“Judy Garland is belting out the best show she’s ever given on Miami beach … She sang a full hour of tunes, some with her own trademark … her voice danced.” – “The Miami Herald,” 1965
March 11, 1938: Judy’s 1938 tour took her to Chicago which is where, just a few years earlier, she and her sisters appeared at the World’s Fair and changed their name from “The Gumm Sisters” to “The Garland Sisters.” Frances became “Judy” not long after. Here’s she’s seen arriving at the Dearborn train station.
March 11, 1942: Judy had a break in dance rehearsals for For Me And My Gal to make sound and photo tests for the film. Time called: 11:00 a.m.; dismissed: 7:15 p.m.
March 11, 1944: Judy had a night shoot for Meet Me In St. Louis. The assistant director’s notes state: “Time Call changed to 10:30 at her [Judy’s] request. Dismissed: 2:30 a.m.
March 11, 1947: Harrison Carroll’s column details Judy’s return to MGM to film The Pirate after giving birth to daughter Liza Minnelli. Carroll notes Judy’s health issues.
Behind the Scenes in Hollywood
By HARRISON CARROLL
For a year and a half, while Judy Garland was away from the cameras, while rumors have circulated about her health.
Over gin rummy tables and in the cozy booths of Hollywood restaurants, where more gossiped is dished out than food, it was whispered that she would never return to the screen.
Well, Judy is back at M-G-M making “The Pirate” and she tells me she feels fine. She looks more like a little girl than a married woman and mother of a baby daughter as she sits in her portable dressing room wearing a voluminous nightgown, a la the fashions of 1830.
Her director husband, Vincente Minnelli, is lining up a shot so we have time for a nice chat.
“Do I look like I am wasting away to a shadow?” Demands Judy. “The fact is, I weight 110 pounds and I’d be just as happy to love five of them.”
“I simply was tired from work and from having a baby. I needed to get my strength back. Some of the rumors circulated about me were too ridiculous for words. One radio commentator said my weight was down to 55 pounds.”
I asked Judy if she was nervous facing the camera after a layoff.
“I’m all right now,” she says, “but the first day was plain murder. We started out with me singing to a play-back. That was all right. But then Vincente said “ ‘We’ve run out of sound-track, you’ve got to talk,’ I almost fainted. I’d have given anything at that moment for somebody to play my acting role like Larry parks did for Al Jolson.” [Note: Parks had recently scored a huge hit playing Jolson in a biopic, lip syncing to Jolson’s voice, the first time anything like that had been done in a major film.]
The studio records show that on this day Judy rehearsed the “Voodoo” number with the MGM Studio Orchestra and Chorus. The prerecording was made on April 10th). Time called: 2 p.m.; dismissed: 4:30 p.m.
Also on this day, Judy pulled out of singing “On The Atchison, Topeka, And The Santa Fe” at the Academy Awards due to the pressures of filming The Pirate. The number won the Oscar for “Best Song.”
March 11, 1947: The “drop” date for the very first MGM Records album, the soundtrack to Till The Clouds Roll By.
Record critics welcomed the new label and the “Clouds” set was given good reviews. MGM was off and running with a new revenue stream while also creating a new market, the original soundtrack album. MGM Records released soundtracks to just about all of their musicals, and a few dramatic films, in the next 20+ years. All of Judy’s MGM musicals from 1946 through the end of her tenure with the studio in 1950 had MGM Records soundtracks created to complement them.
Originally the soundtracks were four 78 rpm discs with two sides each meaning only eight songs from the films could be included. This means that there was a lot of editing of the musical numbers to fit the short time constraints of the 78s and also some cherry-picking of the “best” numbers from films with more than eight numbers, as most of them were. It wouldn’t be until the long-playing records were developed that MGM began to include more songs from their recent musicals, Kiss Me Kate (1953), which was one of the first in the long-playing format.
Oddly enough, MGM Records never released updated and expanded versions of their originally-78rpm-albums in the LP era. They were content to re-release the existing soundtracks, over and over again. In the late 1980s and early 1990s CBS Special Products (later Sony Music Entertainment Inc./Sony Music Special Products), released expanded soundtracks that were taken directly from the actual film soundtracks and not the pre-recording sessions.
Finally, in the mid-1990s, Rhino Records, working with Turner Entertainment, began to release expanded “complete” soundtracks to MGM musicals utilizing the surviving pre-recordings as their main source of content.
Recent technology in audio restoration software has resulted in the revisiting of some of these pre-recordings. The results are phenomenal. Hopefully, Warner Bros., who now owns the Rhino soundtracks, will revisit all of the soundtracks and remaster them with today’s technology giving us the ultimate in audio clarity and sonic enjoyment.
The most recent example of what our new technology is capable of is the FANTASTIC two-CD set “Soundtracks” from Mint Audio Records. The set features not just a great compilation of Judy’s film performances, but also several new-to-CD versions of Garland film favorites including some MGM Records album versions, film versions, and stereo versions previously unavailable on CD. This is the compilation that fans of Judy’s film soundtracks have been waiting for! More details on each recording and how some of the audio magic of these tracks was accomplished, can be found here.
March 11, 1948: Judy had a rehearsal for the filming of the “A Fella With An Umbrella” for Easter Parade. Judy arrived at 2:00 p.m.; dismissed: 3:05 p.m.
March 11, 1949: “Rehearsal #4” for Annie Get Your Gun with Judy and co-star Howard Keel rehearsing: “You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun” (Garland solo); “Anything You Can Do” (duet); “They Say It’s Wonderful” (duet); “The Girl That I Marry” (one solo each). Judy arrived at 11:30 a.m.; lunch from 1:20 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.; dismissed at 5:15 p.m.
Photos: Another 1960s bootleg record of Judy’s prerecordings. This one was cleverly made to look like an MGM Records release when, in fact, it wasn’t.
March 11, 1952: This photo (above left) was taken of Judy with two men during her post-Palace vacation in West Palm Beach, Florida with Sid Luft. Judy took part in the Annual Society Baseball Game at the Poinciana Field in Palm Beach, Florida, along with fellow star Peter Lawford plus Connie Mack and Jimmy Dykes from the major leagues. Also included is a publication of the recent photo of Judy and Sid at the Polo Fields.
March 11, 1954: The second day of filming the “Lose That Long Face” number for A Star Is Born. Time started: 10:00 a.m..; finished: 6:00 p.m.
March 11, 1963: Here’s a photo that claims to be a recent one of Judy backstage at the Palladium, but she looks more like she’s on the set of I Could Go On Singing.
Also on this day, Judy flew back to New York from London and checked into the St. Regis Hotel.
March 11, 1965: Judy opened a ten-day engagement at The Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami, Florida. Although there are no recordings of the show it’s known that Judy was at the top of her game. The reviews were ecstatic.
During a press conference at her hotel for this engagement, Judy said, “I’m kind of a pratt fall comedian, actually. I enjoy being able to laugh. I have three beautiful children. I’m a good cook. Life has been very good to me. There’s nothing tragic about my life. I enjoy it. And I’m grateful for what I have. I’d just like to be happy. To be relaxed. To be myself. A woman. I have great respect for an audience. They pay their money. They take time away from things they have to do at home. I’d like to do a play. A straight play. I’ve never done a play before. That way I could settle down in one plays – If people come to see it!”
Roger Edens had flown in from California to rehearse and go over arrangements with Judy, most likely for the medley he was putting together for her to sing at the Oscars on April 5. Mort Lindsey was conducting for her in Miami. Liza came in from New York on March 12 – her nineteenth birthday – to see her mother – and to see her fiance (Peter Allen), of course, as the Allen Brothers were still opening for Judy. Judy’s act was basically the same as the previous month’s engagement in Toronto, with the addition of “What Now My Love?” which always stopped the show. Judy didn’t have the orchestration for the song with her the previous month in Toronto.
March 11, 1968: Judy and her Scarecrow, Ray Bolger, cross paths for the last time at the Empire Room of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, following his opening there.