“She’s a natural if there ever was one, and her infectious charm can’t fail to please any type of audience.” – Mollie Merrick, 1936
October 23, 1931: “Frances Gayne” performed at the Eastern Star State Grand Chapter Banquet in Coronado, California. “Frances Gayne” was a name the family was trying out for Judy, who at this point usually went by her birth name of Frances Gumm.
October 23, 1935: Two notices about MGM giving Judy a studio contract. The first is from “Variety” and the second is from a syndicated column.
October 23, 1936: Pigskin Parade premiered. It was Judy’s very first feature film appearance and her only loan out to another studio (20th Century Fox) during her years at MGM. It grossed over $900,000.
The film was a hit with audiences and the critics liked it as well. To date, it’s still a fun and enjoyable film, typical of the comedies of that time. The review included here noted: Judy Garland, youngster who sings in a thoroughly grown-up manner, is the other big surprise in this unusual story. Her work as “Sairy Dodd” will start her on a big movie future without doubt. She’s a natural if there ever was one, and her infectious charm can’t fail to please any type of audience.
Judy was given two solos, “The Texas Tornado” and “It’s Love I’m After” plus the bulk of the production number “The Balboa” (see the video below). She pre-recorded “Hold That Bulldog” but it was cut (see the October 21 entry).
October 23, 1938: Judy’s the glamorous teen!
Here are a fun ad (top left above) using an MGM provided publicity photo to sell furs (followed by two more photos of Judy in the same fur coat), plus another ad that promotes itself as the headquarters for Judy Garland, Deanna Durbin, and Shirley Temple coats (in that order). In the late 1930s and into the early 40s, MGM promoted Judy as a trendsetter in teen fashion, especially after she and Mickey Rooney had become the top teen duo in the nation.
The photos of Judy in the fur coat plus the two of her with Mickey Rooney were actually taken a year before in the fall of 1937.
October 23, 1940: Judy took part in a dinner-dance benefit put on by the Motion Picture Mothers, Inc. organization at the Palm Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel. This notice is from a few days prior to the event.
October 23, 1941: Here is an early notice about Judy and Mickey Rooney being cast in Girl Crazy in Louella Parsons’s column. Parsons also reported that Judy told her she would have a three-month vacation after finishing Babes on Broadway, “We have worked twelve weeks on that picture and a really want a rest – and a honeymoon.” Judy had married her first husband, David Rose, that previous July in Las Vegas, Nevada. The new bride was back on the set within 48 hours after leaving the set and continued to work on the film almost non-stop.
Judy didn’t get a three-month vacation, but after Babes on Broadway wrapped on November 7, 1941, she did not have another film assignment until February 19, 1942, when she began work on For Me And My Gal. In the interim, she was kept busy with radio appearances and her first major tour of Army camps from January 12, through February 9, 1942.
October 23, 1942: This column by Helen Barrett reported on the recent premiere of For Me And My Gal and the “community sing” held on Broadway at Times Square in New York City, just as had been done during World War I. Also included above is the ad for the film and another report, uncredited, about the event.
October 23, 1942: According to this article, director Norman Taurog shamed Judy for being late to the set in front of the cast and crew of Presenting Lily Mars.
October 23, 1942: Columnist Harrison Carroll reported on Judy, accompanied by Roger Edens, taking part in a “soldier’s revue” titled “Fall In” at the military hospital in the Sawtelle district of Los Angeles. Per Carroll, Roger Edens wrote some of the music and “rehearsed the boys for three weeks.” It’s unclear exactly when this happened although it most likely took place between the end of filming on For Me And My Gal and the beginning of filming on Presenting Lily Mars which would have been late July or early August 1942. Judy and her sisters had performed for veterans at the same military hospital on January 23, 1929.
October 23, 1944: Filming on The Clock continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Marriage Chapel” set. Time called: 10 a.m.; time dismissed: 6:10 p.m.
Photo provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
October 23, 1945: Filming on Till The Clouds Roll By continued on the “Interior Stairs” set (the “Who?” number). Time called: 10 a.m.; dismissed: 5:50 p.m.
Photo: Keenan Wynn visits Judy on the “Who?” set. Photo provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
October 23, 1947: The first of three days that Judy was off work on Easter Parade due to being sick.
October 23, 1950: Summer Stock. Note how in the first clipping, the text for the artwork notes how Judy has “often been called the greatest all-round entertainer the screen has ever produced.”
October 23, 1951: Columnist Walter Winchell reported on the massive success of Judy’s recent opening at The Palace Theatre. Winchell reported that the police estimated the crowd in Times Square as being between 4k to 5k; that Judy received a 3-minute 18-second ovation that ended only when she stopped it; a continuous line at the box office through the night and “still going strong”; 273 telegrams of congratulations; 186 standees for the first matinee (standing room ticket holders); and “kissable quotes” from every newspaper and radio critic.
October 23, 1954: Record reviewer Frank Agranbright gave the soundtrack album to A Star Is Born a good review, but curiously listed it as a Capitol Records release when in fact it was a Columbia Records release. Oops!
Also published on this date is this nice collage of photos from the opening night of the film on September 29, 1954.
October 23, 1954: The trade magazine “Motion Picture Herald” reported details about the massive promotional campaign for A Star Is Born by Warner Bros. Details include a record number of magazine and newspaper campaigns; a 28-page pressbook with a 12-page advertising section; and a “lobby spectacular” that included a full-color display equipped with “flashers to impart a spotlight effect” illuminating the back from and “huge cut-out head of Judy Garland.” It would be great if photos of that cut-out display surfaced, or the actual cut-out with Judy’s head!
October 23, 1956: Columnist Leonard Lyons reported on the upcoming LP premiere of the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz being released by MGM Records.
October 23, 1960: Judy was in concert at the Birmingham Odeon Theater in Birmingham, England.
Ticket stub provided by Armand D. Thanks, Armand!
October 23, 1961: Here is a great review of Judy’s recent concert (October 19) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by columnist John K. Vargo. Note how Vargo refers to Judy as the “high priestess” of “a cult of 13,000 worshippers.” He also noted that after warming up, Judy “communities the glow to everyone in hearing distances. She moves from a brassy forte to a mellow microphone caress without shifting vocal gears.”
October 23, 1963: Two articles about Judy. One is a chat with Judy in which she discussed (via a conference call with 11 reporters!) the series, her children, and her newly svelte figure. The second article focuses on the series and the issues it was having with the format and the difficulties in how to best present Judy to the public on a weekly basis.
October 23, 1963: Judy was in New York to meet with CBS executives and to give interviews to promote the upcoming “The Judy Garland Show.” Judy was in the city from October 19 through October 27. On the evening of October 23, 1963, Judy attended the premiere of Neil Simon’s new play, “Barefoot in the Park” starring Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley. These photos were taken of Judy backstage after the show, with Ashley, Redford, and Warren Beatty (in glasses).
October 23, 1964: More legal woes for Judy’s estranged husband, Sid Luft. Newspapers reported that the previous day a judge issued a bench warrant for Luft’s arrest, with bail set at $5,500. Luft had failed to appear in court that day to answer charges against him. The order charged Luft with removing a TV set, silverware, and other items from Judy’s home. His attorney claimed that there was a misunderstanding about the day of Luft’s appearance.
October 23, 1964: Liza arrived in London at the same time that the news of her joining Judy on stage at the London Palladium was hitting newspapers around the English-speaking world.
October 23, 2005: Here is an article about the new 3-disc special edition boxed set of DVDs of The Wizard of Oz. This was the first major DVD release of the film since its premiere on DVD in 1998. The set was released on October 25, 2005. Also released was a 2-disc set that did not include the many extras of this deluxe set.