“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 if 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 consisted of 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 hand, per an MGM memo dated January 5, 1939.
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. Previously I mistakenly noted this as having taken place on October 30, 1938, when in fact it took place on this date. The Daily Music Report sheets that I have for all of Judy’s MGM films are missing the entry for this date.
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:
December 28, 1942: Judy played Esther 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.
December 28, 1943: This photo was taken of the “Grandpaw 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.
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 the deleted “Mack the Black” here:
First Deleted Version:
First Deleted Version – Tag:
Second Deleted Version:
Second Deleted Version – Tag:
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.
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” that 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.