“One small miss shook these well-known rafters with her songs a la Sophie Tucker.” – 1928 Review of Frances Gumm
December 21, 1928: The first of a seven-night engagement for Frances (Judy) with “115 Meglin Kiddies” as part of the Christmas Sow at Loew’s State Theater in Los Angeles, California. Frances appeared as Cupid and stopped the show with “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” The film on the bill was Romance of the Underworld, a talkie starring Mary Astor, who would play Judy’s mom 10 and 15 years later in Listen Darling and Meet Me In St. Louis respectively.
“The Los Angeles Record” stated about Judy: We have no names with which to lay tribute to. One small miss shook these well-known rafters with her songs a la Sophie Tucker.
December 21, 1929: The first of a seven-night engagement for “The Hollywood Starlets Trio” (Judy and her sisters, formerly “The Gumm Sisters”) at the State Theater in Long Beach, California.
December 21, 1935: According to this article published on December 19, 1935, Judy was scheduled to be a part of the first annual show for the “forgotten child of Hollywood” at the Marcel Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. The show took place this morning at 11 a.m. The other child and juvenile stars and (as Judy was at this point) “not yet stars” who were scheduled to attend reads like a who’s who of young Hollywood: Mickey Rooney, Dickie Moore, Jane Withers, Baby LeRoy, Virginia Weidler, Jackie Cooper, Cora Sue Collins and even members of the “Our Gang” shorts. No details of this event (such as what Judy sang) are known.
December 21, 1937: Judy and Fanny Brice pre-recorded the “Why? Because!” number for Everybody Sing. It’s been previously noted that this was recorded “live on set” on this date and the dated promotional photo below would support that theory. However, promotional photos were usually taken during dress rehearsals and not actual filming both of which sometimes happened on the same day, sometimes not. Considering the number of takes for this recording session on this date, it’s most likely the recording session happened in the morning and a dress rehearsal was done in the afternoon. It’s doubtful that the music department would have had a playback disc ready for immediate filming on this afternoon which also supports the 22nd as the filming date.
Of note is the fact that this was the only time that Brice performed her famous radio personality “Baby Snooks” on film.
The 2017 4-CD set “Judy Garland – Duets” features a newly remastered version of this performance which is a partial-alternate take pre-recording with an ending that is slightly different than that in the film. Listen to that version here:
Listen to the film version here:
December 21, 1938: Judy does her bit for the National Tuberculosis Association.
December 21, 1939: This four-page ad was placed by MGM in the trade magazine, the “Film Daily.” The studio touted their recent hits such as Babes in Arms.
Of particular interest here is the list of “what’s coming.” At this point, producer Arthur Freed still had a remake of the 1930 film adaptation of the Broadway hit “Good News” as the second Mickey/Judy musical, the follow-up to Babes in Arms. That ended up being shelved in favor of Strike Up The Band which was suggested by MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer. Mayer felt that the Gershwin song of the same name made for a title that sounded “patriotic.” Also listed is Ziegfeld Girl which at this point was planned to star Margaret Sullavan along with Hedy Lamarr and Lana Turner. Only the latter two ended up in the final film.
December 21, 1940: MGM placed this trade as in the “Motion Picture Herald” which included a mention of the revised cast list for Ziegfeld Girl. Also in this issue, in the magazine’s regular “Round Table in Pictures” feature is an image of this fun display in the lobby of the Utah Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah, promoting Little Nellie Kelly.
December 21, 1940: Here’s a photo panel featuring a preview of the basic story of Andy Hardy Meets Debutante. These photo panels were standard at the time and were great ways for theater owners and studios to drum up interest in and business for their latest releases.
December 21, 1940: The latest installment of “What The Picture Did For Me” as published by the “Motion Picture Herald” trade magazine included theater owners’ reports on how well films performed in their theaters. Included are Andy Hardy Meets Debutante and Strike Up The Band.
Harry Shaw of the Dillard Theater in Wardell, Missouri said of Andy Hardy Meets Debutante:
“A sure winner at any box office. They just can’t make enough of these Hardy pictures for us exhibitors. With the ability of Micky and Judy, the future looks promising for a good team that will never fade from the Motion Picture World. Keep ’em coming.”
A.E. Eliasen of the Rialto Theatre in Paynesville, Minnesota, said of Strike Up The Band:
“Very well liked but not too good a draw. You never hear any kick when your patrons walk out after having seen a show that had Rooney and Garland in it.”
A representative from Ritz Amusements, Inc., representing the Park Theatre in North Vernon, Indiana, said of Strike Up The Band:
“As good a musical picture as has been made by any company with two outstanding stars. Judy Garland never better and entire production couldn’t have been improved. Business normal.”
December 21, 1942: Judy was back at MGM on the Girl Crazy production after being out sick for two days. She rehearsed the “I Got Rhythm” number which was pre-recorded on December 29th. Time called: 11 a.m.; Judy arrived at 12:30 p.m.; dismissed: 3:30 p.m.
December 21, 1943: Filming on Meet Me In St. Louis continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Lower Floor” of the Smith Home set. Time called: 10 a.m.; Judy arrived at 10:25 a.m.; dismissed: 5:10 p.m.
December 21, 1946: Judy was listed as one of the stars in the special Christmas edition of the MGM “Lion’s Roar” radio program broadcast by the 3AW network in Melbourne, Australia. The show was advertised as including greetings from famous MGM stars. No other information about the show is known. Judy had just returned to MGM on December 17th after more than a year off to give birth to daughter Liza Minnelli so it’s possible she recorded a greeting at the studio for the program which likely was sent on a disc to Australia.
December 21, 1947: Here is an article about MGM’s famous hairstylist, Sydney Guilaroff. Although not featured in the photos, Judy is listed in the article as one of the celebrities that he had been the stylist.
December 21, 1947: According to this uncredited article (dated the 20th put published on the 21st), some MGM musicals would have been very different if the noted casting had gone through. Frank Sinatra was listed as playing Richard Rodgers in Words and Music (played by Tom Drake) and gave the synopsis of In The Good Old Summertime as a “baseball yarn with Gene Kelly and Sinatra.” The author obviously got that mixed up with Take Me Out To The Ballgame. The article was right about Judy being cast in Annie Get Your Gun.
December 21, 1947: Two record store ads that include titles from Judy’s Decca Records catalog.
December 21, 1953: First first of two days that Judy was out sick from the A Star Is Born production.
December 21, 1962: A stuffed toy cat replica of Judy’s “Mewsette” character in the animated film Gay Purr-ee won at “aCat-emy” award at the Los Angeles 14th Annual Championship Cat Show. Although Mewsette was disqualified for wearing too much mascara, overlong eyelashes and a “shocking Parisian coiffure” she was permitted to enter in a “special CATegory.”
December 21, 1967: Judy’s final film, I Could Go On Singing, had its network television premiere on the “CBS Thursday Night At The Movies.”
Photo above: From the May 1963 “Screen Stories” magazine provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
December 21, 1967: Here is a review of the recently released Valley of the Dolls. Naturally, Judy is mentioned more than once. First as the not-so-secret inspiration for the Neely O’Hara character, and second for her brief association with the film in the role of Helen Lawson, which was taken over by Susan Hayward after Judy left the project.