On This Day In Judy Garland’s Life And Career – March 16

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“We see embodied in Judy, acted out before us in her marvelous peak performances in comeback after comeback, our own innocent subsurface desire to soar to the top, ‘Over the Rainbow.’” – John H. Petherbridge, 1969

March 16, 1933:  Frances Gumm (Judy) performed at the Campfire Girls St. Patrick’s Day Lunch in Lancaster, California.

March 16, 1935:  “The Garland Sisters” were on the third day of a week-long engagement at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco, CA.

March 16, 1937:  Judy’s weekly appearance on the “Jack Oakie’s College” radio show.  No recording or transcript from this week’s show is known to survive, so it’s unknown what Judy sang.


March 16, 1938:  In just a few days, Judy’s Everybody Sing tour would take her from Chicago, Illinois, to Detroit, Michigan.


March 16, 1938:  This article amusingly reported that director Mervyn Leroy was having Wizard of Oz nightmares.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on The Wizard of Oz here.

March 16, 1940:  Babes in Arms and Little Nellie Kelly.  Note that the Fox American theater in Butte, Montana, was holding a Judy Garland look-alike contest.  The lucky winner was Mildred Stewart of Whitehall, Montana.

March 16, 1941Ziegfeld Girl


March 16, 1941:  Judy sent shamrocks to the Davenport, Iowa, police department.  It’s safe to say that the whole thing was dreamed up by the Garden Theater in Davenport as part of their promotion of the Irish-themed Little Nellie Kelly.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on Little Nellie Kelly here.


March 16, 1942:  More dance rehearsals for Judy and Gene Kelly for For Me And My Gal.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on For Me And My Gal here.


March 16, 1943:  The newly revised finale for Presenting Lily Mars finished shooting on this, the last day of filming.  Presenting Lily Mars was released in late April 1943.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on Presenting Lily Mars here.


March 16, 1945:  Filming continued on The Harvey Girls, on the “Interior Harvey House Party” set.  Time called: 1:00 p.m.; dismissed: 5:30 pm.

Check out The Judy Room’s Filmography Pages on The Harvey Girls here.


March 16, 1949:  “Rehearsal #7” for Annie Get Your Gun.  Judy was fitted for more wardrobe from 12:45 – 2 p.m., then song rehearsals at 2 – 3:30 p.m., including “You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun”; “Anything You Can Do” and “The Girl That I Marry” – with co-star Howard Keel.

Image:  Cover art of another late 1970s bootleg LP of the soundtrack.

Check out The Judy Room’s Annie Get Your Gun pages here.


March 16, 1954:  Filming on A Star Is Born continued.  The assistant director’s reports noted:  “Garland rehearsed on set 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.; She then went to her dressing room, saying she would rest for a while and have lunch and she would be made up and ready to shoot at 1:30 p.m.  At 12:50 p.m. Garland drove off the lot.  Mr. Luft said Miss Garland had gone to the doctor.  At 2:30 p.m. Mr. Luft phoned that the doctor reported Garland could not work today, but that she should be able to work tomorrow.  Mr. Luft added that the shooting call could be confirmed at 7:45 a.m. tomorrow.”  Filming did not continue the next day.  Judy was still ill and did not work.

Check out The Judy Room’s Spotlight on A Star Is Born here.


March 16, 1957:  The soon-to-be newest teen screen star, Sandra Dee, poses at MGM with photos of three of her predecessors, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, and Lana Turner.

March 16, 1961:  Judy made an appearance at the Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles, California.  After receiving a standing ovation, she presented Stanley Kramer with a “Special Achievement Award.” Kramer had just directed Judy in her Oscar-nominated performance in Judgment at Nuremberg.

Watch a short clip of Judy at the event chatting with Polly Bergen and Greer Garson here:

Judy Garland cidrca 1964

March 16, 1964:  Judy issued a check to Barrington Hardware, 145 S. Barrington Ave., Los Angeles, California for $102.71; and a check to City National Bank (Judy bank in California) for $682.66.  It’s unknown what the hardware store check was for.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

Judy and fan 1966 Lowell MA

March 16, 1966 – March 23, 1966 (approximate):  Judy and her husband Mark Herron flew to Acapulco for a week, to help Judy get over her flu in time for her next TV appearance.

Photo:  A snapshot of Judy with a fan in Lowell, Massachusetts, in late 1966.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

March 16, 1969:  The papers were filled with the news that Judy had married Husband #5 (Mickey Deans) the day before in London.  Poor Mark Herron (Husband #4), was forgotten by some of the columnists who thought this was Marriage #4 for Judy instead of #5.

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

March 16, 1969:  Same article, two different titles, written by Jeannette Mazurki.  It was titled “Why, Oh, Why Didn’t Judy Succeed?” And “What Happened to Judy Garland?”  The latter cut the article off by three paragraphs most likely due to space in that paper.

Note how incredibly wrong the caption is to the photo in that second version!

Judy Garland at 47 apparently has reached a low ebb in a career which has been an astonishing series of triumphs, failures and comebacks.

She recently was booed off the stage of a London nightclub, and had to interrupt or call off other personal appearances.  Her unpredictability makes it uncertain she will be given star billing in other movies, despite the tremendous following she still has in this country and abroad.

“The American people put their arms around me when I was a child and have kept them there ever since,” the husky-voiced singer once said in an interview, recalling the 1930s when she made the classic “Wizard of Oz” and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.  The picture, repeated annually on television, and the song made her one of the great stars of movie history.

TODAY, the woman whose former husband, Sid Luft, once changed had attempted suicide 20 times, often still appears to be a little girl lost. Like Dorothy of “Wizard,” she sometimes appears skipping along the make-believe yellow brick road of Oz, singing of bluebirds flying over the rainbow and wondering, “Why, oh why, can’t I?”

What’s ahead for Judy?

She has been in show business most of her life and earned more than $13million in salary. But she has relatively little to show for it.

MISS GARLAND told an interviewer two years ago, “I find I can live without money, but I can’t live without love.”

Her quest for love and happiness has carried her through five marriages and other romances.  The wistful quality which seems to come across so effectively in her better movies and in many personal appearances did not prove a guarantee of success or affection in her private life.

But the private and public Garland lives always have been intertwined so that the differences were almost discernible.

THE GARLAND story began when her mother, Ethel Gumm, saw her own dreams realized through her three daughters whom she trained in singing and dancing.  Judy’s father, an Irish tenor, did not match his wife’s ambitions and bought a theater, hoping the family would settle down.

However, Mrs. Gumm kept pushing and got her daughters a booking at the Oriental Theater in Chicago in 1933.  George Jessel was master of ceremonies and when Judy clicked, Jessel suggested she change her name. Frances Gumm became Judy Garland.

Mrs. Gumm concentrated her energies on Judy after that, and the family moved to California, where Judy sang as one of the “Meglin Kiddies” and appeared at the old Trocadero nightclub, and MGM boss Louis B. Mayer agreed to hear her sing.  So impressed was he that he signed her to a seven-year contract, without screen or sound tests.

JUDY RECALLED the early Metro days with nostalgia.

“It was a lot of laughs,” she said. But there were drawbacks.

“Look at us – Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney and me,” she said.  “We all came out of there a little tacky and kooky.”

Those were the days when a studio had complete control over its stable of stars.  The studios made and broke stars, in about the same proportion.

JACK HALEY, who was the Tin Woodman in “The Wizard of Oz” and who is now a millionaire Beverly Hills industrialist, is one of Judy’s many admirers in the movie business.

“Judy’s first picture was with me in a musical, ‘Pigskin Parade’ (1936),” Haley said. “She sang three songs and I knew she was destined for stardom.

“Soon after we were joined again in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1939) and my prediction was verified.  Her performance and her singing in that picture launched her into a career of a star.”

“When I dwell on the lyrics of ‘Over the Rainbow,’” Haley reflected, “I think particularly of the following line:

“’Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue; and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.’”

MISS GARLAND had a long string of movie success into the 1940s, but her personal life was not always happy.

She eloped to Las Vegas in 1941 with Davie Rose, who composed “Holiday For Strings.”  The marriage lasted a year and a half and Judy later said, “He was more interested in his trains and steam engines than in me.”

Tom Drake, the “boy next door” in the highly successful “Meet Me In St Louis” (1944), said that he and Miss Garland almost wed.  But, he said, “Judy wanted to wear the pants.  I had other ideas.”

Miss Garland id marry her director, Vincent [sic] Minelli [sic], in 1945, and daughter, Lisa [sic], was morn of that union.

Judy remained the image of the winsome all-American girl.

BUT IN JUNE, 1950, a shocked American public awoke to find that the evening before Judy had slashed her wrists.  Her career was briefly in eclipse until a triumphal Palladium appearance in London in 1951.

Miss Garland, after divorcing Minelli [sic], began dating Luft, a former Lockheed test pilot.  Luft married the actress and also became her business manager.  Their marriage and intermittent separations as well as bitter court proceedings involving child custody rights continued to make headlines until 1945 [sic – should be 1965].  It was Luft who produced her critically acclaimed but financially unsuccessful remake of “A Star Is Born” in 1954.

Before her current marriage with Mickey Deans, 35, Miss Garland was married briefly to Mark Herron, sometimes actor-playwright. (“After we were married, I never knew where he was.”)

MISS GARLAND’S performances were always emotional experiences.  But they also drained her of energy and she sought to meet the problem as have many other performers – with pills.

She took pills to curb her appetite and to give her pep for strenuous dance routines.  Then there were pills with which to sleep.

It was a vicious cycle: Pills to wake up by and pills to go to sleep by.

She also found that alcohol appeared to serve as a stimulant.

BY 1950, Miss Garland had been unable to complete two major musicals, “Annie Get Your Gun” and Royal Wedding.”  She was replaced as Annie by Betty Hutton, after having recorded all the songs for the film.

Two years ago she was signed for the part of Helen Lawson, star on the skids in “Valley of the Dolls.”

After one week, she was suspended by the studio and replaced by Susan Hayward.

The fact that Garland films almost always run behind schedule make the prospects of her resuming her movie career small.

STILL, THERE are the fans anxious to see her again.

In trying to pinpoint why Judy Garland is still so fascinating to audiences, John H. Petherbridge, counselor at the American Institute of Family Relations in Hollywood, said:

“We see embodied in Judy, acted out before us in her marvelous peak performances in comeback after comeback, our own innocent subsurface desire to soar to the top, ‘Over the Rainbow.’”

“We revel with her in the soaring, but the fascination doesn’t stop there.  We feel with her the pangs of recurring failure that must come to all when we continue seeking throughout life to live off the ground in the unobtainable, unreal world of perfection.”

Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland – The Concert Years” here.

One comment

  1. I love the photo on “this day” of a young Angela Lansbury with Judy in the “Harvey Girls”. I was fortunate to speak with Ms Lansbury on the “Larry King Live ” show in the 90’s and ask her about her experience working with Judy on the viewer phone line for questions. She said she “Loved working with Judy and I learned a lot from her”. Angela said “I was like a sponge back then and Judy was a real pro. I never hesitated to ask people who I knew worked with Judy about my favorite singer and entertainer when they appeared on “Larry King Live “. I was lucky to get through on their viewer phone line and record it on my then Super Beta Hi Fi video recorder. I also spoke with Alan King about
    Judy on “Larry King Live
    ” and Janet Leigh on a radio interview she gave. Everyone always had glowing praise for Judy. When I ask Janet Leigh about Judy on a radio interview on the question phone line she said “Judy was a brilliant talent and their was nothing like seeing her live in concert . I will never forget the enthusiasm in Janet Leigh’s voice talking about
    Judy. Alan King and Janet are both gone now and it was a privilege to have had the chance
    to speak with them.

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