On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – August 17

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“Miss Garland is arch, pert and mischievous, and when it comes to dancing she is immense.” – Gilbert Kanour, “The Pirate” review, 1948

August 17, 1929:  Judy and her sisters, “The Gumm Sisters” were still performing as part of the Meglin Kiddies “56 Clever Tots” at Loew’s State Theater in Los Angeles, California.  The engagement lasted through August 21.


August 17, 1934:  The first night of a seven-night engagement for Judy and her sisters, as “The Gumm Sisters” at the Oriental Theater in Chicago.

This was a milestone in Judy’s career as it was this engagement during which George Jessel suggested the trio change their name from “Gumm” to “Garland.”  The name change was too late to affect the newspaper ads, as this clipping proves.

The trio was in Chicago, with mom Ethel, having worked their way from California to the World’s Fair.  They worked their way back home to California in mid-September.

August 17, 1937:  This review of Broadway Melody of 1938, plus a four-page spread promoting the film (and mostly its star Robert Taylor via the promotion of a short subject), appeared in the “Film Daily” trade paper.

The text of the review reads:

“Broadway Melody of 1938”

starring Robert Taylor, Eleanor Powell with George Murphy, Binnie Barnes, Buddy Ebsen, Judy Garland, Sophie Tucker, Robert Benchley, Willie Howard.

115 Mins.


This is a grand load of entertainment and should click handsomely at the box office. It has a bright, cheery atmosphere, splendid dancing, romance and comedy. Roy Del Ruth’s direction is tops, while Jack Cummings rates credit as the producer.

Robert Taylor and Eleanor Powell head the cast, and of course, do excellent work, but the picture gives George Murphy and Judy Garland their best opportunities to date and they register strongly. Grand trouper Sophie Tucker scores, too, and delivers her popular “Some of These Days.” Charles Igor Gorin sings tow operatic arias in splendid voice. Buddy Ebsen, Billy Gilbert, Willie Howard, Robert Benchley, Barnett Parker, Robert Wildhack, and his sneezing routine, and Helen Troy handle the comedy material effectively.

Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed furnished five songs, with “Yours and Mine” and “Everybody Sings” [sic] scoring solidly. Jack McGowan and Sid Silvers wrote the original story and William Daniels for photography.

Eleanor Powell is given the leading role in the Broadway musical, which Taylor is producing, with Raymond Walburn as his backer. Walburn’s wife, Binnie Barnes, is jealous of Eleanor, and at the last moment forces her husband to withdraw his money from the show. However Eleanor’s horse wins a big race, and she turns over the purse to Taylor, so that the show can go on.

Direction, tops.
Photography, fine.

August 17, 1937:  More for Broadway Melody of 1938, including a review by Florence Fisher Parry for “The Pittsburgh Press” that includes an interesting interview with Judy in which she’s quite honest about growing up working:

Little Lady

Little Judy Garland!  Will I ever forget her?  She’s the child who made me cry.  It happened in the most unexpected way:  I had asked the MGM publicity heads to give me as many of the Young Hopefuls as they could muster in one day:  So this afternoon I found myself surrounded by a sweet little bevy of Three:  Florence Rice, Grantland Rice’s daughter, as sweet and pretty and wholesome and your kind-of-daughter as ever could be found!  Betty Jaynes, who as you know is the 16-year-old operatic discovery.  And little Judy Garland.

She sat there, I remember, listening with great sympathy and interest to the two other girls as they talked and told me about their lives and their ambitions.  I had talked at length to these others, I turned to the little black-eyed girl who had been sitting there beside me so silent and eager.  

“And now, what about you?  I’m sure they have great things tucked up their sleeves for you!”

She squirmed miserably for a moment, and then, in a small little voice, she said:  “Oh, me?  I’m nobody.  I was just thinking, as I was listening to all of this . . . these exciting Experiences and everything, what would I have to tell?  For I’ve really never done anything grand or marvelous, I’ve just WORKED all my life.  I’m what you call a Trouper, I just sing and dance and do my act, praying for a break that never seemed to come, growing older and gawkier and more hopeless and discouraged, and hating to grow up into the Awkward Age, knowing that it meant nothing whatever for dear knows how long!”

Almost Forgotten

“I got awfully discouraged until I wondered if I really HAD anything in me after all . . . And then I got a break and was signed by MGM and I just PRAYED, fairly, that I would grow any bigger for awhile!  But the months went by and NOTHING HAPPENED.”

“Well, I went away for a couple of months, heartbroken with discouragement, for you see I was STILL GROWING, and nothing was happening to me; and when I came home to Hollywood and got off the train there were all the big billboards with Deanna [sic] Durbin’s picture and name on them in ‘Three Smart Girls’ and everybody was talking about her and here I was still just nobody, and we’d been pals and had stuck it out so long together!”

“So I went to Mr. Mayer, and I cried and told him I wanted to forget to be an actress and just start working at something humdrum instead like five and ten or something.”

The Awkward Age

“But he said I mustn’t think that way, and that didn’t I KNOW that MGM didn’t do things in a hurry, but when the Moment was right, they took care of their People?  And then one day they sent for me, and told me they were READY for me, and this is it:  ‘The Broadway Melody of 1938.'”

“Well, I’m so happy now I still am scared that maybe it’s a dream, for I’m WORKING IN A PICTURE and everyone is nice to me.”

And now I must leave Eleanor Powell ’till Sunday!  I’ll tell you about her then.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Page on Broadway Melody of 1938 here.

August 17, 1939:  The New York Premiere of The Wizard of Oz took place at the Capitol Theater.  Judy and her Babes in Arms co-star Mickey Rooney gave 26-minute (approximately) stage shows between screenings of the film.  The duo gave five shows a day during the week, between seven showings of the film, and seven shows per day on the weekends between nine showings of the film!  They performed from mid-morning until midnight.

Judy’s songs in the show included: “The Lamp is Low”; “Comes Love”; “Good Morning” (with Mickey); “God’s Country” (with Mickey); and “Oceans Apart” which Mickey co-wrote and Judy recorded for Decca Records during her next recording session with them on October 16, 1939.  Unfortunately, no recordings of this show were made.

This engagement grossed $100,000 in its first week, with the duo performing to approximately 38,000 people per day, give or take.

“Variety,” said of their show: “It’s grade-A showmanship by both kids: they’re young, fresh, and on the upbeat in the public’s affection and imagination – a tousle-haired imp, and a cute, clean-cut girl with a smash singing voice and style.”

More details and images of all of Judy’s activities during that golden year of 1939 can be found on The Judy Room’s Garland Biography 1939 Page.

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


August 17, 1939:  This article was allegedly written by Judy while she was in Washington, D.C., for columnist Paul Walker.  The anecdotal Ozzy stories are pure MGM publicity department fodder.

More details and images of all of Judy’s activities during that golden year of 1939 can be found on The Judy Room’s Garland Biography 1939 Page.

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

August 17, 1939:  More Ozzy ads.

More details and images of all of Judy’s activities during that golden year of 1939 can be found on The Judy Room’s Garland Biography 1939 Page.

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


August 17, 1940:  This photo was snapped of Judy emerging from her dressing room on the set of Little Nellie Kelly.   The scenes filmed on this day were those on the “Interior Kelly Flat” set.  Time called: 11 a.m.; dismissed: 6:04 p.m.

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

Photo provided by Kim Lundgreen.  Thanks, Kim!

August 17, 1940:  Two items from the trade magazine, the “Motion Picture Herald.”  The first is a two-page ad placed by MGM promoting the upcoming release of Strike Up The Band.  Featured on the page of examples of theater displays around the country is this fun promo in Waterbury, Connecticut, giving fans a chance to get their photo taken with Judy (from Andy Hardy Meets Debutante).  It would be interesting to know if any families from Waterbury have photos of their loved ones posing with this display in their family albums.  🙂

August 17, 1941 Hardy Family Event

August 17, 1941:  Judy, Mickey Rooney, and Ann Rutherford took part in a Hardy family event celebrating all of the real Hardy families across the nation which was attended by many real Hardys and included the unveiling of a plaque naming the fictional Hardy family as the first family of Hollywood (see newsreel below).


August 17, 1944:  The Clock filming continued on the “Interior French Gallery” and “Exterior Bus Stop” sets. Time called: 10 a.m.  The assistant director’s notes state: “10:10-11:30 – Waiting for Miss Garland – due 10:00, arrived in studio 9:35; on stage at 11:10 and getting into wardrobe, etc. in dressing room to 11:30. 2:35-3:00 – Miss Garland not feeling well; rehearsed scene with Bob Walker to 2:50; looked at the process test scene on moviola until 3:00; Miss Garland and Bob Walker dismissed at 3:00 p.m.

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

Photo provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!

August 17, 1945 (approximate):  These publicity photos were taken during Judy and her husband Vincente Minnelli’s honeymoon trip to New York.  They’re seen with MGM producer Arthur Freed and Gus Eysell.  Eysell was the general manager of the Radio City Music Hall.  The occasion here is allegedly the signing of a contract for Judy to appear in concert at the hall although the large book they’re shown signing is actually the hall’s guest book (which still exists today).  The proposed Garland concert appearance never happened.


August 17, 1945Ziegfeld Follies

August 17, 1946:  Judy took part in the second annual Motion Picture Academy program with a host of other stars.  No details about the show are known aside from what’s printed in these ads and article about the event published on August 19 (see below), including the fact that Judy was scheduled to sing “The Trolley Song.”  Included in that last ad is an ad for a Los Angeles stage production of The Wizard of Oz featuring the music from the MGM film.  This is possibly the first time a separate stage version using the MGM music was produced.  Donna Lee O’Leary played the role of Dorothy.


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

August 17, 1948:  Two reviews of The Pirate.  They’re both good examples of the mixed responses the film received.  Most critics and audiences enjoyed the film overall in spite of the fact that it was more “artsy” than what they were used to in a musical and the songs (excepting “Be A Clown”) were below par for a Cole Porter score.  In the first review, some of the differences between the original play and film are noted, and Gilbert Kanour liked Judy’s dancing more than her acting!

Meanwhile, Easter Parade was breaking box office records and proving to be the big hit of the season.

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

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

August 17, 1958 Judy Bio The Salt Lake Tribune

August 17, 1958:  Dorothy Kilgallen reported on a biography book deal.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

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

August 17, 1961:  Judy in the news.  In 1961, Judy was on top of her game and at the top of the entertainment world.  The above are just a couple of examples of the many articles written about her at this time.

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


August 17, 1963:  The photo of Judy sitting on daughter Liza Minnelli’s lap was making the rounds.  Here it’s part of a nice photo spread.  The photos were taken during the taping of the dress rehearsal and final taping of “Episode Three” of “The Judy Garland Show” on July 16, 1963, and July 16, 1963.  Click on those links to see more photos.

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

August 17, 1966:  Judy opened at the El Patio Nightclub in Mexico City, Mexico. This was Judy’s Mexican singing debut.

The run was scheduled for two weeks (12 days and 14 performances) for a large cash payment at the end of every show (so as not to be traced by the IRS): $17,500 a week, a guaranteed $35,000; Judy expected to gain a net of $20,750, after expenses.  Judy sang over 21 songs per show with a 50-piece orchestra during the 90-minute performance, even though her contract stated that she need only do a 30-minute show. Judy received rave reviews.  Unfortunately, no recording was made of any of these shows.

Photo: Judy performing at The El Patio on opening night.

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

August 17, 1967 Bobby Waters

August 17, 1967:  Here are tickets to Judy at the Palace for this night, courtesy of the collection of Bobby Waters.  Thanks, Bobby!  Judy only had 9 nights left to this, her last, Palace engagement.

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

August 17, 1989:  Two articles about the 50th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz and the various products being released, chiefly the special edition VHS and laserdisc and the official 50th-anniversary book.

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

August 17, 2021:  The long-awaited release of In The Good Old Summertime on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive.  Unfortunately, the outtake “Last Night When We Were Young” was not included.  The image is very clear although not as vibrant as the Blu-ray of Summer Stock.  It’s a puzzle why Summertime is more “flat” looking but being that it was not advertised as a new 1080p transfer from the original Technicolor negatives, it’s safe to assume that part of it was transferred from a print instead of from the negatives.  The latter part of the film looks much better, from just before the party sequence to the end which would give credence to the rumors that the negatives for one or two reels don’t exist.  Even with the uneven image quality, it’s still a vast improvement over the DVD version and worth the upgrade.

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