On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – December 20

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“‘It’s a New World’ will probably go round the world and is strangely symbolic of the new Garland epoch.” – Edwin Schallert, 1953   


December 20, 1931:  Here’s an ad for “Baby Gumm’s” appearance at the Warner Brothers Theater in Hollywood.  She had a weeklong engagement.  At the time, Baby Gumm (Judy) was a part of the Maurice Kusell Studio.  Kusell specialized in child acts.

December 20, 1938:  Here is a very early instance, out of England, of a legal battle regarding the name “Judy Garland” as used by the Canadian Trading Agency, Ltd. of England, to sell apparel.  It’s interesting that in the U.S. at this time, Judy’s name was used in many advertisements by a variety of stores to sell frocks, purses, coats, and more.


December 20, 1938:  Judy appeared on the “National Redemption Movement Program” on NBC Radio.  It was her last radio appearance of 1938.  No other information is known about this show.  The appearance was also the second of two (the other being “Good News of 1939” on October 20th) referenced in the contract shown above, dated September 9, 1938.  Note how the contract states Judy’s work on The Wizard of Oz would be done by “the end of October, or early part of November.”  Boy, were they hopeful!

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

December 20, 1941:  This two-page ad promoting MGM’s latest films, including Babes on Broadway, appeared in the “Motion Picture Herald” trade magazine.

Local theater owners/managers around the country would send in their feedback about the films they had shown for publication in the magazine’s regular “What The Picture Did For Me” section.  In this issue, J.E. Stocker of Myrtle Theatre in Detroit, Michigan, had this to say about Life Begins for Andy Hardy: “To me, this seemed about the poorest of the Hardy series.  Too much of the sordid and tragic for an Andy Hardy picture.  Attendance for a Sunday-Monday playdate was not up to expectations.”

December 20, 1942:  This MGM ad from the “Showmen’s Trade Review” featured their upcoming titles, including Presenting Lily Mars.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on Presenting Lily Mars here.

December 20, 1943:  Meet Me In St. Louis filming continued with scenes on the “Interior Lower Floor” and “Kitchen” sets.  Time called: 1 p.m.; dismissed: 5:35 p.m.  The scenes shot were most likely some of those in which only the principals were needed.  The chorus and extras needed for the “Skip To My Lou” scenes were not needed until the filming of that sequence in early January 1944.

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

December 20, 1944:  This Decca Records holiday ad listed Judy’s single of “The Trolley Song” as one of the singles available at J.W. Millikan’s record store in Munster, Indiana.

Check out The Judy Garland Online Discography’s Decca Records Section for info about all of Judy’s Decca recordings.

December 20, 1947:  Easter Parade filming continued with scenes on the “Interior Amsterdam Theater Stage” and “Interior Amsterdam Back Stage ” sets.  Included was the “When The Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves For Alabam'” song and dance with Fred Astaire.  Songwriter Irving Berlin was on the set to watch.

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

December 20, 1947:  “Swinging into 1948” was an array of MGM’s current and upcoming films, including The Pirate, which was one of three Garland films to hit theatres in 1948.  The other two were Easter Parade and Words and Music.  The latter wasn’t really a “Judy Garland film” but her guest spot was singled out as one of the highlights, and MGM wisely placed Judy at the top of most of their ads for the film.

December 20, 1948:   These photos were taken of Judy on the set of In The Good Old Summertime.  She’s in her party dress for the sequence in which she sings both “I Don’t Care” and “Play That Barbershop Chord.”

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography pages on In The Good Old Summertime here.

December 20, 1948:  The trade magazine “The Film Bulletin” included an article about, and review of, Words and Music.  Also included was this MGM ad using their current “Metro Cola” theme.  The article notes how the film was being criticized for its rather “thin” storyline, but that the musical numbers were great.  The Bulletin’s review by one of their resident critics, “Abrams,” noted the story as “commonplace” while pointing out that the story isn’t the point at all, it’s the musical numbers that make the film great and are what the public goes to the film to see.


December 20, 1950:  Columnist Sheilah Graham reported on two alleged film projects in the works for Judy.  Judy had just left MGM and almost immediately her name popped up attached (or rather, allegedly attached) to various film projects.

For more about the films that Judy was (again, allegedly) in the running to star in, check out The Judy Room’s Filmography “Films That Got Away” pages.  There was quite a lot!

December 20, 1953:  Columnist Edwin Schallert’s column reported that there was a “New Punch to Judy.”

Responsibility Brings a New Punch to Judy

Voice in Plans Adds Incentive


Judy Garland, busy on “A Star Is Born” at Warners, as her first motion picture in four years, believes that she has now embarked on an entirely new era in her motion picture experience.  She feels she is at last blending management of her career with action.  She is today much happier than at any time in recent years.

“When I was regularly under contract I was naturally fitted into a groove,” she said.  “I took orders as a studio saw fit to give them, carried them out without question.”

“For a long time, I felt that I should have some real participation in what I was doing beyond simply action and singing.  But with a contract and the obligations it implies, that was seemingly impossible.”

“Now my husband, Sid Luft, and I have our own company, and I enjoy the planning and knowing exactly what we are going to do.  This has been a great new stimulus and inspiration.”

She’s a New Person

Even a casual meeting with Judy Garland today would make those who have known her previously quite aware of the fact that she is an entirely new person.  She is alert and vital, with an encompassing sense of responsibility and a big determination to succeed more importantly than ever before.

The writer appraised her first independent production from a variety of angles.  I saw the lavish Cocoanut Grove setting at the studio, which is used for an Academy Award climax in the picture, heard the commentary of Director George Cukor on the progress of the film and Miss Garland’s own performance, glimpsed the rushes of the honeymoon scene with James Mason and listened to the views of various people, including Edward L Alperson, the film producer, who had owned the rights to “A Star Is Born” and who has joined with Luft and Judy in the new production.

All Enthusiastic

They are all enthusiastic, particularly Cukor, who is long experienced in guiding unusual feminine personalities in pictures, notably Katherine Hepburn, Judy Holliday, and others.  Cukor stressed Miss Garland’s “rare combination of power and gentleness.”

“I gave a birthday party for Ethel Barrymore and asked Judy to sing a tribute,” Cukor related.  “The results were so remarkable and so full of heart appeal that I thought the celebrated actress would be dissolved in tears.”

Cukor and Miss Garland are a new combination and this is but one of the facets that will cause “A Star Is Born” to be an utterly different picture.  The oddity is that they should be working together for the first time since they both [were with] MGM over so long a period.  But musicals are off-beat for Cukor and it was actually the Barrymore incident that first gave the director the idea of guiding Miss Garland.

Off-Beat Musical

Incidentally, “A Star Is Born” is very much off=beat as a musical, because, like the original version with Fredric March and Janet Gaynor, it will end in tragedy.  James Mason, who is a victim of alcoholism, descends the ladder as a famous Hollywood star, while his wife (Miss Garland) ascends to fame.

“The main difference from the original is that I play a singer with bands, instead of simply a country girl,” said Judy.  “That justifies the numbers, which are beautifully woven into the action and dialogue of the picture.  Mr. Mason as our hearo asks me to sing on our wedding night when we stop at a motel in a small California town, and that prompts my singing of ‘It’s a New World,’ which is a number that I reprise at the time of his death.

Mason Good Choice

“We could not imagine a more ideal choice tan Mason for the role which was previously associated with March.  People forget that he can look surprisingly young, simply because he’s had to play so many mature Rommel-like characters.  I am sure that his work in this picture will be a great revelation.”

Having witnessed the two in the honeymoon scene in the rushes, this write is quite willing o concur with Miss Garland’s estimate of the male star.

Judy will have eight songs in the production.  The titled ones, besides “It’s A New World” including “Someone at Last,” which is called a tour de force number; “Here’s What I’m Here For,” “The Man That Got Away,” “Lost That Long Face,” “The TV Commercial” [“Trinidad Coconut Oil Shampoo”], and “Gotta Have Me Og With You.”  They’re by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin.  “It’s a New World” will probably go round the world and is strangely symbolic of the new Garland epoch.

Third Time on Screen

Cukor reveals a hitherto unstressed fact, namely that this will be the third time the story of “A Star Is Born” has reached the screen because he personally directed the first version under the title “What Price Hollywood?” which starred Constance Bennett with Lowell Sherman.  That was very early in sound history in pictures, while “A Star Is Born” was made by David O. Selznick in the late 30s.

The four-year lapse in her film career has been highly profitable in many ways for Judy.  She had a striking success at the Palladium in London.  Then there were five months at the Palace in New York, and successively her engagements at Philharmonic Auditorium here and in San Francisco under Civic Light Opera auspices, in the spring and summer of 1952.  “Then we had to take time out for little Lorna, who was born Nov. 26 of that year,” said Judy.  ” all together it was a busy year because the palace engagement had started the prior November.”

Hard-to-find Property

Judy and Sid Luft had quite a time getting the rights to “A Star Is Born,” because they didn’t know who had them.  “We felt it was a tremendously appealing story and could be even better told with music,” she explained.  “We finally discovered that Mr. Alperson owned the rights.  He has thus become interested in the picture with us.

Alperson, besides his own productions, is frequently identified as a partner in other enterprises like the recently completed “New Faces” of Leonard Stillman.

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

December 20, 1953:  This on-set photo of Judy during early filming on A Star Is Born was used, as shown here, as a holiday photo due to its snowy, wintery look.

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

December 20, 1963:  Videotaping of both the dress rehearsal (from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and the final performance (from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.) of “Episode Seventeen” of “The Judy Garland Show” at CBS Television City, Stage 43, Hollywood.

Judy’s guests were Vic Damone, Chita Rivera, Louis Nye, and Ken Murray.  Judy sang: “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”; “I Believe In You” (with Rivera and Nye); “By Myself” (for which Judy received a standing ovation from the audience.  This footage was inserted into the “Battle Hymn” number in “Episode Sixteen” because the cameras never turned onto the audience standing at the end of that song.); “West Side Story Medley” (with Damone); “Better Luck Next Time” and “Almost Like Being In Love/This Can’t Be Love” followed by the last performance of “Maybe I’ll Come Back” as the episode closer.

Judy also taped a segment with Ken Murray and his “Hollywood Home Movies,” a new segment for the show that showed Murray’s silent film clips while Judy commented.  On this first outing, a clip of Judy was shown playing tennis in 1939.


  1. Easter Parade Pics: The “Midnight Choo-Choo” sequence is the only place in the film that Judy looks at least 15 pounds overweight, yet she’s so rail thin in the rest of the film. Also hard to believe that she shot the new opening for “The Pirate” the day before when she looked so THIN!! Bizarre.

    1. Only a little bit of the new opening of “The Pirate” was filmed, to take place of the original song “Mack the Black.” Most of Judy talking to the girls on the balcony was shot prior. That’s my take on it. They sure did a lot with costumes and makeup to make her look as she did before.

      I have a kind of “love/hate” for “Easter Parade.” By that, I mean that it’s really not one of my favorite Garland films although there are songs and scenes that I love. I don’t think she looks well throughout most of it and she’s not filmed with the same care had Minnelli still been at the helm. She looks strained in several close-ups. Plus, it’s not a “Judy Garland musical” it’s really more of an “MGM musical” which is fine but it’s not a big star turn for her even though she’s the lead. It’s not in my top 5 Garland films, for sure. Still, the pairing of Garland and Astaire is great even if it’s obvious he’s way too old for her. “A Couple of Swells” and “Easter Parade” are, for me, her two best numbers in the film. I think her acting, especially in the restaurant scene with Peter Lawford, is spot-on and shows more depth than most people ever gave in movie musicals of the time. 🙂

  2. Truly, Judy has only THREE classic MGM musicals: “Oz”; “St. Louis”; “Easter Parade.” I count “The Harvey Girls” as my number ONE favorite, and even personally prefer “Presenting Lily Mars”. But there’s no discounting that this is Garland’s last GREAT MGM musical, and, of course, her only film with the great Astaire. Her illness and drawn-looking appearance were/are obvious to even casual viewers. But this is Freed/ Garland/Astaire/Irving Berlin and Conrad Salinger. A near masterpiece. It come in at number 6 in my top-ten favorites (followed by: “Lily Mars”; “St. Louis”; “Harvey Girls”; “The Clock”; “In the Good old Summertime.”

    Thanks for all that you do, and Happy Holidays to you!!!!

    1. All good points. Personally, I think of it in a lesser vein than “In The Good Old Summertime” even though it’s bigger, splashier, and has a more notable pedigree. But ITGOS, while maybe not a “great” MGM musical it’s a great Garland musical because for me it’s a near perfect blending of story and music. Plus it’s more Garland so of course for me I enjoy it more. 🙂

      Happy Holidays to you too!

  3. Interesting how they colorized the still from the film — putting Judy in a rust-colored dress! She doesn’t look overweight in that number to me.

  4. Trivia: Wayne Martin once told me that “the fans” who saw Easter Parade in 1948 were very disturbed by Judy’s unhealthy appearance. He said he went into the restroom and cried, but then, he always had a flair for the dramatic. His friend Bob Chatterton, who did Judy screenings in his home in the early 70’s, went so far as to only show a black and white 16 mm print because he thought she looked better.

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