“I love to sing – it’s the most wonderful feeling there is in the world for me.” – Judy Garland, 1956
October 10, 1926: The last time that “The Gumm Family” performed on the stage of their father’s theater in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. This night was the third and final night of the “Gala Farewell Shows” that the family entertained the town with, in advance of their big move to California. This was the theater where it all began, where Judy had her stage debut at the age of two-and-a-half on December 26, 1924. The move to California proved to be rather serendipitous.
October 10, 1939: Babes in Arms had its gala premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Judy was accompanied to the premiere by co-star Mickey Rooney and her mom, Ethel.
The event was doubly special because Judy was invited to put her hand and footprints in cement in the forecourt. She was the 74th star to do so, and it meant that she was “officially” a Hollywood star. The notices on the following day noted that Judy was “acclaimed” by Hollywood. She certainly was, and still is!
Babes in Arms, The Wizard of Oz, and Judy and Mickey placed in the Top Ten for the year (Judy and Bette Davis were the only females on the top ten stars list). The total cost for Babes in Arms was $745,341.03, and it grossed $3,324,819. Quite the return on their investment. Judy was paid $8,833.00 for her work on the film (her contract salary).
October 10, 1939: Newspapers around the country noted that on this night Judy was appearing on the NBC Radio series “The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope” and that she would sing “The Lamp Is Low.”
This was Judy’s third appearance on the show in as many weeks. On September 26, 1939, she became a series regular and would appear weekly through May of 1940.
There is no further information about this show and no recordings were made of it. It must have been pre-recorded because Judy was at the premiere of Babes in Arms at Grauman’s when this would have aired live out of Los Angeles at 7 pm local time (10 pm for these notices from the east coast).
October 10, 1941: The Music Daily Report sheet for Babes on Broadway doesn’t list Judy or Mickey by name, only “orch, voices” but it’s the only surviving sheet for the “Ghost Theater Sequence.” In Scott Schechter’s book, “Judy Garland The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend” (from which a lot of the content of this blog comes from), and the Rhino 4-CD set “Mickey & Judy – The Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney Collection,” this is the date given that Judy and Mickey recorded their vocals for the sequence. Judy and Mickey recorded: “Mary’s A Grand Old Name” (Judy); “She Is Ma Daisy” (Mickey); “I’ve Got Rings On My Fingers” (Judy); “Bernhardt (La Marseillaise)” (Judy); “The Yankee Doodle Boy” (Judy and Mickey). The music intro, as well as some of the segue music, was recorded on October 27, 1941.
Listen to the sequence here:
October 10, 1942: MGM placed this full-page ad promoting For Me And My Gal in the trade papers and magazines. It touts their new discovery, Gene Kelly, along with Marta Eggerth and Keenan Wynn.
October 10, 1942: “Judy Garland Joins Ranks Of The Film Glamor Girls!”
October 10, 1942: On this date, the “Australian Women’s Weekly” magazine featured this photo of Judy and Mickey Rooney from Babes on Broadway, noting that they were going to star in Girl Crazy.
October 10, 1944: Judy was out sick from the production of The Clock.
Although she was out sick, she signed this one-year rider to her September 30th contract with MGM, entitling her to receive agency services from Phil Berg-Bert Allenberg, Inc. and Hayward-Deverich, Inc. (per the September 30th contract) and giving 10% of the monies she received to Phil Berg-Bert Allenberg, Inc.
October 10, 1945: Filming continued on Till The Clouds Roll By, specifically the scenes on the “Interior Orchestra of Theatre” set. Time called: 10:30 a.m.; dismissed: 5:45 p.m.
October 10, 1951: Things were gearing up for Judy’s upcoming opening at The Palace Theater in New York (October 16).
October 10, 1954: This wonderful spread promoting A Star Is Born appeared in the “Sunday News” section of most major papers around the U.S. On this night, Ed Sullivan showed clips from the film on his television show.
October 10, 1954: Here are several articles about A Star Is Born, its length, Judy’s “pajama problems,” and a really nice one about the film’s screenwriter, Moss Hart (click on the images to download the full-size versions).
October 10, 1956: Released on this day, Judy’s second album for Capitol Records, “Judy” which was recorded over four sessions in March 1956, at the Capitol Records studios in Hollywood. The album made the top 40, peaking at number seventeen.
When the first CD edition was released on June 28, 1989, it added an outtake recording, “I’m Old Fashioned.”
October 10, 1956: The third of a 5 part series about Judy, calling her the “Hollywood Problem Girl.”
Fans Won’t Let Judy Garland Change Act
Las Vegas Demanded ‘Over the Rainbow’ So She Kept of Old ‘Corn’ for New York
Third of Series
By JOE HYAMS
Written for The Pittsburgh Press
When Judy Garland made her night club debut in Las Vegas last month a plane load of Hollywood press writers flew up for the event.
Most of them have known Judy Garland since she was a kid star. They have reported all of her emotional binges. They have been excluded from her sets when she was working. They are bored with the Garland legend. Their attitude plainly was “Show me you’re good. Prove it.”
Most of them were going to Las Vegas for the ride. Some hoped that Judy would pull a Mario Lanza and refuse to show up at the last moment. As always, the Garland formula of corn plus talent worked. Judy won her audience and superlatives were the order of the day.
No one has been able to define what it is that makes Judy Garland unique. Two producers at MGM, Arthur Freed, who helped discover her, and Joe Pasternak, who made many of her pictures, say it’s a combination of emotional and hysterical talent.
It’s impossible to watch Judy rehearse or work without participating. She gives everything she has, even in rehearsal. When she performs she bursts the seams of her ability. Unlike Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra who are relaxed when they perform, Judy is a dynamo of energy. She has a compulsion to make people listen.
‘I Love to Sing’
“I love to sing – it’s the most wonderful feeling there is in the world for me,” says Judy. She proves it every time she goes out to perform. As a result, her entire career has been plagued with periods of complete physical exhaustion.
After each of her two-a-night performances in Las Vegas Judy returned to her dressing room, shut the door and slept. Her entire life was keyed to one thing – the performance.
Even at Hollywood parties Judy is an entertainer. Let some one tinkle a tune on a piano, and if she knows a lyric she will begin to whisper it softly, then close her eyes, throw her head back and sing.
It’s not that she’s a ham. She’s just a born performer.
Judy is a perfectionist. At recording or filming sessions if she doesn’t like what she hears or does she will insist on re-doing it over and over until she is satisfied.
This desire for perfection ran up the budget of “A Star Is Born” from $2,500,00 to $4,500,000, but when the film was completed Judy was satisfied that it was as perfect as she could make it.
There are people who say that when you’ve seen Judy Garland once you’ve seen her for all time. Her fans insist that nothing about their idol change. Part of this is based on the curious identification many people have with Judy. Thanks to the wide publicity she has been given, they have lived her life right along with her, and as long as she stays young – and the same – so do they.
Old Routines Click
When Judy opened at the Palace late in September she wore her old tramp costume and a short skirted outfit designed to show off the maximum length of leg at least once; and she closed her act singing “Over the Rainbow” with a throb in her voice and a tear in her eye. And her voice broke in that funny way, and she addressed the audience informally, asking them if they minded if she lit a cigarette – which she did.
These are the standard ingredients of every Judy Garland performance whether on TV, on stage or in a night club. People have come to expect them of Judy. Although she would like to give them something different, she’s typed. She’s doomed, like Sophie Tucker, who has had to go down through the ages singing “Some of These Days.”
There are reasons, however, for her routines. For example, Judy always shows her legs, not so much because they are the most attractive part of her body but because she is conscious of being short, 5 feet 1 1/2 inches – and she feels that a long leg line makes her look taller.
Las Vegas Test
While she was planning her new Palace act she decided to scrap the old numbers and do nothing which the audience might associate with her. She reasoned, “If people hear me sing the old numbers one more time I’m afraid they might throw something at me.”
I was in Las Vegas the night she decided to put her theory to the test. She excluded the old songs, and the audience was aware of it. They had come to hear those songs, and they let it be known. They refused to let her leave the stage until she sang “Over the Rainbow.”
She sat down on stage, removed her shoes and let her feet dangle in the pit. Her eyes became misty. There was a sob in her voice and a twitch in her lower lip. She appeared ready to collapse.
The corn is still there in large quantities, I thought. However, when I went backstage I found Judy still barefoot, lip still twitching and real tears trickling down her face.
Her Feet Hurt
It was all part of the old act, but it was based on the best of physical reasons. Judy’s feet hurt in the 5-inch high heels she insists on wearing so she just had to take off her shoes. She was so tired and worn out from rehearsals and performing that she was near collapse. “Over the Rainbow,” which is her final number, is ideal when done with a sob and a throb. She lets herself go because that’s exactly how she feels.
The Garland fans adore their idol and realize that she has given them her all during the performance. You can bet that more than half the audience is sobbing right along with her.
NEXT – A star is born – and raised.
October 10, 1964: Judy gave a press interview at her home in London to officially announce the upcoming concert “Judy and Liza at the London Palladium” on November 8. The concert sold out before it was even officially advertised, so a second show was set for November 15.
Photo: Judy and daughter Liza Minnelli in London during Liza’s visit in September 1964.