“The outstanding feature of the production is the astonishingly clever performance of Judy Garland. All through the picture moves the little Judy, holding it together, being always its motivating feature.” – “Hollywood Spectator” on “The Wizard of Oz,” 1939
February 18, 1931: “The Hollywood Starlets Trio” (Judy and her sisters) performed at either the Savoy Theater or the Russ Auditorium in San Diego, California. The details are unclear. It’s also noted that this could have been on February 21, 1931. The sisters were part of a midnight matinee for the Red Cross Drought Relief Fund.
Photo: Judy and friend in Lancaster, California, circa 1931 or 1932.
February 18, 1933: “The Gumm Sisters” (Judy and her sisters) performed at the Rainbow Girls Valentine’s Day Dance in their hometown of Lancaster, California.
February 18, 1938: Here’s another photo of Judy posing with a local paper. While she was in New York promoting Everybody Sing she was posed with different papers for use in those papers to promote the film in their local markets. This one was for Wilmington, Delaware. It’s unclear how many of these papers Judy posed with.
February 18, 1939: Filming on The Wizard of Oz was nearing completion. Stories and news blurbs began to appear more frequently as MGM’s publicity department ramped up its promotion of the film which was their biggest promotional campaign to date.
February 18, 1943: Judy, along with Spencer Tracy and Greer Garson, endorsed MGM’s latest musical, Seven Sweethearts.
February 18, 1944: Meet Me In St. Louis filming continued on the “Exterior Smith Home and Street” set on MGM’s Backlot #3, the newly constructed “St. Louis Street.” Time called: 7 p.m.; Judy arrived on the set at 7:35 p.m.; dismissed: 9:20 p.m. The scenes shot were most likely those that featured Esther (Judy) running across the lawn to neighbor John Truitt’s (Tom Drake) porch, as well as those of Esther and sister Rose (Lucille Bremer) discussing Colonel Darly (Hugh Marlowe).
February 18, 1947: The second day of filming for The Pirate consisted of scenes shot on the “Exterior Manuela’s Patio” & “Interior Manuela’s Bedroom” sets. Time called: 9 a.m.; Judy arrived at 9:10 a.m.; dismissed: 5:45 p.m.
February 18, 1950: Hedda Hopper reported on what a great friend Judy was to her make-up woman, Dottie Ponedel. Dottie was one of Judy’s few truly close female friends. Dottie’s niece, Meredith Ponedel, has recently written a wonderful book about Dottie titled “About Face.” It’s a fascinating look at a woman who was so much more than “a make-up” woman.
February 18, 1954: A Star Is Born filming consisted of added scenes on the “Interior Coconut Grove (Academy Award sequence)” set as well as retakes on the “Nightclub Terrace” and some post-recording of dialog. Time started: 10 a.m.; finished: 5:25 p.m.
Thank you, Kim Lundgreen, for providing most of the photos!
February 18, 1962: “New, Happy Judy Garland, No Longer Running Scared”
February 18, 1968: Judy shared the stage with Tony Bennett at The Civic Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
Judy was suffering from food poisoning so the concert was not completed. An audiotape of this performance was recorded through the sound system and Judy is in pretty bad shape. It’s a wonder she was allowed to go on at all. Ticket prices ranged from $5 to $15 which was considered high for the time. Imagine! The show grossed $27,093.85 with a packed house of 9,990 audience members.
Judy was in such bad shape that it made the news the next day with reports of people wanting their money back. This prompted the chairman of the Civic Center Commission, Philip H. Goodman, to call for a review of performances, as reported:
The Chairman of the Civic Center Commission today called for a review of performances such as Judy Garland’s last night.
“I certainly feel that events of this sort – unfortunate as they re – tend to hurt the image of the Civic Center,” Philip H. Goodman, the chairman, said.
Miss Garland was unable to complete most of her songs on last night’s program with Woody Allen and Tony Bennett.
Sat On Floor
She sat on the stage floor and tried to sing. Her conductor, who travels with her, had to help her up; she couldn’t rise on her own. He also had to help her onto a stool.
Mr. Bennett supported her as he led her on stage for the final act of the night at 10 P.M. She walks with her legs spared far apart, her shoulders back.
Before she had finished performing one their of the audience had walked out, women were crying. Mr. Bennett was wincing and hundreds of her fans had approached the stage to give her long-stemmed roses and touch her hands.
When she failed to finish her first few numbers, a patron in the back row booed.
“I don’t feel so well, so if you feel that way,” she said thickly, “I’m going to go off.”
She returned and tried to sing as fans approached the stage.
To other boos, she asked “Did you say ‘boo’ or ‘who?””
“I’m not the drunk you read about,,” she told the audience of 9,000. “I’ve had food poisoning.”
After several more false starts – when her voice cracked – she was able to sing through “Sewanee [sic].”
“I can’t see the stage in front of me,” she said at one point.
“The vast majority of customers were not angry,” Mr. Goodman, who was in the audiences, said, “They felt sorry for her.”
“Apparently Miss Garland was not in the position to perform,” he said. “It was just very sad and very touching.”
“She entertained rather pathetically,” he said.
Miss Garland was unavailable for comment today.
Not Accepting Calls
“I have received instructions she is not accepting any calls,” the operator at the Statler Hilton Hotel said after noting that Miss Garland’s line was busy.
Asked if there were any plans to refund money to those who attended, Sanford G Jacobson, one of the show’s promoters, asked why there should be any.
“The audience paid to see three performers. They saw three performers,” he said.
A crowd flowed to the closed box office at the center during and after the show to demand their money back, but received no response.
Mr. Jacobson said that he had heard of no demands for refunds on tickets, which cost from $5 to $15 each.
Mr. Goodman said that the commission now assumes no responsibility for private promoters who rent the center. He said the commission, at its meeting Friday, will discuss, “what our responsibility would be, if any.”
“We had a good show,” said Mr. Jacobson, who was in the audience.
Flocked To Stage
Several thousand members of the audience, he added, flocked to the stage “in a trance-like state” to be close to Miss Garland.
Mr. Jacobson said that he and his brother Edward had been first-time promoters of last night’s show. He said the plan future shows, but had no details.
Miss Garland wore a white-beaded pants suit and make-up.
She constantly talked with her audience. And she finally made it through several songs.
“I think the crowd would have been happy just to have heard the other two performers,” Mr. Goodman said.
Photos: Snapshot of Judy and Tony taken during the show; newspaper ad and articles. Ticket to the show provided by Bobby Waters. Thanks, Bobby!