“At 13 I had a motion picture contract. I was going to be an actress!” – Quote attributed to Judy Garland, 1940
March 10, 1934: “The Gumm Sisters” (Judy and her sisters) were on the second night of a week-long engagement at the Fox Theater in San Francisco, California when they were mentioned at the very end of this article printed in “The San Francisco Examiner.”
March 10, 1935: This ad appeared in the “Los Angeles Times,” promoting The Garland Sisters, “a trio of syncopating songsters featuring sensational Baby Garland, will set the rafters to doing the rhumba with their rhythm…” and their appearance that following Wednesday (March 13th) at a cooking class event at the Times Home Service Bureau building.
The sisters were sent to this event by the Paramount Theater where they were currently appearing.
March 10, 1940: Judy, along with Deanna Durbin and Mary Martin, was one of the “songbirds of the screen” spotlighted n the Sunday edition of the “Los Angeles Times” rotogravure section.
March 10, 1940: “The First Sixteen Years” – The second of four weekly articles allegedly written by Judy recounting her first 16 years.
Judy Garland Recalls Chastisement She Received After Tickling Her Sisters During Stage Performance
Ask Judy Garland, “What’s in a name?” and she’ll probably say – a heartache, if it’s misspelled in white lights. In four articles, of which this is the second, Judy tells how her dramatic pride was somewhat deflated when she learned that her first job in the movies meant – going to school. But soon came many exciting experiences in Hollywood and real success on the screen.
By JUDY GARLAND
But alas for cupid Baby Gumm! I woke up that morning with my right eye swollen shut – I had a sty! There wasn’t anything to do about it. That old saw about the “show must go on” even applies to you-and-a-half-going-on-five-year-olds.
To make matters worse, the arrows stuck in the leather case just as I was in the middle of the chorus and supposed to shoot them out into the audience. So this poor Cupid was a sorry sight.
In spite of the closed eye and traitorous arrows, luck was with me because Gus Edwards was in the audience and came backstage afterward. Of course, he met Sue and Jimmy too and suggested we organize a trio after he heard them sing. From that moment on the “Gumm Sisters” came into being. Goodness – we had fun. We thought we were going to be as famous as the Bronx sisters.
Mother arranged our songs for us and spent hours training us. I was the smallest, so I was always in the middle with my arms around Sue and Jimmy. If things seemed dull, I would tickle them in the ribs. Virginia thought it was funny, but Sue took things more seriously. I surely did catch it when we got off the stage.
We were always in demand – for benefits. But they proved excellent training. Even benefits run out, though. Finally, we got our first pay engagement. Salary never entered our heads. All of us were sure we’d get plenty of money, so mother went ahead and bought us special dresses for the occasion. It was at the Biltmore Theater and we were very swank with a private dressing room and everything.
After the performance, we were handed small envelopes. It was hard waiting until we got outside the theater to open them. When we did peek in – we found 50 cents each!
That ended our career – back to school we trotted. Then came an offer from the East. Again clothes were bought, reservations made and mother and we three girls left for Chicago. Little did we realize our career as the Gumm sisters was coming to an end. It was the Oriental Theater’s marquee which broke our hearts – “The Glum Sisters” – stared at us. But as I said before, thanks to Mr. Jessel we emerged “The Garland Sisters” and I became Judy.
We really had some hair-raising experiences in Chicago. Of course, we had braced out on our won and were a little bit ashamed to write home to Dad for money. At first, we didn’t need it. Then we took a job in one of the concessions at the World’s Fair in Chicago. Everything was fine until the show closed and our salary checks were held – and we were stranded. We asked for your money, but the man was so horrid that we were glad to just get away.
Things went from bad to worse until one Sunday morning we were left with two eggs and a moldy loaf of bread. But we scrambled with eggs – to make them go further – and did without bread. That very day, however, we were offered another engagement. Did we scramble to get ready! Mother was up half the night washing and pressing our dresses. We didn’t have enough money to have them cleaned. She ironed 65 yards of ruffles – I measured them.
The job gave us enough for tickets home to Dad and California. We were all so homesick and discouraged we just ached. We didn’t have a thing to show for our Chicago trip – for at the station or suitcases were stolen.
California really looked golden to us. Cupid reappeared at our house about this time and his arrows worked, for both Sue and Jimmy married. Sue has a little girl now. She’s three, and her name is Judy, Jr.
I was busy at school and having fun with the neighborhood kids, so it really looked as though our acting days were over. One weekend mother took me to Lake Tahoe. We were sitting around a campfire singing. I sang a few solos for the crowd. As I was leaving a gentleman walked up to me, said he was a talent scout from MGM studio [sic] and suggested I apply for an audition there when I returned home.
I didn’t even stay for breakfast the next morning. We dashed home. I washed my hair and then presented myself at the MGM casting office.
Have you ever tried to get into a studio? It’s like knocking your head against a brick wall. But I finally slipped through the door (don’t ask me how) and told them I wanted a job – that I was told to come. They were awfully nice but said they didn’t hire babies. I started to leave; then I got mad. I had come to sing and sing I would. So I just perched on a desk and started to sing everything I knew before anyone could stop me. I didn’t even stop after a song but went right into the chorus of another. It was lucky for me it was a dull day or I probably would have been thrown out. But soon several executives came in, and then Mr. Mayer heard about the “saucy” little girl who was serenading Casting. He called for me – I sang – and then I signed.
At 13 I had a motion picture contract. I was going to be an actress!
March 10, 1941: Judy and her mom, Ethel, took part in the first annual charity dinner-dance given by the “Motion Picture Mothers, Inc.” Judy and Mickey Rooney headed the program lists while Ginger Rogers was “in charge of the formal ceremonies.” According to the article, “The Motion Picture Mothers are mothers of film players, directors and writers and they devote their attention to helping needy screen players. Ginger’s mother, Lela, took part, as did quite a few other mothers including, interestingly enough, Joan Crawford’s mother, Anna Le Sueur.
March 10, through March 16, 1943: The newly revised finale for Presenting Lily Mars finished shooting. The lengthy production number was trimmed prior to the film’s released n late April 1943.
March 10, 1944: Filming on Meet Me In St. Louis continued with scenes shot on the “Exterior Smith Home” and “Halloween Street” on MGM’s Backlot #3, the newly built “St. Louis Street.” Time called: 10:30 a.m.; dismissed: 3:40 p.m.
Image: Poster art created by Meg Myers. Thanks, Meg!
March 10, 1945: Filming on The Harvey Girls continued. Time called: 10:00 a.m. The assistant director’s notes state: “8:30-9:10: Judy’s makeup woman [Dottie Ponedel] phoned from Judy’s room that Judy wasn’t feeling well and it would take her longer, she was still under the drier and would be late – she didn’t know just how late.” Judy arrived on the set at 4:00 p.m.; dismissed: 5:45 p.m. Scene: “shot of Judy entering train.” In the final cut of the film, there is only one shot Judy actually entering a train, which comes right after her opening ballad, “In The Valley.”
Photo: Promotional photo of Judy singing “In The Valley.” Provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
March 10, 1948: Here’s a previously unknown Daily Music Report for Easter Parade. Judy recorded a 20-second “sync voice to track” for the “A Fella With An Umbrella” song. It was a short session. Judy arrived at 2:00 p.m.; dismissed: 3:25 p.m. This recording is not known to exist.
March 10, 1949: More Annie Get Your Gun rehearsals with co-star Howard Keel, “Rehearsal #3” which included “The Girl That I Marry”; “Anything You Can Do”; “They Say It’s Wonderful” and “You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun.”
Judy was due at the studio at 11 a.m. The assistant director’s notes state: “Ms. Garland called Al Jennings at 10 a.m.; saying that she was ill and would be unable to work until later in day – at this time she was given a call for 2 p.m.” Judy arrived at 2 p.m.; dismissed at 4:20 p.m.
Photos: 1960s bootleg LP of the song from the film released by Soundstage Records for The Judy Garland Club. The credits note the cover art was created by “d. gale”. Now we know what vocation Dorothy Gale chose when she grew up!
March 10, 1953: Columnist Erksine Johnson broke the news that Judy had recently been burned due to falling asleep in bed while smoking. Luckily husband Sid Luft was there to keep the situation from becoming tragic.
March 10, 1963: Judy appeared on “Sunday Night At The London Palladium” broadcast live out of London. She sang: “Almost Like Being In Love”/”This Can’t Be Love”; “Smile”; “Comes Once In A Lifetime”; and “I Could Go On Singing.”
Both “Smile” and “I Could Go On Singing” were broadcast on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in the U.S. on April 14, 1963. Judy’s performance of “Smile” is one of her best performances and is the definitive performance of the song.
Judy received the highest fee ever paid a performer on the show up to that date, 3,000 pounds, which she donated to Lady Hoar’es Fund To Aid Thalidomide Children.”
March 10, 1965: Judy was signed to play Jean Harlow’s mother in the Electronovision version of Harlow. This was announced on March 11 in Hedda Hopper’s column. Full-page ads with Judy name appeared in the trades. There were three weeks of planned rehearsals, with shooting st to start on March 31. On March 22, her second day on the project, Judy left. She was replaced by Eleanor Parker who was then replaced by Ginger Rogers. Judy allegedly told Carol Lynley (who was playing Jean Harlow), “Honey, I’m not drunk, I’m not on drugs, and I’m telling you this is a piece of junk, and I’m getting out!”
More details about all of the films that Judy either never completed and/or was in the running to play a role in can be found at The Judy Room’s “Films That Got Away” pages.
Images: Hedda Hopper’s column; Actor Barry Sullivan, Judy, and Judy’s daughter Lorna Luft and son Joe Luft, look at the poster art for the film.
March 10, 1967: At 5:30 a.m., Judy met her future husband, Mickey Deans, for the first time, when he delivered some Ritalin pills to her at the St. Regis Hotel, as she hadn’t slept and needed to be “up” to catch a plane to California to report for work on Valley of the Dolls. Heads and the pills, and Judy was able to catch her play, flying home to Los Angeles with ex-husband Sid Luft, and children Lorna and Joe Luft.
Photo: Judy and Deans, December 23, 1968.