“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 second 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 recording 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 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, 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.
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, 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, 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. 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.