On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – January 5

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“I am not a Judy Garland fan but a fanatic, and, willing to bet, one of millions after her spellbinding show on television Sunday night.” – Les Wedman, review of “The Judy Garland Show (Judy, Frank, and Dean)” for The Vancouver Sun, 1962

January 5, 1937:  Here are some various newspaper notices about Judy’s appearance on the CBS Radio show “Jack Oakie’s College.”  Judy sang “Pennies From Heaven,” “Hold That Bulldog” (outtake from Pigskin Parade), and joined in the “Organ Grinder Swing” song with the rest of the cast that ended the show.

Download the complete transcript of this show here (PDF).

Listen to (and watch the videos) of Judy’s two previously unreleased performances on that show here:

January 5, 1939:  This MGM memo was sent out regarding Margaret Hamilton’s first-degree burns from the recent accident (December 28, 1939) on the Munchkinland set of The Wizard of Oz.  The memo states she should be out for ten days which was very optimistic on their part.  She was out until late February.

Meanwhile, also on this date, the rest of the cast began filming on the “Haunted Forest” set (including the “I’d Turn Back If I Were You” scenes). “The Jitterbug” sequence began filming a few days later.


Also on this day, MGM mentioned Oz in this three-page ad placed in the “Film Daily” trade magazine.  This is one of the earliest ads for the film that features artwork showing the characters.

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

January 5, 1940:  Judy and her mom, Ethel, were in Chicago and took an unscheduled detour to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to see a childhood friend and fellow performer, Perry Frank, who was playing at a local theater.  The second clipping is a humorous report from “The Expiring Reporter” in the town of Wisconsin Rapids who had heard that Judy might make an appearance there, but she didn’t.

January 5, 1944:  Meet Me In St. Louis filming continued with the “Skip To My Lou” number on the “Interior Living Room” and “Interior Party Sequence” sets (the Smith Home sets dressed for this particular sequence in the film).  Time called: 10 a.m.; dismissed: 6 p.m.

Later that evening Judy made an appearance on Jack Benny’s edition of “Mail Call” (#72) in which she sang “Speak Low.”

Listen to “Speak Low” here:

Download the entire show here (zip file).

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

January 5, 1945:  MGM recording session for The Harvey Girls.  Judy, along with Virginia O’Brien and Marion Doenges (dubbing for Cyd Charisse) pre-recorded “It’s A Great Big World.”  Time called: 1 p.m.; Judy arrived at 1:15 p.m.; dismissed at 4:30 p.m.

Listen to “It’s A Great Big World” Scene 2001, Take 5 here:

Listen to “It’s A Great Big World” “Pick Up,” Scene 2002, Take 3 here:

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

January 5, 1946:  Here’ a two-page ad MGM placed in the trade magazine “Motion Picture Herald.”  That this point, Ziegfeld Follies of 1946 was still titled as simply Ziegfeld Follies.  Intended for release in 1944, the film went through so many revisions that it wasn’t put into general release until April 8, 1946, at which time it had the “of 1946” added.

From that same issue of “Motion Picture Herald” are these two articles.  One is a very glowing review of The Harvey Girls, and the other is an article about MGM’s record grosses in 1945.  The studio was at its 1940s apex which would last for the next few years and Judy’s films were always big money makers.  With record grosses and their films making huge amounts of money, it’s no wonder that the studio assumed their success would continue in the post-war era.  They didn’t think that “little black box” called Television would be a threat.  How wrong they were!

January 5, 1948:  Filming on Easter Parade continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Don’s Living Room” and “Exterior Hannah’s Dressing Room” sets.  Judy was in makeup at 7 a.m.; she arrived on the set at 9:35 a.m.; dismissed at 5:25 p.m.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on Easter Parade here.

January 5, 1953:  Judy’s mother, Ethel Gumm, passed away in Santa Monica, California.  The two were estranged at the time, but it still hit Judy hard.  She and Sid immediately flew back to California to make plans for the funeral.  Judy had been scheduled to perform at the Duchess of Windsor’s Waldorf Ball, co-hosted by legendary hostess Elsa Maxwell.

Judy received some bad press immediately following Ethel’s death, most of it focused on the fact that Judy was making large amounts of money while her mother was toiling away in a factory.

Judy blamed her mother for a lot of the negative forces/issues in her life, but she also took care of her by providing homes and a portion of her salary while at MGM (even after she became an adult).

Judy’s negative feelings were warranted.  Ethel allegedly gave Judy (and possibly her sisters) the newly available “pep pills” in the early 1930s, long before MGM was in the picture.  Judy also knew that she was an unwanted pregnancy.  Ethel was also one of the people who forced Judy to abort her first pregnancy in the early 1940s while she was married to David Rose.  Per Judy, Ethel was quite abusive towards her during the Vaudeville years and was “a stage mother … a mean one.”

After her father, Frank’s, death, Judy felt that no one was left who was on her side.  Ethel added insult to injury by marrying Will Gillmore on the anniversary of Frank’s death – something Judy never forgave her for.  Apparently, Ethel and Will had an affair that went back to their time in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  It’s been reported that Judy, while playing with a few friends, accidentally came upon the two during a clandestine meeting in Grand Rapids.

In spite of that, mother and daughter apparently still had happy times and although Ethel might have, in her own way, loved her daughter, Judy never felt loved by her.

The complete truth of their relationship will never be known but the fact is that Judy carried intense negative feelings about Ethel for the rest of her life and it might have played into some of her life and career decisions.

Judy and Sid arrived in Los Angeles, California, for the funeral on January 6th at which time Judy went into seclusion.

Photos:  A rare screenshot from home movies (circa 1949) showing Judy and Ethel outside the home Judy shared with husband Vincente Minnelli.  Provided by Mike Siewert.  Thanks, Mike!!!; – 1941 Mother/Daughter MGM portrait session (some provided by Kim Lundgreen.  Thanks, Kim!); Two photos of Ethel as she looked not long before her death.  Below:  Newspaper clippings about Ethel’s death, most published the following day, January 6.


January 5, 1954:  A Star Is Born filming continued at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.  Time started: 10:00 a.m.; finished: 5:45 p.m.

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


January 5, 1955:  This ad is just one example of the “Best Actress” accolades that Judy was receiving for her brilliant performance in A Star Is Born.

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

Judy Garland leaving Doctor's Hospital January 5, 1960

January 5, 1960:  Judy was released from the Doctor’s Hospital in New York City, and immediately returned home to California.  Judy had been in the hospital since being diagnosed with hepatitis on November 18, 1959.  At that time, she was near death, weighed more than 180 pounds, and her liver was inflamed to four times its normal size.  She was told she would never work again and that she would be semi-invalid for the rest of her life.

Lucky for Judy (and her fans), she rallied and fully recovered.  During this time she was also nearly free of all medications aside from a prescribed dose of Ritalin.

Judy was back in the recording studio in April 1960 to record the song “The Far Away Part of Town” for the soundtrack of the film Pepe (Judy did not appear in the film, only her song).

On June 8th, she began recording sessions for the Capitol Records album “Judy: That’s Entertainment!” which is one of her best albums for the label.

This activity was the beginning of an astounding career renaissance in which she achieved unheard-of triumphs on stage, screen, and TV, solidifying her stature as “The World’s Greatest Entertainer.”

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

January 5, 1962:  The first of three days of videotaping Judy’s special for CBS, “The Judy Garland Show” with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.  The show was actually taped at the NBC studios in Hollywood even though it was a CBS production.  On this first day, the scenes and songs with Sinatra and Martin were taped.

The show aired on February 25, 1962, to rave reviews, of course!

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

november 11, 1967 - tony bennett

January 5, 1968:  Judy called Tony Bennett in terror, as she thought ex-husband Sid Luft had sent someone to hurt her or their children Loran and Joe, even though she knew that Sid had gone to California and Ray Filiberti had stopped by Judy’s apartment that day to say he was going out of town for a while on business.  Tony called Frank Sinatra in Florida, who within minutes had four detectives and two policemen at Judy’s apartment.  Judy later wrote that Tony and Frank had been calling her each day and each evening and she was touched that they “have offered – on their own – to love and protect my children and myself from the agony of the fear that is all around us.”

Photo:  Judy and Tony that previous November 11, 1967.

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

January 5, 1990:  This letter from the Walt Disney Company was sent to Judy’s daughter, Liza Minnelli, letting her know that Judy was one of the nominees for their “Person of the Century” title and award.  The poll was interactive, with park guests having the ability to vote from a list of 89 nominees at kiosks in the CommuniCore Pavilion in Epcot Center in Walt Disney World, Florida.  The voting opened on January 14, 1990, and was planned to run through the end of the decade, with a big TV special planned for early 2000 showcasing the results.  However, the contest quietly disappeared.

Guests had the ability to write their own suggestions and there was no limit on the number of entries.  This resulted in a wide variety of names being added as gags (such as “Bugs Bunny”).  Disney World park employees (called “cast members”) came up with the joke of entering the name of one of their fellow cast members, multiple times.  The joke took off and before long that cast member (name unknown) was heading the list of notable people including the Beatles, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr.,  Franklin D. Roosevelt, and of course, Walt Disney.  The Disney company had no way to erase the employee’s name without erasing the other data, so when the pavilion was removed in 1994 the contest went with it.  Disney never made any announcement and simply let the contest just fade away!

One comment

  1. Very interesting that Judy tended to be often two hours late on “The Harvey Girls”, yet was arriving at 7:00 A.M. and ready to shoot at 9:00, or shortly after, on “Easter Parade.” Judy was the lone superstar on “Harvey Girls”, but I think she knew better than to be super late while working with Astaire. He was a perfectionist and simply wouldn’t have tolerated it.

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