“I’m still haunted by the picture of Judy sinking exhaustedly to the floor to sing the song so identified with her slim, vibrant, sweet-voiced youth.” – Fred Remington, 1956, referencing Judy singing “Over the Rainbow” on her 1955 TV debut.
January 1, 1926: “The Gumm Sisters” (Judy and her sisters) performed at their father’s theater, the “New Grand Theater” in their hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Photo: Four-year-old Judy in 1926.
January 1, 1928: The first of a two-night engagement for the entire Gumm family at patriarch Frank Gumm’s theater, the “New Grand Theater” in their hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
January 1, 1935: Judy and her sisters rang in the new year in San Francisco. They were appearing at the Curran Theater as part of the same show that they appeared in at the Hollywood Playhouse in Hollywood, California titled “Irving Strouse’s Sunday Nite Frolics.” The company consisted of 60 members who traveled up to SF, and Judy and her sisters were billed as either “Frances Garland and her Sisters” or the “Frances Garland Trio” (the records are conflicting). This show on the first was the last before they returned to Los Angeles and the show ended.
1935 would prove to be a big year for Judy. In March she recorded her first set of test records for Decca Records, three in total. Two solos and one with her sisters. Only the two solos survive (info about those recordings can be found here).
Of course, the biggest event in 1935 was her audition for, and subsequent signing by, the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in late September.
In 1952 Judy famously took her “Palace Show” to the Curran. Listen to that performance here (zip file).
January 1, 1936: The photo of Judy with Mickey Rooney and Jane Withers that was taken just two days before on December 30, 1935, hit the papers on this day which was quite quick for the time.
January 1, 1938: Another Judy/Mickey photo was making the rounds. This was obviously posed. In real life, Judy was left-handed but is posing right-handed here for the composition of the photo.
January 1, 1940: According to this sports column published on January 9, 1940, Judy attended a New Year’s Day party at Earl Carroll’s. Just was noted as being “one of the centers of attraction at the party, wearing a big Tennessee button.”
January 1, 1941: Judy appeared on the NBC Radio show “Bundles for Britain” and sang “I Hear A Rhapsody” and “Auld Lang Syne.”
Listen to “Auld Lang Syne” here:
Listen to “I Hear A Rhapsody” here:
More Garland radio performances can be heard and downloaded here at The Judy Room’s “Judy Sings! On The Radio” page.
January 1, 1941: Judy and Mickey Rooney were on the cover of two movie magazines this month, part of the promotion of their recently opened musical, Babes on Broadway. The film was a huge hit with Mickey getting the bulk of the praise for his impersonations and the fact that he was the #1 box office draw in the nation.
January 1, 1942: This Decca Records flyer was sent out by the label promoting their recent releases, including two of Judy’s recent singles:
Single #4081 featuring “Blues In The Night” (recorded October 24, 1941) & “Can This Be The End Of The Rainbow?” (recorded April 10, 1940, originally released in September 1940 on record no. 3231), released in November 1941.
Single #4072 featuring “How About You?” and “F.D.R. Jones” (both recorded October 24, 1941), released in November 1941.
Listen to “Blues In The Night” here:
Listen to the alternate take of “Blues In The Night” here:
Listen to “Can This Be The End Of The Rainbow” here:
Listen to “How About You?” here:
Listen to “F.D.R. Jones” here:
Judy was on a short break from filming Meet Me In St. Louis. She had become ill on December 26, 1943, and was, per MGM records, in the hospital on the 26th & 27th. It’s not noted what Judy was being treated for, although as noted before, it was probably due to exhaustion. She returned to filming on January 3, 1944.
January 1, 1944: Judy appeared in various newspapers showing her patriotism by helping out at the Stage Door Canteen.
January 1, 1944: MGM placed these two separate 2-page ads in the same issue of the trade magazine, “Motion Picture Herald.” Thousands Cheer was still a popular hit with audiences.
In that same magazine was a photo of a great display for Girl Crazy in Harrisburgh, Pennsylvania. In the regular “What The Picture Did For Me” section, both Presenting Lily Mars and For Me And My Gal were given reviews by local theater owners, although Gal was mistakenly listed in the section of films from 20th Century-Fox.
Presenting Lily Mars, from Willar Moore of the Lido Theater, Providence, Kentucky
“Good Picture and well play by both stars.”
For Me And My Gal, from K. John of the Legion Theatre, Beinfait, Saskatchewan, Canada
“They [theater patrons) sure went for this one; we would have been disappointed if they hadn’t. Swell show.”
January 1, 1944: Here is a review of Girl Crazy out of Davenport, Iowa. The unnamed critic didn’t care for the film much but said it didn’t hinder his/her status as a Judy Garland fan, “This column has always been a Judy Garland fan and despite her efforts to pull this film through still remains one of her staunch supporters. If it were not for Judy it is questionable whether the film would have even seen the light of day.”
January 1, 1945: Here are a few reviews and ads for Meet Me In St. Louis that were published on this date. The film was still opening around the country after premiering that previous November.
January 1, 1946: On the strength of Meet Me In St Louis which premiered in November 1944, Judy made the “Top Ten” list again for 1945.
January 1, 1947: Here is a review of Till The Clouds Roll By published in Dayton, Ohio. Included is also the paper’s review of It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s included here because how could I cut out the review of such a wonderful film? Also included is this cheesecake photo of Cyd Charisse celebrating the new year and promoting Till The Clouds Roll By.
January 1, 1948: Words and Music was Judy and MGM’s latest hit music.
January 1, 1952: MGM’s recent compilation album, “Judy Garland Sings,” made the list of the most popular MGM albums of the past few weeks. The album was released in three formats: 78rpm, 10″ 33 1/3 rpm, and 7″ 45 rpm in a box.
Check out The Judy Garland Online Discography’s “Judy Garland Sings” pages for details about the releases.
Also on this day, columnist Louella Parsons gave her predictions for 1952 which included Judy marrying Sid Luft. Parsons was right, the couple was married on June 8, 1952. Two years later in her January 1, 1954, column Parsons predicted A Star Is Born would be “outstandingly successful.”
January 1, 1954: This marvelous photo of Judy singing and a party given by Van Johnson is dated as being from 1954, although she looks more like the late-40s Judy here rather than 1954 Judy.
Anyway, it’s such a fun photo and it’s one of the few of Judy singing at a Hollywood party as she was so famous for doing. Most people in Hollywood in the 40s & 50s, even Joan Crawford’s daughter Christina wrote about it, remember Judy singing at parties as a once-in-a-lifetime experience (or experiences).
January 1, 1956: Fred Remington of the “Pittsburgh Press” listed Judy singing “Over the Rainbow” on her recent TV debut as his number one “Moment to Remember” in 1955.
January 1, 1958: Judy flew home to California from Las Vegas, Nevada, after walking out of her Flamingo engagement, which was supposed to run through January 15. See December 31 for details.
Photo: Judy at a press conference on September 1, 1958, at the Bismark Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. Note the markings on the photo indicating where to crop it as well as isolating Judy’s bust. It was common for newspapers to mark up photos for publication in those pre-computer years.