“Judy Garland as Dorothy proves that she is the greatest child actress of her age on the screen and it isn’t only her lovely songs that do it.” – Uncredited review of “The Wizard of Oz”
August 27, 1928: “The Gumm Family” performed at the Kiwanis Division meeting, held at the Lancaster High School Auditorium, Lancaster, California.
August 26, 1937: Broadway Melody of 1938 was still opening in theaters around the nation.
August 26, 1937: Judy models back-to-school fashions. Throughout the late 1930s and early 40s, MGM promoted Judy as the epitome of teen fashion. This is one of the earliest examples. It was all part of MGM’s publicity of Judy whom everyone knew, especially with her performance in Broadway Melody of 1938, was destined for stardom.
August 27, 1938: Judy’s first noted work on The Wizard of Oz consisted of her posing for the initial costume, hair, and makeup tests for “Dorothy.” Other cast members also posed for tests on this day, including lovable Bert Lahr and Gale Sondergaard who was originally cast as a glamorous Wicked Witch of the West before it was decided to go with the more traditional “hag” witch.
Note that the wig Judy’s wearing in these shots is different than the one recently sold at the “Love, Liza” auction for $14,000. That wig was the one used in the first few weeks of shooting in November
Photos provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
August 27, 1939: Two reviews and some ads give us more examples of the positive reception The Wizard of Oz was getting around the country.
The first set (above) features a review by a staff writer for the Muncie, Indian “Star Press,” which includes this nice accolade: Judy Garland as Dorothy proves that she is the greatest child actress of her age on the screen and it isn’t only her lovely songs that do it.
The second set (below) features another review by another staff writer, with this accolade: Judy Garland makes a perfect ‘Dorothy’ to establish herself as indeed a young artiste of unquestioned genius.
Here is the text of both reviews:
Muncie Star Press:
“WIZARD OF OZ” RIVOLI FEATURE
Famed Fable in Technicolor With All-Star Cast.
Opening today at the Rivoli Theater is the awe-inspiring “The Wizard of Oz,” starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, Frank Morgan as The Wizard, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion and Jack Haley as the Tin Woodman.
Filmed entirely in Technicolor “The Wizard of Oz,” is based on the Frank Baum fable that is famous wherever English is spoken.
Story Known To Millions.
Everyone from four to forty is familiar with the story, how Dorothy, child of a Kansas farmer, is caught in a cyclone and her osmosis into the Land Of Oz that never was where her friends and acquaintances, good and bad, become witches and other strange figments of delirium. If these people hope that the story, which children and grown-ups have been devouring greedily for almost forty years, has not been turned into something unrecognizable they have no need for fears.
But there is more and the added charm in no way interferes with the story. What change Hollywood has made is in the way of making the story more real. It is no longer just a fantasy. It has great child appeal and, strangely enough, is declared to have grown-up appeal in an extra large quantity. Audiences are promised unusual music and color, sparkling dialogue and lyrics, and the greatest color camera magic ever dreamed of.
Also included in this outstanding picture are some very clever songs which have been played over the radio lately from coast to coast. These include “Over The Rainbow,” “If I Only Had A Brain,” “The Merry Old Land Of Oz,” “Ding Dong” and many more. Costing over three million dollars to make, two years to prepare it and one year to film, “The Wizard Of Oz,” is without a doubt one of the greatest motion pictures ever to come from Hollywood.
The cast is diamond-studded. Judy Garland as Dorothy proves that she is the greatest child actress of her age on the screen and it isn’t only her lovely songs that do it. Frank Morgan’s star rises even higher with his humbug, The Wizard Of Oz. In song and dances Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion and Jack Haley as the Tin Woodman again prove why they have been Broadway musical comedy and radio stars for so long. Their makeups are declared amazing but not once it is said to they lose their real personality because they are surprisingly recognizable at all times.
Critics Pick ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ As Screen’s Finest Production
Critics say Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “The Wizard of Oz” will be singled out by everyone who sees it as the highest result the screen has reached to date, no matter from what angle it is judged.
“The Wizard of Oz” continues its engagement at the Orpheum, where there is no abatement in the interest or enthusiasm it has aroused. Audiences are carried away by its beauty, its technique, its charm, its music, its magnificences, and its sheer entertainment.
Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz” comes to life – bringing to vivid reality the land of dreams that has thrilled children and grownups for some 40 years. And it comes to life so thoroughly and completely, it is immediately accepted as a fantasy come true – everything you have associated with the Land of Oz is in the picture – its fabulous beauty – its charming if strange inhabitants – the funny tin man, the cowardly lion, the eccentric scarecrow – Glinda the Good – and the evil witch – the happy little munchkins – and trees that sing and dance – there is so much to “The Wizard of Oz” a reviewer could write a volume and then not be sure he has not overlooked some of its wonders.
Surpasses Them All
The nearest approach Hollywood technique has made to that employed in “The Wizard of Oz” was “Snow White” which swept through the entire world on the wings of the greatest acclaim perhaps ever given a motion picture. But it was only an approach. Previewers agree “The Wizard of Oz” is so far superior in beauty, effects, illusion, and magnitude to the Disney classic, it can be compared with absolutely nothing that has preceded it. Its technique cannot be adequately described in any cold type review, any more than can it be adequately in conversation – no matter how complete the raid on adjectives and superlatives.
But for that very same reason it will not be forgotten by anyone who sees it.
Mervyn Leroy, producer, and Victor Fleming, director, may well take bows for bringing to the screen what will be more thoroughly relished, this reviewer predicts, than any picture of a fantastic nature ever produced. Fantastic is used her only as a category tag – for “The Wizard of Oz” is fantasy humanized with an appeal no one will escape.
Judy Garland makes a perfect “Dorothy” to establish herself as indeed a young artiste of unquestioned genius. Frank Morgan adds more laurels to his screen fame as the delightful humbug – the Wizard. Three top flight comics and dancers depict the Scarecrow, the Wooded Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion – in Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and Bert Lahr. Billie Burke is perfect as “Glinda the Good” and Margaret Hamilton is equally as effective as the wicked witch. One could go on indefinitely singing out perfect contributions to the entertainment in “The Wizard of Oz” – not forgetting “Toto” the dog.
Music Is Superb
Musically “The Wizard of Oz” is a treat. Kept in modern tempo in both songs and background, those who delighted in Montgomery and Stone’s stage presentation will realize what tremendous improvement has been made by Hollywood in a vehicle long since classified as one of the finest things the stage has ever produced.
Here is indeed entertainment for every member of every family from the youngest to the eldest – an entertainment through which one is lifted completely away from the work-a-day world, to be transported to a realm of unforgettable charm, illusion and happy contentment.
Supplementing the feature, the Orpheum has arranged a particularly appropriate array of featurettes which add to the appeal of the entire show.
August 27, 1939: Here are more Ozzy reviews and photos.
August 27, 1939: Judy and Bonita Granville are examples of Girlhood Beauty.
August 27, 1940: Filming continued on Little Nellie Kelly with more scenes shot on the “Interior Kelly Flat” set. Time called: 9 a.m.; dismissed: 6:02 p.m.
August 27, 1941: Life Begins for Andy Hardy was in theaters and a with all of Judy’s film, it was quite popular. On this day at MGM Judy was rehearsing “Hoe Down” for Babes on Broadway. Time called: 11:30 a.m.; lunch 12:10 – 1:10 p.m.; time dismissed: 3:20 p.m.
August 27, 1945: Ziegfeld Follies had its big Pennsylvania premiere in Pittsburgh the night before, part of a limited, roadshow release of the film in select cities. Edwin J. McKay of the Pittsburgh Press gave the film a very positive review with only a few minor quibbles such as feeling there was too much Fred Astaire.
After this limited roadshow, the film was taken out of release and re-edited before it’s actual general release on April 8, 1946, re-titled Ziegfeld Follies of 1946.
August 27, 1950: More Summer Stock.
August 27, 1953: Judy had a pre-recording session for A Star Is Born on this date, but it’s unknown exactly what songs were pre-recorded or if any takes were used. What is known is that work started at 2:30 p.m. and finished at 3:45 p.m. It’s possible that this could have been a session without Judy. According to the columns Judy was so upset over the recent fire in her home that she canceled her recording sessions for the rest of the week.
Image above: An unused poster concept created by the legendary Saul Bass and sketched by Al Kallis.
August 27, 1954: Judy, husband Sid Luft, and Warner Bros. studio boss Jack Warner and his wife were enjoying a three-week vacation in Europe. These photos were taken of Judy and Sid as they arrived in London’s Victoria Station from Paris.
The recently completed A Star Is Born had just had several successful previews and was scheduled to premiere on September 29, 1954, in Hollywood. The camaraderie between the Lufts and the Warners did not last. That October Jack Warner made the decision to chop the film to allow for more daily screenings and therefore ruining a true cinema masterpiece. Needless to say, everyone involved in the making of the film was devastated by his actions.
August 27, 1963: This article written by Robin Miller was part of a series on “people made rich by a song hit.” Miller gets just about every detail wrong about how “Dear Mr. Gable” came about. It’s anyone’s guess where Miller got her info, or if she simply made it up to flesh out the article. At least she got one thing right: “Today Judy is as big a star as ever.”
August 27, 1966: This short article appeared in Billboard Magazine. It noted Judy’s split from Capitol Records (she had been with the label since 1955), and her appearance at the El Patio nightclub in Mexico City. Note how the article talks about her opening in the future tense but adds “17” in parentheses. This is because Judy’s opening at the club had happened prior to the printing of the article but obviously not before it was written.
August 27, 1966 – Billboard article
Capitol, Garland Call It End Of Rainbow; She Forms Co.
by David M. Kelleghan
MEXICO CITY – Judy Garland’s new company, Weatherby Records, will release her first LP in about four months, according to the artist who’s here to open the El Patio club Wednesday (17).
The singer owns 50 per cent of the new company, she revealed. Name of owner of the 50 per cent was not revealed.
All songs on her new LP will be new, but have not yet been taped, though many have been selected.
Asked why she didn’t renew her contract with Capitol, Miss Garland replied, “I didn’t leave Capitol – they fired me. But I’m glad it happened: now I can record for my own company.”
Her show here includes 50 local musicians directed by Peter Candoli. She’ll appear alone in a show which is a mixture of the Palladium and Carnegie shows, according to artistic director, Steve Papich, who put the show together. Entire production is costing the Patio $35,000 nightly (two shows on Saturday). This will be the highest ever paid for a show, although highest single artist total collected in Mexico by a foreigner was Marlene Dietrich’s $3,00 nightly for 10 nights at the Terraza Cassino when it was under Leon management.
Only other American in the show is drummer Bruce Ortinan.
Eddie Fisher and Arthur Len of the Sahara (Las Vegas) are expected for the opening.
Photos: Judy performing at the El Patio.