“I think one of the reasons for my comeback is that I am really happy in my personal life.” – Judy Garland, 1955
February 13, 1938: From the Curio Department comes this article about eighteen-year-old Roy Harris, a Greenville, South Carolina contest winner of $5,000 (quite a lot in 1938) who traveled to Washington, D.C. New York, Hollywood, and Chicago. The trip allegedly included a “dinner date with Judy Garland!” in New York.
The article explained:
In fact, Harris admitted as he was resting in his Willard hotel room, he was a little anxious to get back to New York, because while he was in Chicago he made a date with Judy to meet her in the Empire City and take her out dining and dancing. But with all this over, he concluded, he’ll probably be glad to get back to Greenville and not have to worry about catching rains and all the other burdens that go with being a celebrity.
Also included here is a notice from the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania “Telegraph” newspaper featuring Judy reading from the “Telegraph.” There’s no doubt that this was a posed photo taken for the “Telegraph” while Judy was in New York appearing at Loew’s State theater between showings of her new film, Everybody Sing. Judy posed for several different papers in her hotel suite, holding their paper similar to the one shown above.
Also on this date, Judy wowed the crowds at New York’s “Casa Manana” nightclub. She was a big enough sensation that columnist Walter Winchell mentioned the event in his column published a few days later which included a photo. Judy’s star was definitely on the rise!
February 13, 1938: It’s Baby Snooks! Fanny Brice is featured with Judy on the set of the “Why? Because!” number for Everybody Sing. Included above is a blurb about Judy’s regular appearances on the “Jack Oakie’s College” radio show.
February 13, 1939: Judy picked five bachelors under 17! This is obviously more fiction for the Opress from the Publicity Department at MGM. Judy was filming the “Wizard’s Presentation” scenes for The Wizard of Oz on February 12th, which is when this allegedly took place.
This was also the final week of shooting with the film’s main director, Victor Fleming. He left after the 17th and headed over to the RKO lot to save David O. Selznick’s production of Gone With The Wind. “King” Vidor took over, filming the Kansas scenes and some retakes of parts of the cornfield sequence. It’s pretty easy to spot which shots are Vidor’s due to the changing length of Judy’s hair throughout the sequence.
February 13, 1939: Correspondent Paul Harrison wrote an early review of The Wizard of Oz letting readers know that the story was “in very sympathetic and capable hands.”
‘Oz’ Fans Due For Treat In Film Version
‘Old Wizard’ Should Look Natural When Fantasy Reaches Screen
By PAUL HARRISON
If customers have been worrying about what the movies are doing to “The Wizard of Oz,” I can assure them that the story is well in hand – and in very sympathetic and capable hands, too.
At this writing the picture has been in production almost 100 days. But the time alone gives you little idea of the travail and troubles of the makers. They have retaken a lot of sequences, monkeyed incessantly with the makeups, changed directors and worried themselves silly about the costumes and the dramatic key in which the roles should be played. They were so jittery about their problems that for three months no visitors were permitted on the sets.
Mervyn LeRoy, the producer, and his helpers realized they were in a ticklish spot. No such fantasy, with living characters, had been attempted since Paramount’s “Alice in Wonderland” in 1933, a film so bad that it could be counted only as a warning. LeRoy also had to try to make the picture self-sufficiently entertaining to youngsters and adults not familiar with L. Frank Baum and yet avoid offense, through changes, to the author’s nostalgic fans.
As a Baum fan, I created the idea of Judy Garland (who is Dorothy) warbling a jitter-bug number in the Emerald City. But that may be necessary modernization. I also was skeptical about the scheme to have recognizable human faces in the costumes of the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), the Tin Woodman (Jack Haley), and the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr). But I was dead wrong about this, and Mr. Bolger put me right.
If fantasy is to have any credibility and charm, he explained, it must be played straight – with sincerity and expression. Otherwise it’s just silly. “Alice in Wonderland” provided a horrible example: it was largely played behind full masks which no actor’s personality could penetrate. Indeed, it was possible for one player to be drunk as a hoot owl most of the time, in the privacy of the disguise, without his condition being outwardly apparent.
Another factor favoring the Oz picture is the quality of the makeups themselves. Probably nothing so painstaking and skillful ever has been done in Hollywood before. Except for his eyes and mouth, Scarecrow Bolger’s face is covered by a rubber mask molded like burlap on its surface. But the mask is glued solidly to his skin and thus registers all his expressions. Back toward his ears it deserts the exact contours of his face and looks like a coarsely sewed sack with pieces of straw sticking through the seams.
The silver-painted face of Woodman Haley is similarly blended into his metallic-looking noggin. He can smile and frown and all that, yet he certainly looks tinny. He also has a hinged jaw-piece that moves up and down when he talks. His body, of course, is encased in an armor-like suit but it’s made of stiff silvered leather. They tried sheet metal on several suits at first, but couldn’t keep him from clanking.
Bert Lahr looks leonine even without costume or makeup. They have heightened the resemblance by adding some overhanging rubber jowls and broadening and tiling his nose. His suit is tailored from two real lion skins, and his tail is held up and twitched by a fine wire leading to a fishing pole manipulated by a prop man on the catwalks overhead.
All these disguises are uncomfortable, heavy and hot – hot especially under the glaring Technicolor lamps. This is the first movie, incidentally, to use both monotone and color sequences for any reason except to save money. When Dorothy is on the dreary prairie and is picked up by the cyclone, the film is in sepia. All the Oz part is in color; makes for a more exciting contrast.
February 13, 1940: Judy’s weekly appearance on the NBC Radio show “The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope.” Judy sang a new song that would become a standard: “All The Things You Are.”
Listen to “All The Things You Are” here:
Judy’s performance has been released on a few CDs, including a stellar remastered version included in the 2010 4-CD set “Lost Tracks.”
February 13, 1942: Here’s another article about Judy staying home in bed due to strep throat watching husband David Rose and his miniature railroad. Columnist Fred Othman reported on Judy’s recent USO tour (with Rose), how much she liked the troops and the fact that she had dropped down to an unhealthy 98 pounds.
February 13, 1944: Judy in photos. The first is a set showing how much Judy had changed and grown up over the years. The second shows Judy with Don Loper recently out on the town.
February 13, 1945: The Harvey Girls filming consisted of scenes on MGM’s Backlot #3, the “Western Street” which was dressed up to be the fictional town of “Sandrock” in the film. Scenes were shot on the part of the set identified at “Exterior R.R. [railroad] Station.” Time called: 10 a.m.; Judy arrived on set at 10:05 a.m.; dismissed at 3 p.m.
Check out The Judy Room’s “Garlands For Judy – Judy on the Backlot” edition for more information about where Judy filmed scenes for her films on the MGM backlot.
February 13, 1947: Judy had another rehearsal of “Mack The Black” for The Pirate. Time called: 3:00 p.m.; dismissed: 4:50 p.m.
Undated newspaper scan provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
February 13, 1949: “J.M.” of “The Los Angeles Times” oddly didn’t care much for the MGM Records soundtrack album to Words And Music.
VOCAL: Betty Garrett, doing “There’s a Small Hotel,” gives the only non-disappointing performance in what should have been a fine album: “Words and Music,” off the sound track of the picture based on the great Rodgers and Hart music. The MGM album also has Lena Horne, Judy Garland, June Allyson, Mickey Rooney singing, unimpressively, some of the best tunes ever written.
Considering the amazing talent on display on the album, it’s difficult to figure out just what the heck “J.M.” thought (aside from, and no disrespect to, Ms. Garrett) was impressive.
February 13, 1950: MGM recording session for Summer Stock. Judy and Gene Kelly pre-recorded the reprise version of “You Wonderful You.” This was the next-to-last recording session for Judy at MGM.
Listen to Take 13 of “You Wonderful You (Reprise)” here:
The label above is the playback disc for the song, made on February 22nd, courtesy of the John Newton Collection. Thanks, John!
The most recent release of the film’s soundtrack was the 2001 Rhino Records CD.
February 13, 1951: Here’s another article about Judy’s recent filing for divorce from second husband Vincente Minnelli. The article is dated the 12th but it was published on the 13th, which was common practice at the time.
February 13, 1952: Judy was in the final week of her astounding, record-breaking comeback at The Palace Theater in New York City. MGM chose to capitalize on her newfound success by having a “Judy Garland Festival” (of just two films) beginning on Friday, February 15th, at their flagship theater, Loew’s State on Broadway and 45th Street.
February 13, 1955: Four versions of the same article, with different headlines. On this day after the Oscar nominations were announced (Judy was nominated for her performance in A Star Is Born), this column about Judy by syndicated columnist James Bacon was published. In it, she allegedly predicted that Grace Kelly would win (she did). The last article is a separate one about the nominations in general.
February 13, 1955: The cover of “Piccolo” magazine plus another note about Judy’s Oscar nomination.
“Piccolo” scan provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
February 13, 1963: Judy collapsed just before going on stage at Harrah’s Resort in Lake Tahoe. She had canceled her February 11th performance due to having the flu but rallied and performed on February 12th. The flu was too much for her, and she ended up canceling the rest of her engagement, by mutual agreement with the Harrah’s management. Judy was taken to the hospital on the morning of the 14th.
February 13, 1965: Judy played her final two shows – matinee and evening – in Toronto (at The O’Keefe Center) to great success. Liza had flown in to see the final show that evening.
Here is audio of this night’s show as recorded from the audience (zip file).
Judy’s shows at the O’Keefe grossed $98,000. The theater held 3,200 people, at a $6.00 top price. The potential had been $126,000 for eight shows, but Judy had to cancel one day due to her severe cold and laryngitis. The venue was at SRO capacity for all six of the shows she did.