“I’ve heard how ‘difficult’ it is to be with Judy Garland. Do you know how difficult it is to ‘BE’ Judy Garland? And for ‘ME’ to live with me? I’ve had to do it – and what more unkind life can you think of than the one I’ve lived?” – Judy Garland, 1967
October 5, 1934: Judy and her sisters, as “The Garland Sisters,” performed at Dubinsky’s Electric theater in St. Joseph, Missouri. This was the first of a three-night engagement for the trio, who along with mom Ethel, were working their way across the country from Chicago back home to California. They just had a successful week-long engagement in Kansas City, Missouri.
Note that they’re listed as the “4 Garland Sisters” which means that Ethel was included as part of the act (no doubt providing piano accompaniment). The sisters were mentioned in two articles, with this note: “The Garland Sisters offer a singing and dancing act and present the youngest member in a Helen Morgan torch number,” and this review:
The opening number on the program is the four Garland sisters, one of them a mere child but with a voice and expression that reveal both ability and training. She imitates Helen Morgan in “Along Came Bill” but the number gets a little tiresome when she repeats the chorus. The audience would like to hear more harmonizing. These girls can sing, but use the “hotcha” stuff with restraint, dropping back into good old dominant seventh chords with pleasing effect.”
According to the review, the sisters opened the show, and according to a review by the “Kansas City Star,” Judy also sang “Little Man You’ve Had A Busy Day” in the Kansas City show, and it’s safe to assume she probably sang it during this engagement.
Of interest is the fact that the film being shown, Desirable, featured a story about a “stage mother who interfered with her daughter’s happiness because of her own selfish, professional ambitions…” much like Judy’s real mother.
At this point, as noted in the review, Judy was singing “Bill” doing her Helen Morgan impersonation. Judy recorded this version of “Bill” for Decca Records on March 29, 1935. Her mom, Ethel Gumm, provided the piano accompaniment. The recording was one of three test records made for the label that day. The other two tests were a Judy solo of a medley of “On The Good Ship Lolipop”/”The Object of My Affection”/”Dinah”), and a recording of the three sisters singing “Moonglow.”
The tests did not result in a contract with the label, but the recordings of “Bill” and the “Medley” have survived (“Moonglow” is still lost). These are Judy Garland’s first studio recordings. The discs are also the only recordings of Judy’s voice as it sounded before she signed with MGM and was immediately put under the tutelage of her future mentor Roger Edens.
Listen to the Decca test recording of “Bill” here:
Listen to the Decca test recording of the “Medley” here:
Newspaper ad provided by Rick Smith. Thanks, Rick!
October 5, 1937: Here is an obviously studio-fed “human interest” blurb about Judy, Mickey Rooney (who apparently was the star halfback at Fairfax High!!), and Ronald Sinclair during the filming of Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry.
October 5, 1938: Judy and Mickey Rooney attended the opening of the “Ice Follies” show at the fabulous Pan Pacific Auditorium, which was the location of the largest ice stage in the world at that time. The auditorium was in disrepair by the 1970s and was featured in the 1980 musical Xanadu starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly. Sadly the venue was destroyed by fire in 1989.
October 5, 1939: Edwin Schallert reported that Judy’s next film would be Susan and God in which she would play Greer Garson’s daughter. Judy never appeared in the film and neither did Garson. The final film starred Joan Crawford with Rita Quigley in the role of the daughter.
Over the years Judy’s name was attached to many film projects. Some were valid and some were studio-fed just to keep Judy’s name in the papers.
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 Centennial 1939 Page.
Check out The Judy Room’s “Films That Got Away” section for a complete listing of all the films that Judy’s name was attached.
October 5, 1940: Judy made the cover of the October 5 – 11 edition of “Movie-Radio Guide.”
October 5, 1940: Strike Up The Band was given a wonderfully long review which was laudatory by George L. David as published in the “Democrat and Chronicle” out of Rochester, New York. “But such a big, pretentious musical could not get across without a talented and resourceful figure or two in the midst of things. This one has two such figures in Rooney and Miss Garland … Little Miss Garland is not only an excellent foil for him, but blessed herself with unusual, wholesome appeal and outstanding talents as a knowing, sincere and adroit actress and one who gives her own charm and values to songs.”
The trade magazine, “Motion Picture Herald,” featured an article about the high grosses the film was getting, plus an ad placed by MGM.
October 5, 1941: These wonderful photos were taken of Judy during an MGM portrait sitting in their famous portrait studio. Judy was filming the Babes on Broadway at the time.
October 5, 1941: Here is another article created by MGM to keep Judy’s name in the papers.
October 5, 1944: Filming on The Clock continued with scenes shot on the “Exterior Riverside Park” set. Time called: 10:45 a.m.; Judy arrived at 10:45 a.m.; dismissed: 6:32 p.m.
Photo: Judy on the set with co-star Robert Walker and producer Arthur Freed.
October 5, 1944: Judy was a favorite pin-up girl of the armed forces and oddly tied to the battle of Saipan in this military update.
October 5, 1945: A busy day for Judy. During the day she had rehearsals of “Look For The Silver Lining” for Till The Clouds Roll By then that evening, she appeared on the CBS Radio show “The Danny Kaye Show.”
Judy and Frank Sinatra substituted for Kaye who was doing a USO tour. Judy sang “How Deep Is The Ocean?” and did a duet with Sinatra on “My Romance”; “Gotta Be This Or That”; and a comedy sketch about the year 1995.
Later that night Judy and Vincente Minnelli attended the Ice Follies show in Los Angeles.
Listen to “Gotta Be This Or That” here:
Listen to the entire show here:
October 5, 1949: Judy had food poisoning and so was out sick from rehearsals for Summer Stock. She had started rehearsals for the film just a few days before.
October 5, 1953: Judy had wardrobe fittings for A Star Is Born. Also on this day, this photo was taken of Judy with her husband Sid Luft and columnist Louella Parsons who was visiting the production.
October 5, 1960: The Paris (France) premiere of Judy’s new, one-woman two-act concert took place at the Palais de Chaillot. Ticket prices ranged from $2.00 to $10.00. This first night was not sold out and her return to the venue two nights later also did not sell out, but once word got out, Judy’s two shows at the Olympia in Paris on October 28 and 29 were complete sellouts. While in Paris, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor gave Judy parties and the Guinnesses gave her an after-show party in their penthouse.
In the photos, Judy is seen with her husband Sid Luft, Maurice Chevalier, Tony Perkins, and her hairdresser (who gave her those spit curls which became part of one of her funny stories).
October 5, 1967: The fourth, and final, installment of the four-part series reprint of the “Ladies Home Journal” article “The Plot Against Judy Garland” was published in papers around the country.