“She has only to open her throat and send her voice pleading and appealing up to the roof, to leave no doubt that talent like hers is independent of age and appearance.” – Kenneth Tynan, 1954
March 21, 1929: “The Gumm Sisters” (Judy and her sisters) were part of 30 pupils who performed at the Meglin Kiddies recital at Grauman’s Egyptian Theater, Los Angeles, California. This was the first night of a seven-night engagement. The film being shown was MGM’s The Broadway Melody, which was the first “All Talking, All Singing, All Dancing” film and was the first sound film to win the Oscar for “Best Picture. Little did anyone know at the time that one of the Meglin Kiddies would soon become the greatest female star of the new genre, the movie musical.
Also on the bill, in special nightly midnight matinees, were the stars of King Vidor’s all-black musical, Hallelujah which premiered that August 1929, singing songs from that film as well as the popular Kern musical, “Show Boat.”
March 21, 1931: Judy performed as part of the “Big Brother Ken Junior Matinee” for the Blue Gate Cottage Benefit at the Fox Wilshire Theater, in Beverly Hills, California.
March 21, 1941: Mildred Stewart, of Whitehall, Montana, had recently won the “Judy Garland Double Contest” and a 16mm film of her was shown at the American Theater in Butte, Montana. The contest was held by the American Theater in conjunction with their showings of Little Nellie Kelly.
March 21, 1942: Judy had another recording session for For Me And My Gal. At this point, the film was still titled The Big Time, as reflected on this Daily Music Report for this day. Judy and Gene Kelly pre-recorded the now-classic version of the title song, “For Me And My Gal” as well as “Ballin’ The Jack.” Time called: 11:00 a.m.; dismissed: 5:00 p.m.
Listen to “For Me And My Gal” Take 6 here:
Listen to “For Me And My Gal” Tag Takes 1 & 2 here:
Listen to “Ballin’ The Jack” Take 15 here:
March 21, 1943: For Me And My Gal (released in 1942) was still a huge hit. Here are a few more ads and reviews.
March 21, 1943: Judy sold her Bel-Air home for approximately $40,000, which is about $585k in today’s dollars. I wonder if Judy actually got any of that money or if it went to MGM?
March 21, 1944: Judy in the news. This little blurb about Judy and her pet poodle, “Choo Choo,” was published on this date.
Photos: Judy with Choo Choo as a puppy in 1941; at home in bed with Choo Choo recovering from strep throat in 1942; and with husband Vincente Minnelli in 1945 at Chicago’s Dearborn station. Note: I’m not sure if the dog in the last pic is the same poodle.
March 21, 1945: Filming on The Harvey Girls continued on the “Interior Harvey House Party” set. Time called: 10:00 a.m.; Judy arrived at 10:50 a.m.; dismissed: 5:45 p.m.
March 21, 1949: Judy returned to work on Annie Get Your Gun after being out sick for several days. On this day, she had some wardrobe and makeup tests, plus “Rehearsal #8” in which she rehearsed the song “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly.” Time called: 10 a.m.; due on set at 1 p.m.; arrived on set 1 p.m.; dismissed at 4:40 p.m.
March 21, 1950: Columnist Jimmie Fidler was sympathetic to Judy’s issues with MGM and the fact, as he put it, “There should be no time limits on the treatment needed to put her back on the healthy list. She shouldn’t have a contractual commitment of one picture a year hanging over her head. Rather, she should be told to go wherever is necessary and take whatever treatment may be advisable until she has recovered.” It’s a shame that MGM didn’t take this advice.
March 21, 1951: Judy’s appearance on “The Bing Crosby Show” aired on CBS Radio, broadcast out of Hollywood. Judy had recorded her appearance on March 8, 1951. Crosby always recorded his shows two weeks ahead of the broadcast date.
Judy sang “Carolina In The Morning” and with Crosby, “How Could You Believe Me?” which Judy was to perform in Royal Wedding. She was taken off the film before any pre-recording had been done. This is the closest we’ll get to hear how she might have performed the song in the film.
The show has survived and was released on the 1993 CD “When You’re Smiling” (the page includes a link to download the complete CD).
You can also listen to Judy and Bing’s “How Could You Believe Me?” here:
March 21, 1952: These photos were taken of Judy and fiance Sid Luft at the Bahamas Country Club Amateur Cold Cup Tournament in Nassau, Bahamas. The two had flown from Palm Beach where they were vacationing.
Judy’s divorce from Vincente Minnelli became final on this day as well, and she was granted custody of Liza with generous provisions made for Liza to spend time with her father. To their credit, there was never any issues between Judy and Vincente in regards to both spending ample time with Liza.
Sid played quite a bit of golf during their vacation. On March 16th, the Palm Beach Post reported that Sid had played golf that previous Friday (March 14th) with none other than the Duke of Windsor, Charles Cushing, and Robert D. Young (no relation to the actor Robert Young).
Also on this date, columnist Sheilah Graham reported that Sid wanted to purchase the screen right to the musical, “Finian’s Rainbow,” to co-star Judy with Donald O’Connor.
March 21, 1954: A Star Is Reborn.
March 21, 1965: This photo of Judy with actor Barry Sullivan, daughter Lorna and son Joe looking at the poster art for the film Harlow, in which Judy was originally slated to play Harlow’s mother.
Judy had just flown back to Los Angeles from her engagement in Miami. She was immediately driven to the studio where this photo was taken. The following day, March 22, 1965, Judy withdrew from the production. Filming was scheduled to start on March 31st. The reason given for her withdrawal was “prior commitments.” Eleanor Parker replaced her then left the project as well, being replaced by Ginger Rogers.
Carol Lynley played Harlow. Judy allegedly said to Lynley: “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!”
The film was, indeed, a piece of junk.
SIDE NOTE: Judy and her family moved to Los Angeles and then Lancaster (California) in the late 1920s. Allegedly while on a trip to Los Angeles, Judy’s father Frank, and some friends, went to see the premiere festivities of Harlow’s first big film, Hell’s Angels, at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Frank was able to get up to Harlow’s car and opened the door for her when she got out, prompting one of his friends to jokingly shout at him, “Who do you think you are? Rin Tin Tin?” There are photos and newsreel footage of the premiere but none of Harlow getting out of her car so it’s impossible to verify this story.
Find out more about the many films Judy was a part of, or wanted for, at The Judy Room’s “The Films That Got Away” section.
Second, third, and fourth photos: The real Jean Harlow, plus a photo of the premiere of Hell’s Angels.
March 21, 1969: The concert planned for Gothenburg, Sweden, was canceled when, in trying to get some rest, Judy took too many sleeping pills although she quickly recovered and went on the next stop on this Scandinavian tour which was in Malmo, Sweden.