“Warm-hearted, emotional, incredibly talented, [Judy] has always been a favorite in Hollywood.” Lloyd Shearer, 1955
March 27, 1928: Frances (Judy) and her two sisters performed at a birthday party for their father, Frank Gumm, at the Gumm family home in Lancaster, California.
March 27 & 28, 1930: Judy’s father, Frank Gumm, was from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The town’s two papers, “The Daily News Journal” and “The Home Journal,” both reported that “Little Frances Gumm” had become the finalist in a “prettiest children” contest in Los Angeles, California. The contest took place on March 4th and was Judy’s second time entering, she had entered the previous year’s contest on March 1, 1929.
According to the reports, Judy was one of 15 finalists out of 27,000 children who were up for a film contract with Paramount Pictures. The articles go on to state that the 15 finalists were each given “a beautiful $150 doll by Mary Pickford.”
Judy didn’t with the contest or the film contract and no other information is known about Judy’s association with it. Judy kept the doll, as evidenced by a news item from May 3, 1942, which told the story of Judy loaning the doll to MGM for use in the “Doll Shop” number in For Me And My Gal stating, “Judy came to the rescue with her own cherished childhood dolly. It was one the young star had won in a contest sponsored by Mary Pickford many years ago.”
One article notes that the finalists were featured in a full-page photo in the “Los Angeles Express.” That paper was sold a year later to the Hearst Publication company and was merged with the “Los Angeles Herald” becoming the “Los Angeles Herald-Express” and then the evening “Los Angeles Herald-Examiner” lasting until 1989.
There are no records online, nor are there any notices in the “Los Angeles Times” about the contest during the time period (early 1930).
Photos: Judy in 1930; the articles.
March 27, 1938: “That Garland Gang” – This full-page article by Jon Stokes purports to let readers know just what Judy and her “gang” do during breaks in filming.
Judy’s seen in a publicity photo taken in Miami, Florida, during her recent Everybody Sing tour as well as wearing the same outfit for the two photos taken on MGM’s backlot.
That Garland Gang
By Jon Stokes
What Do Kid Stars Do When School Is Out and the Cameras Are Still? Well, Take Judy’s Pals – – –
JUVENILE stars of the movies worry just as much about their nickels as any other kids. Judy Garland, the child singer, today submitted conclusive proof on the side of the little professionals. They run in gangs, enjoy their little disagreements and swear by their childish loyalties, exactly as youngsters do in every neighborhood in America.
Delia Bogart, Leonard Barrett, Mickey Rooney, Freddie Bartholomew, Jackie Cooper, Ronald Sinclair, Deanna Durbin and Suzanne Larson constitute the main members of Judy’s gang, but just like any other group, new members are added from time to time.
In one respect, they’re somewhat like their elders. They can’t play all the time. The must go to school just like the average child and they must also do their screen work.
Saturdays will find them in any number of places. Last week, they were at the skating rink for the afternoon, and then they had sandwiches and tea at Judy’s house later.
Jackie and Mickey wanted to make a night of it and go to the neighborhood show, but Mrs. Garland and Mrs. Larson vetoed the idea on the grounds that the girls were tired after hours of skating.
Jackie and Mickey hid their grief by going to the Beverly Hills Bowling Center for a couple of games before going home.
Sunday morning finds most of the gang at church in various parts of the city.
After a 1 o’clock dinner, they get together again. If the weather’s right, they’re off to the beach in Mickey’s new car, which all the mothers approved because a device holds the speed down to 35 miles an hour. Usually, they go to the State Beach because it costs less than a club and the kids have just as much fun
Money is one thing they have to think about, just like the average child. True, they make as much every week as a successful businessman, but that it put away in a trust for a rainy day. Judy gets $5 a week for her allowance and that’s used for her lunches and anything special she wants to buy for herself. Her clothes and all other necessities come out of her regular salary.
Freddie Bartholomew’s budget is different. His aunt pays for his lunches and gives him a dollar a week for pleasure. So he confines his states to the neighborhood soda fountain, as far as spending is concerned.
NATURALLY, being in pictures, these children are a bit more formal on occasions that the overage youngster. So when Judy was given a surprise birthday party byre mother last year, it was held at the Vendome, with 15 guests in attendance. The conversation ran from model airplanes to their latest pictures.
Let’s look at one of Judy’s average dates: Leonard, who is Judy’s special boyfriend, calls and asks her for a date on Friday night, knowing that she can go out because there’s no school or screen word the next day.
Judy remembers that Leonard bought her a big basket of flowers just a week before when she left for Miami for personal appearances in conjunction with the world premiere of “Everybody Sing.”
She invites Leonard to dine at her house; after dinner Judy invites tow or three friends over to the house and they play Movie Mart, or bridge, until 10. So far, it’s been a very inexpensive evening for Leonard, so he’s able to take the gang down to the corner drugstore for ice cream.
But the boys aren’t so lucky when Judy makes a personal appearance at the Grove or Troc. The boys aren’t even invited, for Judy’s escort is usually someone from the studio press department, who can see that she makes her appearance and then is immediately sent to her home.
Seldom do these kids go to public places. Their parents frown upon it as does the studio. The kids would like to go to the Beverly Wilshire or Victor Hugo’s but they can’t afford it.
The fact that Judy gets free passes to her M-G-M previews doesn’t help the boys. Judy likes to see her pictures before any of the boys in her group do, and for that reason one of the feminine members of the group usually joins Judy and Mrs. Garland at the theater.
The California State Law allows picture children to go to school on or off the lot. Judy was in “Everybody Sing” for most of this school term, so she’s continuing at the studio school with Mrs. MacDonald, who has tutored her on the set, off and on, for the last two years. Freddie and Betty Jaynes are two others who go to the studio school, as well as Ronnie.
Mickey goes to Fairfax High School. Because he plays football on their lightweight team, besides having his own M-G-M team.
THE studio school is situated near the sound stages, but at recess a car takes the class to Lot Two, where there is a playground with swings, slides and even a swimming pool. Here they have their gymnasium period before returning to classes.
As in every young clique, the mothers have full control; no more than one party a weeks and that must be finished by 11 on Saturday night and 9:30 on week nights. All parties have to be given at home, so the mothers can enforce the closing hour.
These parties usually start in the front room, with guest acting like perfect little ladies and gentlemen. But 10 minutes of this and then they’re out in the backyard playing ping-on and badminton. That’s one of the reasons that elaborate party dresses and suits are never worn. Just everyday clothes that will last through a rough-and-ready game of badminton.
Nor is the food elaborate at ease gatherings. After working up their appetites in the backyard, these kids like real sandwiches – none of those fancy things, and Mickey expressed it, “with the crust cut off”
Cake, candy – they eat everything, for none of the guests have to worry about their figures. That’s the job of their physical director, C.B. Roemer, at the studio.
ON raining nights at parties, just like their older screen brothers and sisters, they play the new parlor sport called The Game, in which they try and act out the titles of pictures, or play card games such as contract rummy.
No one in the gang goes “steady.” Maybe one of the girls will like one of the lads just a little better than the others, but she doesn’t confine her dates to that one person. The boys are wise enough to pursue the simple pleasures instead of trying to show off in front of the girls by spending a lot of money.
You see, they work in glamorous surroundings all day, and realize that it is only a world of make-believe.
March 27, 1938: Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (released in 1937).
March 27, 1942: Rehearsal and recording session for For Me And My Gal. Judy pre-recorded “Till We Meet Again”; “How ‘Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm?”; “Where Do We Go From Here?” and the original, ultimately deleted finale version of “For Me And My Gal” with Gene Kelly and George Murphy. The King’s Men also pre-recorded “There’s A Long, Long Trail” and the ultimately deleted “Dear Old Pal Of Mine.” Time called: 10:30 a.m. ; dismissed: 5:00 p.m.
Listen to “For Me And My Gal” Finale Take 1 here:
Listen to “For Me And My Gal” Finale Tag Takes 5 & 6 here:
Listen to “Till We Meet Again” Take 4 here:
Listen to “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm?” Take 4 here:
Listen to “Where Do We Go From Here?” here:
Listen to “There’s A Long, Long Trail” (sung by The King’s Men) here:
Listen to “Dear Old Pal Of Mine” (sung by The King’s Men) here:
March 27, 1943: In the “What The Picture Did For Me” feature in the trade magazine “Motion Picture Daily,” the following theatre owners/managers had the following to say about a couple of Judy’s latest films.
Babes on Broadway (released in 1942) – Delmar C. Fox of the Fox Theatre in Pincher Creek, Alberta, Canada, said: I had a lot of bad breaks on this picture: the first night there was an Ice Carnival, the second night a power failure, and on the third night . . . Well, anyway, I enjoyed the picture very much, although I just barely saw it for free.
For Me And My Gal (released in 1942) – M. Bailey of the Strand Theatre, Dryden, Ontario, Canada, said: Very good picture. Business fair, weather cold and stormy.
Eddie Fadal of the Rita Theatre in Valley Mills, Texas, said: Truly one of the finest pictures this exhibitor has had the privilege to witness. Not a single bad comment. Played three days. Business only fair, however, due to inclement weather. May folks came each night. This Gene Kelly was a natural in his role. I predict Metro will sue him in many more pictures. He’s great!
March 27, 1943: Girl Crazy filming continued. The assistant director’s report notes: “Company dismissed without shooting because of illness of director and because JG’s [Judy Garland’s] skirt did not fit.” Time called: 10:20 a.m.; dismissed: 11:25 a.m.
March 27, 1944: Meet Me In St. Louis filming continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Dining Room” set. Time called: 11:00 a.m.; Judy was ready at 12:20 p.m.; dismissed at 5:40 p.m.
March 27, 1945: The Harvey Girls filming continued with wardrobe tests and filming on the “Interior Harvey House” set (including some of the “March of the Doagies” number). Time called: 10:00 a.m.
The assistant director’s reports note: “10:20-10:22 – Waiting for Judy – She meantime called Bob Alton and said she didn’t like the steps in number; Note: JG due at 10 a.m.; called at 10:15 from her dressing room and said she wasn’t feeling well and would like to rest as long as possible – she was told we would need her within a few minutes; 10:22-10:51 -. while waiting for Judy, Bob Alton rehearsed Garland’s substitute and rest of cast in changed steps; 10:51-11:02 – waiting for Judy; 11:02-11:14 – Judy arrived but not dressed – rehearsed cast while Judy watched; 11:14-11:45 – Rehearsed cast and Judy’s substitute with camera moves in changed routine of number; 11:45-12:15 – asked lighting for changed routine; 12:15-1:15 – Lunch; JG did not return from lunch until 2 p.m. – 45 minutes late.” Dismissed: 5:00 p.m.
March 27, 1946: Vancouver’s Capitol Theatre celebrated its 25th anniversary with The Harvey Girls.
March 27, 1949: Two candid photos of Judy. The first is from Jay Scott’s “Here’s Hollywood” photo column and features Judy with producer Arthur Freed, husband Vincente Minnelli, and mentor Roger Edens on the town at the Mocambo. The second is a shot of Judy and Fred Astaire at the recent MGM 25th anniversary luncheon. See footage from that luncheon below.
March 27, 1950: These photos taken of Judy and husband Vincente Minnelli celebrating daughter Liza’s fourth birthday with a party for her are given this date although Liza was born on March 12, 1946, and Hedda Hopper’s column printed on the 16th mentions the birthday party as well as the fact that there were 60 guests and that Liza received a playhouse. Other reports note that the poodle in the photos was one of Liza’s birthday gifts. In other words, the party most likely took place on March 12th as that was a Sunday in 1950 and even Vincente would have most likely had the day off from MGM. Judy’s weight is another clue. She’s heavier here, and in the time between March 12 and March 27 she slimmed down to the trim and sexy figure we see in the number “Get Happy” which was filmed during that same time frame.
At this time (late March 1950), Judy had just completed Summer Stock and was taking a rest in Carmel before she would be called back to MGM in late April to replace a pregnant June Allyson in Royal Wedding with Fred Astaire.
March 27, 1951: Judy left Los Angeles for New York to sail on the Ile de France for England and her engagement at the London Palladium. It was the beginning of her legendary concert years.
March 27, 1955: “Judy Garland: Half-Tennessean”
This article appeared in the Nashville Tennessean Magazine promoting Judy, who was at the time the Oscar favorite, as “half-Tennessean” thanks to her father, Frank Gumm. The locals remember Judy’s well-liked father in this nice article. There is a lot of good information here about Frank, and I like to think that if Judy had seen this article she would have been happy that her father was the focus of it.
Judy Garland: Half Tennessean
Her father grew up in Murfreesboro
By Louise Davis
JUDY GARLAND, top contender for one of Hollywood’s Oscars at this week’s presentation, is “half Tennessean,” and her new honors bring on some reminiscing at Murfreesboro.
Not that Judy herself ever lived in the Rutherford county seat. But her late father, choir singer Frank Gumm, was born within sight of the town square, and he grew up there.
“Frank Gumm was an awfully nice boy,” Frank Burgdorf Sr. recalled recently at the counter of the men’s clothing store where he works in Murfreesboro. “He was very much of a musician. Nice looking, too.”
Few of Frank Gumm’s relatives are left in Murfreesboro. The mayor’s wife, Mrs. A.L. (Jack) Todd, is a first cousin. So is Mrs. Annalee Mertz, who operates the florist shop at the James K. Polk hotel. Mrs. Mertz’s daughter, Mrs. Barbara Gone, is two years younger than Judy and the two played together briefly when they were children.
But you have to look hard to find anyone who was around when Frank Gumm was a boy soprano at St. Paul’s Episcopal church at Murfreesboro. The Rev. Paul Dodd Burns, rector of the tiny church, looked in the church register and found that Frank Event Gumm was listed as a communicant on Jan 5, 1902. He was 15 years old then.
HE WAS born on March 20, 1886, at his grandfather’s big brick home on East Main St., across the street from the Episcopal church today. Painted yellow, with green shutters, the ante-bellum [sic] house is still one of the handsome homes of the city.
Frank’s voice caught the ear of the late George M. Darrow when “Baby Gumm,” youngest of the three Gumm brothers, was still in grammar school. Darrow, one of the leaders in the Episcopal church, took “Baby” under his wing and saw to it that he sang in the church choir.
“He had a fine soprano voice as a little boy,” Mrs. Mertz recalls. “He was soloist with the choir.”
Darrow, Gumm’s godfather, was so determined that the boy’s voice be properly trained that he arranged for him to enter preparatory school at Sewanee. For six years – through high school and two years of college – Frank Gumm studied at Sewanee.
He sang in the choir at the university chapel, and he was a member of various musical organizations. In 1901, his sophomore year in high school, he won honors in the school declamation contests. He studied voice with private teachers and had every intention of making music his career.
WHEN he came home to Murfreesboro during vacation, his tenor voice brightened the social scene. In home-town minstrel shows and other amateur entertainments, Frank Gumm had the leading roles.
“He was handsome and very, very charming,” a Murfreesboro lady recalled the light-hearted lad. “He had dark hair, dark eyes, was of medium height, medium build.”
“And he was always happy, laughing. When he would come in a crowd, everybody would gather around the piano and sing. In those days young people didn’t date the way they do now, but on Sunday afternoon the whole crowd would get together, usually at one of the girl’s houses. When Frank dropped around, the music began.”
“He was well read, a good conversationalist. I couldn’t say enough nice things about him.”
Edwin Reed, Nashville judo dealer, was one of Gumm’s classmates and neighbors, and he remembers him as a happy youth, always whistling or humming a tune.
“I can see him now as he came down the street with his straw hat on his coat over his shoulder,” Reed recalled recently. “He was invariably whistling or singing.”
GUMM worked for a time as secretary in the executive offices of the Knights of Pythias Lodge of Tennessee, working in that capacity in Tullahoma after 1910. He had left Sewanee in 1905, at the end of his sophomore year.
Nobody at Murfreesboro seems to remember when Frank Gumm (some of the family spell the name Gum) left Tennessee. But his love of music eventually took him to vaudeville and Superior, Wis.
There he met another singer and pianist, Ethel Milne. They sang at the same theater, and sometimes she played his piano accompaniment. They were married on January 22, 1914, at Superior. Soon afterward they bought their own theater in Grand Rapids, Minn, and there Judy – the youngest of their three daughters – was born on June 10, 1922.
But Judy was not called Judy until later. She was named for her father and mother: Frances Ethel Gumm.
When Frances was 18 months old, her parents brought her to Murfreesboro on a visit, and she was already a charmer. Mrs. Mertz remembers that the smiling baby girl sang even then.
That was perhaps the only visit that Frances Gumm ever made to the home of her grandparents and uncles and cousins in Murfreesboro. For by the time she was three-and-one-half years old, Frances had begun her stage career.
HER MOTHER played the piano at the movie house in Grand Rapids, and her father took care of the box office. Sometimes, between features, Frank Gumm would sing and his wife accompany him. As the two older daughters grew up, they sang, too.
One Christmas, when Frances was three years old, she stood backstage while her older sisters, Susan [sic] and Virginia, stepped out on the stage to sing “Jingle Bells.” Their mother was at the piano. There was nobody backstage to grab Frances, and as her sisters walked off stage, she walked on and gave her own version of the song – five times.
From that day Frances Gumm has been a part of the theater. Soon after her stage debut, her family left Grand Rapids for California. They played one-night stands along the way, the girls having separate billing from their parents.
“My father gave me my first singing lessons,” Judy said in an exclusive statement for The Tennessean Magazine. “They started about the same time I learned to walk.”
“When I began playing vaudeville engagements with my sisters, he helped coach us. He told me to put all my enthusiasm into a song. Doing that would make the audiences like me, he said, even if they didn’t like the song.”
In California they settled in Lancaster, a small desert community 80 miles north of Los Angeles, where Gumm became the manager of a theater.
JUDY was signed for a child’s drama school, booked in a Los Angeles theater handmade her first appearance there as Cupid, singing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.”
The three sisters had established an act successful enough to get them a booking at the Oriental theater [sic] in Chicago before Frances was 10 years old. But when the excited Gumm sisters arrived and saw their names misspelled on the marquee – “The Glum Sisters” – the joy went out of their songs.
George Jessel, on the same bill, tried to console them.
“Why, you girls are pretty as a garland of flowers,” he told them. And then he remembered Robert Garland, New York critic.
“How about changing your name to Garland?” He suggested. And the girls sang as “The Garland Sisters” until the two older ones married and left show business.
When Hoagy Carmichael’s song, “Judy” became popular, Frances Garland changed her name to Judy.
At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, Judy and her sisters, accompanied by their mother, managed to get booking at a concession. At that time, Mrs. Mertz and her family lived in Chicago, and they acted as hosts to Judy’s family.
“Judy was a happy girl with a fine sense of humor,” Mrs. Goenne recalls the Chicago adventures. “She was so natural and unaffected.”
NOT LONG after that Judy was singing at a vacation campfire when a song writer heard her and suggested that she try her luck in Hollywood. She was 12 years old – too old for child roles and too young for adult roles – but in two years she had won screen fame.
Her father was immensely proud of her success, and he wrote old friends in Murfreesboro about it. But he lived to see only the beginning of it.
On the even of Judy’s first big network broadcast, her father rote Murfreesboro friends to be sure to listen
“We listened all right,” one of his Murfreesboro friends recalled. “We didn’t know till the next day that Frank had died just before his daughter went on the air.”
Frank Gumm died of an attack of meningitis on Nov. 17, 1935. His star-daughter was 13 years old, and a little lost in the dawning fame. Judy said recently: “During those early bewildering months at the studio I keenly missed his advice and guidance and fatherly interest.”
“Although I had professional coaches training me for my film appearances, I longed to talk to my father about my work. At the preview of my first picture I remember I cried when I realized he was not in the audience to watch my performance.”
It would have been sweet reward to Frank Gumm.
In a letter to one of his best friends, Prof. Henry M. Gass, of the University of the South, Gumm paid touching tribute to the peaceful Episcopal retreat.
“Tomorrow is my birthday,” he began the letter in 1934, just a year before his death. “I will be 48, and I can think of no better way to celebrating it than by sending you my check in order that I may become, in a humble way, a ‘paying’ member of Sewanee’s great alumni.”
“Boy, I will never forget the six years I spent at Sewanee; they were six of the happiest, the most beautiful years of my life.”
WHEN Judy was 17, her performance in “The Wizard of Oz” won her the Academy award [sic].
But fame did not bring Judy happiness. Two marriages failed before she married her present husband, Sid Luft. Despondency led to such tantrums that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer dismissed her. She tried suicide in 1949. She retired to private life for four years.
Her compact in 1954 in “A Star Is Born” – leading candidate for the new Oscar – makes the kind of story Hollywood loves. And Murfreesboro, too, rejoices at the valiant struggle, the new success of Frank Gumm’s baby girl, Judy.
March 27, 1955: The Oscars were days away and the press about one of the hottest competitions in Oscar history, the race for “Best Actress” was getting a lot of press.
March 27, 1956: Judy recorded “Lucky Day” for her second album for Capitol Records, simply titled “Judy.” Nelson Riddle conducted and provided the arrangements.
Listen to “Lucky Day” here:
Image above: The jukebox version of the song.
March 27, 1958: Lee Besler wrote about how Judy’s life was “just story of fame and tragedy.” The article isn’t very good, not because of the sensationalism but because it ends abruptly.
March 27, 1965: This photo of Judy with her three children, Liza Minnelli and Lorna, and Joey Luft, was used as bait (clickbait we’d call it now) to get people to read the article even though Judy and the kids are not in it. Still, it’s an interesting article.
Photo: Judy and Jack Carter on “The Hollywood Palace.”
March 27, 1967: Judy’s first day of work on Valley of the Dolls was spent doing some wardrobe, hair, and make-up tests, plus the pre-recording of her one song for the film, “I’ll Plant My Own Tree.” Judy was unhappy with the song and wanted to sing “Get Off Looking Good” by Bobby Cole instead. Still, she gave the song her all!
The video here is our friend Mark Milano’s “mash-up” of the final film footage featuring Susan Hayward, but lip-synching to Judy’s pre-recording. Thanks, Mark!
The stereo version of the song has been remastered and released on CD, on the 2019 2-CD set “Judy Garland Lost Tracks 2 – 1936-1967.”
March 27, 1969: Judy and Mickey Deans flew to Torremolinos, on the Costa del Sol in Spain, for a long weekend. Deans apparently felt the sun was better for Judy than a hospital, but it is doubtful that this “Long weekend” did any good; upon arrival, Judy took to her bed in the hotel, but the first night she slipped in the bathroom, bruising herself slightly. The next morning she fell asleep on the floor of the bathroom, with Deans having to break the door down. The day after that, they moved into a suit when it became available. The local doctor changed Judy’s medication from Ritalin to a milder medication, Longacton, and suggested that she be moved to a hospital – Deans again insisted he could help her more in the hotel.
After “a few days” Judy seemed “considerably improved: she was in good spirits, eating, and determined to get well, her sense of humor returned.” Deans then released the chauffeured car and rented a Fiat, taking Judy for a drive along the coast, which “seemed therapeutic.” That night, however, “a change came over her’: Judy was talking to herself and “irrational.” Deans’ only thought was to get her back to London, not to a hospital. He made a plane reservation, called their public-relations man Matthew West in London to arrange to have a car meet them at Heathrow Airport and to have the mews cottage ready. The B.E.A. Caravelle plane with Judy and Deans landed at Gatwick Airport instead of at Heathrow; it was 3 a.m., and Deans only had a handful of Spanish coins and two $500 travelers’ checks. He finally got “a bill changed,” and hired a car and driver who drove them back home. Judy’s doctor, John Traherne, came over immediately. The doctor wasn’t sure what was wrong and feared possible brain damage, thinking she might not fully recover. He gave her tranquilizers. Judy woke up the next morning “Bright and alert” with “no recollection” of the last 24 hours. After seeing her again, Dr. Traherne suggested that Judy had suffered the trauma of withdrawal: the abrupt discontinuance of Ritalin and the change to Longacton, which was milder. Though Judy seemed recovered, a nurse was hired to stay at the mews cottage.
Photo: Judy with Mickey Deans, 1969.