“When you see me crying on stage, just bet that I know what I’m doing. My tears are an act. I can turn them on or off at will. If I sing a sad song and I think it will go over better with a little weeping – I turn on the tears.” – Judy Garland, 1963
March 29, 1925: Frances’s (Judy’s) debut as a solo performer, on the stage of her father’s theater, The New Grand Theater, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. She was two-and-three-quarters years old.
March 29, 1935: 12-year-old Judy entered the Decca Records studios in Los Angeles, CA for the very first time. She and her sisters (“The Garland Sisters”) were there to record test records for a possible contract with the label. Their mother, Ethel Gumm, played the piano. These are the very first studio recordings of Judy Garland singing.
The sisters recorded “Moonglow” and Judy soloed on “Bill” and a medley of “On The Good Ship Lollipop”/”The Object of My Affection”/”Dinah.” These are the very first studio recordings ever made of Judy Garland singing. A contract wasn’t offered and the tests were rejected.
Listen to “Bill” here:
Listen to “On The Good Ship Lollipop”/”The Object of My Affection”/”Dinah” here:
The records were thought to be lost forever until 2004 when a lady contacted me via The Judy Room and said that she thought she had copies of the two Judy solos. She was right!
The basic story is: In 1960 she and her mother accompanied her uncle on a trip to the recently vacated Garland home to clear out what was left behind (the uncle was in the clean-up business). He thought the kids would enjoy seeing the home. They retrieved the two records and a few other items from the junk pile that was targeted for the city dump. The items (including the two records) then sat in her mother’s home until her passing in the early 2000s. The records were given to the girl, now grown up, as a keepsake of the memory of that happy day. She did some online research which led her to The Judy Room. After both MCA (owners of the Decca catalog) and Universal Music passed on doing anything with the records, they went up for auction. Due to outside circumstances, the records didn’t meet the reserve price and went back to her. Finally, in 2010 the records were remastered and premiered in the “Lost Tracks” 4-CD set.
Sadly, the trio’s recording of “Moonglow” was not with the two Judy solos and remains a lost recording. Note that the labels give Judy’s age as 11 (she was 12 at the time), indicating that Ethel might have been shaving a year off of her age in an effort to maximize her effect on stage. Later, MGM would do the same to make Judy seem more of a child prodigy than she already was! It’s also been suggested that the text was written on the label much later because, on the Decca log sheet, she’s listed as “Frances Garland.” She hadn’t yet changed her name to “Judy.”
Judy’s “Bill” solo was sent to Jack Kapp in New York by Decca’s Los Angeles executive Joe Perry. Perry was enthusiastic about Judy and on the surviving log, he wrote a note to Kapp, “12 yr. Old Girl I Wrote About, 3/29/35 – Joe.” Kapp was either not impressed or maybe he didn’t hear the record at all, because as noted at this point Judy did not receive a contract.
These two surviving recordings are incredible. They pre-date Judy’s MGM audition by six months, giving us a chance to hear how she sounded before being put under the brilliant tutelage of Roger Edens. It’s all there, that raw talent at such a young age. Say what you want about Judy’s mom, Ethel Gumm, but professionally she had her daughter on the right track.
Photo: Judy in Chicago in the summer of 1934, posing as she did when performing “Bill” on stage, sitting on a piano as the song’s originator, Helen Morgan, performed the song.
Learn more about Judy’s early contracts and auditions with Decca Records here.
March 29, 1938: The final leg of Judy’s extensive Everybody Sing tour which began in Miami and would end in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
This notice from the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper reports that Judy traveled through Minneapolis from Chicago on her way to Grand Rapids.
Judy, her mom, and Roger Edens took the Hiawatha train from Chicago to Minneapolis on March 30th. The train trip took 7 hours, necessitating an overnight stay in Minneapolis. A subsequent notice reported that although Judy didn’t make any personal appearances during her one-night stay in the city, she did meet with fans outside of her hotel. Judy traveled to Grand Rapids on the morning of April 1, 1938.
March 29, 1938: More studio fantasy, plus an ad for Everybody Sing.
March 29, 1941: Another wonderful two-page ad for Ziegfeld Girl, published in the trade magazine, the “Motion Picture Herald.”
March 29, 1942: Judy gets her man. In this case, the story is true that Judy saw Kelly in New York and later wanted him as her co-star in what became his film debut, For Me And My Gal.
March 29, 1943: MGM recording session for Girl Crazy. Judy pre-recorded “But Not For Me” which is one of her best on-screen ballads. Judy also had some wardrobe tests for the film. Time called: 11 a.m.; dismissed: 3:30 p.m.
Listen to “But Not For Me” here:
Watch the stereo version here, from our friend Mark Milano. Thanks, Mark!
March 29, 1944: Meet Me In St. Louis continued filming on the “Interior Living Room” and Interior Hall/Stairs” sets. Time called: 3:30 p.m.; dismissed: 5:50 p.m.
Photo: 2011 British Film Institute poster.
March 29, 1946: This ad appeared in the “Film Daily” trade magazine, promoting Ziegfeld Follies.
March 29, 1947: This isn’t an ad for Easter Parade (it wasn’t in production yet) but an ad for MGM’s films currently in theaters, including Till The Clouds Roll By (released in 1946) that will help one celebrate the Easter Parades held not just in New York but other cities and towns across the country.
March 29, 1949: “Look” magazine featured an article about Judy’s daughter, Liza Minnelli’s, screen debut in In The Good Old Summertime.
The photos were taken the previous December 1948, on MGM’s Backlot #2, specifically on the grounds of the standing set named the “Southern Mansion.” Check out The Judy Room’s “Judy Garland on the MGM Backlot” section for details about this and the other locations on MGM’s Backlot where Judy’s movies were filmed.
Photos: The first three are from the “Look” article, followed by “Movieland” and “Photoplay” magazine pages (one each) and a variety of photos taken on that day. Thanks to Kim Lundgreen for providing the bulk of the pics!
March 29, 1949: A break in the Annie Get Your Gun pre-recording sessions. Judy posed for silent (film) makeup and hairdress tests. Judy was due in the studio at 8:00 a.m.; due on set: 10:00 a.m.; Judy was on time arriving at 10:00 a.m.; dismissed 11:00 a.m.
Photos above: Posted before but posting again – the text is interesting – the 1970 “Memory Album” provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
March 29, 1953: Judy took part in the “1953 All-Star Review” radio show for the 1953 Cancer Crusade for the American Cancer Society. The show also featured Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, the John Scott Trotter Orchestra, and the Rhythmaires (the latter two were part of the staff of Bing’s weekly radio show).
Judy soloed on “Mean To Me” and then duetted with Bing on “April in Paris” and performed a “Sarah Spade” parody (also with Bing). “April in Paris” is available on the 2017 deluxe 4-CD set “Judy Garland – Classic Duets.”
Listen to “April in Paris” here:
March 29, 1955: At 2:16 a.m. Judy’s third and last child, and only son, Joseph Wiley Luft, was born at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. He weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces.
March 29, 1963: Dorothy Kilgallen’s column mainly focused on Judy and her comments about her approach to her singing in concert.
March 29, 1964: The final airing of “The Judy Garland Show” (“Episode Twenty-Six”) on the CBS network.
This last episode was comprised of the thirty minutes/nine songs from March 13; five songs from “Episode Twenty-Two,” taped February 14 (with Jack Jones); and one song – “By Myself” – that was deleted from “Episode Twenty-Five” due to time constraints; to fill out the hour.
The series was a big hit with critics and audiences in spite of its low ratings (having to go against the juggernaut of “Bonanza” – a stupid decision on the Network’s part) and was nominated for four Emmys: Outstanding Variety Program (“The Danny Kaye” show won); Judy and her guest Barbra Streisand both nominated, separately, for “Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Music Program or Series” (both losing to Danny Kaye); and “Best Art Direction & Scenic Design” (lost to “Hallmark Hall of Fame”).
Thankfully, the series and most of the outtakes survive and are available on DVD and YouTube for everyone to enjoy.
March 29, 1964: Newspaper notices about the airing of the final episode of Judy’s series, “The Judy Garland Show,” including some really nice artwork.