On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – January 21

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“A good swimmer, golfer, and rider, [Judy] still likes to play baseball and is one of the best jitterbugs in town.” – Lucie Neville, 1940

January 21, 1933:  “The Gumm Sisters” (Judy and her sisters) performed at the “Menorah Center Monster Ball” at the Menorah Center in Los Angeles, California.

January 21, 1938:  This wonderful 4-page spread appeared in “Film Daily” magazine promoting Everybody Sing.

The film is a delightfully zany screwball musical comedy. Judy’s talents are well served and she gets a great powerhouse number in “Down On Melody Farm” which showcases her amazing vocal versatility.

Note the rather studio-fabricated “The Story of Judy Garland” blurb. 

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Page on Everybody Sing here.


January 21, 1940:  This newsprint herald was distributed by the New Strand Theater in Warren, Ohio.

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

January 21, 1940:  Judy made the Top Ten!


January 21, 1940:  Judy’s an old trouper!  This article by Lucie Neville was circulated in papers around the country.


The Call Judy Garland a new film star.  She is – – – with eight years’ vaudeville behind her.

By Lucie Neville


Some of the cinema debutantes descend of footlight ancestry have an awfully hard time these days recalling their A B C’s where learned from headlines in Variety and that their earliest playmates were trained seals and midgets.

Judy Garland, though, will tell you at length and with gestures how her parents wowed the corn-belt customers, and that she herself had lighter years of it.  She wishes vaudeville would come back. It was more exciting than movies.

She doesn’t care if fans know her name used to be Frances Gumm.  When she and her sisters were a singing act and their mother the trio’s accompanist, it looked swell in lights.  (Swell sect when an electrician made the marquee bulbs spell “The Glum Sisters.”)

Now her names in lights on movie theaters.

Ironic for a loyal trouper, the first film in which she was starred was “Babes in Arms” – a story of dying vaudeville and a second generation of show people.  Soon she’ll co-star with Mickey Rooney in “Good News.”  They’ll be no more pig-tailed little girls parts, such as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” – just starring roles as near her own age and type as Metro can find.

Completely honest in all her motions, she says she doesn’t like “two-faced” people’ feels sorry for introverts who can’t talk easily or enjoy a party; and gets excited over an autographed picture of a star.

Garland autographs are genuine.  No studio penman signs her photos or ever will, she views, because she knows how disillusioning it is to get a phony.

Once she wrote a fan letter to her screen crust, Robert Donat (runner-up is Laurence Olivier) and July received a portrait.  But its “sincerely yours” was in the same handwriting as that of the acknowledging letter – signed by Donat’s secretary.

She still is impressed at knowing celebrities – eating in the same lunchroom with Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, meeting such personages as Dame May Whiney and Mary Garden.  She confesses a little bashfully that she watches and imitates them to some extent, even asked Miss Garden for pointers on how to walk gracefully and relax her hands.

Judy Garland looks back on her first movie days with mingled horror and surprise that she could have been so corny and that she has succeeded.

“I’m still surprised!” She said.  “I don’t know why Metro ever signed me, except that they were looking for kids then.  My voice was pretty awful – honestly – and they had planned to let me go about six months after they dropped Deanna Durbin.  I wish I could burn that short she and I made together!”

“Deanna for fuzzy bangs and she had a trick then of holding one arm down from her side, like a chicken with a broken wing.  I was so pigeon-toed I tripped myself, and I had straight hair, nearly black and cut short.  They didn’t put much make-up on me, either, so my eyes looked about as big as a pig’s.”

“I felt terrible about Deanna leaving, because we were such good friends.  And I wasn’t very cheerful about the way my career was going, either.  I finally asked Metro to let me out of my contract, but Mr. Mayer talked to me – asked me if I had a glass chin or could take it – and so I stayed.”

“They probably never would have done anything with me except that Deanna made such a big hit just then, and all the studios started looking for kids who could sing.  Metro already had one.”

Then, when it was decided she was to be Metro’s rival to Universal’s Durbin, she was given Roger Edens, singing coach to Joan Crawford and other Metro-larks, to help her on filmusicals. 

From what Judy once called her mess vacuum contralto,” her voice was lowered a full octave.  No pampered prima donna, she found her voice in better condition than ever when she got back from six weeks’ New York personal appearances, singing five songs at each of the five-daily shows.

Her secret shame is that she can’t read music.  Play a song once and she has it, tune and timing.

She usually learns things the hard way, such as piloting the family’s juggernaut limousine when her mother halted it in the middle of boulevard traffic and said, “Here’s where you start driving.”  Now she has her own care and her own license.

Like any 16-year-0ld, she magnified her small faults: believes she talks too much, doesn’t sit gracefully, gets too excited about things, isn’t assertive enough.

One of the most popular youngsters in town, she says she doesn’t go much for the boys – she can take ‘em or leave ‘em alone.  Her bosom friend is Patty McCarty, non-movie like most of her crowd, though Miss Garland’s last birthday party guest list included such top cinemites as Mickey Rooney, Jacking Cooper, Ann Rutherford, Bonita Granville, and Johnny Downs.

A good swimmer, golfer, and rider, she still likes to play baseball and is one of the best jitterbugs in town.  Dancing at a snooty Balboa place, she and her partner got applause with their swan gymnastics.  Miss G. Whooping with delight as she was slung over her date’s shoulder and skidded along the floor.  Tapped by a decorous attendant and told to dance properly, she was not at all miffed, said cheerfully, “Well, it was fun while it lasted.”

In spite of their being paired in publicity, Mickey Rooney isn’t a date – she seldom sees him except when they’re working together in a picture.  She has no warmer admirer, though, and she says proudly, “I think Mickey and I make a good team – a darn good team.”

She didn’t know they were going to be co-starred in “Babes in Arms.”  Metro saved it for a grand surprise and one afternoon asked her if she would like to see the film in a projection worm.  When “MICKEY ROONEY AND JUDY GARLAND” flashed on the screen, she screamed.  And kept right on having happy hysterics.

She never has seen all of “The Wizard of Oz,” though it was playing when she and Rooney, Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger made a joint personal appearance in New York.

It was fun, working for an audience and trading ribs with Lahr.  Once he turned out the lights and snatched away the microphone while she was in the middle of a serious song.  Later when Lahr went into the woodsman number that he had done for years, and as he made a swipe at a prop tree with an ax, Miss Garland, crushing behind some scenery, showered him with a full bushel of chips, crowned him with the basket and squirted seltzer water on him.

[The above is how the article abruptly ends.  There is no second part.]

January 21, 1940:  Louella Parsons’s latest column was about the youth of Hollywood, Judy included, of course.


January 21, 1940:  Here’s a nice casual photo of Judy used to note that her recent film, Little Nellie Kelly, was being held over for another week.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on Little Nellie Kelly here.

January 21, 1942:  Judy and her husband David Rose arrived in Battle Creek, Michigan en route to nearby Fort Custer where they entertained the troops as part of a USO show titled “Thumbs Up.”

According to the local news, they arrived in Battle Creek at 1:01 p.m. on the Mercury (train) from Chicago, Illinois.  They went to their suite at the Post Tavern Hotel to rehearse and rest before going to the fort to meet Brigadier General Cortlandt Parker, commanding officer of the 5th Divison at the fort.  While at the hotel, and outside of Judy’s room, policemen had to keep “autograph hunters and admirers” away.  Per the “Battle Creek Enquirer,” One girl, ushered out of the hall near Judy’s room by a firm-handed policeman, sputtered, “If I didn’t like Judy Garland so much, I’d be mad about this!”  When it came to liking Judy Garland, most everybody felt that way.

At the fort, Judy was given a personal bodyguard, M.P. (Military Police) Technical Sergeant William Dyer, who said to her, “I’m glad to do this for you because you are my favorite actress.”

Prior to performing, Judy was made an honorary M.P. (Military Policewoman) and met with other ranking officers while dining with them and the enlisted men at the mess hall.  Judy performed one number (what song she sang isn’t identified) toward the end of the show and joined in the finale.  There were two shows that evening, the first one started at 6:15 p.m. and the second started at 9:00 p.m.

The following day, January 22nd, Judy was scheduled to visit the post’s hospital, the Veterans Facility, the American Legion Hospital, and the two service clubs along with the new USO club on West Michigan Avenue in Battle Creek at 11:00 a.m. where she was to cut a ribbon opening one of the rooms to Army enlisted men.  All of that was planned to happen before Judy and David left for Chicago (again on the Mercury train) at 3 p.m.  Those plans were canceled to allow Judy and David the chance to leave for Chicago on the earlier 10:47 train.  The reason for leaving early wasn’t given.

About the USO tour, Judy said, “We wanted to do this.  Only thing I wish is that more soldiers could see our show.  They deserve all the entertainment they can get.”

January 21, 1944:  Meet Me In St. Louis filming continued with scenes shot on the “Exterior Backyard” (Tootie’s “rescue”); “Interior Upper Hall and Grandpa’s Room” (the opening number); and “Interior Rose and Esther’s Room” (most likely the “Merciful Heavens, John!” scene) sets.  Time called: 10 a.m.; Judy arrived on set at 10:27 a.m.; dismissed: 5:45 p.m.

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

January 21, 1945:  Here are two unique ads for Meet Me In St. Louis.

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

January 21, 1947:  Judy and her husband Vincente Minnelli attended the Los Angeles premiere of Till The Clouds Roll By at the Egyptian Theater, sitting next to Van Johnson, June Allyson, and Dick Powell.  Judy is seen signing autographs.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on Till The Clouds Roll By here.

January 21, 1948:  Sophie Tucker, who co-starred with Judy in both Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937) and Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (1937), claimed that Judy would play her in the story of her life.  Judy’s name had been attached to talk about her playing the great “Red Hot Mama” in a biopic over the years.  Nothing came of it.

For more info about the films and film projects that Judy was in the running for, check out The Judy Room’s “The Films That Got Away” section.

January 21, 1951:  Two interesting news items.  The first is an ad for MGM’s latest Jane Powell musical, Two Weeks With Love (released in 1950) in which columnist Jimmie Fidler is quoted “Jane’s the NEW Judy Garland”  It didn’t take long after Judy’s departure from the studio (September 1950) for MGM to tout various musical leading ladies as “the new Judy” and Jane was a prime candidate especially considering she had taken over for Judy in Royal Wedding, then in production.

It also didn’t take long for the gossips to begin speculating on wedding bells for Judy and Sid Luft, who according to Judy were just “good friends.”

Check out The Judy Room’s “Films That Got Away” Royal Wedding pages here.

January 21, 1961:  The news of Judy being signed for the upcoming film version of Judgment at Nuremberg hit the papers.  It was Judy’s first film role since A Star Is Born in 1954 and it became the last film for which she was nominated for an Oscar, as “Best Supporting Actress.”  She lost to Rita Moreno in West Side Story.

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

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Page on Judgment at Nuremberg here.

January 21, 1969:  Judy went to see Johnny Ray perform at Caesar’s Palace in Luton, England.  She was brought onstage by Ray and they sang together.  By the time Judy got to her own engagement at the Talk of the Town in London she was fighting the flu and had a fever.  Her doctor advised her to cancel the show but she went on anyway.  There are no extant photos of this event.

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

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