On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – December 28

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“I’ll admit that I think Judy is the greatest entertainer on any stage today, so guess that makes me one of the ‘cult’ … I enjoyed the show much more than her last special because it gave the public its first chance to see ‘the real Judy.'” – Garfan Francis Gallagher defending Judy’s recent appearance on “The Jack Paar Show,” 1962 

December 28, 1937:  “Little Judy From Tennessee.”  “The Jackson Sun” out of Jackson, Tennessee, made quite a few incorrect claims, no doubt fed by MGM’s publicity department.  The article states that Judy had just celebrated her thirteenth birthday (she was actually 15), that she was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (which is actually where her father was from, not Judy), and that her early ambition was to be an attorney!  One can’t blame “The Jackson Sun’s” City Editor Bob Leigh for the mistakes as he was given the info by MGM.  In spite of the errors, the article is a good example of what was being published about Judy at the time, and it features a rare photo of Judy doing her “economics homework.”

December 28, 1938:   Filming on The Wizard of Oz was devoted to the scene in which Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West exits Munchkinland in a column of flames and smoke.

Everything was fine until after lunch when the scene was filmed again.  The trap door on the floor of the stage that contained an elevator type of rigging to lower Hamilton didn’t work properly and she was severely burned.  The green makeup had copper in it, resulting in her being so badly burned that she was immediately rushed to the hospital and out of the film until mid-February.  She suffered first-degree burns on her face and second-degree burns on her hands, per an MGM memo dated January 5, 1939 (shown here).

Also, on this day, Judy, Frank Morgan, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, and Ray Bolger along with Tyler Brook, Ralph Sudam, Bobby Watson, Oliver Smith, Charles Irwin, Lois January, Elivda Rizzo, Lorraine Bridges, and The M-G-M Studio Chorus pre-recorded “The Merry Old Land Of Oz.”  The recording was made without the orchestra which was added later, on May 8, 1939, during the post-filming scoring sessions.

Listen to Take 4 of Scene #2108 the piano tempo track here:

Listen to the vocal take of Scene #2108 here (take number not given):

Listen to the orchestra only Take 10 of Scene #2958 recorded on May 8, 1939, here:

Listen to the orchestra only Take 1 of Scene #2959  recorded on May 8, 1939, here:

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

December 28, 1939:  Judy ended her stellar year of 1939 by going to the Hollywood premiere of Gone With The Wind at the Carthay Circle Theatre.  She was accompanied by Barron Poland.

December 28, 1940:  Judy made the list of the Top Ten movie stars of 1940.

December 28, 1940:  In the “Motion Picture Herald’s” regular “What The Picture Did For Me” feature, I. Gates of the Isis Theatre in Waterville, Kansas, had this to say about Andy Hardy Meets Debutante: “These are the best pictures that Metro turns out and even they leave much to be desired in the option of my patrons.”

December 28, 1942:  Judy played Esther Blodget in the CBS Radio “Lux Radio Theater” adaptation of “A Star Is Born” co-starring Walter Pidgeon and Adolphe Menjou.  This was a dramatic version of the 1937 film, also a non-musical.  This is the performance that gave Judy the idea of playing the role on the big screen, which she finally did in 1954.  Judy originally went to MGM (her home studio at the time) about adapting the story into a dramatic musical, but they felt the subject material was too adult for her image as “America’s Sweetheart.”

Everything happens for a reason, as they say, and the result is we have the 1954 masterpiece.

Download the complete show here (zip file).

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on the 1954 version of A Star Is Born here.

December 28, 1942:  Judy and her co-star Gene Kelly were a hit in For Me And My Gal.  This article published in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, focuses on the intricacies of the filming of the battlefield sequence featuring Kelly and supporting star Ben Blue as directed by Busby Berkeley.

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

December 28, 1942:  In his regular column, Sidney Skolsky reported that one of Judy’s peers fellow MGM star Ann Sothern left Judy a note telling her that she “hated” her for having so much talent!

December 28, 1943

December 28, 1943:  This photo was taken of the “Grandpawm [sic] Room” set for Meet Me In St. Louis.  Judy was out sick from the production, spending two days in the hospital for an undisclosed illness.

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

December 28, 1944:  The Los Angeles premiere of Meet Me In St. Louis was just around the corner.

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

December 28, 1945:  Judy returned to the list of the top ten most popular movie stars of the year.

December 28, 1946:  Judy pre-recorded the first version of “Mack The Black” for The Pirate.  The session lasted from 1:10 p.m. to 5:20 p.m.

This version was filmed but ultimately deleted when a less “noisy” version was re-recorded in 1947.  This early version was the original opening of the film, in which Judy’s character “Manuela” sings about her fantasies of the pirate “Mack the Black.”  A short clip of this deleted number is in the trailer. It’s the only footage that survives.

The new version replaced the infamous “Voodoo” number later in the film.  As a result, the film runs for 30 minutes before a “Judy Garland number” appears, which is this new version of “Mack the Black.”

Listen to, and download, the various takes of this ultimately deleted “Mack the Black” here:

First Deleted Version:

First Deleted Version – Tag:

Second Deleted Version:

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

December 28, 1948:  Mickey Rooney, who co-starred with Tom Drake in Words And Music, was in the news due to his anger over Judy’s billing in ads and posters for the film.  Judy was one of many guest stars who were usually listed alphabetically along with Rooney.  Drake was relegated to the smaller print.  It was originally reported that Rooney was angry about his own billing but this blurb notes that Rooney was allegedly angry “for” Tom Drake.  Knowing what we know about Rooney, it’s more likely he was angry about his own billing, and not that of Drake’s.  Whatever the case, it makes sense that MGM would promote the many very popular guest stars of the film along with those who play actual parts.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Page on Words And Music here.

December 28, 1952:  Judy made columnist Sheilah Graham’s list of top ten best stories of the year.

Judy Garland.  Two marriage failures and suicidal inclinations convinced Hollywood that, at 29, Judy was through, but this year she made a triumphant professional comeback and fell in love with 36-year-old Sid Luft, her shrewd, sharp manager.  When rift rumors were hottest, Judy eloped with Sid and was promptly involved in an alimony fight between him and ex-wife Lynn Bari.

December 28, 1954:  Judy was making the top of various “year’s best” lists for her performance in A Star Is Born.  Here she’s seen at the Women’s Press Club’s “Golden Apple” awards ceremony with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Judy and Marlon Brando were named the top male and female actors of the year by the “Film Daily” trade paper.

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


December 28, 1962:  While at the St. Moritz Hotel in New York, Judy signed the biggest deal of her career.  She entered into a contract with CBS-TV for a weekly series, the contract was worth a total of $24 million.  The deal called for a $6 million outlay for the first season, giving Judy – and not the network – the right to cancel after the first thirteen-week cycle which was unheard of at the time.  The contract had additional options for up to four more years.

The article here, printed on this date, gives viewers reactions (good and bad) to Judy’s recent appearance on “The Jack Paar Show” which aired on December 7th.  It’s a very interesting read and includes an early reference to Garfandom being a “cult.”


Still in theaters, Gay Purr-ee.

December 28, 1968:  As Judy and Mickey Deans landed in London at 7:30 a.m., they were served with a writ at Heathrow Airport, with a UPI photographer catching in on film; color newsreel footage exists of this moment as well.  The writ was served by a private detective, Keither Kockerton, who was working for the law firm Lawford and Company, who were representing Greenspan & Harper.  The writ was to prevent Judy from appearing in London, as the two “businessmen” – Howard Harper and Leon J. Greenspan – to whom Sid Luft had assigned Judy’s “Group Five” contract to in May 1968, when he was unable to repay a loan from these men – were now insisting that Judy could only work for them.  Lawford and Company had, in fact, warned the Talk of the Town management, via a letter on December 24, that closed with:

We must ask you to undertake not to engage Miss Garland as arranged.  Failing such an undertaking from you before 10 a.m., Friday, December 27, we shall apply to the Vacation Judge for an injunction restraining you and Miss Garland in the show “Fine Feathers,” or any other show without our client’s prior consent.  To protect our client’s position we have already taken an appointment with the Vacation Judge Mr. Justice Magarty – for 2:15 p.m. on Friday, 27 December.  For the same reason, we are immediately issuing a writ which we will endeavor to serve on you later today.  Your’s faithfully, Lawford & Co.

When Judy said through her London attorney, Stanley Waldman, that she had no knowledge of the assignment, the British judge, Judy Magarty, threw the case out of court, making Harper and Greenspan accountable for the court costs: about $2,600 at that time.


Note:  The mink coat that Judy was wearing was her famous Blackglama coat and was a part of Michael Siewert’s amazing collection.  It was auctioned in 2017 for $5,000.

Here’s a recent online article from “The Guardian’s” “Observer” magazine about the events and Judy’s show at The Talk of The Town on January 14, 1969.

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

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