On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – December 19

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“It is ‘Get Happy’ that walks away with song honors.  It’s the old, wonderful Garland who sells the tune.” – “Daily Variety” on “Summer Stock”, 1950

December 19, 1930:  Judy and her sisters, as “The Gumm Sisters,” performed at the Hollywood Dance Studio Christmas Follies at the Old Soldier’s Home in Sawtelle, California.

December 19, 1935:  Judy sang at the Elks Movie Star Benefit at the Rosemary Theater at Ocean Park in Venice, California (now part of Los Angeles).  The event was billed as the “annual all-star stage, screen, radio show, and Hi-Jinks.”

It was a big deal.  It rated a good-sized newspaper article a couple of days prior (December 16th), and an article the day after (both shown above).  MGM sent several stars to take part in the event including Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, and a young Mickey Rooney (fresh off his success in the Warner Bros. film adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream).  It was also broadcast over the local radio although no recording of that broadcast is known to exist.

The two articles that are shown here (both published by the Evening Vanguard, Venice, CA) are fascinating for a couple of reasons.

The December 16th article notes:  “Judy Garland, 12-year-old sensation known on the vaudeville stage as the ‘Baby Nora Bayes’ has also offered her services.”

Then – and this is where it gets odd – two paragraphs later, that same article lists more scheduled acts.  Included in the middle of that list is: “the Garland Sisters, Orpheum headliners now making an MGM picture…”  This kind of mistake isn’t unusual for this time in Judy’s association with MGM.  We know that the sisters had broken up the act that previous August and that Judy had been signed solo by MGM that previous September.  The text MGM sent to the paper was probably a mixup of info from Judy’s studio file as it was in 1935.


Judy and her sisters were attached to the Universal project The Great Ziegfeld in late 1934 and early 1935.  On January 29, 1935, “Variety” published an article about Vaudeville acts in the movies and mentioned that “Francis Garland” (Judy) “landed a part in Universal’s ‘Great Ziegfeld’.”  Not long after, the property was sold to MGM and the involvement of the Garland Sisters was dropped.  Later, on November 20, 1935, “Variety” published a short article about MGM producer Sam Katz looking for a story to star Judy.  That article notes that Judy was contracted to Universal for the Ziegfeld film, and “went to Metro with the purchase of the story” (which is incorrect as the purchase of the Ziegfeld property predates Judy’s successful audition at MGM that September).  That article also incorrectly noted that it was Universal who changed her name to Garland.  In other words, MGM was probably just sending out info about “Garland” from their files without any regard for accuracy.

In the article the day after the event, there’s no mention of “the Garland Sisters” which makes sense as that article would be more accurate assuming the writer was actually at the event and able to provide a more complete list of the stars and acts.  Included in that list are the “Mullane Sisters.”  Could they have been mistakenly listed as “Garland” in the previous article?  Judy was again singled out as: “Judy Garland, vaudeville’s ‘Baby Norah [sic] Bayes.”  

It’s odd that there’s no mention of Judy being singed to MGM or being a part of MGM in any way (even though most of the talent came from MGM), excepting that random mention about the Garland Sisters making an MGM film.  In the post-event article, Judy is again mentioned as “Vaudeville’s Baby Norah Bayes” and again with no mention of her association with MGM which is something the studio usually pointed out.

December 19, 1936:  This page out of the trade magazine “MotionPictureHearald” notes the release dates of the shorts La Fiesta de Santa Barbara (released on December 7, 1935) and Every Sunday (released on November 28, 1936).

December 19, 1936:  This ad touting their latest “tabloid musicals” Every Sunday was placed by MGM in the trade magazine, “Motion Picture Herald.”  The short became famous thanks to the talents of its two stars, Judy and Deanna Durbin.

Included here is a notice about the short that singles out Judy as having made a sensation in the recent “Big Broadcast.”  The paper made a mistake in thinking that Judy was in the cast of The Big Broadcast of 1937 (released in October 1936).  She was not.  They most likely were thinking about her recent feature film debut in Pigskin Parade but got the titles switched.  Judy is also mentioned in the cast of Broadway Melody of 1937, which became Broadway Melody of 1938 (but released in 1937).

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Page on Every Sunday here.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Page on Pigskin Parade here.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Page on Broadway Melody of 1938 here.

December 19, 1936:  In the trade magazine “Motion Picture Herald’s” regular feature titled “What The Picture Did For Me” John A. Milligan of the Broadway Theatre of Schuylerville, New York, said this about Pigskin Parade :

Just the type of comedy drama that my audience eats up.  This one went over big and everyone liked it.

December 19, 1939:   Here’s more about Judy’s visit to the little girl in the hospital.  It’s unlikely that Judy would have worn her “Dorothy” costume to make this hospital visit since a photo of her with her sister at the hospital shows her in normal street clothes.  But that photo is at the entrance.  She might have changed inside before visiting the girl’s room.

The story is this:

On December 2, 1939, Judy and her sister Sue visited a young girl in the hospital in Santa Ana, California.  The girl, Natalie Norris, was recuperating from “a major operation.”  The details of the operation were not given.  Her condition was critical for several days and at one point she had a “nightmare of delirium” in which she thought she was “Dorothy” in The Wizard of Oz.  Her doctor thought a call from Judy would help her recovery.

A visit was arranged by MGM, with Judy gifting the girl a set of photos (two signed by Judy as “Dorothy”), a doll, some books, and a special performance of “Over the Rainbow” by Judy to the girl.  The story was picked up by several columnists and was mentioned as late as early 1940.

The photos given to the girl have recently been discovered and are making their public debut here.  These are the only known surviving Oz promotional photos that Judy signed as “Dorothy.”   A huge thank you to Chris in Los Angeles for discovering these photos and bringing them to The Judy Room.  Thanks, Chris!

On this night, Judy had her weekly appearance on the NBC-Radio show “The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope.”  She sang this lovely rendition of “Silent Night.”

At this time, in 1939, Judy was between pictures. Babes In Arms premiered that previous October, and Judy wasn’t due for any movie work at MGM until late February 1940, when she began work on Andy Hardy Meets Debutante.  Her only regular work was her weekly appearances on Bob Hope’s radio show.  In fact, this was the last time she would have such a long period of little-to-no-work at MGM until she became pregnant with Liza in 1945.

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

December 19, 1939:  Teen fashion for 1939.  Judy models a winter coat and has her name, along with fellow teen singing star Deanna Durbin, attached to the sale of teen handbags.

December 19, 1941:  This ad appeared in the “Film Daily” trade magazine promoting Babes on Broadway and other MGM films.

December 19, 1942:  The “Showmen’s Trade Review” featured this article about the recent “Community Sing-Along” in Los Angeles as part of the promotion around For Me And My Gal.  World War I style community sing-alongs had taken place in cities around the country thanks to MGM’s publicity department.  Most were used to raise money (usually via the sale of war bonds) for the current war effort (World War Two).  Published in this same issue was this MGM ad.

Also on this day, Judy was out sick from the production of Girl Crazy.  She had been rehearsing the musical number “I Got Rhythm” and would return on December 21st.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on For Me And My Gal here.

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

December 19, 1943:  These set photos were taken on the “Skip To My Lou” (Smith Family Home) and “Lower Hall” sets in preparation for the filming of the “Skip To My Lou” number and other scenes for Meet Me In St. Louis.  No filming was done on this day.

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

December 19, 1947:  The last day of filming, finally, on The Pirate.  Retakes were done on the “Interior Manuela’s Balcony” set.  Judy had a call to be in makeup at 7:00 a.m., and on the set at 9:00 a.m.  She arrived on the set at 9:53 a.m.; dismissed at 11:45 a.m.

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


December 19, 1948:  This photo was published of Judy and her husband Vincente Minnelli attending the recent Los Angeles premiere of the Laurence Olivier film, Hamlet.


December 19, 1948:  Another ad for MGM’s latest composer(s) (Rodgers and Hart) biopic extravaganza, Words and Music at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.  The film premiered at Radio City on December 9th and went into general release on December 31st.  It’s notable for its lavish production numbers as well as being the last big-screen appearance of Judy and Mickey Rooney in a brief scene and duetting on “I Wish I Were In Love Again” which was cut from their 1939 screen adaptation of the Rodgers & Hart stage hit, “Babes in Arms” because it was considered too “adult” for the teens at the time.

December 19, 1948:  Here is another printing of Louella Parsons’ latest column which was all about Judy.  Parsons reported that Judy didn’t like the title of her next film, “Good Old Summertime” (actually released as In The Good Old Summertime).  Judy is quoted as saying, “Good old nothing!  That’s the worst title I’ve ever heard.  It has to be changed.  I’ll insist.”

Judy’s weight issues were mentioned, yet again.  This time Parsons noted “I couldn’t help but remember the little fat girl I first met on the set of ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ when she and Mickey Rooney were the cut ups of the studio.  She was so embarrassed about her plumpness then, and did everything to disguise it.  Today, she constantly tries to gain weight.”

Judy told Parsons that her favorite tune from her latest film, Words and Music, was a “lost tune” noting that it was used as background music in the film.  “It was called ‘Nothing But You.’  I loved it.  But I count that it will ever be any more than a background tune unless you say something about it in your columns and the public discovers it.”

What Judy didn’t mention is that on November 15, 1947, she recorded “Nothing But You” for Decca Records.  The single was released on July 18, 1948.

Listen to Judy’s Decca version of “Nothing But You” here:

Parsons also noted that Judy received an offer to perform at the London Palladium after she completed Annie Get Your Gun.  This offer did indeed happen, although nothing came of it.  Judy didn’t play the Palladium until after she left MGM, opening at the venue (and beginning her famous Concert Years) on April 9, 1951.  Parsons told Judy that London would adore her.  She was right.

December 19, 1949:  Louella Parsons reported that in the previous week, Judy had spent 24 hours in the hospital having a wisdom tooth extracted.  It’s unclear if this is true or not.

December 19, 1949:  Filming on Summer Stock continued with scenes shot on the kitchen set (Jane Falbury’s Farm) with Marjorie Main and Gene Kelly in which Judy’s character, Jane Falbury, impersonates (and pokes fun at) Kelly’s character, Joe Ross, while dancing.  Stills were taken on the set of Judy with Kelly and director Chuck Walters.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on Summer Stock here.

December 19, 1949:  Judy made the cover of “People Today.”  I don’t have a copy of the article from inside the magazine.  Also on this day, the local ABC radio affiliate in Newport News, Virginia, advertised a Christmas show featuring Judy.  The ad might make one think that Judy was on the show, live, but in fact, the show consisted of playing records.


December 19, 1953:  A Star Is Born filming continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Malibu Home” set.  None of the footage from this day’s shooting was used nor does it survive.  Judy did not like what she was wearing so the scenes were reshot in January 1954 with Judy wearing the infamous orange dress.  Considering how unflattering that dress is, it’s anyone’s guess as to how bad the dress from this day’s shooting must have been!

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

December 19, 1954:  Here is a review of A Star Is Born as published in “The Decatur Daily Review.”  The reviewer heaped praise on Judy and the film as a whole although they didn’t care much for James Mason’s performance!  Also included here is a photo panel promoting the film as “The Film of the Year.”

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

December 19, 1963:  An afternoon videotaping session for a new segment for the Bobby Darin episode (“Episode Fourteen” taped November 30), of “The Judy Garland Show,” as that episode’s “football” medley was cut.  The new segment was a “mini-concert” of the chorus singing “Sing, Sing, Sing” as an intro for Judy and the show followed by Judy singing “Hello, Bluebird”; “If Love Were All” and “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart.”

Later that evening, Judy prerecorded the medley, which Capitol Records planned on releasing in April 1964, but that album never materialized.  “Episode Fourteen” of “The Judy Garland Show” premiered on Sunday, March 1, 1964.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

December 19, 1964:  Judy returned to the U.S. for the first time since May 2, 1964, on a 6:30 p.m. flight for New York, staying at the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue and 61st Street.  Just before boarding, Judy told reporters in London that she would be doing another Jack Paar TV show and appearing at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe.  Neither of these engagements happened although she did one final guest appearance on Parr’s show in 1967.

Upon arrival at Kennedy Airport, Judy, Mark Herron, and Peter and Chris Allen, were met by Judy’s daughter Liza Minnelli.  Harrison Carroll interviewed Judy and she told him that she hadn’t decided whether to leave California to live in New York.  She also said she would be opening at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe in February and might do concerts in San Francisco, Mexico City, and Honolulu.  Louella Parsons reported that Judy would an “open” recording session at Carnegie Hall before returning to California.  None of these projects happened.  Lawrence Eisenberg was handling Judy’s press relations starting at this time (he first met Judy at the airport on this day), through 1966, although by 1965 her main publicist in California was Tom Green.

While in New York, “Judy’s Number One Fan” Wayne Martin taped a phone call he made with Judy to wish her a Merry Christmas.  Judy noted that Sid Luft had “kidnapped the children.”

Listen to Martin’s taped phone call here:

While Judy was staying at the Regency Hotel in New York City, she hand wrote a letter (not dated) on the hotel stationary, to a New Jersey-based fan, Bill Fielding.  Fielding had apparently been sick during that holiday season, and Judy was wonderful enough to send cheer his way, along with love to his mom.  She concluded with a PSL “I’m sure we’ll meet someday.  God Bless.”

Also on this day, the news hit the papers that on Friday, December 18, Judy had petitioned the court to allow her children to visit her for the holidays.  She was in New York and the children (Lorna and Joe Luft) were in California.  Luft told reporters that it was his first Christmas with his kids in years, most likely since the holidays of 1961, in Scarsdale, New York.  However, he spoke too soon.  The following week a judge gave Judy custody and ordered that the kids fly to meet their mother in New York on Christmas Day and returned to their father in California on January 2, 1965.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

December 19, 1968:  Judy taped her appearance on the Merv Griffin TV show.  It didn’t air until January 2, 1969, and on January 5 in some markets.

Judy sang John A. Meyer’s “I’d Like To Hate Myself in the Morning” as well as “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “The Trolley Song.”  The latter was sung with the audience.

Listen to “I’d Like To Hate Myself in the Morning” here:

Listen to “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” here:

Listen to “The Trolley Song” here:

Unfortunately, the show hasn’t survived although there is some silent footage shot from aiming a home movie camera at a TV set (Garfans are nothing if not creative!).  Merv Griffin himself stated that the shows from this time period were erased when he moved his show over to CBS-TV.

Photos:  Judy with Totie Fields; two snapshots of Judy leaving the studios after the taping; a newspaper notice.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.


  1. I have such mixed feelings about Wayne Martin. My first reaction to him is usually, “Yuck!” (I doubt Judy ever knew he taped their phone conversations, and if she knew he was taping Lorna on a later date, I’m sure she would’ve hit the roof! Talk about exploitation. But…we’re listening, so aren’t we guilty, too?). To be fair, he sounds sincere in his own way, but someone who seemed to have no life whatsoever.

    On a positive note, Judy is SO polite to him. I can’t think of another star of her caliber that would’ve spoken on the phone to a “number one fan.” (Sinatra? Streisand? Jackson? Presley? Houston? Nope). It is a testament to her heart, even more because I doubt she really had much patience for this man, even during the good days.

    Question: Do you know anything about Martin? When did he pass?

    1. Martin is a controversial figure in Garfandom. I never met him and didn’t know much about him, however, one of the contributors to “Garlands for Judy” – http://www.thejudyroom.com/garlandsforjudy/GarlandsforJudy4.pdf

      The recorded phone calls are controversial as well, but I have included it because at this point it’s history. Judy is more than gracious and generous. Like you said, other stars wouldn’t have been so generous. He had been around for so long though, I think maybe Judy felt a real affection for him, as a friend and someone who was always there for her.

      A friend of mine met “Uncle Wayne” in the late 70s. He went to Wayne’s apartment which he said had a bad smell, very musky. By that point, Wayne apparently didn’t have much left in his collection and he was rather sad, living in a tiny apartment all alone. He passed in 1993. 🙁

  2. Thank you for sharing my article. When comments appear about Wayne, I generally just give them a copy. I knew him for roughly 25 years, and this is how I saw it.

  3. It’s quite noticeable that Judy didn’t have much affinity for Wayne Martin. She asks him not a single question about himself, expresses no concen about him, pointedly makes no response when he said he had no family and always spent Christmas alone. Her “Merry Christmas” to him functions as a way to end the call. Judy’d been around the block and knew with his type not to get personal or a true monster would be created.

    1. I think this comment is unfair from someone who presumably did not know either Wayne or Judy personally. He had known her since the late 30s and was always in her corner. Do I think they were best friends? No. But she (and Sid too) recognized him as one of the fans who meant her well. In their recorded telephone calls she is much more patient with him than she needs to be, asking how he is, encouraging him to get paid for interviews or photos of her he provided, etc. Even in the last few years they were vaguely planning a book together, he’d provide the photos, she’d do the captions. She HAD been around the block and knew the difference between a loon and someone who she’d known for a long time and meant her no harm. If she did not have an affinity for him, she would not have sent police to his apartment to check on him when his phone had been disconnected, nor would she have provided him with 12 tickets for the taping of her TV series each week, nor called him to ‘help get her out of the hospital” on an occasion when she felt she was being held against her will. If she considered him a monster she wouldn’t have given him her home phone number and would not have been available when he called. She was kinder to him than she had to be, or would have been if she considered him a bore. That said, you notice how she will sometime claim a polite reason to get off the phone when he is going on and on.

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