“Earth Mother. Soul Sister. Living Legend. Judy Garland is all these things to people.” – Gloria Negri, The Boston Globe, 1967
August 31, 1933: Another mention of “The Gumm Sisters” and their engagement at the Warner Bros. Downtown theater. This time they’re also mentioned in the article about the vaudeville acts in the two main Warner Bros. theaters, The Hollywood and, again, The Downtown.
August 31, 1934: Judy and her mother and sisters were still in Chicago. On this night they opened an engagement at the Uptown Theater, billed as “The Garland Sisters.” The girls were signed by the local William Morris office, which booked the remainder of the tour, until mid-October.
August 31, 1936: This column by Cedric Adams mentions Judy’s recent appearance at The Trocadero club in Hollywood. This is a good example of what Judy was doing for MGM at this time. She hadn’t yet made a feature film for the studio but was currently filming her feature film debut at 20th Century-Fox, Pigskin Parade. MGM had Judy appear at various parties and venues as well as on the radio in an attempt to get the public acquainted with her. They also simply didn’t know what to do with her, either.
Adams reports: Just the other night, in fact, when the master of ceremonies at the Trocadero out there introduced Raquel Torres and she refused to perform, he turned to Judy and the kid did 14 encores to beyond the sensation of the club.
It’s difficult to image why 14-year-old Judy Garland was at the club if not solely to perform. The column makes it sound as though she just happened to be there and came to the rescue by performing but most likely her appearance was pre-planned. MGM rarely left anything up to chance!
August 31, 1939: Go “Back to School” with The Wizard of Oz!
This spread was typical of the movie tie-ins that MGM had developed. The “Judy Garland Dresses” had been advertised as early as March of 1939 (in conjunction with Oz, but also prior as an example of teen fashion) and would continue to be advertised throughout the year, both in conjunction with local showings of the film and on their own.
August 31, 1939: Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr joined the show at the Capitol Theater in New York. Judy had previously been performing with Mickey Rooney between showings of The Wizard of Oz until Mickey had to return to the west coast. For this new show, Judy added “FDR Jones” and “Blue Evening” to the lineup. The engagement ended a week later on September 6, at which time Judy also returned to MGM.
The trade paper, The Film Daily, noted the cast change in their August 31, 1939, issue with the headline “‘Oz’ in 3rd Capitol Week” and the text:
M-G-M’s “The Wizard of Oz” goes into its third week at the Capitol today. On the stage will be Judy Garland, Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger, all of whom appear in the film. Mickey Rooney has been called back to the Coast to appear in the next of the “hardy” series.
Judy was paid $3,500 per week for this engagement, earning a total of $10,500. That is more than she made during the entire filming of The Wizard of Oz under her standard MGM contract. When she returned to MGM the studio gave her a bonus of $10,600.
August 31, 1939: MGM ran this ad in the trade magazines promoting the upcoming releases of Babes in Arms and The Women. Babes in Arms premiered on October 10, 1939.
August 31, 1939: Judy and Mickey’s appearance as featured performers at the previous night’s Harvest Moon Ball at Madison Square Garden was covered in the local papers. Ed Sullivan hosted, and among the celebrities in attendance were Sonja Henie, Alice Faye, George Raft (who comically dance with Sullivan), Jack Dempsey, plus Berth Lahr, Jack Haley, and Ray Bolger. NY Mayor LaGuardia welcomed John Garfield, Gloria Jean, Adolph Menjou, Anna Neagle, Henry Wilcoxon, and Tony Marin in his box. In fact, over 20,000 people took part. Several teams of amateur dancers competed in various dance categories including the Fox Trot, Rumba, Tango, Collegiate Shat, Lindy Hop, and more.
August 31, 1939: More Ozzy ads and articles.
August 31, 1939: Here’s an article about the alleged first woman who played “Dorothy” in the silent versions of The Wizard of Oz, Violet MacMillan (married name Folger). She wasn’t actually the first woman to play Dorothy on film but she did play the character in the most well-remembered series of films which were from L. Frank Baum’s film company The Oz Film Manufacturing Company.
Interestingly enough, she was living in Grand Rapids because she was born there – but Grand Rapid, Michigan not Minnesota. Still, it’s fun to learn that the girl who played Dorothy in Baum’s on film was also from “Grand Rapids.”
August 31, 1939: Here are two full-page promotions for MGM’s upcoming lineup of films plus a great advertisement for the 10th-anniversary of the Fox Midwest Theaters chain.
August 31, 1940: Little Nellie Kelly continued filming on the “Excavation Crosstown Bus” set. Judy also posted for publicity stills for the film, with co-star George Murphy. Time called: 9 a.m.; dismissed: 5:32 p.m.
August 31, 1955: Rehearsals were proceeding for Judy’s upcoming TV debut on September 24th. Here’s an article on David Wayne, who assisted Judy as her emcee and joined her for the “A Couple of Swells” number.
August 31, 1963: More legal issues for Judy and husband Sid Luft.
August 31, 1965: Judy’s first appearance “in the round” took place at The Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, California. Judy performed there for six nights.
Judy sang: “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands”; “Almost Like Being In Love/This Can’t Be Love”; “Judy’s Olio”; “What Now My Love?”; “Just In Time”; “By Myself”; “San Francisco”; “Over The Rainbow”; and “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby.” Lorna and Joe joined her onstage for a few performances.
“Daily Variety” reported that Judy brought in $105,000 for the eight sold-out performances, $15,302 for opening night.
Photo: Judy and Mark Herron backstage during this engagement.
August 31, 1967: A milestone for Judy. She played to the single biggest audience in her career. 108,000 people at The Boston Commons in Boston, MA. At the end of the concert, the mayor of Boston (John F. Collins) reached up and gave Judy a silver bowl in honor of the occasion, saying ‘Judy, we’ve taken you into our hearts; I think that is the sentiment of all of us. God bless you.”
The concert received rave reviews. Color footage of some of it exists, as does an audio recording made by a member of the audience.
You can listen to that audience recording by downloading a zip file of it here: http://thejudyroom.com/songs/BostonCommon08-31-1968.zip
August 31, 1989: A two-page spread about The Wizard of Oz and anniversary glasses from Whataburger, part of the 50th-anniversary celebration. The first article by Bob Thomas, unfortunately, perpetuates the myth that the film was a flop. It wasn’t. It showed an initial loss on paper due to the expense of making it and the added expenses of the promotions, not to mention the reduced ticket prices for children. But the vast majority of the critics and public loved it. The negative reviews were very, very much in the minor. The general consensus was (and still is) that it’s a unique film masterpiece.