“I’m learning to take myself as show people know how to take others, the good with the bad. I’m people, too. If I can remember that, I’ll be alright.” – Judy Garland, 1951
February 11, 1938: Here’s a nice review of Judy’s work in Everybody Sing.
February 11, 1939: Another accident on the set of The Wizard of Oz.
Elizabeth “Betty” Danko was Margaret Hamilton’s (Wicked Witch of the West) stand-in and stunt double. Betty was standing in for Margaret for the skywriting scene when she was severely burned. She was sitting on a smoking pipe made up to look like the Witch’s broomstick. On the third take, the pipe exploded. She spent 11 days in the hospital and her legs were permanently scarred.
Hamilton had refused to do the scene after being severely burned herself while filming with Witch’s exit from Munchkinland that previous December 1938.
Danko made $790 for her work on the film, plus the $35 she earned for riding the broomstick. In spite of the accident, she continued to do stunt work for other films.
February 11, 1940: Here’s a fun advertisement for The Wizard of Oz that features the contemporary Judy and not “Judy as Dorothy.” Also on that same page was this nice portrait of Judy and Ray Bolger.
February 11, 1943: Filming continued on Girl Crazy, specifically on the “Interior & Exterior Dance Hall” and “Interior Governor’s Ballroom” sets. Time called: 11:15 a.m.; dismissed: 11:15 a.m. That’s a short time to cover both of those sets!
February 11, 1944: Louella Parsons reported that Judy would be teamed with Fred Astaire in MGM’s extravaganza, Ziegfeld Follies. According to Parsons, they were set to duet on “The Babbit and the Bromide.” Both Judy and Fred appeared in the final cut of the film, but not together. Fred did “Babbitt” with Gene Kelly and Judy had her solo spot, “A Great Lady Has An Interview.” The studio never had any intention of pairing the two in the film. Originally a skit titled “I Love You More In Technicolor Than I Did In Black & White” was planned for Judy to perform with previous co-star Mickey Rooney.
Judy and Fred finally got to work together a couple of years later on Easter Parade.
February 11, 1947: A short day for Judy at MGM. She had a rehearsal of “Mack the Black” for The Pirate. Time called: 3 p.m.; dismissed: 4:35 p.m.
February 11, 1951: Judy appeared on the NBC-Radio show “The Big Show” hosted by Tallulah Bankhead and broadcast out of Los Angeles. Judy sang “Get Happy”; “You And I” (with chorus); and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” (with the entire cast). The rest of the guests were: The Andrews Sisters, Joan Davis, Gordon MacRae, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Groucho Marx, and Meredith Willson.
You can listen to the entire show here:
Photos: Judy in rehearsal for “The Big Show” with Groucho Marx, Jerry Lewis, and Gordon MacRae; newspaper ads promoting the show.
February 11, 1951: Judy Garland’s Own Story. This article appeared in most major newspapers during February 1951 (some appeared in late January).
Note that quite a few quotes reprinted over the years, and many included in the documentary “By Myself,” come from this article. Whether Judy really said all, some or a few of those things are up for debate and something we’ll never know.
The Girl From Grand Rapids, a Trouper Since She Was 3, Decides at Last That It Isn’t Always wise to Do What Other People Expect – – So Now She’ll Live Her Own Life.
By JUDY GARLAND
As told to Michael Drury
ALL MY LIVE I HAVE tried to do whatever was expected of me, and now sometimes I think that isn’t very smart. Sooner or later something inside of you kicks.
It has taken me a long time to find that out, because I am a born trouper. My father used to say, “It won’t make any difference what Judy does for a living, she’ll tear the house down getting there.” He was right. I would have trouped in a shoe factory.
As it happened, I got into a business where trouping counts. One snowy Christmas Eve before I was 3 years old, I began singing and dancing on the stage in a little town in Minnesota. I poured my heart into five straight choruses of “Jingle Bells,” and I would have kept it up all night if dad hadn’t carried me off, kicking and yelling.
I don’t know whether I actually remember that or whether I’ve heard people talk about it so much that it seems as if I remember, but I do know this: I took one look at all those people, laughing and applauding, and I fell hopelessly in love with audiences. After 25 years, I still love them, and it has been a serious romance.
I WANTED IT that way. My mother is a strong-minded woman, but she was never a “stage mamma.” During those vaudeville years, my sisters and I, while standing in countless wings waiting for our cures, used to hear other others threatening their children, dying things like, “You go on our there or I’ll break your head,” and it made us kind of sick.
Nobody ever talked to me like that or forced me in any way. I drove myself – but it was my own doing.
Why I felt compelled to do it, I don’t entirely know. It wasn’t to forget my troubles – I’ve never seen able to lose myself completely in my work the way some people can. But so much of the time acting was the only reliable thing I knew, the only place where I felt like a useful person, where people said, “Fine, you did a good job. Come again.” And everybody needs to hear those things.
The I was about 15, I went back to see Grand Rapids, Minn., where I was born. I found a gracious little town, full of trees and porches and people who know how to live in simple goodness.
I think I would have liked to grow up there, carrying my schoolbooks in a strap and having a crush on the milkman’s song.
My father, Frank Gumm, was a wonderful man with a fiery temper, a great sense of humor, and an untrained but beautiful voice. He met my mother, Ethel Milne, when he was singing in a Wisconsin theater where she was the pianist.
They toured vaudeville together as “Jack and Virginia Lee, sweet southern singers,” until their first baby was coming. Then Dad bought the movie theater in Grand Rapids, and they settled down in a two-story white frame house with a garden behind it.
By the time I came along, Suzy was 7 and Jinny [sic] was 5. My parents were hoping for a boy, and I understand they tried to wield a little prenatal influence by referring to me as Frank. But I don’t think they were deeply disappointed when they had to revise it slightly to Frances.
Contrary to what some people seem to think, I wasn’t a tomboy. I had great vitality, but I never took it out in athletics, and to this day I hate exercise of that kind. I play tennis a little, but that’s all. We don’t own a swimming pool.
I adored my father, and he had a special kind of love for me. He lived to know I had signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but not long enough to see any of my pictures.
Being the daughters of show people, Sue and Jinny [sic] were already a song-and-dance team for all community affairs, and I was full of infant fury at being left out.
At Christmas, Mother and Ad did some of their old numbers, so the whole family went to the theater. The first two Christmases, I slept in a dressing room, but when the third one came, I was all eyes and ears. They told me to sit quietly on a box, – they should have known better.
I MARCHED OUT in the middle of my sister’s performance and launched into “Jingle Bells” at the top of my voice. After that, there were three Gumm sisters in the act instead of two.
Nobody ever taught me what to do on a stage. I have never had a dancing lesson or a singing lesson in my life, and I still can’t read music.
In those days (her childhood), that wasn’t so unusual; vaudeville was full of people who taught themselves to stand and sing, made up their own routines, and even sewed their own costumes.
You could either do it or you couldn’t. It was as simple as that. But today it sometimes gives me the rocky feeling that I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m never sure how I’ve done till I see the final pictures.
Seeing your own movies along with an audience is the only satisfaction you get; it’s the only way to tell whether you’ve “sent” just yourself or whether you’ve let the audience in on it.
In 1927, Dad sold the Grand Rapids theater and bought another in Lancaster, a little town in California on the edge of the Mojave desert.
We lived there for nine years, and it wasn’t happy any of that time. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. Life in those desert towns can be brought; the land is barren and harsh, and the people come to be a lot like it.
We were away a lot, because by that time we had started to tour. Mother played the piano and chaperoned, while Dad stayed home and ran the theater.
I think he and Mom were as happy as most couples, but she was part of an era that was hard on women.
AS A FAMILY we were never poor, but as a vaudeville act we were frequently broke. There was always a manager who couldn’t pay us, or a downright cheat who wouldn’t, but Mother never wrote home to Dad for money.
Once in Chicago, we found ourselves working for a mob of real gangsters. When, after six weeks, Mother tried to collect what was owed us, they told her to shut up and stay healthy.
It was in Chicago, too, at the Oriental theater, that we were billed on the marquee as “The Glum Sisters. We protested to the master of ceremonies, whose hand was George Jessel, and he said bluntly that Gumm wasn’t much better.
“It rhymes with crumb and bum,” he said, “and in this business that isn’t good. Why don’t you change it?”
He suggested we call ourselves garland after a friend of his, Robert Garland, then the drama critic of the New York World-Telegram. I doubt if we knew what the World-Telegram was, but drama critics were all right when they were on your side, and we adopted the name.
About the same time, I acquired “Judy” from a Hoagy Carmichael song. Inside of a year, people in Hollywood were even addressing my other as Mrs. Garland.
WE WENT HOME to see Dad then got a call for a season’s work from a man we knew named Bones Revers. He ran the Cal-Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe. We had been lukewarm about going. I was glad to be with Dad, and Suzy and Jinny [sic] had discovered the opposite sex. But Bones always paid us, so we took the job.
It wasn’t ever eventful, and when fall came, we left with Mom driving the old car, which was packed to the eaves. We had got about two miles down the mountain when Jinny [sic] let out a yelp – she’d forgotten a big hatbox with all our headgear in it. We had to go back.
I ran into the dining room to get the box. Bones and some other men were in there, sitting around a table. Bones asked me to sing for his friends. I told him my mother was waiting with the motor running, and anyhow, there weren’t any musicians. One of the men stood up and said he could play a little piano. What would I like?
In my earnest way of trying to do what was requested of me, I said, “Well, I guess it’s okay. Can you play ‘Dinah’?”
He grinned. “I can manage. I wrote it.” He was Harry Akst. I was flabbergasted, but I sang, and when I got back to the car, I caught a scolding for taking so long to get the hatbox.
We went home to a house we’d taken in Los Angeles, and a few days later Lew Brown, the songwriter, who was also an executive at Columbia Pictures, called up and asked my mother to bring me to the studio. He’d been at Bones’ table with Harry Akst.
OF COURSE, we went and I sang for some people there, but nobody was impressed. Lew Brown told an agent named Al Rose about me, and Al towed me all over southern California.
I think I had an audition at every major studio, but everyone kept asking, “She isn’t any age. She isn’t a child wonder, and she isn’t grown up.”
By a process of elimination, we arrived at M-G-M, where Jack Robbins agreed to hear me and got Louis B. Mayer to come in, Too. When they told me, I asked, “Who’s Mr. Mayer?” I guess they nearly dropped their teeth.
Nobody said a word, but he couldn’t have been made because three days later my mother phoned me at school and said Metro wanted to put me on the payroll.
I went to school in M-G-M’s little red schoolhouse, which happens to be white. There were a half-dozen other children there, all much younger than I, and there was also Mickey Rooney, bless him.
SEVERAL YEARS before I had met Mickey at Lawlor’s school for professional children. Now Mickey took me in hand and showed me the ropes.
He was tough, generous, gifted, and loyal. He told me not to be afraid of anybody on the lot, great or small, and never to do anything I didn’t eat to simply because other people say I must.
It was good advice, and I wish I’d taken it; he’d had a heart-breaking time of it himself. Mickey and I have had a good, solid relationship over the years, not like a brother or sister because ti was never that intimate, but not – to the disappointment of movie-goers, I guess – in any way romantic.
Professionally and as a person, he respected me, and I him.
Hollywood is a place where it’s easy to think the world revolves around Hollywood. You love it and live it, your friends are mixed up in it, your leisure time is dogged by it, everything you do is measured against it – will this be good or bad for your career? You never get wholly away from it, no matter where you go or what you do.
Don’t misunderstand me; I love acting and if I couldn’t do it anyplace else, I’d act on a street corner and collect pennies in a hat.
IT’S HARD to keep your perspective in a world like that. When you grow up in it the way I did, it’s hard to acquire a perspective in the first place. I wasn’t a baby when I went there, but at 14 I was impressionable, excited, and eager to make good at any cost.
I had missed the gentle maturing experiences most girls have, and I was supercharged with the kind of physical energy that spills out all over the place.
People like me don’t grow up easily, they bounce. One day they’re adults with a hat full of wisdom, and the next day they’re stubborn children who have to be led by the hand.
Remember that girl in the book Kitty Foyle? She said her father was wonderfully wise – he knew when to treat a 14-year-old kid like a woman and when to treat her like a baby. I often thought of that because I needed my own father so much, but he died of pneumonia a few weeks after I went to work at Metro.
I DID. Radio show with Al Jolson the night before my father died. Just before we went on the air, the doctor, who was Dad’s best friend, telephoned and asked me to do a specially good job because Dad would be hearing me. I knew then that Dad was dying; he was too sick to have been allowed a radio otherwise. I sang my heart out for him. By bring, he was gone.
It was Mickey Rooney who gave me my first real insight into acting. I’d been in vaudeville 10 years, and I’d never read a line; I only sang and danced.
When at last I got some parts at Metro, in “Pigskin Parade,” “Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry,” and “Broadway Melody,” I had to look at the results sideways to make them seem bearable. I thought that I was bad. I had tried too hard. I thought I overacted something awful.
Then came my first Andy Hardy picture, with Mickey blowing around, but doing a brilliant job. He was so easy, so natural.
JUST BEFORE our first scene together, he took my hands and said, “Honey, you gotta believe this, now. Make like you’re singing it.” And all at once I knew what I had been doing wrong.
Good singing is a form of good acting; at least it is if you want people to believe what you’re singing. If you can make yourself believe what you’re saying – and you have to say some pretty silly things in musicals – everything else falls into place. Your timing, your gestures, your coordination, all take care of themselves.
I learned to relax, and I found I could do a lot better.
The next big thing I learned about acting came six years later when I beat my head against my first scene in “Meet Me in St. Louis.”
Because of my photographic memory, I was known on the lot as a one-take girl – two at the most. Nobody directed me very much; I just went out there and did what came naturally.
So I hadn’t reckoned on Vincente Minnelli. We had met before, but I had never seen him at work or worked under him.
He made me do that first scene in “Meet me in St. Louis” 25 times. I couldn’t believe my ears. I was baffled and scared cross-eyed. When I went to my dressing room for lunch, I told my maid something dreadful had happened between my last picture and this one; I’d lost all my talent.
I CRIED all over my make-up, and she almost had to push me back on that set. But then on the first try, it went off smooth as cream.
Suddenly I knew what he had wanted all along; I saw that if I was ever going to be any good, I had to let go of myself and be whatever character I was portraying.
Vincente drove the whole cast, and in the end, I was more pleased with “Meet Me in St. Louis” than with anything else I had done till that time.
WHEN I WAS 19, Dave Rose and I eloped to Las Vegas, it [sic] you call it eloping when your mother goes along.
I don’t know how to explain that marriage; there wasn’t any real reason for it. I was much too young. Probably nobody should be married at 19, but you couldn’t have made me believe it then.
Mom tried to tell me; so did several other people. I thought my superficial knowledge of the world was all there was to know.
I was in a cocoon emotionally, and Dave needed a certain kind of girl that I wasn’t. He’s a talented man with an inner strength that makes him live a little apart.
He enlisted in the army without telling me till afterward. He didn’t do it to be mean; he was just accustomed to fighting his own battles and making his own decisions.
He and I were among the first entertainers to go into army camps and put on shows. We worked hard at it, and we made records together, but music wasn’t enough. And I was awfully young. It was something only time could do anything about.
I RAN INTO Dave on the street not long ago. He’s married to a lovely girl, and they have a baby daughter. I’m glad for him.
During the time our marriage was running out, though, I was despondent. I didn’t want to make a botch of my relationships with people. Nobody wants that, really, not I nor anybody else. The only thing I did well, it seemed, was work. That is not always a blessing.
Pal Gallico had written a story for me, and Robert Nathan adapted it into a screen play called “The Clock.” It was my first and only crack at a completely non-musical movie, and I loved that story.
It was a delicately balanced thing about a soldier and a girl who met in wartime under the clock in Pennsylvania station. They got separated in a crowd and didn’t even know each other’s names so they went back to the clock and found each other again.
IT HAD TO BE done just right. Robert Walker played opposite me, and he’s wonderful, but somehow it didn’t go together. After a while, the studio shelved it.
I wasn’t happy about that, and I kept going over it in my mind. One day I went to the studio officials and told them I knew what the picture needed – Vincente Minnelli.
“That man?” They exclaimed. “Are you crazy? He’s the guy you were always getting so mad at.”
“Yes, I know,” I said, “but he got the best work out of me I’ve ever done, and I know he’ll understand this story.”
I got him, and we did the picture. It just missed being great. The critics said it proved I could hold my end without a 40-piece band, and that was gratifying.
FROM MY PERSONAL point of view, it was a triumph because it was during “The Clock” that I looked at Vincente one day and something hit me. I thought, here was a man I could know for years and still find fresh interest in. We started going out together, and about six months after my divorce was final, we were married in my mother’s house.
We took three months off for a honeymoon in New York and then went to Boston for the opening of one of Vincente’s pictures. It was the first time in more years than I could remember that I just relaxed and had fun and let somebody else take care of me.
By the time we got back to Hollywood, I knew the baby was coming and I felt happy and loved.
We were wild over Liza from the first moment we laid eyes on her, but I fretted over not having the calm and serenity I thought I ought to have.
I wanted deeply to be a good wife and mother, and I was a little scared.
IN AN EFFORT to learn why I had never been able to get closer to people, I took a series of psychoanalytical treatments. I have never regretted anything more. I’m sure psychoanalysis has helped a great many people, but for me it was like taking strong medicine for a disease I didn’t have. It just tore me apart.
I went back to work and lashed myself as I always had. The friction of personalities in the movie business is something fairly severe. I’ve never worked in an office, but I think it’s like office politics, magnified a hundred times by money, by fame, by the lopsided idea that only movies matter.
I don’t want to hurt anyone, and I won’t hame names, but there have been people in Hollywood who sometimes make it extremely hard for me to do what I was so desperately trying to do – find myself. At least I felt that way.
Actors live in a queer sort of double world. Not many of us have the names or identities we were born with. I don’t associate Frances Gumm with me – she’s a girl I can read about the way other people do.
I, JUDY GARLAND, was born when I was 12 years old. When a studio puts you under contract, its publicity department starts turning out news copy about you that you read with astonishment. You think, can this be me they’re talking about?
Since childhood, I have always been more sensitive and I can have more than the average share of my “nerves” on occasion. And I certainly have been bothered often with sleeplessness. Being unable to sleep is a pretty terrible situation, as anybody knows who suffers from this condition.
At times I have been pretty much a walking advertisement for sleeping pills.
THIS IS HARDLY something unknown to friends and acquaintances. But some people have exaggerated the habit, and twisted it around with words, and it is that sort of thing that can get a gal down, even if she has a lot more stability than I have.
Taking sleeping pills is hardly a good habit. Nobody knows that better than I, but this inability to get a good night’s rest has nagged me since childhood. And even though pills come on doctor’s prescriptions, as mine did, they can be a tremendous strain on the nervous system.
I was having my share of troubles with the studio and, there’s no doubt about it, my physical condition didn’t help.
And while I was in this condition, I became very concerned about Vincente. He is a calmer person than I have ever been, he’s brilliant and temperamental, as he should be, and I got to thinking that a proper wife for him should be placid and always on an even keel.
IT WAS PRETTY plain that I was going to be just that. In justice to him, I felt we ought to call things off, and he, trying hard as he always did to do whatever was best for me, finally agreed.
At the time, I was up to my elbows in “Annie Get Your Gun.” I’d made five pictures since Liza’s birth, and started the ill-fated “Barclays.” [sic]. My dearest desire – to know and love another person as I never had been able to do – was blowing up in my face, and one day I walked smack off the set and didn’t go back.
I wouldn’t have cared if a truck had hit me. The studio promptly suspended me and the, anxious to help, financed an eight-month stay at a Boston hospital where I went for rest and recuperation.
The best thing about the whole trip was patching it up with Vincente. I found out he wanted me, not a hypothetical creature I thought I had to be. He and Liza came to Boston to see me, and we stayed, the three of us, in the same suite of rooms in which Vincente and I had spent part of our honeymoon.
I RETURNED to Hollywood, rested, full of hope and courage, and eager to work.
I made “Summer Stock” with Gene Kelly, who is a dear. Gene encouraged me to forget what people might be saying, laughed with me, helped keep down the friction. I was late – I’ve been unpunctual all my life – and there were fights over that. I hate fights. I can’t stand ill-felling. I was wobbly and unsure, and desperately trying to prove, not to the world but to myself, that I was making good as a person.
My relationship with the studio for several years had been a little like that between a grown-up daughter and her parents. In some ways, they regarded me as their personal property, and they couldn’t seem to realize I wasn’t a child any more. There was constant tension.
In such a mood, we went into rehearsals for “Royal Wedding.” At the end of two weeks, I was jumpy and irritable and sleeping very little.
THEY WERE JUMPY, too, and I couldn’t blame them; they had put a million dollars into “Annie” before that day when I walked out blindly.
On a Friday afternoon, I canceled a rehearsal, and in a matter of hours, I was out of the picture and indefinitely suspended.
It’s hard for me to talk about what happened next.
I felt humiliated and unwanted, and I was faced with the bitter knowledge that I’d come to that unhappy position by my own actions. It’s true they were actions I couldn’t seem to help, but they were my own. All my new-found hope evaporated, and all I could see ahead was more confusion.
I wanted to black out the future as well as the past. I didn’t want to live any more. I wanted to hurt myself and others.
YET EVEN while I stood there in the bathroom with a shattered glass in my hand, and Vincente and my adored secretary, Tully, were pounding on the door, I knew I couldn’t solve anything by running away – and that’s what killing yourself is. I let them in and tried to make them understand how sorry I was.
It wasn’t a good experience, but I think I’m better for it. You’re always better for the tough things if you can get through them.
The terrible tension broke and I’ve had time for reflection. When “Summer Stock” came out people liked it, and that made me happy because I’ve begun to see that it isn’t nice to hurt the people you love, and I still love audiences.
Metro and I parted amicably, which was fine of them and good for me. I had been at the same place for 16 years; it’s healthy sometimes to make a change.
I’M GOING to try my fortune now in radio and on television, and I hope to appear soon on the Broadway musical stage. I find I’m acquiring a certain philosophy and that, I think, is the one thing I’ve needed above all others.
I’m not religious in the ordinary sense, but I have a growing faith in God. I send Liza to Sunday school because I want her to get acquainted with Him early. I’m learning to let go and stop forcing things, stop trying to meet life in a head-on crash.
Nobody can wipe out his mistakes; you can only learn from them and go on from there, and so, perhaps, I have at last grown up.
I’m learning to take myself as show people know how to take others, the good with the bad. I’m people, too. If I can remember that, I’ll be alright.
February 11, 1954: Filming on A Star Is Born continued on the “Interior Malibu Home” set. Time called: 10 a.m.; finished: 6:05 p.m.
On-set photo by Bob Willoughby provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
February 11, 1963: Judy canceled her scheduled show at Harrah’s Resort in lake Tahoe due to the flu. She rallied and made it back for the February 12th show.
February 11, 1965: Judy returned to the O’Keefe Center in Toronto, Canada after canceling the previous day’s matinee and evening shows on doctor’s orders, due to a severe cold and laryngitis.
Judy arrived at 7 p.m. and began her portion of the show at 9:50 p.m. Her program for this and the remaining shows was: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot/He’s Got The Whole World IN His Hands”; “When You’re Smiling”; “Almost Like Being In Love”/”This Can’t Be Love”; “Smile”; “Just In Time”; “You Made Me Love You/For Me And My Gal/The Trolley Song”; “Make Someone Happy”; “By Myself”; “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby”; “Chicago”; “The Man That Got Away”; and “Over The Rainbow.”
Download audio from the 8th, 11th & 13th (zip files) shows from the following links. NOTE: The recordings are from audio tapes taken by fans in the audience. The sound quality isn’t the greatest, but they’re all we have!
The Allen Brothers opened the show at 8:40 p.m., with thirty minutes of songs. Comedian Nipsy Russell was next for twenty minutes. After a twenty-minute intermission, Judy’s overture was played with Mort Lindsey conducting, beginning Judy’s portion of the show.
February 11, 1969: Judy’s divorce from her fourth husband, Mark Herron, was finalized. Judy’s attorney, Godfrey Issac, wired her: “…final judgement Herron versus Herron entered February 11, 1969, in judgment book 6308, page 11, and signed by court Judge William E. MacFadden. Court will not send wire, but entry may be verified by telephone directly to Los Angeles county superior court clerk. Best regards – Godfrey Issac.”
Meanwhile, Dorothy Manners reported on more trouble for Judy at the “Talk of the Town” nightclub in London.
Photo: Judy and Herron in Greece in 1964.