noted how audiences for the film would stay for a second showing, attesting to the film’s popularity.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on Summer Stock here.


August 16, 1950:  Judy had not yet separated from MGM (that would happen in September) when this blurb appeared noting that Bob Hope was negotiating to have Judy on his radio show.  Those negotiations didn’t result in anything if they even happened at all.  However, after her split with MGM Judy did appear on several of Bing Crosby’s weekly radio shows, which went a long way in showing the public that she wasn’t down for the count just yet.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.


August 16, 1951:  Judy’s recent success at the London Palladium and during her concert tour of the UK was noticed in Hollywood.  The assumption was that she would return to films.  She did, but not until 1953 and after many more successful concerts in the US.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.


August 16, 1956:  The Wizard of Oz was still enjoying a very successful second re-release in theaters.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on The Wizard of Oz here.


August 16, 1957:  Is your summer dragging?  Watch a Judy Garland film!

The youthful sparkle of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in “Babes in Arms” was a joy to see.  Both acted as if they didn’t have a neurosis in the world . . . Who today can match the naivete of the Mick as Andy Hardy?  Anwser: No one.  Today’s young actors are too busy making like juvenile delinquents . . . 

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.


August 16, 1962:  Judy had just finished filming I Could Go On Singing in England and had returned home to Los Angeles (on August 12) when this article was published about her return to the London Palladium.  It was at the Palladium in 1951 where Judy began her big comeback after being labeled washed-up.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.


August 16, 1963:  Columnist Sheilah Graham reported on Judy and her husband Sid Luft’s latest breakup.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.


August 16, 1964:  Three versions of the same article.  It’s an interesting one about how Hollywood (the studios) had embraced TV and was on the upswing.  It’s a shame that didn’t last.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.


August 16, 1964:  Here’s a rather snarky blurb from columnist Phyllis Singer.  Ms. Singer apparently was not a Garland fan.  She seemed to enjoy lacing her stories about Judy with a fair amount of, well, snark!

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.


August 16, 1967:  Judy was still enjoying her successful, and final, Palace engagement when this article was published promoting Judy’s upcoming appearance (August 31st) at the Boston Common and giving details about the venue and the sponsors.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

August 16, 1967:  MGM records on sale!  Plus, the news that NBC was taking over the annual broadcast of The Wizard of Oz.  Since 1956 it has been broadcast by CBS.  The film returned to CBS in 1978.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on The Wizard of Oz here.

August 16, 1968:  Judy dropped her recent charges against Tom Green, who was at one time her fiance.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

August 16, 1989:  More from the 50th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.  The second article details the various books and collectibles that were released in conjunction with the release by MGM/UA of the special edition VHS and laserdisc versions of the film.  There were quite a lot of other Oz-related items on the market that are not listed in the article, some official some not.


Below are details of the wonderful Franklin Mint figurines for sale at this time, as well as a newspaper article and a clipping from TV Guide.


Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on The Wizard of Oz here.

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