On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – December 8

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“Not your smart, adult-aping prodigy is this girl, but a youngster who had the divine instinct to be herself on stage, along with a talent for singing, a trick of rocking the spectators with rhythms, and a capacity for putting emotion into her performance that suggests what Bernhardt must have been at her age.” – W.E. Oliver, “The Los Angeles Evening Express,” 1934





December 8, 1934:  Judy and her sisters (as “The Garland Trio”) appeared in the stage show “Irving Strouse’s Saturday Nite Vaudeville Frolics” at the Wilshire-Ebell Theater in Los Angeles.

This is the appearance that MGM director George Sidney saw and was later quoted:   There was a theater here in Los Angeles called the Wilshire-Ebell. … They used to put on vaudeville acts on certain nights of the week.  This little girl came out with her two sisters and her mother playing the piano.  She did a little number with a baseball bat. We took her out to the studio and made a test on a soundstage…

Judy allegedly performed the baseball bat routine for the screen test.  Sidney’s recollections have not been verified as the footage no longer exists and there are no records of the test happening.  His story was told decades later so it’s entirely possible that he was conflating different stories about a different performer.

The trio received great reviews for this performance.  The “Los Angeles Times” noted that The Garland Sisters scored a hit, with the youngest member of the trio practically stopping the show with her singing.

W.E. Oliver of the “Los Angeles Evening Express” was especially smitten with Judy’s performance.  The headline of his article read “12 Year Old Girl Is Sensation At Frolics.”  Foreshadowing Judy’s future concert years and her effect on audiences, he said, “Little Frances … sang in a way that produced in the audience sensations that haven’t been equaled in years.  Not your smart, adult-aping prodigy is this girl, but a youngster who had the divine instinct to be herself on stage, along with a talent for singing, a trick of rocking the spectators with rhythms, and a capacity for putting emotion into her performance that suggests what Bernhardt must have been at her age.  It isn’t the cloying, heavy sentiment her elders so often strive for, but simple, sincere feeling that reaches the heart.  The three girls together are an act anyone would want to see.  Frances alone is a sensation, and last Saturday’s audience realized it by the way they encored.  Much of her individual style of singing was culled by the little girl from her parent’s old act, although she must have the divine spark to be able to sing as she did … she would make any show.

That’s quite the review for a little 12-year-old Vaudevillian!



December 8, 1939:  Judy Garland dresses, and “Little Judy” dresses, just in time for Christmas!



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December 8, 1942:  More rehearsals of the “I Got Rhythm” number and the “Cafe Number” for Girl Crazy.  Time called 10 a.m.; dismissed: 4 p.m.

Photo provided by Kim Lungreen.  Thanks, Kim!

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography pages on Girl Crazy here.



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December 8, 1943:  This two-page ad appeared in the “Film Daily” trade paper.

On this day at MGM, Judy was filming “The Trolley Song” for Meet Me In St. Louis on the “Exterior Trolley Car” set which was not on the backlot as it was the day before, but on one of the MGM soundstages.  Filming on the number lasted several days.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on Girl Crazy here.

Check out The Judy Room’s Extensive Spotlight on Meet Me In St. Louis here.



December 8, 1943:  This blurb about Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine’s new “The Trolley Song” appeared in Harrison Carroll’s column.

Check out The Judy Room’s Extensive Spotlight Section on Meet Me In St. Louis here.



December 8, 1947:  The first of three days of filming on the “Interior Pastini’s Restaurant” for Easter Parade with co-star Fred Astaire.  This included the “I Want To Go Back To Michigan” number.

Check out The Judy Room’s Extensive Spotlight on Easter Parade here.



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December 8, 1951:  Judy was still the toast of New York due to her legendary comeback at the Palace Theater.



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December 8, 1953:  A Star Is Born filming continued with the scene on the “Interior Norman’s Car” set.  Time started: 10 a.m., finished: 5 p.m.  Also on this day: “Color Test of wardrobe and color lights to be used at Shrine Auditorium.”

Check out The Judy Room’s Extensive Spotlight on A Star Is Born here.



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December 8, 1958:  The “Hollywood Reporter” columnist Mike Connolly reported that Judy’s forthcoming settlement with CBS called for a fifty-three-minute version of her “Born In A Trunk” number, to be sponsored by Chrysler.  It never happened, possibly because Judy wanted three to six months of preparation time and CBS was only offering five.

It’s a shame it didn’t happen.  An extended version of “Born In A Trunk” would have been something special.

Photo:  The 1958 re-issue of the A Star Is Born soundtrack LP, “electronically re-channeled for stereo” which, of course, includes the original “Born In A Trunk.”

Check out The Judy Room’s Extensive Spotlight on A Star Is Born here.



December 8, 1960:  The upcoming TV showing of The Wizard of Oz was noted in these two ads.  One for color TV sales and one with a really fun caricature of the cover of the MGM Records soundtrack album.

Check out The Judy Room’s Extensive Spotlight on The Wizard of Oz here.

Check out The Judy Garland Online Discography’s pages about all of the various releases of the soundtrack here.



December 8, 1962:  Judy made a personal appearance at the showings of Gay Purr-ee at the Randforce Theatre in Brooklyn, New York.

Her schedule:
4:00 p.m. – The Walker Theatre on 18th Ave. & 64th Street
4:40 p.m. – The Savoy Theatre on Bedford Ave. & Lincoln Place
7:15 p.m. – The Maspeth Theatre in Maspeth



December 8, 1963:  CBS-TV aired “Episode One” of “The Judy Garland Show.”  The episode was the first to be taped, on June 24, 1963, but was not the first to air.

In the audience of that first taping were many stars including Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Natalie Wood, Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons, Agnes Morehead, Clint Eastwood, Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner and Van Heflin.

Judy’s guest for her first show was her old chum Mickey Rooney.  Judy sang “Keep Your Sunny Side Up”; “When The Sun Comes Out”; “Exactly Like You”; “I Believe In You” (with Jerry Van Dyke who was her permanent sidekick on the show); “You’re So Right For Me” (with Mickey); and for her “Born In A Trunk” segment that would close each show, Judy sang “Too Late Now”; “Who Cares?”; and “Ol’ Man River.”  The show closed with Judy singing “I Will Come Back.”

Judy also sang “Two Ladies In The Shade Of The Banana Tree” during the dress rehearsal on June 23, 1963, but by the taping the following night it was dropped.

The “Exactly Like You” song and sketch and the song “I Believe In You” would be cut before this broadcast date, and a new segment with Mickey that was taped on November 29, 1963, was added.  A new opening song, “I Feel A Song Coming On” was taped on October 11, 1963.  The deleted segments survived and have been released on DVD.



December 8, 1968:  About 1;30 a.m., Judy fell asleep.  By 4:10 a.m. she was awake and it was clear she wanted attention, resenting John Meyer’s sleep this resulted in a confrontation.  Judy told John that she thought it was too late, that she always drove people and way, and that he should have himself sand leave now.  He insisted that he could help make things different for her.  A short time later, Judy was saying her prayers in front of him, which became Meyer’s “Prayer” song (aka “God Bless Johnny”) which she sang on Dick Cavett’s TV show less than a week later.





2 comments

  1. Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Some days are lighter than others which are to be expected.

    Judy short and high-waisted so even just a couple of pounds gained would show, especially on film. It’s a shame that she had to diet as she did. Most people, and columnists, liked her with a little more meat on her bones in spite of the studio.

    Like

  2. Another great entry! Curious that Judy’s very first shots (as reported yesterday) for “St. Louis” were for the exterior trolley car scenes (I always thought the “Skip to my Lou”/party scenes were shot first). In the close-up of her looking for John/and awaiting to board the trolley, she looks so thin! In the party sequence, her face is fuller. The subtle weight fluctuations – which would become very prominent from 1948 onward, are hinted at in “St. Louis.”

    “Star:” They clearly had already decided to reshoot “The Man That Got Away.” Although the number wasn’t reshot until March of ’54, they shot Judy’s driving home in the blue dress with mason months earlier. So much thought, care, and time in the making of her pictures!! Very fascinating to note the many different months and dates of things.

    Lastly, the “Girl Crazy” still of Judy and Mickey is absolutely gorgeous!!

    Thanks for making my day (as usual).

    Like

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