by Edgar Penton
November 2, 1963
In the premiere of the new weekly Judy Garland Show in September, guest star Donald O’Connor got a howl from Judy and the hep studio audience by telling her he doubted the possibility of a Judy Garland show because “you wouldn’t show up.”
The line reflecting the feeling of many in show business who remembered the star’s sometimes doubtful dependability over the years. Now, after half dozen solid performances, the skepticism as to La Garland’s sustaining a weekly series is pretty well erased.
True, skeptics did have their day early in August. They exchanged smug shrugs when the series went out of production after five shows had been videotaped at CBS Television City in Hollywood.
But these “told-you-sos” were proved premature when difficulties were soon ironed out and production resumed.
However there still remains a wondering curiosity among some viewers about why she has embarked on the grind of a weekly series at all.
“She’s already a legend,” people say. “How can that much popularity be enhanced by weekly exposure?”
Miss Garland, whose spirited performances belie her great personal modesty, laughs at the sobriquet, “The legend.”
“So why,” the same people continue, “does she let herself in for all the hard work connected with doing a weekly series?”
“Who’s afraid of hard work?” Miss Garland counters. She never lets her modesty interfere with her determination — and she has been dead-determined from the begining to make “The Judy Garland Show” the best thing she has ever done: week after week after week.
“I was born in a trunk,” she says, so involved in making her point that she doesn’t realize she has used the title line from one of her most famous concert numbers, or, if she does realize it, she brushes the association aside and continues to define the metaphor:
“I was raised in a vaudeville family; we had lunch for breakfast, dinner for lunch and a show for dinner. From age five my appetite for entertainment was keener than my taste for food.
“Work? I’d work twenty hours a.day on the series if they’d let me.”
And sometimes she does — union regulations notwithstanding—simply by singing at home.
Her boundless energy is coniagious, and many nights people with whom she works and the production staff, will drive out to her house for a spontaneous rehearsal. On this venture Judy exhibits real “devotion to duly.”
Some people, contending that she has gone as far as any star can go, are afraid that she is endangering her public image by exposing herself to nationwide scrutiny every Sunday night.
“I hope I’m endangering my public image,” she explodes. “I’d like to do away with it!”
Not even aware that she has rocked her listeners back on their heels, Miss Garland half closes her long lashes and speaks out with earnest conviction:
“I’m a cheat. That’s what I am. Public image: it’s a phony! My public image isn’t anything like me. People think I’m either a breakable Dresden doll or a wide-eyed Kansas, teen-ager. I haven’t been a teen-ager for a long time, and if I were breakable, I wouldn’t be here now.”
Her public image—what Miss Garland calls her “half-image” —has been molded from her appearance in three television specials, her record-breaking performances in concert halls and theaters around the world and the necessarily immature personality traits of little Dorothy in the annually televised “Wizard of Oz.”
“Come to think of it,” Miss Garland muses, “my entire repertoire is made up of just two kinds of songs: sad songs and holiday songs.
“So naturally people think I’m either unhappy or on a toot. There’s no middle ground. But I’m not that. . .that. . .mercurial. Really I’m not.
“You really want to know why I’m tackling a television series? Because CBS is letting me be myself—letting me be a whole, total, complete person.
“I can sing anything I want to sing. ‘Old Man River’—I’ve never sung that before, I don’t think any woman has.
“But I’ll sing it in one of our shows.
“And I want to talk, just talk. Not come out and say, ‘I’m Judy Garland and that’s that and now I’m going to sing a song.’ Not just that.
“I want to carry on a conversation with someone. You know,
I’ll bet before the series went on the air that a lot of people had no idea 1 could carry on a conversation without having someone write the script.”
This is the other side of Miss Garland—the sometimes quiet, sometimes-mischievous converversational side—that is having its first public showing in “The Judy Garland Show.”
Two parts of each Judy Garland show are designed specifically to let Miss Garland talk.
One is the “trunk spot,” the final segment of each production during which she talks directly to the audience.
It gives her a chance to tell some of the heretofore quite personal incidents of her widely publicized career.
The other is the “Tea for Two” spot, where Miss Garland spends from six to ten minutes in relaxed conversation with a special surprise guest.
It is completely ad lib.
Indeed the guest is often as much of a surprise to the star as he or she is to the audience; so not even Judy has any idea what Miss Garland is going to say.
Though it may be disturbing to viewers who insist on having their heroes (and heroines) shrouded in mystery, there isn’t a lot more to Miss Garland than meets the eye—certainly very little more than will meet the CBS Eye…this season on “The Judy Garland Show.”
[Note: This article was originally posted on judygarland.net (original website is no longer online) by Rita Piro––thought it was worth reposting and credit should go to her for collecting said article and scanning it to text]
WHEN SCREENLAND asked me, on the set of “The Harvey Girls,” to talk about what I believe about life, love, religion, happiness and immortality, I was flabbergasted by the immensity of the subjects covered. But after I caught my breath, I was glad that I was given this chance to express my ideas. Usually an actress is asked about nothing more vital than whether she prefers coffee with sugar or without, crystal ash trays to silver ones or blondes to brunettes. I realize that this subject takes a great deal of thought, but I will try my best to put on paper what I believe.
Life? I believe that happiness can be achieved if you don’t get in your own way. You should always keep your sense of perspective, both about yourself and about things outside yourself.
I believe you should be critical of yourself but not over-critical. The latter inhibits you too much. You avoid realism and wrap yourself in a cloud of misery. If another person is in a bad mood, you think it’s because of something you have done, when actually he or she may have had a quarrel with someone else and is not thinking of you at all. Or if you’re in a bad mood, you expect the whole world to share it, and take personal offense at everyone else who seems reasonably happy. You say to yourself, “Nobody cares how I feel.”
Such a perspective is completely distorted and selfish. Being over-critical of yourself brings it on. I remember between the ages of 14 to. 20, I went through such a stage. I was particularly sensitive about my nose and teeth. My teeth didn’t all grow in at the same time. I thought I was snaggle-toothed, and often used to put my bands over my mouth to hide my teeth. ‘I was like the girl in the ads who was afraid to smile.
Perhaps every girl goes through a period in adolescence when she is over-critical of her own looks. That viewpoint is just as bad as being too conceited. Actually it’s a form of conceit selfishness because it means you’re concentrating too hard on something about yourself that isn’t really terribly important.
An actress is apt to suffer from this over-sensitiveness. The average girl can look at herself in a mirror, and by picking the angle, see what she wants to see. But in the movies your face is magnified, every little defect shows up multiplied a thousand times. So being an actress is a terrific test of your ego. No matter how your face looks on the screen, however, have to remember that people are going to judge you by your personality and the way you act, as much more than by your looks. Certainly the girl who isn’t an actress is going to be judged more by her personality than by her looks. A boy once told me that when he goes to a dance he never tries to pick out the prettiest girl at the party or dance; he just picks out the one with the nicest smile.
Death? I don’t believe that dying is the end. There is too much preparation in life for something else.
Immortality? I believe that there is such a thing as personal survival. I believe in Heaven and that there is some- thing afterwards. I find it hard to believe that there is such a place as hell in the afterlife.
Prayer. Prayers are important, particularly in war time, and a great comfort to people at all times. When I was little and said my prayers every night, I once got the idea that if I prayed for somebody else each night I would appear unselfish. So I asked for nice things for other people, always adding, “But I don’t need anything” and hoping that I would get nice things as a bonus for my supposed unselfishness. Of course I was just little at the time.
Perhaps I shouldn’t tell this on myself, but once I didn’t get something wanted badly, and then I stopped praying for a while. Of course, I resumed my prayers again after a few days. Now I don’t say bedtime prayers every night, but pray at other times. I know now that some prayers are answered affirmatively by God and others are answered otherwise, because it’s God’s will, but no matter how they may be answered, there is still comfort in the prayer.
Religion. I believe that the real expression of your religious beliefs is shown in the daily pattern of your life, in what you contribute to your surroundings and what you take away without infringing on the rights of other people. I don’t disapprove of people who make a habit of focusing all their thoughts on religious ideas, unless they let religion become an opiate with them and do harmful things to other people. No one should feel that because he goes to church every Sunday he can do critical things which people are not ordinarily supposed to do and that God will overlook his bad behavior.
I like going to church at Christmas, Easter and when I’m not working, because it is peaceful there and a place of good will, where some the nicest people in the community congregate. But real religion is in your mind and in your heart and can’t be judged by the number of times you go to church.
War. You can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out why God allows wars. Once I heard a group of women discussing this and one of them (not myself) said, “How can there be a God when these terrible wars go on? How could He permit it? My own attitude toward war is fatalistic. I feel that human beings create the machines of destruction; we make the troubles that cause wars. True, people are dragged into war who have no control over it, but man, not God is responsible. We haven’t progressed far enough from Neanderthal man to permit all craving for violence to disappear. Some day in the future, when beings are are born without tonsils, something we probably don’t need, and without appendices which we certainly don’t need, our physical brains may be developed to the point where all savagery has disappeared. But at the present time there is still something in man’s nature which permits the violence of war.
So much for my larger beliefs. All our lives we wonder about these things, but have to wait for that after-life, in which I believe, to find the answers. However, there are some things we all seek––success, love and friendships, about which an actress can speak up boldly, since everyone of us tries to achieve these things.
I believe that success is fun, but can be a burden if it is not handled right. If success is won along one line, that automatically requires the successful person to achieve it along other lines.
Successful people are often very versatile. Vincente Minnelli, my husband, for instance, besides being a fine director, paints exquisitely. Of course, I may be prejudiced, but I wish you could see the painting which Vincente did of a set he designed for Beatrice Lillie’s play, “At Home Abroad.” That painting hangs in my dressing room, and captures an atmosphere which is just as authentic as the family atmosphere captured by Vincente in “Meet Me In St. Louis.” Of all the pictures I have ever made, I think “Meet Me In St. Louis” is my favorite, because I felt that was the nicest family I ever met in pictures. They all fought together and had disagreements, but you knew that in time of trouble they would all stick to one another. I’ve been very lucky in my family life, I must say, both on and off the screen!
The man or woman who achieves a successful career must be successful also in his handling of his own mentality and ego. Being an actress is the most grueling test for the ego, for the success of being an actress floods you. When you are a success in some other line, your intimates know about it and the people in that line, but the world as a whole doesn’t necessarily make a fuss about you. An Einstein, whose success is actually much greater and whose work is much more important than that of any actor, isn’t followed by crowds of admiring fans. The success of an actress is seen. Her work is constantly exhibited. So if she loses her sense of perspective, she may begin thinking how great she is, when actually her success may be just a matter of luck and a few pretty close lips. But that kind of success doesn’t last long. To win real success as an actress, you have to learn to act. I didn’t learn in dramatic school but through making bad pictures. When I was giving some very bad performances, I got quite a bit of fan mail. I could have let things go at that, telling myself, “A lot of people like me just the way I am. I guess that’s good enough.”
An actress cannot afford to be fooled by a certain amount of public adulation. You have to have a perspective on yourself. And that’s true of men and women in every other line, too. I believe that a sense of perspective will help you more in getting the most out of life than almost any other quality.
One of the nicest things about success is the chance it gives you to do things for your family. I don’t like big fat expensive things or living on a grand scale, but it is pleasant to be able to buy pretty clothes, and to be able to invest your money so as to have some degree of security. When on top of that you can do things for your family, well, that as Tom Drake said in “Meet Me In St. Louis,” is ginger-peachy. My mother wanted a house in Hollywood, and I was very happy to be able to get it for her. My sister, now known as Miss Dorothy, is starting a career as a singer strictly on her own, but it’s nice to know that if she ever wanted any help, I’d be in a position to help her.
I believe that your family, (if you let them) can be a great comfort to you in time of trouble. Of course, if you get very dramatic about your best beau’s going out with another girl and lock yourself in your room, there isn’t a blessed thing your family can do, even if they want to. But if you learn to take family teasing in the proper spirit, well, I believe that families are wonderful.
I believe that fanily groups are really the basis of our whole country. You begin life as a member of a family, you go on as a member of a family, then eventually, if you’re lucky, you have a chance to start your own family. The kind of person you are throughout your whole life depends to a large extent upon the kind of person you are as a member of a family group. In a family you learn selfishness or unselfishness, consideration for others or lack of consideration––why, your whole future is mapped out by the way you treat your family and the way they treat you. That, I believe, is our American way of life.
However, no matter how wonderful your family is, no matter how much success you achieve in your career, you won’t be a really happy person unless you also achieve success as a woman. And for most women, that includes a happy marriage.
I believe that it is possible for a woman to have a successful career and a happy marriage, too. In the case of a career women marriage requires more patience, thought and understanding. But it can be done as witness the case of Helen Hayes who is one of our finest actresses and a great success as a wife and mother, too.
I imagine that it’s hard for a man to be married to an actress. He can’t feel, as most men like to feel, that everything depends upon him. He knows his wife is financially independent. She must therefore make him feel that even though she can stand on her two feet financially, she is emotionally dependent.
Since she can’t give her husband the satisfaction of feeling that she needs him financially, she must make him feel needed and wanted in every other way. and in no way shut him out from her life.
I think women get themselves mixed tip by making too many promises. There is something so romantic about promising your heart forever and ever to a person. Women are more honest about those things. Women often end up with guilty consciences because they have made too many promises to the men they love. They get carried away with themselves.
It’s always better to promise less and do more. So I believe in making as few promises as possible, even to myself. I’d rather do this than wind up with a guilty conscience because I hadn’t carried out all my plans. Make plans, certainly, but don’t be upset if something happens to make it impossible to carry them out.
We bear a great deal about love at first siglit, but I believe that a person is safer if love develops gradually. If people marry after knowing each other only a short time, they have to make all their adjustments afterwards. In the case of people, once they have known each other for some time, many of the adjustments can be made before they marry.
We know that a great many sudden war marriages have taken place, and often wonder how they will turn out. A minister who has made a study of hasty war marriages told me that he has seen many that have been very successful. I know of one personally. A friend of my mother’s married only three days after she met her husband and they are divinely happy. But I think the percentages are more apt to be in your favor if you marry after a longer acquaintanceship. It is safer if a lot of thought goes into your marriage. You should ask yourself: are you and the man you love going to match? How is your time going to work out, if you both have careers? Do you have similar religious ideas? Do you like the same kind of entertainment? How is the financial set-up? These things, when considered ahead of time, can do a great deal to start a marriage off right.
I believe that just being in love generally improves people 100%. They become happier, nicer, and more likable. There is a nice pink cloud over everything. A wonderful pink cloud! Everybody has some lovely moments in his life, but when you’re in love you don’t get lonely half as much, because you feel somebody’s standing by to help you, somebody with whom you can talk over everything, someone who cares.
I don’t believe in being too practical. Practicality balanced with a little imagination is more interesting. On the other band, I don’t believe you should walk around with Peter Rabbit under one arm. I believe you should see a vision over the rainbow; that you should keep a nice glow. No matter what your age, you can keep your youth in all its glory through your enthusiasm.
Revealing Intimate and Intriguing Tidbits About Judy Garland
Judy has what she calls “insane” food habits. She likes to eat corn on the cob with grape jelly. (She once dropped an ear of corn in some grape jelly by accident and it tasted swell) She never eats any two things together. If she has meat and potato on her plate, she eats all the meat first, then all the potato. She never eats on time. If dinner is at seven, she stalls around until eight. She loves to eat hamburgers (but not with onions!), little thin hot cakes and wienies just before she goes to bed. She says they make her sleep like a log.
When, she drives herself in her little red coupe, she has only one window open and all the doors locked. She sings with the radio as she drives. She likes to listen to the radio only when it is on as loud as possible. She has a portable radio in her room at home and two others in other parts of the house. She usually has all three of them going at once, at the top of their etheric lungs. She likes to feel that the orchestra is right in the room with her. She and Mickey have this bond in common: they both like noise and plenty of it. Her mother and sister are contemplating the addition of a sound-proof room to the house for the sake of their ear-drums.
She’s always going to the movies, goes at least three or four times a week. She likes double features; she wishes they would have “treble” features. She likes to sit in the fifth or sixth row from the front, eat candy, chew gum and put her feet up on the back of the seat in front of her. And she sees her favorite pictures over and over again. She saw Bette Davis in “Dangerous” fourteen times. She saw Bob Montgomery and Maureen O’Sullivan in “Hideout” six times. She has already seen “Rebecca” three times. She cries horribly in pictures when they are sad. She says, “I cry right out loud.” The only time she ever really laughs is when she sees a comedy film. Otherwise, surprisingly enough, she doesn’t laugh often. When she is pleased or amused her whole face brightens, but she doesn’t laugh aloud.
She bites her fingernails and stuffs money in her pocketbooks and sweater pockets and forgets she has it. Once a week she goes through all her pocketbooks and pockets and finds “a little fortune I didn’t know I had.” She steals combs. She doesn’t mean to, she just absent-mindedly picks them up at hairdressers and from her friends’ dressing-tables and makes off with them. She has a good memory for telephone numbers and addresses but a bad memory for names. She starts to introduce her best friend to someone and can’t remember her friend’s name.
Judy has lived in Hollywood, in Beverly Hills rather, for five years. She has had only one contract, a sevenyear one with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and still has more than two years to go on it.
Judy loves to go “basement” shopping. She always feels so good, she says, when she finds a bargain.’ Her favorite dress last summer Was a little cotton dress she found for $5.95. She wore it steadily for weeks. She always buys too many things, she says, things she doesn’t really need. Especially sweaters and skirts and shoes. More especially, shoes. She has a ridiculous number of shoes, seventy-three pairs at the last count. She has to buy her own shoes for pictures, “which accounts for the jillions I own.” She is always planning to give some of them away and then, at the last minute, changes her mind. She has a terrible time parting with anything old even if she can’t use it. Her dream is to have a house with a roomy, oldfashioned attic where she can store away the accumulation of her lifetime so that her great-grandchildren can find the things in the years to come. She is, she says, “a naturalborn ‘saver.'”
She loves to go shopping at the Five & Ten. Her bureau drawers are cluttered with little bottles of hand lotions, little boxes of powder and little packets of soap. She loves to shop in drugstores. In the “ritzy” drugstores she just “nose-shops,” she says. That is, she goes around sniffing and sampling all the expensive perfumes. She gets hay fever from some kinds of perfume. From Arpege, for instance, which is her favorite. Paul Whiteman gave her four bottles of imported perfume when he worked with her in “Strike Up The Band” and she went around sneezing for six weeks. “Better to sneeze than not to smell like that,” she explained.
Judy loves the “corner” drugstores, too, like the one in Hollywood where Cliff Edwards takes over the cash-register when the girl is off and Bob Taylor comes in and whips himself up a malted milk and everyone drops in and “dishes the dirt.” She’d like to live in a small town and hash things over the back fence.
She is five feet two and a half inches tall, weighs one hundred and eight pounds and grew just exactly an inch in this past year.
The singing Garland has never taken but one singing lesson in her life and that was in New York a year or so ago. She sings from her chest. The toney teacher” to whom she was recommended had her bring her voice up in her throat by inserting a pencil in her mouth. The result was that Judy couldn’t talk and the teacher criticized her “poor diction.” She also made her practise singing while blowing on pieces of paper! Judy got out of that atelier in an hour land a half and never went back.
She hasn’t any superstitions but she has quite a bevy of pet phobias. She can’t climb a ladder, for instance, she falls right off. If she stands on a chair, she falls, too. She has an “in-back-ofme” phobia. When she is driving she always feels that someone is about to crash into the back of her car. Head-on collisions never trouble her, it’s that in-back-of-me bogey. Sometimes, at home, when she’s the last to go to bed, she remembers that she forgot to turn off I the downstairs lights. She goes down to check. And feels sure that someone is in back of her. She tries to keep herself under control by saying, “There is no one in back of me, there is no one in back of me,” but all the time she is walking faster and faster until, like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” she looks as though she is being carried along by a hurricane until she is whisked into her room and the door banged shut. She also had a phobia about bumble bees or anything, except snakes, (she likes snakes) that crawls or flies. She gets hysterical when a bumble bee buzzes in her hearing. Spiders are her downfall. When she finds a spider in her room she calls her mother, her sister and the help to rout the invader. She doesn’t mind mice. She rather likes them. They have such cute ears, she says, and “look so hopeful.”
Judy hates to wear hats, except little “college” hats, the kind you wear on the back of your head, or turbans. She has a mean hand with turbans; she can swing them as no-one else can, her girl friends say. They’re always asking her to wrap theirs for them. She’s a very sympathetic girl, her friends also say. When they have any troubles or problems, they always take them to Judy. She somehow manages to straighten them cut.
Her watches never keep time. They’re always slow. Perhaps they’ve given up trying to keep up with Judy, who always goes fast. She never walks anywhere, always runs and usually the hop, skip and jump kind of a run. She has
seven watches—gifts from different people—including a lapel watch, a finger-ring watch and a key watch. The key watch is a tiny watch inserted into her housekey and was given her by the sponsors of the Harvest Moon Ball. When it’s five-thirty in the afternoon her watches always say it’s two-thirty—all seven of them. She never worries about anything. She thinks worrying is “so futile.” She says she always does the very best she can and, if that isn’t good enough, she forgets it.
Judy dreams almost every night. Always the same kind of a dream. She dreams that she wakes up and talks to somebody or calls someone on the phone. And then, when she does wake up, she can’t be sure whether she really dreamed it or not and has to call the person to find out. It’s very confusing!
When Judy goes on dates she doesn’t like to get all dressed up and go to swanky night clubs, except once a month. She likes to go to other kids’ houses or have them come to hers and just roll back the rugs, dance, play records and talk. She never was a violent jitterbug. She jittered some, but not much nor for long. She likes to rhumba. The week before she finished in “Strike Up The Band” she had all the kids in the cast, Mickey, June Preisser, Margaret Early, Bill Tracy, Leonard Sues and the others, up to her house. Mickey and about five other kids stayed on after the others left and played badminton and went nightswimming in the pool. Judy likes to swim at night because there are no bumble bees in the moonlight. She just acquired a swimming pool this year and now Sunday afternoons have become very “open house” at the Garlands.
One of her best girl friends is pretty little Betty Jane Graham. Judy’s best friends are her old friends, which tells a little tale in one sentence. Judy and Betty Jane first met when they were six years old and both tried out for a part in a Universal picture which starred Slim Summerville. Each youngster thought the other would get the part so they didn’t like each other. They were rivals in rompers. Neither of them got it (Cora Sue Collins did), and Judy and Betty Jane have been pals ever since. Betty often comes to the studio with Judy, sits with her while she has her hair done, her make-up put on, and stays with her on the set. Every hour or so, the girls send out for chocolate malted milks or cokes. Leonard Sues is another grade school pal of Judy’s and Betty’s. The three are inseparable. Leonard plays the trumpet in the band in “Strike Up The Band.”
Judy writes poetry. And loves to read it. She has written ten poems of her own—ten, that is, that she hasn’t torn up. She is her own severest critic and if she doesn’t like the poem, she destroys it. She has done an oil painting, too— a landscape.
She always reads the funny papers and buys comic magazines by the bale. Her favorite movie actors are Clark Gable and Cary Grant. Cary is on the M-G-M lot now, working with Katy Hepburn in “The Philadelphia Story.” Judy sees him in the commissary every day at lunch-time. He always says “Hulloa, Judy,” and she answers, “Hulloa, Mr. Grant.” Judy is frank and friendly, but there is none of this “Hi, toots,” calling people she doesn’t know well by their first names. She wears a pleasing mantle of dignity over her friendliness, and it is very becoming. Her favorite movie actresses are Bette Davis and Margaret Sullavan. Her favorite stage actress is Katharine Cornell. She has never met any one of them. She would like to be of “the school” of Davis and Sullavan. She is not, she says, “depending upon her singing.” She is delighted because, in her next picture, “Little Nellie Kelly,” she plays her own mother. It’s the first time she’s played a character part. She is taking it very seriously as, some day, she hopes to be taken. She trails around after her mother, copying mannerisms and “making notes.”
On the set of “The Wizard of Oz,” Director Victor Fleming always called
her “Ange.” She doesn’t know why. Busby Berkeley, directing “Strike Up The Band,” calls her “Butch” and calls Mickey, “Stinky.” Mickey always calls her “Jutes” and her mother and sister call her “Judaline.”
When Judy and Mickey are working together, the set is a three-ring circus, with one round of crazy acts after another going on. Judy helps Mickey with the songs he writes, making suggestions and recording them for him.
‘ She has a record machine in her dressingroom. Louis B. Mayer gave it to her on her last, her eighteenth birthday.
Her favorite radio programs are the New York Symphonic Concerts. She always listens to them on Sundays. If she is up late enough (she goes to bed at nine o’clock when she is not dating), she always listens to the Rhapsody in Wax broadcasts. She also likes Information, Please and the Lux Theatre of the Air. She has two favorite types of books, biographies of musicians and memoirs of doctors. Judy used to want to be a doctor or a designer. Now she’s decided to “concentrate on my own career.” She loves pets but likes to have only one at a time. She has a little, blonde cocker spaniel. She doesn’t care particularly for cats because “they’re never friendly.” And she doesn’t like birds for pets “because you can’t pat them.” She likes pets you can cuddle. Her favorite song is “Over The Rainbow.” She does sing in the shower.
Judy has what she calls “happy unforgettable things” and “unhappy unforgettable things.” A “happy unforgettable” occurred when she made her personal appearance tour in New York three and a half years ago. For the first time, she saw her name in electric lights on Broadway, that dearest dream of all true troupers. An “unhappy unforgettable” is when the studio made her give up her new motor bike. It was a Christmas gift. It had a rumble seat among its many attractions. Into the rumble Betty Jane would hop and off they would go. One day they meant to drive into a Drive-in but somehow, they not only drove into it but over it, counters and all!
Judy’s biggest athletic thrill of the year was when she and Bill Stoefen played Paulette Goddard and Bill Tilden on the Ambassador courts and each side won one set!
Her room at home is very tailored. The color scheme is beige, chartreuse and dark brown. Jackie Cooper’s mother, who has gone into the interior decorating business, did Judy’s room. The chairs and divans are upholstered in a soft, dark brown suede. The drapes are chartreuse, unruffled, severe. There is a fireplace in the room and it works— overtime. There are no frills nor cushions nor little “hobby shelves” around and about. Judy doesn’t collect anything but books and records. The only visible trinkets on her dressing-table are some graduated saddle-boots holding perfume. One side of the wall is devoted to autographed pictures. Gable’s, of course, Jackie Cooper’s, Freddie Bartholomew’s, Robert Stack’s, Mickey’s also, of course, and Cary Grant’s which has recently been added. The others are pictures of non-professionals. Now Judy is planning to “go feminine.” She wants to do over her dressing-room, “like something Marie Antoinette might have whipped up.” She’s going to have thousands of yards of chiffon drapes and
mirrored walls and do-dads and gewgaws.
A little girl in a Santa Ana hospital could tell you how warm Judy’s heart is. The little girl was dangerously ill and in her delirium she talked constantly about Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” The child’s mother wrote Judy a little note and told her about it and asked Judy if she would be kind enough to send the child an autographed picture of herself as Dorothy. She thought that when, or if, the fever broke, it might help her little girl through the crisis if she could find a picture of Dorothy where she could see it. Judy did better than that. She took the autographed picture to the hospital herself. And when the little girl came out of the fever, there was the living Dorothy standing by her bed. The doctors say there is no doubt but that the child’s recovery, certainly the rapidity of her recovery, is due in substantial part to Judy.
Unlike most screen youngsters, unlike most youngsters, perhaps, Judy has a horror of “going glamorous.” “In the first place,” she says, “I’m not the type. For one reason or another, glamour just doesn’t appeal to me. I’d rather bicycle across the country, or go on picnics, or play handball on the beach than any other things I can think of. And glamour girls aren’t supposed to do things like that.” As a matter of fact, Judy is so afraid that some day, albeit unconsciously, she may “hit the glamour trail” that all of her friends have been warned by her to be on the watch for any sign and, if any should appear, to squelch it before it gets a healthy start.
Judy graduated from the University High School in Sawtelle, last June. She wanted to graduate from a real school, not just from the studio schoolroom, so that she could have a real graduation dress, a real diploma tied with a white satin ribbon and all the fixings. She had them. And there were no photographers present. Judy had no more flowers than the other girls. And she got as many autographs in her Year Book as she gave. She wanted to be “just one of the class” that day, and she was. She had it. Now she is taking a post-graduate course in French.
Judy slipped out of the “sock stage” gracefully and quietly, making the transition so effortlessly that no one has been conscious of it. She looks younger than eighteen and acts younger than the average, sophisticated Eighteen of today. She doesn’t smoke. She doesn’t drink. She almost always wears sweaters and skirts. She uses lipstick for street wear but no rouge, mascara, nor eye shadow. When she’s making a picture she reddens her hair a little for the sake of the camera. She photographs better that way. When she’s not working, she doesn’t do anything about her hair. She never goes to beauty parlors. She can’t seem to “set a date.” Whenever she does, some of the kids drop by and say, “Let’s have a coke” and what is a girl to do? She says she knows she should diet, but doesn’t.
Her studio dressing-room is done in navy blue, red and white. It’s nautical, with anchors and ship lamps and things. She loves boats and the sea, but as she has never been on a boat for any length of time she says her dressing-room is the next best thing.
There is a swell understanding between Judy and her mother. Her mother never says, “You can’t do this or that,” because, says her mother, “Judy has never made it necessary.”
Judy has thought she was in love but knows she never has been, not really.
Cameramen can’t tell you whether Judy has a photogenic face or not. It’s never quiet long enough for them to tell—its expressions are constantly changing.
Judy puts dates under two headings, “Not A Special Date” and “A Special Date.” Most of her dates with Mickey come under the first heading. Most of them are “spur-of-the-moment-dates.” Mickey will call up at the last minute and ask, “What are you doing?” If Judy isn’t busy, he’ll drive over and Judy will come downstairs to find Mister Rooney raiding the refrigerator.
by Denise Caine
If you’re in those “terrible teens” or fast approaching them, here’s your chance to erase or avoid the problems you’re “faced” with. Judy Garland, Hollywood’s lovely young star, has offered to help our cause. We give you “A Garland for Beauty.”
THE autograph hunters were clustered so thickly around Judy Garland’s dressing-room that your beauty editor almost didn’t see her. But when I finally wormed my way through the crowd and met Judy, I realized why she’s idolized by the high school set. Judy’s a natural! She’s been in the public eye so long that she’s right at home there. She can make anyone she talks to feel perfectly at ease. Before I knew it, we were talking and laughing together like old friends.
Have you seen Judy in The Wizard of Oz? Then you know that her hair is red. It’s that way naturally—but she had to use a henna rinse to make it even redder for Technicolor. It’s a lovely color, and Judy makes up to it. The day I saw her she was wearing a chartreuse blouse that brought out its flaming red. Her lipstick and rouge (she was made up for a stage appearance) were both on the yellow red shade, her face powder peach colored, so they wouldn’t fight with her hair. She wears the same shades offstage, too, but applies them very lightly, because she and her mother are agreed that too much make-up doesn’t become a sixteen-year-old.
Judy has an advantage over most girls in their teens. She’s been around motion picture studios long enough to know that lovely hair and skin are just about as important as anything can be. So she’s always careful to remove every last bit of make-up with cold cream, then scrub her skin thoroughly with soap and water and a complexion brush before going to bed. She scrubs away with soap and water and the brush in the morning, then rinses her face two or three times with cool water. “Especially when I’ve washed my face in a hot bath,” she told me. “Otherwise the hot water would ‘steam’ my pores open—and I think there’s nothing uglier looking than large pores. Besides, they might fill up with blackheads!”
That red hair of Judy’s is permanented, too—but it looks naturally curly. That’s because she brushes it night and morning till it shines. She doesn’t give a single hair a chance to become dull and fuzzy. She has a hot olive oil treatment once a week before her shampoo, to counteract a slight tendency to dryness, and she massages her scalp nightly with her fingertips to stimulate the circulation and relax tense nerves after a hard day at the studio.
I couldn’t help admiring Judy’s charm bracelet. She makes it a point to get a new charm for every town she visits—usually one of the theatres she appears in gives her one too. Most of the bangles are books, and one (that her best beau ‘way off in England sent her) is a tiny letter. They all open up, and have real reading matter inside! Not a useless ornament, the bracelet shows off those nice smooth, wellgroomed hands of Judy’s.
“I always massage a cuticle cream on the nails at night and make it a point to push back the cuticle whenever I dry my hands,” she told me. “Then I don’t have any loose hangnails to bite off. I used to bite my nails, too, but I found a cure for that. I got a weekly manicure, and had the girl use a bright shade of polish on my nails. That made the broken and stubby nails awfully noticeable and made me ashamed of my hands. And every time I started to bite a nail that pimento red said ‘Stop.’ ” Judy has broken the bad habit so well that she wears a shell pink lacquer now (except for a glamorous evening) and rarely worries her nails.
ALL teen age girls have one problem in common—making mother realize they’re growing up, and persuading her to let them dress accordingly. Judy’s no exception. “One evening,” she told me, “I borrowed my older sister’s long slinky dress, high-heeled slippers and silk stockings to go out on a date. Mother had company when I came downstairs—so I thought I’d get by
with it. She was awfully nice about telling me how pretty I looked in front of them—but she took me aside to tell me I’d look much sweeter in my own things—so I had to change!”
Judy’s big hobby (aside from collecting charms for her bracelet) is perfume. And luckily her mother agrees with her that a young girl needn’t wait till she’s 18 in order to indulge in fragrance—just so long as she doesn’t go in for heavy oriental odors appropriate to slant-eyed sirens. Judy likes spicy scents and uses them in several forms—toilet water or cologne after her tub, perfume on her hair when she goes to a dancing party, scented bath powder before popping into a fresh nightie after the evening tub. She likes to carry a tiny flacon of perfume in her bag, so she can dab a bit more on her wrist or ear during the evening.
Judy has been lucky enough to have proper supervision of her diet and make-up during the “terrible teens” when so many less fortunate girls are running into skin troubles. I’ve gathered from your letters that many of you don’t realize that rich foods and improper cleansing methods are equally responsible for those bothersome blemishes. If you’re troubled with oily skin, blackheads, large pores and recurring pimples, why not try this method of clearing them up? Go in for fresh fruits and vegetables in a big way. Avoid fatty meats, starchy foods, pastries. Drink lots of milk and at least eight glasses of water a day. Scrub your skin three or four times daily with soap and warm water —and leave a fine film of the soap on the skin. This helps dry up the blemishes and tighten the pores. Then rinse several times with cool water. Wear a very light film of powder and rouge, and always cleanse your skin thoroughly before repowdering. A heavy layer of make-up may aggravate the skin condition. If your skin doesn’t clear up after this treatment, see your doctor.
You really ought to try a fine grade toilet soap I saw being made. It contains only the purest ingredients, so you know it can’t possibly harm your skin. The thick, creamy lather practically melts dirt and cosmetics away from the skin, leaving it clear, smooth and soft. After a face bath with this you feel as though blackheads and large pores were something someone else was bothered with—not you. And that will be pretty much the case if you’ll keep up the three-aday treatment, using a soft-bristled complexion brush to work the lather in well. The soap costs only a few pennies, of course.
CREAM your face before stepping into a hot tub or shower, if your skin is dry and sensitive. The heat makes the oils penetrate faster and further, softens the skin speedily. And use cream again during the day for a complete facial cleansing. I can recommend a super-soft cream that does an excellent job of cleansing and smoothing. A tiny bit of it makes a grand powder base and will keep your nose from shining for hours. Massage the cream lightly into the tender skin around the eyes to prevent squint lines and crow’s feet from appearing—and to help get rid of any you may have collected.
Probably the biggest problem for both fifteen and fifty year olds is choosing correct and flattering shades of make-up. Don’t let it bother your pretty head another moment. Because I’ve found a lipstick that will be perfect for you—no matter what your coloring. The manufacturer asked a famous colorist to test it on various complexion types. When the test was over, the colorist had discovered that the one lipstick had taken on 16 different shades to harmonize with as many skin tones. I think that’s pretty amazing, and pretty exciting news for all us lipstick puzzlers. The stick itself is creamy smooth—you’ll want to use it anyway to keep your lips soft and smooth.
And don’t forget, at the same time, to pick up powder and rouge. You can get the rouge in either cream or cake form, made on the same color principle, and the powder in several skin tones. One I think perfect for practically anyone is a peach shade, with just the right amount of pink in its tone. I’ve used it with great success, and tried it out on blondes, brunettes and red heads. The powder clings to your skin, yet is so light it can’t clog the pores. Price for the powder is 55 cents, for the rouge, 83 cents.
Bothered with grubby nails and rough cuticle? Why not try a new quick foaming nail shampoo? I’ll guarantee it will keep your nails looking immaculate. And more than that. It contains special reconditioning oils that soften the cuticle and help remove dead particles, and keep the nail itself shining and flexible. It can be used whether you’re wearing polish or not. The handy rubber tipped applicator is a wonder at getting stubborn dirt out from under the nails. The larger size contains a sponge rubber hand and nail scrub that you’ll want to use often to keep knuckles from getting that dingy look. In two sizes, at 35 and 60 cents.
The same manufacturer has one of the loveliest rosy pink polishes I’ve seen in a long while. It’s just the perfect shade to wear everyday to school, with fluffy evening dresses to the fall dance, or on dates. The color goes beautifully with violet, brown, green, navy or pale blue—and your boy friends will love it. The polish itself wears and wears, especially if you apply two coats of lacquer, and has a lovely soft sheen.
TRY matching your perfume with a scented cologne if you like to smell pretty. You’ll adore a spicy, romantic scent that comes in both forms. It’s light and whimsical—and yet tangy too. I think it’s a good idea to slap cologne all over your body after the morning bath—that perfumes you faintly with just enough scent to linger around you during the day. And use the perfume, too, for a more glamorous touch, when you’re going out in the evening. Dab a bit on your wrist, on your ears, a bit more on your hair. One attractive packaging of the perfume features the darlingest purse perfume container and applicator. It’s a tiny compact, with a sponge attached to the screw-on top. Before the big evening, saturate the sponge with perfume, and slip the “compact” into your bag. Touch the sponge to your skin whenever you want to renew your scent. A generous bottle of perfume and the “dabber” cost $1.75. The cologne costs about 65 cents.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking perfume will hide perspiration odor. It can’t. All the lovely scents in the world won’t disguise the fact that you’re careless about personal daintiness. And don’t think you’re too young to perspire. Everyone perspires at least a quart a day. Most of it evaporates immediately, but some of it may linger to haunt you. The best way to be sure it doesn’t, and to insure your own popularity, is to use a reliable perspiration corrective regularly. Write me if you’d like the name of a fluffy cream you can rely on to check and deodorize perspiration for about three days if you don’t perspire excessively, for about a day otherwise. It feels and looks just like a velvetypink vanishing cream, it spreads easily, and dries almost instantly. It can’t irritate the underarm skin, so you can use it immediately after shaving if you wish. You can be pretty sure you won’t be offending your chum or your best beau when vou use this cream.
by Jim Newton
They’re living on borrowed money—but Judy isn’t worried. She’s won back her public, there’s a new baby to dream about and all’s right with the world.
Judy Garland’s third husband, Sid Luft, strode into the California Superior Court several weeks ago. He was present to answer charges filed by his former wife, Lynn Bari.
Lynn wanted to know why Sid had violated a court order. He had failed to set up a $10,000 insurance fund for his son John as he had previously promised.
by Dixie Willson
The magic of modern movie-making at it’s miracle best breathes life into that beloved classic of childhood.
AND so M-G-M’s art department was given a script labeled “Wizard of Oz”; a movie script of that wonderous book, that grave and gay mixture of nonsense and philosophy which for forty years has been a juvenile best seller.
At last it was to be breathed into life in as miraculous fashion as ever story or picture imprisoned on film; the fantasy of a little lady from Kansas whom the tail of a cyclone transports to the mystical kingdom of those three musketeers, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Woodman.
Soon there would take place in the huge city of M-G-M’s studio, such breath-taking, unbelievable sights as would have the very stars standing on the side lines to stop, look and listen! For where else, if ever, could eyes behold flying houses, apple trees which pelt you with apples, men whose complexions are green and whose heads are square! A forest of jitterbug trees! Horses in the gayest shades of the rainbow! Judy Garland whisked away by a cyclone! A fairy city built of emeralds!
The magic of modern motion-picture making at its miracle best! And beginning, of course, in the art department from whence all pictures start; that practical, hard-boiled, down-to-earth art department, where dreams are not only dreamed but come true; where cities, even whole countries are created for the asking. |
“So they gave us a script,” smiled handsome, brawny Art Director Cedric Gibbons, “in which a little girl from Kansas lives a great adventure in a country of her own imagination. But neither in the script nor in the original book was there any description to indicate along what lines her imagination might build such a country! Which left us, first of all, to do some imagining ourselves!
“Take one scene of the fifty, for instance, the country the book calls ‘Munchkinland,’ to be inhabited by Very tiny people called Munchkins.’ To fashion a ‘Munchkinland’ which a little girl from Kansas might have dreamed, we began with a premise that the smallest things she had ever seen were probably ants. And how do ants live? Under grass and tree roots. So with toadstools and anthills as our architectural pattern, we made proportionately larger grass and flowers, such as, for instance, hollyhocks twenty feet tall.”
So much for a thumbnail bit of the “Oz” problems of the art department. And remaining a moment longer in “Munchkinland,” what about Munchkins to people this delightful place?
During Producer Mervyn LeRoy’s entire shooting schedule for “Oz,” the Munchkins, finally assembled, were the gayest detail of all. In response to a call sent out by Casting, midgets from all over the world came trouping to Hollywood; little midgets, middle-sized midgets, lady midgets, gentlemen midgets, midget graduates of Universities, a midget window demonstrator from Chicago . . . The littlest ones smoking the biggest cigars, eating the largest pieces of pie.
But the midgets, while perhaps the jolliest casting problem, were not the most difficult. Midgets, after all, are easy to find, but not so the frowsy little mutt who was to play the longest screen role ever written for a dog! Through the entire hour and a half of picture he appears in every scene! He will be remembered in the book as Toto; the illustrations showing a bright-eyed Cairn terrier. After many tests and long consideration, the role was entrusted to an engaging little girl dog named Terry who, as boy dog Toto, has delivered a superlative performance.
In Hollywood, Terry’s owner and trainer, Mr. Carl Spitz, conducts a kindergarten, grammar school, high school and college for canines.
But, though Terry enjoys acting, the “Oz” role was something else again, the strangest background she has ever been called upon to understand! Our lady Toto found it obviously distressing, then suddenly everything was forgotten in complete devotion to the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Woodman. When the picture was finished and the four said good-bye it was a sad moment for all of them.
During the entire ten months of shooting, they seemed to fascinate Terry completely, a state of mind which I could well appreciate. Certainly on all Hollywood’s fantastic acres I have never come upon so startling an eyeful.
My first sight of them was one day during luncheon, which was always served in their dressing room. Because of make-up complications, they did not attempt to eat in the commissary.
Leaving a pair of straw legs, a lion’s skin and a framework of tin joints behind them, yet retaining from the neck up the resuit of a two-hour morning session in make-up, the three, at noon, would reair to their dressing room to sit around the luncheon table in well-worn bathrobes.
I was bound to know it was still Mr. Bolger, Mr. Lahr and Mr. Haley, as upon the day of my call they turned three pair of eyes toward the door to acknowledge my arrival, but never have I been so carried beyond the realm of anything I could believe. There they were, a scarecrow’s gunny-sack countenance, framed with wisps of weathered straw which plainly could only have escaped from inside his head, a lion looking through a tawny mane, and a third face contrived of rivets and tin, a funnel for a nose soldered snugly to an unmistakable aluminum head.
“I know what you’re thinking,” grinned Mr. Bolger, after an interim in which I could but silently stare. “When I saw the rushes yesterday where they took off my legs and threw them away I just about believed, myself, that I’m straw. When I go home at night I feel as if I’m still just flapping in the wind!
“The whole business seems real,” put in the Lion. “When we barged down a stone hall in the scene where we were to try and escape from the castle and the iron door swung shut just before we got through it, and those six-foot green-eyed Winkies ganged up on us, and the witch cackled in at the window, I’m right here to tell you it was something to shiver about!”
“In doing characters like these,” said Mr. Bolger again, “every little thing is so important. In an ordinary part, if you slip up on a gesture or a word, you can get away with it But, in a thing like this, you aren’t allowed a moment in which to be yourself.”
“And when you’re playing for kids,” added Mr. Haley, “you’re playing for the toughest audience in the world. The grown people look at it just to be entertained, but the kids look at it . . . to believe it!”
A voice called from downstairs to say they were wanted on the set. Three chairs scraped away from the table, three undefined creatures knotted the cords of their bathrobes and paraded out Following them to the set, I discovered later that Judy Garland as Dorothy, and small Terry as Toto, were the only members of the entire company unworried by trick make-up of one kind or another. But Judy had another plaint. The grownups could finish a scene and knock off, whereas for her, in that trim ever-present trailer which is labeled “Judy Garland, School,” the thrill of ad- venture in “Oz” was forever anticlimaxed by plain old-fashioned geometry.
Judy, however, was not the only scholar. There was also Mr. Wizard-of-Oz Frank Morgan, for whom weeks of serious coaching were necessary for a smooth delivery of the magic his title role required. He can now make a bird cage disappear up his sleeve with the best of the Houdinis, but it took four months of concentration and practice to accomplish it.
As for me, it seemed that all the magic in the world might be accomplished by just one wave of the wand of Miss Burke as the Good Fairy, her elfin Irish smile in the most perfect setting I have ever seen created for it; a cloud of shell-pink tulle, pale silver butterflies poised upon its delicate mesh.
“It makes me wish,” she said gently, “that I were sixteen again . . . that my feet didn’t have to touch the ground!”
But Billie Burke, as the Good Fairy of “Oz,” is sixteen again, and you are perfectly certain her feet never have touched the ground.
“It’s a divine part,” she said. “There’s child enough in all of us to be thrilled with the settings and the feeling of this picture. It has terrified me a little,” she confided, “to think of living up to the children’s idea of what a Good Fairy must be, but I can only hope with all my heart that I wont disappoint them.”
Alone on the great sound stage just then, she was waiting for her last scene, which was to be a montage of her face and her smile as it would drift across the picture to finish Dorothy’s dream.
The famous Burke red-gold hair rippling loosely about her shoulders’ shimmered with diamond dust and infinitesimal stars. Above, on the catwalk, the electricians waited with the necessary arcs and suns. She laughed and touched me with her wand.
“What “would you like?” she asked.
And indeed there was nothing for me to believe but that she could grant it, for if ever good fairies lived, this one was the epitome of them all; a sentiment subscribed to one moment later by Miss Victoria Fleming, five years old, as she approached with her father who had come to superintend this last shot
“Daddy,” she whispered, looking up at Miss Burke who waited in the single circle of light breaking through the darkness of the great empty sound stage. “Daddy, do you think I could touch the Good Fairy?”
Later, I watched preparation for a scene on the stage next door; a stage almost the size of a New York block, a stage transformed now into the Emerald City, a panorama of green glass domes, castle gates, tall towers, a floor of highly polished baked enamel, a windmill’s green glass arms slowly revolving against an iridescent sky.
The extras sat about in idle groups; men with green beards and purple feather hair, women wearing jewels which glowed like cats’ eyes in the dark. Alongside the eight-foot cabochon emeralds which marked the palace gates, the scarecrow’s stand-in stretched full-length asleep. Silently, methodically, unemotionally half a dozen workingmen pushed mops about the floor, making it ready for the coming shot when not a footmark would be allowed to mar its polished perfection.
Along the side lines parked a row of lighted trailers, the dressing rooms of the principal players, their exclusive little doors bearing the names “Mr. Bolger,” “Mr. Haley,” “Margaret Hamilton,” (Miss Hamilton playing your gorgeously wicked and relentless witch).
Outside Mr. Lahr’s door hung, limply, his lion suit. Presently it would take three dressers to get him into it. On a wig block reposed his tawny toppiece. Mr. Lahr himself, sitting just within his open door, bent his saffron rubber face over a typewriter upon which he was pegging out a letter,. And not at all surprising in this setting of complete fantasy, a sky-blue horse stood hitched to a barouche in which Judy, the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Woodman were to ride through the city gates.
A sky-blue horse? Yes, and complacently munching teatime oats, a scarlet horse, a lavender horse, a pink one and one of canary color. For the carriage
proceeding through the city was to illustrate that timeworn phrase “a horse of a different color,” the blue horse changing before your very eyes to pink, to yellow, to lavender! And which perhaps pigeonholes, as well as anything can, the picture itself, a production which is indeed, a horse of a different color, the new musical score, the half a hundred Technicolor scenes, laced together with elements which seem to promise something singularly delightful for us all; honesty, beauty, satire and philosophy for the grownups, with adventure and suspense for the children.
And every man to his own particular taste in whimsies, of course, but as for me, “Munchkinland” provides the one I am waiting for . . . flowers growing out of the holes in the toes of the midget Munchkins” shoes!
1943 Screen Album
Submitted by Emily Linn
“Listen, you goop! When something bad happens, you’re not supposed to wear it on your face. You’re supposed to push it down inside.” She stood there on the platform repeating it to herself dutifully like a small girl repeating a spelling lesson, but only half hearing it. How could you sing when your throat was tight and your eyes brimmed? It was clear that the guys at this camp just weren’t interested. Rows and rows of empty seats. Millions of nobody. It made you feel, inside, like 30 miles of bad road. read more…
by Judy Garland (as told to Gladys Hall)
Screenland December 1940 – January 1941
I THINK First Things are the best things. “Wasn’t it Robert Louis Stevenson who said that first sunsets, first loves, all the things we see for the first time, all the first experiences we have, are always best? Anyway, think so. I know I’ll always remember, most clearly and deeply and forever, the first things that have happened to me in my first eighteen years. The things that have happened to me in my first (and only) “Past,” you might say, since now that I am eighteen, I think I can be said to have a Past. So, I got to thinking that maybe I’d write my first Life Story my own self, in my own way. My “own way” probably won’t be the Proper Way, at all. The Proper Way to write an Autobiography, I mean. Because I’m just going to sort of talk out loud, or write out loud, to my mother, to my friends, to my fans. I’m just going to go on and on, sort of Revealing to them all the Important, First Things (important to me, that is) that have made up my Past.
Like, for instance, my first day on this earth, which is certainly the first, First Thing! Well, Mom, as you may remember, my first day on this earth was the day of June 10, 1922—(I seem to remember that movie girls don’t give the year of their birth—oh, well!)—and you may also recollect, Mom, that I first opened my eyes in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. You’ve got it down in my baby book that I weighed eight pounds when I was born and that my eyes were blue at birth and started to turn to brown when I was about five months old. You’ve also confessed to me that your first feeling about me was one of—terrible Disappointment! Because, having had two small daughters already, Suzanne and Virginia, naturally you and Daddy wanted some novelty in your children and just hoped and prayed that I would be a, boy! You terribly wanted me to be a boy, you’ve said, you planned for me to be a boy, you even named me Francis Gumm, Jr., after Daddy. And then, not only did I turn out to be, NOT the answer to your prayers, but just another little girl, for Pete’s sake. Also I was as red as an Indian, you said, and the reddest, homeliest baby anyone ever saw! You just made the best of it by changing the “i” to “e” and naming me Frances, anyway!
I was three months old (how often you’ve told me this, Mom!) when you first noticed what you called “the first signs of talent” in me—you always sang to me when you rocked me to sleep, you’ve told me, and you noticed that when you sang just sort of usual songs, like Baby’s Shoes or Rockabye, Baby, I’d go smack off to sleep. When you sang sort of rollicking, spirited, “Yo, Ho” songs, I’d gurgle and bat my eyes and flip my hands around as though I was telling the Sand Man to scat! And when you sang sad songs, especially In The Gloaming or The End of a Perfect Day, I’d cry. I’d cry real, wet sobby tears!
That’s how you first knew, you say, that I was “sensitive to music.” Well, be that as it may, certainly my first sort of large, blurry memory is of music, music all the time, music all over the house. “We shall have music wherever we go” should have been the Gumm motto! I can remember how you and Daddy and Suzanne and Jinnie sang—in the bathtub, at meals, at your housework, as well as in the theater, of course. Daddy had a beautiful voice. Anyway, you’ve always insisted that my response to music “showed” abnormally early and was abnormally acute. And as it makes me feel rather “special” I like to think you were right—you always are, Mom, and that’s not gross flattery!
The “First Tooth” is also one of your favorite “baby” stories about me. I was four months old to the day, it seems, and you had invited guests for dinner. And I made the dinner hour hideous by yowling my lungs out, not musically, and continued throughout the evening! When you couldn’t stand it any longer, you gave me a thorough “searching” and discovered that I had cut, not my first tooth, but my first teeth! The two uppers had come through. Mom always tells people, “She was doing things double, even then!”
My First Word, I believe, was uttered at the ripe, old age of nine months. And the family was unimpressed because it seemed to be the very banal, baby word “Goo.” Then, Daddy noticed that whenever I said “Goo” or whatever it was, I always proceeded to do something, like throwing my rattle at the cat or putting a glass ornament in my mouth, and then they all realized that I was not saying “Goo” but “Do.” (I still think that’s a debatable point, Mom, but have it your own way!)
I took my First Step at the age of eleven months, Baby-Book History records. Previous to that first step, I’ve been told, I managed to get around by hitching myself across the floor, delicately balanced on one hip bone! Even my doting parents couldn’t make anything precocious out of that!
My First Interest, it seems, was in picture books. Well, I can believe that. I’ve always been crazy about books. And I can remember for myself that my first real favorite was the story of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp. Right now, I’m reading “Mein Kampf” and finding it pretty tough going, too. But I honestly think that if we want to understand what’s going on in Europe and how it got like this, we should read the book!
I never played with dolls, never. I’m told that when I was a mere infant, I’d make horrible faces if anyone just handed me a doll. And I remember myself that my first really nice doll was given me by Mary Pickford when I won the Herald-Express’ “Better Babies” Contest. I think I was two and a half or something like that. I don’t remember the contest but I do remember that the great, big beautiful Doll sat in my playroom along with other, not-so-elegant, dolls and that I thought it was just a piece of bric-a-brac, not something to play with. I think I know why I hated dolls, they reminded me of little, dead people! All cold and still. I liked live, warm, cuddly things. I still do. The first toys I ever really played with, I remember, really used, were a toy piano and a toy xylophone. I never had a piano lesson in my life but I liked to bang on that toy piano.
I’m not sure whether I really remember my first Public Appearance or whether I’ve just heard Mom and Daddy talk about it so often that I think I remember. I do remember that I sang Jingle Bells and that I chose that song my own self. I do remember it was Christmas week and I was about three years old, and that I wore a white dress which Mom made for me and that Suzanne and Jinnie (I always called Virginia, Jinnie) pinned sprigs of holly all over it, even where I sat down! And of course I remember, Mom, how you taught us three kids lots of songs. And you’ve told me that I amazed you by my persistence in making trios out of duets (so that I could be included in with my sisters!) and by my quickness in catching onto tricks and phrases. Anyway, so the Family Saga goes, when the curtains parted on this First Appearance on Any Stage of Baby Frances Gumm. there I stood, and when the orchestra gave me my cue, I started to sing, without a moment’s hesitation or the slightest sign of shyness. You insist that I kept perfect pitch, perfect time, and didn’t miss a word!
Well, when the chorus ended, so far as the orchestra was concerned, and it was time for me to bow off gracefully, I did nothing of the kind. I started the song all over again! Again it ended. Again I had other ideas. And after five verses and four choruses. Daddy had to march out on the stage, pick up his infant daughter and carry her into the wings amid quote tumultuous applause end quote! “I wanna sing some more,” I kept protesting. 1 remember Daddy telling me this—”1 wanna sing some more,” and he said he was sure my voice could be heard out front long after I’d vanished, on his shoulder, into the fringe of canvas Christmas trees.
That was amateur night, too, by the way. And I won the first price. And Daddy wouldn’t let me accept the prize because it was his theater and he said it was like a hostess not accepting the prize at her own party! That always sort of stuck in my mind and I thought to myself, “Huh, I’ll win prizes some day, prizes I can accept!”
Anyway, that was my first beady draught of applause. I loved it then, apparently, and I’ve always loved it. Between you and me, folks, I think it’s the most beautiful music in the whole world! And it can come in different ways, too, not only the sound of hands clapping, but in fan letters, good reviews, the shine in your director’s eyes when you’ve done a good scene, lots of ways.
My first memory of my Mom and Dad is watching them doing their singing and dancing act as I sat in an orchestra seat between Suzanne and Jinnie. Especially, I remember hearing my mother sing, I’m Saving for a Rainy Day. That has always been my favorite song. I used to cry when she sang it. I still do.
I remember how Daddy always arranged the bill in his theater so that our acts followed one another. I mean, Mom and Dad would do their act first and we girls would sit in the audience and applaud. Then we would go on and do our trio singing and Mum and Daddy would sit out front and applaud its. That was my first practical lesson of the theater—that it takes only one good friend to start the ball rolling.
I have other First Memories of my Mom and Dad, too—especially how hard they worked for us—how my mother not only accompanied us on the piano but also made all our costumes, sometimes sewing all night long, and also arranged our music for us and also took care of our theatrical bookings. And Daddy did all the business end of things, took charge of the box office and our traveling arrangements and so on. And then, after all their back-of-the-scenes work was done, they’d get out there on the stage and do their act, fresh and peppy as kids! I don’t think there’s anything in the world so folksy as a Family Act. It really is “all for one and one for all.”
And most of all, I remember how Dad introduced Mother to the audiences. He was so proud of her tiny bands. Like little, quick birds, they were, I always thought. Anyway, Dad would always do his short dance routine first and then he’d step forward to the footlights and hold up his hand for silence and say, “I want to introduce a tiny, pretty lady with tiny, pretty hands!”
Maybe it sounds kind of corny now, but it always brought a lump into my throat and tears into my eyes when I was a kid. And it still does, when I think about it, now that I’m eighteen.
I guess you always remember your First Best Friend. Margaret Shook was my First Friend. I didn’t know until long after we’d left Grand Rapids that Mardie, I always called her Mardie. was the daughter of a maid who had worked for us before I was born. I remember how Daddy taught Mardie and me to sing My Country ‘Tis of Thee and how he’d play it and we’d stand on the front steps and sing it and we’d make our kitten and puppy and lop-eared rabbit and trained duck stand at attention, too! Once Mardie threw red pepper in my eyes—remember, Mardie?—it was by mistake, of course—and I thought I was blind. Long after the sting had gone out of my eyes I went around making believe I was blind. I guess I liked the attention it got me. I always liked the spotlight, I’m afraid. I’ve always felt at home in it, like sitting by the fireside, cosy. And I remember that my First Punishment was being stood in a corner. I may as well admit to you now, Mom, that it was no punishment! In fact, I got a Kick out of it. It got so that I’d do something naughty deliberately-on-purpose and then I’d go and stand in a corner under my own steam! Because I liked standing in a corner. Because it was, in a manner of speaking, also standing in the spotlight! Suzanne and Jamie would be so impressed when they saw me standing there, they’d sort of tip-toe around.
Well, I certainly remember my First Tour! We left Grand Rapids soon after I was three. I can remember hearing Mother and Dad talking about how California would be the best and healthiest place to bring up three small girls. I remember all the talk about Dad selling his theater in Grand Rapids and his plans for buying a new one in California. Being practical people, and vaudevillians, we decided to make one night stands along the road on the way out. That’s when I began to be The Pest of the Act. Being the smallest of the three, I always stood on the stage between the girls, with an arm around each sister. And I’d tickle first one and then the other! I broke up the act entirely. They’d just go to pieces but I’d go right on singing! Jinnie thought it was rather funny but Suzanne would chase me all over and around back-stage, trying to catch me and spank me.
Sometimes we played jokes on the orchestra, too—and then one night, the orchestra turned the tables on us. We had to stand very near to the footlights, you see, being so little—and this bunch of boys got a very bright idea and they all ate garlic and the fumes nearly asphyxiated us! But that was nothing to what our First Audience did to us when we first played in California—it was in a small theater in a small northern town, I remember, and before we’d half finished our first song, the entire house walked out on us! That was the night Dad decided that the theater was not for us. And that walk-out was my First Introduction to California audiences!
Well, then we settled in Lancaster, California, and Daddy got his theater nearby. I think the first special thing I remember about Lancaster is when I did my first school play there. I must have been about four and a half, I think. Anyway, I was a dwarf and I had pillows stuffed all over me. At the end of our act, I was surprised to see the curtain go down before we, The Players, had taken any bows. What kind of a thing was this. I thought?—so I just went right out in front of the curtain and started to bow like mad and I just stayed out there, bowing and bowing, and then I had to crawl in under the curtain to get back again! I should have been mortified but I’m told that I wasn’t.
My first “starring” role was also in a school play in Lancaster. I forget whether it was given by the dramatic school I attended for a while or the public school, but anyway, I was “Mrs. Goldilocks” and I wore a huge monument of a blonde wig. I had to swing back and forth in a rope swing under some canvas trees and in my zeal of enthusiasm, I swung so hard that I hit one of the back-drops and knocked my wig off! And there sat “Mrs. Goldilocks” with little, brown wisps for hair. They never gave me a starring role again! Oh, and as if I can ever forget the time I appeared in a school recital in the auditorium of the public school where Suzanne and Jinnie were going! The place was packed. Behind the scenes, my mother held my dress for me. I can see it to this day, a white dress, all ruffles, with panties attached so it would be easy for me to slip into with one motion—well, just as Mom was holding it ready for me to step into, I heard the opening bars of my number and I rushed out onto the stage, stark naked!
I must say that I began my professional career as an ill-starred star. Like when I was five I became one of The Meglin Kiddies. And the next Public Appearance I made was in one of their revues in a Los Angeles theater. To us, a Los Angeles theater meant what the Palace did to Broadway. It was the Big Time! And not only was I in several of the ensembles but also, dressed as a Cupid, with bow and arrow and quivers in a silver case, I was to deliver myself of a solo, I Can’t Give Yon Anything But Love. And then, again, Disaster! For I awoke on the eventful morning with a cold sore, a sty on my right eye and the horrible results of my First Permanent almost totally disabling me. I couldn’t see, my eye was practically shut, my mouth was swollen with the cold sore, and my hair looked like Topsy’s after a pillow fight. We spent the day frantically trying first aid remedies and I kept my fingers crossed wishing—but you can’t wish sties and cold sores away, nor permanents, either, they run their appointed courses. Anyway, Mom says that I showed then, for the first time, that old “the Show must go on” slogan was in my bones because—a very sorry looking cupid did the blind staggers onto the stage. I couldn’t even get the quivers out of my case on account of how I couldn’t see to get them out!
But I’ve always said that I was born under a Lucky Star, somewhere Over the Rainbow—because that night Gus Edwards was in the audience and he came back-stage and told my mother that my sisters and I should resume our trio singing—”With her ear,” he said, “nothing musical is beyond her.” I remember his exact words on account of how I thought he mentioned my ear because my ears were the only parts of me that were not disfigured!
It was soon after that that The Gumm Sisters got their first Professional Engagement at the Biltmore Theater in L. A. Boy, did we celebrate! W e always celebrated every Big, First Occasion at our house. That night we had ice-cream and store cake and lemon pop and candy. We were Big Time! Well, sir, we even had a private dressing room with maid service. I kept asking the maid to go and get me ice cream sodas and chewing gum, I didn’t know what else to ask her for. I still send people out to get me ice-cream sodas and chewing gum when I’m working. Well, we were all so happy and elated we didn’t even think to ask what our salaries would be. Mom had bought all three of us new dresses. I remember them so well because they were our first bought dresses. And all our friends came to the theater. Mom and Dad sat in the front row of the orchestra to get the applause going. And we got a lot of it, too. Lovely waves of it!
I guess that was the first time I ever had a conscious, sort of formed ambition to Be Someone. I never thought of going in movies, never once in my life. But I did think, I’m going to be a Singer! I did think, I’m going to have lots of pretty clothes some day and a lovely house and a red automobile! They always say “As a man thinks” . . . well, / say that “As a little girl thinks” because I have them, now, the pretty clothes, my own house, even the red
But Pride certainly goeth, at times, before an awful belly-whopper—for that night, when we opened our pay envelopes after the show, we found fifty cents apiece, in each! So that was my First Pay-Check— FIFTY CENTS! And Mom “had paid $10.00 each for our dresses. I said “Are we bankrupt”? And Daddy laughed and said, “No, but I guess Woman’s Place is In The Home—and in school, for you three!”
Buddy West—well, Mister West, I certainly remember youl! You certainly belong among my Important Firsts on account of how you were the first boy I ever noticed, and I hated you! Maybe Dr. Freud and the psychologists would say that I was having an “over-reaction” but I called it just plain hating you—in fact, I hated all boys after you, for ages, well, for months—I remember how, when Daddy would reminisce, saying “when I was a boy—” I’d say, passionately, “you weren’t a boy, you weren’t ever a nasty little boy!” You gave me my First Black Eye, Mister West, sir, if you care. You threw a stone at me and gave me the pip of a shiner! Mom laughed at me when I came home with the black beacon. She was very wise with me, my Mom, she always laughed off the little, hurtful things that happened to me. So that I wouldn’t take misfortune, or myself, too seriously.
But the girls certainly knew how to make my life miserable. Whenever they wanted to tease me, they’d go around yodeling a little ditty they reworded. I can still remember every horrid word of it. It went like this:
“Frances is mad and I am glad,
And I know how to tease her,
A bottle of wine to make her shine.
And Buddy West to squeeze her!”
Ugh, I can get a cactus spine even now, when I think of it! But I got back at you. Mister West, if you recall. One day we were having a fire drill in school. I had an all-day sucker in my hand. We got in line and you tried to kiss me and I hit you in the face with the all-day sucker and it stuck there! Gosh, did you look funny!
I really had my First Heartbreak in Lancaster, too. I had quite a Hard Time there, really, in many ways. The kind of ways that hurt kids something fierce. When the neighborhood mothers heard that I’d been on the stage, that I was a “Theatrical Child,” none of the children would play with me. Gee. they were mean to me, awful mean. Like I had a lot of costumes up in the attic, of course, real stage costumes and lots of times, especially Hallowe’en, they’d all come to my house, so sweet, sugar wouldn’t melt in their mouths, and they’d borrow costumes from me. And then, when they’d got what they wanted, they’d ditch me, leave me sitting alone in my costume. It almost broke my heart.
I never learned—hopefully I’d take the kids to Dad’s theater night after night, for free. I’d buy them all candy and gum. Vera Shrimp, her little sister, Ardis Shrimp, Muggsy Ming, Laurana Blankenship (did you ever hear such names!) and the others—and they’d grab the candy and the tickets and then they’d scuttle in and leave me standing there, alone! Those little SHRIMPS! I’d think, fiercely, and never know how funny it was.
And of course I remember my First Fashion Show. Daddy was putting on a Fashion Show at his theater and Mom made me a frilly costume and fixed up an enormous frilly hat box which was to be carried out on the stage with me in it. I was to come out, all bowing and smiling, but—my “friends” had turned up and they gave me the Bronx Cheer and what I mean is, they put their hearts in it! I started to cry, right then and there. You and the girls were out front, Mom, making signs to me not to mind. But I did mind. And Daddy was furious. No one could make me cry when he was around. I was such a “Daddy’s Girl”—so he just walked down the aisle of the theater and announced that “the rude, young people would please get out of the theater, get their money refunded at the box office from the cashier, and stay out!”
Then there was the time when I was going to the Professional School—Jinnie and I. Frankie Darro was in my class and hat mortal boy spent every mortal minute whispering to me. One day the teacher grabbed Frankie by the back of his neck, while holding a croquet mallet in her hand. I piped up, “Atta girl!” and she hit me over the head with the mallet! I don’t know what she was doing with a croquet mallet and I don’t know why she hit me when I was taking up for her! But she did. And Jinnie was furious. She took me home right then and there and I never did go back!
Of course, I had some fun in Lancaster —now and then the two Shrimps would come over, or some of the others, and we’d play my favorite game of Kick The Can, in our backyard. I was a tomboy sort of a little girl. I guess. I never much cared how I looked. I was too busy kicking the can and ringing doorbells to care about clothes —we rang doorbells every night, whether it was Hallowe’en or not. But just the same, I do remember my first Party Dress. Blue chiffon it was, accordion pleated, with little rosebuds just growing all over it!
I believe that when I changed my name, or rather when Mr. George Jessel changed it for me, that was the first real turn of the Wheel of Fortune for me! I believe in numerology. And I believe that the name Judy Garland is right for me—so I date my Beginning As An Actress from my Second Christening. Of course, there were to be a few Grim Detours, but nevertheless, I was On My Way.
Well, it was not so very long after our “financial crisis” at the Biltmore Theater that a theater manager in Chicago offered “The Gumm Sisters” an engagement at the Oriental Theater in Chicago, with, he said, our names in electric lights! That’s what got us, especially me! Applause and electric lights—yummy! Daddy didn’t want us to go but after lots of coaxing and teasing be finally consented; the family exchequer yielded new dresses again, and The Gumm Sisters accompanied by their mother set forth to conquer the world!
I remember how I could hardly wait to get to Chicago to see our names in electric lights. That’s all we talked about, all the way across the country. On opening night we got to the theater an hour and a half before opening time just so we could stand there and GLOAT! What’s more, we took a taxicab, feeling that no extravagance was too great for this Great Moment. But when we got there, it wasn’t “The Gumm Sisters” we saw, winking at us over the marquee, but—”The GLUM SISTERS!” The adjective “glum” was certainly appropriate to our mood for the rest of that evening.
But, once again, my Lucky Star did its stuff—this time it brought me a new, good friend and a new name. George Jessel was playing on the bill with us. George Knew How It Was. He tried to comfort the forlorn, sort of damp little trio that we were. He took me on his knee and told me I was “as pretty as a garland of flowers”—and then I remember how he stopped dead in his verbal tracks, so to speak, and exclaimed “Garland! Garland is a lovely name for you, little one, and they can’t kick it around—how about changing your name to Garland?”
I said, “Yes. And Judy, I want Judy for a first name—let’s name me Judy Garland!” So that very night, then and there, backstage, “Baby Frances Gumm” became Judy Garland.
We wired Daddy that night. I signed the wire “Judy Garland” and he wired back, “Have you lost your mind?” and I said to Mom. “Wire him back and say ‘No, but I’ve found a name’!”
But the Fates are pretty funny old girls, I guess, and not very quick at doing a right-about-face. It took them quite some time to realize that they shouldn’t treat Judy Garland quite so disrespectfully as they had been treating Baby Frances Gumm. The new name on the marquee didn’t save us. For when our engagement at the Oriental was over, Chicago just didn’t seem to know that we were there. W e didn’t want to write Daddy for money, having come against his wishes. Just in time we got an offer to appear at the Chicago World’s Fair. But when our concession closed, our salary checks were held and, for the first time in our lives, we were penniless! And that was, also, the first time I ever bearded a manager in his den. I guess I wasn’t a very good bearder, though, because although I demanded our money in loud, ferocious tones, he just turned on me and said. “Put up and git!”—and lie looked so much like a gangster that we “got”!
So then I had my first and, I am happy to say, my only experience of Facing Starvation With A Smile! Mother and the girls were out canvassing the agencies and it was up to me to perform a miracle with the two eggs and the one aged piece of bread, which was all that remained to us of this world’s goods. Well, sir, I just scrambled those eggs, to make them go farther, and I dried that bread in the oven, dryer than it was. I mean, and when Mom and the girls got back we had a celebration out of that little snack on account of how they’d landed us a job and it would mean enough money to get us home!
We got home. Dad didn’t say anything. But he had that “Woman’s Place Is In The Home” look in his eyes again, and back to school we went. W e did do our act occasional weekends. But when audiences in the Valley Theater in Lancaster and the Strand Theater in Long Beach tittered at our imitations of the Brox Sisters and when a smart-aleck boy in the balcony threw an orange at us one night—well, our week-ends were spent at home, too!
I had my First Crush on a boy at about this time. I was getting over being allergic to boys by now. His name was Galen Reid and I think he must have “conditioned” me for my crush on Mr. Gable because he looked sort of like him, in a small way. Anyway, he sent me a Valentine on Valentine’s Day. And that was not only my First Attention from A Boy but also it was the fanciest valentine of any girl in the school! He later confided to me that he had paid twenty-five cents for it and I was simply Overcome. I think it was then that I first began to exercise my Feminine Wiles, like washing my hands now and then, you know, and combing my hair, and even putting some very white powder on my nose when Mom wasn’t looking. Also, I would let Galen ride me home from school every afternoon on the handle-bars of his bike. And as our house was directly across the street from the school, it took a little maneuvering. I always pretended I had turned my ankle or that the street was muddy or something so it wouldn’t seem too silly.
Well, the next Momentous Occasion in my life was my First Meeting with Mickey! It took place in the corridor of Lawlor’s Professional School where, after Suzanne was married and Jinnie was Keeping Company, I was enrolled. Mickey had been sent out into the hall for punishment. So had I. I sort of stuck around, eyeing him—and I saw that he was combing his hair and that he had got the comb stuck in his mop. Always the helpful type, I offered to help him get the comb out, and I nearly scalped him!
Oh, and my First Love Note was from Mickey! He sent it to me in the classroom. It said, “I love you. Do you love me?” I was almost fainting with excitement, with the drama of It all! And I wanted to make the most dramatic answer possible. Just the night before, it so happened, I had seen the picture, “Silver Dollar,” and I remembered, word for word, the lines the heroine spoke when the hero told her he loved her. So I wrote them down on a piece of paper, made a spit-ball of it and threw it to Mickey. Then I waited, my pulse in an uproar. Then I saw him look at me, but— with icy contempt in his eyes! A t the noon hour, he just brushed past me in the hall. “Oh,”he sneered, simply sneered, “so you saw ‘Silver Dollar,’ too, did you!” Well, you may imagine what came next!
I wanted to die. And, of course, being young, I thought I would, most any moment. But Mickey is a very understanding boy, as boys go. After about two days, he didn’t hold it against me any more.
As a matter of fact, Mickey was the first boy I ever let kiss me without slapping him down. It was a birthday party kiss, only a kind of kid kiss, but still—gosh, though, when I remember how we used to talk at Lawlor’s Professional School, about how we’d be big stars on the stage someday and about how rich and famous and glamorous we would be—well, that’s what’s so amazing we wound up together like this! Anyway, Mickey is my best pal. He always was, even when he teased me, he will always be, even if I do have to listen to him rave about other girls.
Right about now, along comes my first big break! Both my sisters got married, as girls will, and although I worked hard at school, was on the baseball, volley ball and basketball teams, had a lot of friends now, who didn’t snoot me, still and all, I was lonely. I missed the girls. I missed the days when we were all in the theater together, so warm and cosy [sic]. Daddy sensed the way I felt. So he sent Mother and me to Lake Tahoe for a little vacation. I really do owe my break to Daddy. Because if he hadn’t been thoughtful, if he hadn’t sent us on that vacation—when I think—!
Well, so one night we were sitting around the campfire and I sang for the bunch. As Fate would have it, a talent scout was among the guests. He told Mother he wanted to take me to M-G-M studios. He said I should be in the movies. Well, it was just like his words were dynamite. They blasted Mother and me right out of that hotel and onto the train and home. I kept saying, “Oh, he’ll forget it—oh, he didn’t mean it—oh, they won’t want to see me!” but between us, in my bones I felt IT! It was what you call a premonition. I believe in premonitions.
And why not? For the call came. My first studio call! It just so happened that Mother wasn’t home, so Daddy took me to the studio. It was the first time he’d ever done anything in a business way with us girls. He’d always left the bookings and interviews and such to Mother. I’m glad now, that he did go with me. I like to feel he brought me luck.
Well, we got to the studio and went into the casting office and there they stopped me, dead in my tracks! They said “No Babies Today!” I told them I was Judy Garland (they looked blank). I told them I had been sent for (they let me in).
I sang for half a dozen people. And finally I was sent to Mr. Mayer’s office. I sang everything I knew for him, every song I’d ever heard in my life. Like always, you couldn’t stop me! When I had exhausted my repertoire, and myself, and Mr. Mayer, he asked me if I could sing Eli, Eli. I said yes, and proceeded to wail my head off. When I got all through, Mr. Mayer didn’t say one word, good or bad. He didn’t smile or saying anything. He just said, “Thank you very much,” and I walked out. And I thought, another false alarm!
When I got home and told Mom where I had been, she gave one loud, piercing scream, and said, “You didn’t go to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer looking like THAT?” I said I did and I think she would have fainted, had she been the fainting kind. But three days later, the phone rang. I was told to come to Metro and sign my contract. I was just thirteen then. And it was the biggest day in our lives. I remember how, that evening, Mom an Daddy and I just stayed at home. We didn’t even have one of our usual celebrations. We didn’t need ice-cream and store cake to make that evening a party! We were only too happy to celebrate. I’m glad we were like that, that night, just the three of us, alone. For it wasn’t to be the three of us, much longer.
Of course I went around in a daze, thinking, What would my first day be like? Will I play love scenes with Clark Gable? Who will I meet? Will everyone realize I’m a movie star? Where will I go first?
Guess where I did go first, for Pete’s sake? Right to school! Much to my rage and disgust and amazement (I’ve always detested school) that’s where I went! It helped a lot to have Mickey there. “Hi, you again!” that’s the way we greeted each other. And Deanna Durbin was there, Gene Reynolds, Terry Kilburn, quite a few of the kids. But especially, of course, it was fun to be with Mickey again. I remember how, that first day, he took me on a tour of the studio lot.
On our tour we saw Myrna Loy, Joan Crawford, Bob Young—and Clark Gable! Mickey practically had to support my tottering footsteps after I saw Mr. Gable. I remember him saying, “Gosh, dames are awful silly!” just because I acted up over Mr. Gable, as who wouldn’t?
But to jump ahead a little (I told you I wouldn’t be able to write a proper autobiography) my first real beau was Jackie Cooper. My first real crush. The first time I ever counted daisy petals and read poetry and sang sad songs with a “meaningful” look in my eyes was over Jackie Cooper. I had to maneuver ways to get to see him. And I did. Just the way I maneuvered with Galen Rice, when I was very young. Like I found out that Jackie was going to a party at Edith Fellowes’ house. now, I hadn’t seen or talked to Edith for ages. But I soon fixed that! I called her on the phone and was just too chummy for words. And I talked and I talked. Every time it looked as though we’d just have to hang up, I’d think of something else I just had to tell her. I talked until I am sure she invited me to her party just to shut me up.
Well, Jackie took me home from the party! It took me all evening to work that, lots of songs and sad eyes and such acting as I have never done on the screen! And boy, when he took me out to his car and I saw it was a chauffeur-driven car, did I ever feel like Lady Vere de Vere!Whoops, I thought, this is the life, a boy with a car and a chauffeur. We got home and, Jackie being a perfect gentleman, he escorted me in. What was my horror to walk into the living room and find my Mother and Dad down on the floor, counting the nickels and dimes which were Dad’s box-office “take” for the evening! Jackie said, in a whisper, “What do your folks do, run a slot-machine?” I was SO mortified.
My first grief came soon after I’d signed my movie contract. it was my Dad’s leaving us. Something I never thought could happen, something I know would never have happened, for any lesser reason than Death. He had meningitis. we went away in three days. One of the things that hurts now is knowing that if it had happened to him a little later, he might have been saved. Because now sulfanilamide is a cure for meningitis. But then, there was nothing they could do for him, they didn’t know what to do. I had thought I was heartbroken many times before that. Now I knew what heartbreak really feels like. It makes you grow up, a thing like that, a loss that’s deep and forever.
I did my first broadcast the night Daddy went to the hospital. We didn’t know, of course, that he was anything like as ill as he was. It was on KHJ, Big Brother Ken’s Program, and I sang Zing go the Strings of my Heart[Editor’s note: Of course that’s Zing! Went the Strings of my Heart]. I didn’t have any mike fright at all. I never have any fright, mike or camera or stage. Anything that’s entertaining, anything that’s theater makes me feel right at home.
Well, my first screen appearance, as I am afraid some people will recall, was a short called “Every Sunday Afternoon,” which Deanna and I made together. Deanna sang opera. I sang swing. We both would like to forget that sorry little shortie—but I am putting down all of the first things in my life, I can’t skip that, much as I should like to. Then I made my first, full-length picture, “Pigskin Parade.” I should also like to have amnesia when I recall that! I was loaned to 20th Century-Fox for that picture and it was in that I saw myself, for the first time, on the screen. I can’t TELL you! I was so disappointed I nearly blubbered out loud. I’d imagined the screen would sort of “magic” me. Well, I never got it, I hated it so badly! I’d expected to see a Glamour Girl, as I say, and there I was, freckled, fat, with a snub nose, just little old kick-the-can Baby Gumm! And I tried so hard, I acted so forced—ohhh, it was revolting. It didn’t help a bit that Mom and the director and lots of people said I was good.
But I get over things pretty quickly. Someone once told me I have a “volatile element” in me, whatever that means. Anyway, I started to work very hard. The studio began “Grooming” me, I learned how to walk, how to carry myself better, I got to know the other players on the lot. And I began to work with Mrs. Rose Carter, who was engaged by the studio as my private tutor.
For the first time in my life, schoolwork became a pleasure. For instance, I had never been able to do geometry, it was plain nightmare to me. Well, Mrs. Carter found out how I love art, drawing and all, and she explained that geometry is nothing but a series of drawings work out in figures instead of colors. I soon discovered I could solve angles, no matter how intricate. Then, thanks to Mrs. Carter, I learned to appreciate Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Verdi. Now I have a collection of 2500 records, including the classics and swing. It was Mrs. Carter who put me wise to the fact that modern fiction is pale compared with history. She encouraged me not only to love art but to do something about it, to sketch and a print and draw. That first year, on Mother’s Day, my gift to Mom was a portrait of Dad that I made from an old tintype.
It’s skipping way ahead to tell you about my graduation—anyway, last June, right after I was eighteen, I went into my dressing room (which was also my schoolroom) one day and there was Mrs. Carter, packing away books and portfolios and things, like mad.
“What are you doing, Rose?” I asked.
“Doing!” said Rose, “why, I’m getting rid of these pesky school-books! Isn’t this a sight your eyes have been sore to see? Don’t you realize you are through with them forever?”
And then, of all things, I began to cry! If anyone had ever told me I’d cry at the sight of some vanishing school books I’d have committed them to the loony-bin [sic]. But I just blubbered, “I’m sorry I’m through and—but—well, if I have to be through, I want to graduate with a—with a class. I want to be like other girls my age, at my graduation, anyway!”
So, I did graduate with other girls, like other girls. On June 26th, 1940, I was a member of the graduating class of University High School. And I wasn’t one speck different from any of the other 249 girls! I wore a plain blue organdy dress, like they all did, and carried a bouquet of sweetheart roses, just like the others. The flowers were provided by the school and I’ve got one of them pressed in my scrapbook. I almost missed my place in line, too, because Mother sent me a lovely corsage of mystery gardenias and Mickey sent me a cluster of orchids and I had to dash into the audience and explain to Mom that I loved the corsages but I just couldn’t wear them. “I can’t be different from the other girls, Mom” I said, “Please don’t be hurt, but that’s the way it is” Mom understood, like always. I would even let Mickey come to my graduation. I certainly would be “different,” for Pete’s sake, if I’d had Mickey Rooney at my graduation! And I wouldn’t have any cameramen there, or anything—and it was all wonderful.
But now I have to go back three years, just a little hop, to lots of first things that began to happen then. The first time I met Mr. Gable, in particular! Well, the way it happened, I was in Roger Eden’s office on day (roger is a musical coach at the studio, and my instructor) and I begged him to let me sing Drums In My Heart which he had arranged for Ethel Merman. He told me I was too young and unsophisticated to sing a song like that. Now, I have a quick, flary temper and you know how a girl hates to be told she is “unsophisticated,” not to mention “young,” migosh! So I just stormed out of his office and then cooled off, right off, like always and came meekly back again. And Roger suggested that we compose a song just for me. He said, “Now, what or whom, would you like to sing about?” And I said quick like, “Mr. Gable!” And Roger looked as if he was trying not to laugh and so then we made up the song, Dear Mr. Gable.
Well, it was Mr. Gable’s birthday, the first day I met him. Roger took me onto the set of “Parnell,” which Mr. Gable would like to forget but I have to just mention it, and I sang Dear Mr. Gable to him—and he cried! Imagine making Clark Gable cry! Imagine being able to! And then he came up to me and put his arms around me and he said, “You are the sweetest little girl I ever saw in my life!” And then I cried and it was simply heavenly!
Just a few days after this, came my first pieces of real jewelry—my charm bracelet from Mr. Gable. It’s all tiny, gold musical instruments, a tiny piano, tiny harp, drums, violin and so on—and the only other charm is a teensy [sic] golden book which opens and there is Mr. Gable’s picture in it and an inscription which says “To Judy, from her fan, Clark Gable.” As long as I live and no matter how many jewels life may bring me I will always keep that bracelet, along with the little diamond cross my Dad gave me on my last birthday before he died, and my first wrist-watch which was from Mother.
My first premiere came along about this time, too. It was “Captain’s Courageous” and it was at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and I went with Mickey! I wore my first long dress and my first fur coat, a gray squirrel, which I wore for daytimes and evenings, too. When I was seventeen, Mom gave me a ruby fox which I was only allowed to wear on special occasions and when I was eighteen she gave me my wonderful, white fox cape, full length! I got my first car on my seventeenth birthday, too, a red job, like I’d dreamed.
But I was talking about my first premiere—Mickey sent me a pikaki lei instead of just a commonplace corsage. Pikakis are like small, white orchids, only with a heavenly fragrance, and they grow only in the tropics and Mickey’d had them flown by Clipper from Hawaii!
I suppose I’d call that first premiere my first date, too. And if there is anything more important than a first date in a girl’s life, I don’t know what it is.
Here’s what I think about a first date: first of all, a girl should act her age. I mean, if you are fifteen or sixteen, you shouldn’t go out looking as though you had just graduated from kindergarten, of course, but neither should you try to look like a senior at a Glamour Girl School. If you are wearing your first long dress, or even any new dress, I think it’s a swell idea to try it on several evenings before your date, just to sort of get acquainted with it. So that you can practiced being nonchalant. So you won’t fall on your face when you go into a theater or restaurant. And I don’t think First-Daters should overdo the make-up stuff, either. I know I just used a little, thin powder, just a touch of rouge because the excitement made me look like the ghost of my grandmother. And a very light dash of lipstick. and NO
! ‘Cause if you forget an drub your eyes or laugh until the tears come, your face gets all smudged up. Most of all, on a date, I think a girl should be herself. It’s a temptation not to be, I know. I’ve had my moments when I thought I’d try to act like Marlene Dietrich or even Garbo. And then I’d figure that it was my natural self, such as I am, that attracted my date in the beginning, so why take a chance on changing into something he might not like as well?
Well, anyway, lots of first things were happening, three years ago, like I said—I played in “Broadway Melody of 1938” and that was the first realstep forward in my Career. Not to mention that it was then that I first met Robert Taylor!
Then I made “Love Finds Andy Hardy” and I really believe that’s my favorite of my pictures. Mickey and I had lots of fun together while we were making that, same as we had fun making “Strike Up the Band”—we’d tear down to the beach on week-ends and “do” the amusement piers, and we’d come home loaded to the gills with Kewpie dolls and Popeyes. Mickey is an expert aim with baseballs, so we’d be pretty even-Stephen on prizes.
We had our “crowd” by this time, too. Mickey of course, Jackie Cooper, Bonita Granville, Bob Stack, Rita Quigley, Helen Parrish, Ann Rutherford, Leonard Suess, most of them were in our gang then and now—and in the evenings we’d get together at my house or one of the other kid’s houses and we’d play records, dance, “feed” on hot chocolate, chili, and beans, wienies, brownies, pop-corn, cokes, our favorite items of “light” refreshment!
We had jolly times, we still do—it was mostly all fun and nothing very serious. We’d all sort of date each other, I’d go out with MIckey, with Jackie, later with Bob Stack; the other girls would go out with them, too; there were very few jealousies—we were pretty deadly in earnest about our work—of course, I often thought I was in love—but I used to worship people from afar more than those who were dunking their doughnuts in my hot chocolate. I’d have crushes on people who thought I was a little girl—my doctor, for instance, I was insane about him—he’s fifty, I think! And every time I’d have a crush, I’d think, this is real love! But in saner moments I know I have never really been in love, I always recover too quickly. Columnists and gossip are always trying to make out that I’m serious, about Bob Stack, for instance, or Dan Dailey, or this one or that. But I’m not, I never have been and I don’t intend to be, for quite some time to come!
Now, let’s see—dear me, I hope I’m getting what serious biographers call “Chronology” into this manuscript! Well, after I was fifteen, first things happened to me so fast and furious, I get addled. ANyway, two very important first things comes in here, I know—I played Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” and since that was a dream I’d dreamed ever since Daddy read the “Oz” stories to me, back-stage, when I was just a kid. And just before I stopped being Judy and became Dorothy, I built my own home! It’s sprawling and it’s white and it’s surrounded by trees and flowers and a tennis court and, this year, we put in a swimming pool which is the rendezvous, every Sunday afternoon, for the crowd. My bedroom is all done in chartreuse and brown and the walls are lined with my favorite books. I have my own dressing room and bath, too.
Well, when I made “The Wizard of Oz” not only did I actually live in the Emerald City, not only did I pinch myself black and blue every day to make sure I was awake, not dreaming, but also Dorothy won me my first Academy Award for a performance by a Juvenile Actress! And Mickey presented me with the golden statue. Mickey and the statue looked like they were swimming, because of the tears in my eyes.
Next I think of “Babes In Arms” and, especially, of the preview which was at Grauman’s Chinese and which was the first premiere of one of my pictures that I ever attended. Again with Mickey, naturally. And that was the night I was invited to put my foot-prints and hand-prints in the forecourt of the theater. Mickey’s were already there and, of course, Clark Gable’s, Harold Lloyd’s, Shirley Temple’s, oh, all the big stars’!
I wanted to look glamorous that night, as I had never wanted to before, or since. Well, I bite my fingernails and I felt sick because I couldn’t have long, glittering ones like Joan Crawford’s. So the manicurist fixed me up with artificial ones. After I placed my hands in the wet cement I went into the theater and after a while I thought a creeping paralysis had set in, beginning with my fingers! They felt all numb and heavy. I was in cold sweat until we left the theater and then I realized some of the cement had got under my nails and hardened on the false ones! I went to a party afterwards feeling like Dracula’s daughter, with talons! The next day I had to have them chopped off! That was my first and last attempt at being glamorous.
After “Babes in Arms” the studio sent Mickey and me to New York on a personal appearance tour. We did six shows a day so, of course, we didn’t have much time to sight-see. Mom said 10:30 as the curfew and Mickey kept to that schedule, too. But we did manage to spend one evening at the Rainbow Room. We wanted to know how it felt to dance “on top of the world.” That trip was the first time I really shopped in New York, too. Boy, did I sweep in and out of Fifth Avenue’s finest! It was the first time I bought semi-grown-up clothes.
And that was the time Fred Waring asked me to appear as a guest on his radio program. Of course I accepted, thinking he just wanted me to say “hello.” Do you know what he did? He had his entire program dedicated tome! And his theme song for the evening was Over The Rainbow, which happens to be my favorite song. So I sang all the songs from “The Wizard of Oz” for him and a good time was had by all, most especially by me!
Oh, and I must tell about my sixteenth birthday. We had a party at my house and my brother-in-law, Robert Sherwood, brought along his La Maze orchestra. Mickey was the master of ceremonies and we staged an entertainment program of our own. I sang two numbers, and Jackie, Bonita, Ann, Helen, Buddy Pepper, all of them did turns. We had a ping-pong tournament, too, and Mickey walked off with the honors! At midnight we served a buffet supper. I wore a new white, shark-skin sports dress with flowers appliqued on the pockets. And in my hair I wore the gardenias, which Mickey sent me—oh, and in the midst of the festivities, two blue love-birds in a blue and white cage were delivered to me. And the card attached read “Happy Birthday to My Best Girl, Judy—Clark Gable.”
But I guess the most important first thing that happened in 1938 was that, for the first time, I became an aunt! Jinnie says it’s really a little more important that she became a Mother than that I became an aunt. I wouldn’t know about that. I only know that I always wanted to be an aunt. And that the circumstances of my aunt hood befell me under circumstances which were pretty extraordinary! ‘Cause I was in the hospital, too! It was right after my automobile accident. One bright morning, a few days later, my nurse told me she was going to take me “visiting.” She bundled me into a wheel-chair and we headed for the “baby floor.” There, for the first time, seen under glass, so to speak, I first beheld my first niece, Judy Gayle Sherwood, my name-sake as well as my niece! Born in the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital while I’d been recovering from my accident—both of us under the same roof!
So now, I guess, I’m pretty much up to the Present. I made “Andy Hardy Meets Debutante” and then “Strike Up the Band.” And did we have ourselves a time, Mickey and I, while we were making that. After doing our “Conga” number, talk about being in a later! Between scenes, Mickey’d mostly play the songs he was writing to me, and I’d make recordings for him and all. I was just like the character in the picture, where Mickey was concerned.
And now I’m playing my first grown-up, dramatic character part in “Little Nellie Kelly.” I even die in “Nellie.” And—and this is a VERY important first in my life, I play my first grown-up love scene in this picture, too! I’m really blushing even as I write about it. I, who have said I was never embarrassed on the stage, in front of a mike or a camera, take it all back now. George Murphy plays my sweetheart (and my husband, I play a dual role, too!) in the picture. And he was certainly the most perfect choice, for he is so kind and tender and understanding—and humorous, too. But just the same, after we made that love scene, I didn’t know what to do or where to look. I’d just kind of go away between scenes because I couldn’t look at him. He kept kidding me, too, saying he felt like he was “in Tennessee with my child-bride!”
And well, my goodness, I guess that’s about all! I guess a girl hasn’t muchof a Life Story when she’s just eighteen because, of course, she hasn’t had much life! Although I do think I’ve had quite a Past and I know I’m old enough so that it’s been fun to Remember. And I also know that, at the end of my first eighteen years, as I write “Finis, The End” to my first Life Story, I’d like to say some Thank You’s, quite a lot of Thank You’s—first of all to Mom and Daddy, of course, for all the things they did for me, for everything they were and are to me; and to my sisters for their patience with me, and the fun we had; and to Mr. Mayer for believing in me; and to Mrs. Carter and Roger Edens and all the directors who have worked with me—and to Mickey, naturally—I don’t know what for, just for being Mickey, I guess—and to all the magazine and newspaper people who have been so kind to me—and to my fans, who are my friends, and who have made me what I am today—to—well, to just about everyone and everything—-yes, to everything and everyone who have made my first eighteen years of being alive so swell, and such fun!
by unknown author
Movie Stars Parade
Being able to act your age isn’t always the easiest thing in the world for an actress. But Judy Garland is one of hte fortuante few who is going to be allowed to grow up on the screen, just as she is doing in real life. Which brings us inevitably to the problem of men in a girl’s life.
Up until now, she has been pals with a group of teenage boys, most of whom have veen in her various pictures. But Judy is now eighteen, and everyone knows that boys the same age are so much younger. So, in anticipation of her budding womanhood, the M-G-M studios are deftly letting her face the problems on the screen that girls her age come up against every day. In Strike Up The Band she had all the heartaches of a girl whose boy friend takes her for granted. In Little Nellie Kelly she acts a wife and her own daughter, and plays love scenes with George Murphy.
In her personal life, she has been thinking about marriage, as what girl hasn’t? Her most recent steady escort about town has been Dave Rose, musician-ex-husband of Martha Raye but those who profess to know her well say it will be a long while yet before the wedding bells ring out for Judy. We think so, too, for her mother doesn’t want her to marry too young and Judy adores her mother and has complete confidence in her parents’ judgment. So she calmly goes her way, having jam sessions with her gang or getting all dressed up in swank formal clothes for dates with older men. Having proven her ability as a singer, comedienne, dancer and dramatic actress, she has more than earned the right to her choice of Grade-A parts, and ace designer Adrian, who makes clothes only for top-flight stars, designs her Ziegfeld Girl wardrobe. The studio has given her biggest part to date in this picture where, in addition to her other talents, she has the opportunity to shine as a full-fledged glamour girl. You can be sure Judy will make the most of it.
Born: June 10, 1922, in Grand Rapids, Mich [Editor’s note: often her birthplace was printed as Grand Rapids, Michgan. It was in M-G-M’s general information file that they would give out to the press] Weight: 110 lbs.; Height: 5’3” [Editors note: Mmm hmm… in four inch high heels, maybe] Golden brown hair, wide brown eyes, rose-tan complexion. Real name is Frances Gumm. Toured in vaudeville with sisters before entertaining movies. Can’t read music, learning songs by ear. Is reguarded by composers and music publishers as one of the best “song pluggers” on the screen.
by Dorothy Kilgallen
Judy Garland sat on the apron of the stage, dangling her legs into the orchestra pit, lifting her face to the balcony.
And the stage was the Palace Theater in New York City.
She looked like a small boy playing hobo on Halloween. The trousers she wore were baggy and full of patches, the coat so big she had trouble finding her hands. Her hair was hidden under a rumpled fright wig and one tooth was blacked out. her cheeks were smeared with dirt. THe only thing beautiful about her was her eyes, and they were enough to make everybody in the audience cry.
Her upturned face in the spotlight, Judy began to sing:
Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of, once in a lullaby.
Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
There was no microphone to lift the girlish wistful voice to the top of the house–but it soared there. And although everyone knows there’s a stony heart for every light on Broadway, not one could be found in the Palace that night. All the sophisticated first nighters were beating their damp palms, all the hard-boiled cynics were having a good cry.
It was a wonderful moment for the rumpled little girl up on the stage–a woman, really, but she seemed like a little girl–and for the people in the seats. What had started out as a performance had become an emotional experience–an exchange of affection between Judy and hundreds of people who wanted her to know how much they loved her.
And this was the girl who just a little over a year back had been so unhappy, confused and despondent over her career troubles that she suffered a severe emotional crisis and despaired of life itself.
She had come a long way to find the rainbow. But there it was, shining over the stage where everyone could see it.
Afterwards I asked Judy, “what were you thinking as you sat there in the spotlight and sang that last song?”
Her soft brown eyes glowed and she said in the breathless, rushing little way she has, “I was thinking how lucky I was. That’s why I wasn’t nervous after the first couple of minutes. It was just as if I knew every person out there, and I stopped being scared. It was like singing to a roomful of friends.”
That night Judy Garland became the toast of the town. She started breaking the old box office records set by Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, and Burns and Allen. Famous personalities from all fields–theatrical, literary, social, military–began making pilgrimages backstage to pay tribute to her in her all-green dressing room, specially decorated for her from ceiling to carpet because green is her favorite color.
The draperies that cover one wall of the dressing room are a floral print in green and white, and she is childishly proud of them, but she is theatrically sentimental, too, so they are completely covered with good wishes that arrived opening night. When Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift visited her backstage Judy said, “They really are beautiful. I’m sorry you can’t see them, but I pinned all my telegrams on them.”
Marlene Dietrich, Irving Berlin, Moss Hart, Jack Benny, Marlon Brando, Broderick Crawford, and Phil Silvers were just a few of the scores of celebrities who couldn’t resist calling on Judy in her dressing room. Even Gen. Douglas MacArthur dropped back one Saturday night.
“You’re wonderful,” the general said with feeling.
Judy smiled her little girl smile. “You’re wonderful, too” she said.
Half a dozen performances at the Palace did more for Judy than all the years of stardom she knew in the movies. She was a money making actress from the time she was a child wonder on the MGM lot; she made pictures fast, one after the other and she made money and got fan magazines spreads and had all the material props of success. But she had no conception of the devotion people all over the country felt for her.
Even going to England and playing the Palladium didn’t completely lick her feeling of insecurity, although she was a great hit there and that gave her the courage to tackle New York. The Palladium experience was grand, but it was after all, England. New York is a terrible, wonderful test.
No wonder Judy had a light in her eyes every time she stepped out on that stage. She was getting an inexplicable, but somehow tangible, feeling of contact with people–that electric thing so valuable to her. So necessary, really, to a girl who spent such a long time feeling alone and confused while most of the world thought of her as glamorous [sic], enviable and loved. The audiences that brought their tickets to the Palace sat there breathing their affection for her and more for Judy’s health and spirit than all the doctors who had charged thousands to psychoanalyze her and treat her when she was so nervous and despondent. She looked wonderful even though she was putting on a one-woman show twice a day, with the usual star’s rush of fittings, photographers, appointments, and interviews.
She even grew slimmer; within three weeks of her opening night she was down to something between size 10 and size 12–and she had been a plump 14. Most wonderful of all, she could sleep like a baby once she got to bed, something that hadn’t happened to her with regularity for years.
She had one setback that frightened her friends and scared Judy, too. She began to have pains in the chest, and during a matinee the pain was so great she was barely able to go through with the performance. Her own doctor was unavailable when she called him, but his assistant rushed to the theater and an hour before she was due onstage for her evening show gave her a shot to kill the pain.
It knocked her out completely. The doctor then administered something else to bring her back, and the panic-stricken theater management stalled the show to give her more time to revive. Whatever the doctor had given Judy began to take effect and she felt pepped enough to go on.
She did her first number feeling, as she said later, “halfway between the sky and the floor.” But she got through it. During the second song she began to forget her words–something she’d never done before. She felt as if she were fading away. But her accompanist, Composer Hugh Martin, threw her the lyrics, and she faked through the end and stumbled offstage.
As she started to stagger on again for her bow, hands grabbed her. The next thing she remembers she was on the couch in her dressing room and ambulance men with a stretcher were waiting to take her to the hospital.
As they carried her out the stagedoor, through the crowd waiting on the sidewalk, Judy smiled sleepily at the fans, tried to wave her hand, and said heerfully: ‘I’ll be back. Don’t worry, I’ll be back.”
She was, too. Hospital tests proved there was nothing wrong with her heart, as had been feared; the pain apparently had been caused by a nervous spasm due to over work and perhaps too much playing. Thrilled with her success, Judy had been staying out late at night, enojoying the excitement of being a hit in New York, an the late hours just didn’t combine with the heard work. But the Place offered to ut the number of shows, and after a few days Judy was back, good as new.
Her New York-found happiness even made her mellow about the autograph hunters who crowded around the Palace to see her–5,000 on opening night, even more the night she “came back” after having her collapse. For years Judy had shared Cary Grant’s scorn for the bobby-sox type of fan–and with rason, because she had some pretty unpleasant experiences with fresh kids who hurled insults at her and heckled her. But as all her other troubles disappeared over the rainbow, so did her strained relations with the fans; she began to fear them less, and like them a little more.
She was so grateful for their interest and support that on opening night, when she knew the crowd opposite the theater in Duffy Square was waiting for her to leave the theater, she refused to go out the stagedoor on the side street. She walked out through the front lobby, under the marquee with “Judy Garland” in big electric light letters, smiling gratefully at the cheering people on the sidewalk. And because she was so happy herself she couldn’t bear to disappoint anyobody, that was the exit she made every night thereafter.
The man in Judy’s life, Sid Luft, seems to be another reason for her happiness. He is the big bruiser type–a sharp contrast to her last husband, the quiet, sensitive, brilliant Vincente Minnelli with whom she will always remain friends–and he seems to be the right personality to complement Judy’s sometimes uncertain moods. He is her personal manager as well as fiance, and he shields her from annoyances, advises her on everything, and bolsters her ego at the right moments.
Her little girl Liza is another of Judy’s joys. Liza has Vincente’s eyes and Judy’s personality, and everyone who knows her believves she will be one of the great talents of show business when she grows up.
All this, and all that has happened to her recently, should make Judy one of the most confident, joyful women in Christendom. Wherever she goes from here–into a Braodway musical comedy or back to the Hollywood movie sets–she should go on wings, like the bluebrids in her song. Because now she should know beyond all doubt what many others have known for a long time.
Judy has the magic gift of making people love her.
If she can always remember that, she will never be really unhappy again.
[Note: With all due respect to Miss Kilgallen, she has almost everything down perfectly. I think there was more joy in Judy’s life than she conveys, but other than that–she’s got Judy down]