Film Poster‘Over the Rainbow’

After the success of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, M-G-M bought the screen rights of Frank L. Baum’s book The Wizard of Oz. The story had previously been filmed as a silent movie with Oliver Hardy as the Tin Man but this new version was going to be a musical starring Judy Garland.
Mervyn LeRoy was to produce the film, assisted by songwriter Arthur Freed who wanted to produce musicals and to work specifically with Judy.
Mervyn LeRoy: “I wanted to make a movie out of The Wizard of Oz from the time I was a kid.”
Arthur Freed:
“I bought Oz for the studio with only one person in mind for Dorothy. It was finally decided by all that Oz should be used to establish a good box office reputation for Judy.”
 
At least five directors were assigned to the film: Norman Taurog did tests before being replaced by Richard Thorpe. Two weeks later George Cukor took over and turned the blond baby-doll look and frilly wardrobe so far applied into a more believable Dorothy.
Victor Fleming, with whom Judy enjoyed a special rapport (“I had a terrible crush on him - a lovely man”), replaced Cukor who had left to take over Gone with the Wind. Fleming then directed most of The Wizard of Oz before he also left to take over Gone With the Wind from George Cukor who had been sacked by David Selznick.
King Vidor completed The Wizard of Oz by finishing the monochromes scenes that open and close the picture.
 
The film was a troubled production and it became the third longest shooting and third costliest in Metro’s history. Only Ben Hur and The Good Earth were more expensive, neither of them making a profit on their release. Whatever its troubles, the timeless quality of The Wizard of Oz and Judy’s entrancing Dorothy, along with her loveable friends, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion (played by Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and Bert Lahr) became one of the best loved pictures of all time.
The song ‘Over the Rainbow’, almost cut from the film for reasons of length, was fortunately retained and won the Academy Award for best film song of the year, and became a best-selling single record and a theme song for Judy.
Ray Bolger: “Judy was a child who never had a childhood.”
‘Yip’ Harburg:
“Judy was an unusual child, with an ability to project a song and a voice that penetrated your insides . . . As a child, she sang with all the naturalness and clarity of a child . . . Honesty, not phoniness moves people. Judy Garland was to singing what Gershwin’s music was to music.”
 
Judy in Wizard of OzThe Wizard of Oz did quite well in the big cities but with children allowed in at half-price it didn’t make a profit and the outbreak of the Second World War meant European markets were closed to it. At a cost of almost $3 million the film accounted for a considerable amount of red ink in M-G-M ledgers.
When the film opened in Britain, Graham Greene, writing in the Spectator, approved of Garland ‘with her delectable long-legged stride’ and critics were impressed by the lavishness of the production but pointed out the absurdity of giving it an ‘A’ certificate so that children had to be accompanied by an adult.
The song ‘Over the Rainbow’ came to take on a new meaning and a special significance in Britain during the dark days of the war and the song was accorded the same reverence as ‘Rule Brittania’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.
To the British, Judy Garland came to be more than just a Hollywood star.
 
Before The Wizard of Oz had been released, Garland teamed up again with Rooney in their new film musical, Babe in Arms. Written by Rodgers and Hart, the show had been plucked from Broadway by Arthur Freed for his first film as a producer.
Near enough the same age, Garland and Rooney blended well. Though both were full of pep and vitality the director, Busby Berkeley, insisted on shooting the musical numbers in one take after endless rehearsals and the two stars found it exhausting.
Berkeley, director of 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933, was a highly respected film talent but a regimented taskmaster.
Judy, with a wide smile: “They worked us so hard that neither of us grew to be very tall.”
Mickey Rooney:
“Busby was impossibly demanding . . . He was always screaming at Judy: ‘Eyes! Eyes! Open them wide! I want to see your eyes! When the cameras started grinding away , he wanted us to do the numbers from beginning to end - non-stop!”
 
Judy and Mickey RooneyBabes in Arms was scheduled to be released after The Wizard of Oz but to promote both films at the same time Mickey and Judy were sent to New York to appear between showings of the film at the Capitol Theatre.
On their first day at the Capital Theatre, New York, the 37,000 cash customers overflowed and sixty police officers were needed to control the crowds. At one point Judy collapsed off-stage but recovered in time for her next performance. Heralded as ‘the Garbo and Gable of Hollywood High’, their two-week engagement broke every attendance record.
Rooney: “Sing, Judy, while I get a cold root beer or something.
 
Judy guested on Fred Waring’s radio show to find the whole programme was dedicated to her. Judy said later: “I sang all the songs from The Wizard of Oz and a good time was had by all - most especially by me.”
After ten days at the Capital, Rooney returned to Hollywood to start a new Andy Hardy picture. Having been joined by Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger, Judy stayed on for a further week before returning to Hollywood and pressing her hands and feet into the cement outside Grauman’s Chinese.

Oz and Babes in Arms were in the list of top ten pictures for 1939 and Bette Davis and Judy Garland were the only women in the list of top ten stars.
Babe In Arms broke box-office records everywhere and established Arthur Freed as M-G-M’s foremost movie musical producer. He and his associates became known as the ‘Freed Unit’ and Judy Garland was now a major movie star.
 
Romance in Hollywood, on and off the screen, is an absolute essential and Garland had be seen with a beau. Jackie Cooper dated her for a time, but while in New York, Judy was seen out with Artie Shaw to the annoyance of Betty Grable who was madly in love with the band leader.
When Shaw brought his band out to California he renewed his acquaintanceship with Judy despite her mother’s disapproval, and the couple met secretly with the connivance of Jackie Cooper who was a fan of the clarinettist.
 
Whilst Shaw was amused by Judy and thought of her as “a moonstruck girl”, he was unhappy at being separated from Betty Grable who was in New York.
Lana Turner then appeared on the scene. At twenty-eight, Shaw already had two broken marriages behind him and as Phil Silvers described it: “Lana Turner made for Artie like a bee making for the honey.”
Both Betty Grable and Judy were astonished when Artie and Lana eloped to Las Vegas. It didn’t help that Judy envied Lana’s looks - Judy was constantly dissatisfied with her own.
Judy: “I’m so ugly. Look at Annie and Lana Turner.”
Maxine Marx:
“But they have none of your talent. You’re the one who has it all.”
Judy:
“Who cares?”
 
The following day Judy turned up at NBC studios in tears to rehearse for The Bob Hope Show and threatening not to go on. David Rose, a musician and close friend of Shaw’s, consoled her with the help of a slice of chocolate cake. Afterwards, Judy consulted David about her recording sessions and they began to see each other regularly.
Rose was married, though separated, to Martha Raye and under Californian law Judy was still a juvenile. Louis Mayer warned Rose: “If you do anything to harm her, I will ensure no radio station or studio will employ you again.”
Bob Hope: “I learned to love Judy so much her mother met her after each programme.”
 
Will Gilmore and his wife Laura were friends of the Gumms back in Lancaster and when Laura died, Will began to court Ethel. None of Ethel’s daughters approved of Mr. Gilmore, and Judy was not impressed by her mother’s explanation that the reason she had become attached to Will back in Lancaster was that Frank not only drank but was also a homosexual.
It increased Judy’s antipathy towards her mother and there was nothing Judy could do when Ethel and Will eloped to Yuma, Arizona.
To Judy’s chagrin, the couple were married on the fourth anniversary of Frank’s death. Their marriage was not a success.

Garland was awarded a special juvenile
Oscar for The Wizard of Oz which she later described it as ‘the Munchkin Award.’ Fittingly, Mickey Rooney presented it to her, and because ‘Over the Rainbow’ had won an Oscar for the best song, she had to sing it at the Awards ceremony. Believing that she wasn’t sufficiently appreciated at the studio, she began making demands about the roles she played and the clothes she wore - the studio had made her wear clothes more suited to a hick-girl at a college dance than a movie star.
Making little impression, she was rushed into another film with Mickey Rooney, Andy Hardy Meets Debutante, playing a nice, fifteen years old, old-fashioned girl. The best part of the film was her song, ‘I’m Nobody’s Baby’, which became her second best-selling record.
Judy: “Even after The Wizard of Oz they treated me like a poor relative at the studio. They convinced me I wasn’t very good. They kept telling me I wasn’t very good as a performer.”
 
In her next film, another jolly Mickey-and-Judy musical treat called Strike Up The Band she was cast as a vocalist in a high school band. It was the second Freed-Berkeley production and featured band leader Paul Whiteman.
The best song in the movie was Judy’s touching version of ‘Our Love Affair’.
Hollywood Reporter: “Metro was praised for at last developing a leading woman who didn’t remind you of your mother.”
 
Her first adult role in Little Nellie Kelly was a double-role as mother and daughter, despite Louis B. Mayer’s protestations: “You can’t let that baby have a child!”
Arthur Freed had impulsively taken an option on the Broadway hit of 1922 in the belief that Judy had more to offer than merely being one-half of a juvenile partnership. But neither Judy nor her co-star George Murphy could overcome the sluggish plot. The highlight of the film was Judy leading St. Patrick’s Day parade and singing with maximum gusto, ‘It’s a Great Day for the Irish’. Though the song became a standard, the reviews were luke-warm.
Judy, before her first romantic clinch: “Unaccustomed as I am to public love-scenes . . .”
 
Poster for Ziegfield GirlJudy was given her most glamorous wardrobe yet in Ziegfield Girl, but she still felt outshone by Lana Turner and Hedy Lamarr. While these two stars were greeted with wolf whistles by the studio technicians, all Judy got was a friendly: “Hi, Judy.”
Unlike the other two, Judy had no proper love scene in the film and sang, ‘I’m Always Chasing Rainbows’.
Judy still continued to demand the ‘glamour treatment’ but as a mere girl-singer she couldn’t compete with the allure of Garbo, Loy or Crawford, and rushed into Life Begins for Andy Hardy, shot in the Spring of 1941, she didn’t even sing.
Joe Pasternak: “She wanted to be Lana Turner and it didn’t occur to her that Lana Turner might have liked to be Judy Garland. She didn’t realise how much talent she had, or that she had more to offer than Lana Turner or Joan Crawford . . . She felt she was a failure in her private life.”
 
By June 1941, Garland was in pre-production for Babes on Broadway, again with Mickey Rooney in another Freed-Berkeley production. A Berkeley musical number demanded athletic prowess and military precision. The camera’s movements were rehearsed every bit as carefully as the movements of the dancers, and Berkeley’s method was to rehearse a sequence over and over again, then shoot it in one or two takes. It could be tedious for performers who alternated between exhaustion and boredom.
In between filming and appearing as an occasional guest on Bob Hope’s weekly radio, Judy pursued a lively social life and began to rely on what she called “nuts and bolts” - amphetamines and barbiturates. Doctor’s prescriptions were not necessarily required - pills were readily available from people working in the studio.
Judy: “They had us working days and nights on end. They’d give us pep pills to keep us on our feet long after we were exhausted. Then they’d take to the studio hospital and knock us cold with sleeping pills - Mickey sprawled out on one bed and me on another. After four hours, they’d wake us up and give us pep pills again, so we could work for another 72 hours. That’s the way we worked, and that’s the way we got thin. That’s the way we got mixed up. And that’s the way we lost control.”
Ann Rutherford: “The kids worked and worked and worked, and hurry right back.”
 
David Rose was genial, cultured, interested in his career, his elaborate model train set, and Judy Garland. He had been conducting Judy’s recording sessions and benefit performances, and had escorted her to the Academy Award ceremony where she sang ‘America’ after a radio address by President Roosevelt.
Rose’s divorce decree had not become final till May 1941 and Louis Mayer had asked him to wait two or three months before marrying Judy, in view of her age. Judy’s engagement to David Rose was announced at a ‘tea and cocktail’ party on 2 June, a week before her nineteenth birthday.
The wedding would be after she had finished work on the film Babes on Broadway. Some of her friends thought she only wanted to marry in order to be independent of her mother, Ethel.

In the middle of shooting
Babes on Broadway, Judy and David suddenly eloped to Las Vegas. Garland cabled Mayer and Freed: “I’m so happy. Dave and I were married this a.m. Please give me a little time and I will be back and finish the picture with one take on each scene - Love Judy.”
Louis Mayer was furious that the studio had been robbed of any chance of cashing in on the publicity. The Roses were informed that under no circumstances could shooting be held up and the bride was back in the studio within 24 hours.
Ethel Gumm to her daughters: “I wish you girls would find someone who digs a slide rule instead of a slide trombone.”

Judy had a remarkable memory and would drive Busby Berkeley crazy by her apparent inability to listen to anything he was saying. She would stare off into space and he would scream and shout that she was not listening, whereupon Judy would repeat his instructions word for word and wonder what had provoked his outburst.
Veteran vaudevillian Elsie Janis said of Judy: “She can be anything she wants to be, and it will be very interesting to watch her heart and head battle it out. The former is enormous - the latter surprisingly small, considering the crowns and laurels it has to hold up. Judy has gone farther, faster than anyone I know - and she has not yet started.”

When Babes on Broadway, the third Rooney-Berkeley trilogy of ‘backyard’ musicals, was released a month after Pearl Harbour, critics were overwhelmed by the sheer energy, length, and occasional corn of it all.
Pen-picture: “Judy, offduty, is a softly spoken, though vital person. There is fire in those large, shining dark eyes which tell one she is the kind of girl who could indulge, if the occasion demanded, in a rare old flare-up. There is kindness there, too, unmistakably deep, real; sympathetic.”

The war galvanised Garland into touring the Mid-West with a USO troupe entertaining troops at training installations. Rose accompanied her on piano, averaging four shows a day, though the tour did include a belated honeymoon in Florida.
To Judy, the Los Angeles mansion that the Roses took a lease on with its gilt, brocades and satin, was exactly what a movie star’s home should look like, and big enough to accommodate David’s 780 feet of model railway. Unfortunately, Judy had never learned domestic skills, nor the discipline of keeping an engagement diary - Ethel had done everything for her - and in a house containing two people with busy careers, the result was chaos.
David’s attempts to improve her musical knowledge and voice only increased Judy’s feelings of inadequacy and caused David to become not so much angry, as bewildered. It wasn’t too long before he joined the army.
Judy: “I found myself in a big house and it was frightening. I didn’t know anything about cooking or keeping house. My mother had always been the most wonderful housekeeper; she never asked me to do anything.”
 
Film PosterIn February 1942, Garland began work on For Me and My Gal, a story about vaudeville players set in the First World War, topical now that America was again at war.
Fresh from his Broadway success in Pal Joey, co-star Gene Kelly teamed up wonderfully with Judy Garland, though neither were happy with their director Busby Berkeley.
Amazingly, this was Garland’s fifteenth feature film and Kelly’s first, and Kelly later recalled that Judy was a tremendous help, teaching him dozens of little tricks.
Judy’s dance technique was limited, not having received much training, but Kelly found her able to pick up dance routines as quickly as most professional dancers. (Pictured below right with Goerge Murphy and Gene Kelly in finale that was deleted)
 
Scene from Me and My GalDuring one strenuous dance routine she collapsed and a doctor gave her some tablets. Unable to sleep that night, she arrived on set “feeling like a wreck” and was given more tablets. She missed sixteen days of filming due to illness. This marked the beginning of her addiction to pills.
Later she said: “From that age on I’ve been on a sort of treadmill.”
For Me and My Gal grossed $4 million proving Judy Garland was a star in her own right.
 
Presenting Lily Mars was originally intended as a straight dramatic part for Lana Turner but producer, Joe Pasternak, softened and musicalised the story for Judy Garland. Norman Taurog directed and labelled his star “the finest girl-actress of my whole experience”.
Every effort was made to have Judy look glamorous, but the film was not on a par with the previous lavish productions with the Freed Unit, and Pasternak, who specialised in inexpensive productions, worried that he had let Judy down.
Joe Pasternak: “Once she had read her script, Judy knew every speech and cue in it, and would be able to record it . . . an authentic cinema genius, born with what might be called perfect theatrical pitch . . . an accomplished artist from the first day I knew her.”
 
Hollywood marketed glamour and promoted itself as a community of hard-working folks but social life in Hollywood presented plenty of opportunity for affairs and liaisons. Appearances in night clubs and restaurants were just photo opportunities and most preferred to pursue their entertainment, in private, in their own homes. There were parties of all kinds at which inhibitions were freed by drink and drugs.
By now Judy had out-grown her screen image of the girl next door, and thoroughly experienced in sexual techniques, she enjoyed the company of gay men, succeeding in seducing one or two, and even had an affair with Tyrone Power, though she later had to admit that she had fallen in love with ‘a magazine cover’.
Judy: “I’m intensely feminine. I don’t think there’s any other way to be a woman. It’s nice to be that way. You can be hurt but you can have children and still love and make a man feel important. There are more advantages to be a woman. But if you’re half-man and half-woman, you’re nowhere.”
Charles Walters:
“Judy got around. She had the frustration of not being a Lana Turner or Elizabeth Taylor. She tried to make people fall in love with her and she was quite successful at it.”
 
When David Rose came home on weekend leave from the army he would find Judy surrounded by new friends and their marriage became ‘a casualty of the war’. A separation was announced in February 1943. Judy had already begun an affair with Joseph L. Mankiewicz whose wife, Austrian actress Rosa Stradner, had developed a nervous instability.
Mankiewicz had a reputation as a ladies man and worked for M-G-M as a writer-producer. With a formidable intellect he had already produced several important pictures including The Philadelphia Story.
Joe introduced Judy to literature, and she called him ‘Josephus’, serenading him with the song, ‘Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe’. They were obviously deep in love and told the Rabwins that they were going to get married. Louis Mayer did not like it and told Mankiewicz not to concern himself with Garland’s career, or private life.
 
Concerned about Judy’s emotional state and pill taking, Mankiewicz suggested that Judy should see a psychiatrist. Judy didn’t take the sessions too seriously and just made up stories. Ethel believed the analysis was turning Judy against her and a serious rift opened between mother and daughter.
Mankiewicz had an argument with Mayer and Ethel in Mayer’s office and finally said: “Look, Mr. Mayer, the studio is not obviously big enough for the both of us. One of us has to go.” Within a week Mankiewicz was working for 20th Century Fox where he later produced such milestones as A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz: “Judy was then twenty and we were very good friends. She was beginning to show those signs - not showing up on time and taking too much benzedrine, that sort of thing . . . She was just the most remarkably bright, gay, happy, helpless and engaging girl I’ve ever met . . . the girl reacted to the slightest bit of kindness as if it were a drug . . . She was treated by most people, including her mother, as a thing, not a human being.”
Jimmy, Judy’s sister: “
You couldn’t tell her what Joe said was wrong without getting your head chopped off.”
 
In the film Thousands Cheer, a topical army story featuring half the stars on the M-G-M lot, Judy was paired with classical pianist Jose Iturbi in a boogie-woogie number written by Roger Edens, ‘The Joint Is Really Jumpin’ Down at Carnegie Hall’.
Despite Mankiewicz’s belief that Garland should be given more adult roles, she was once again teamed up with Mickey Rooney in the Freed Unit’s production of Girl Crazy.
The shooting of the big number, ‘I Got Rhythm’, directed by Busby Berkeley with extraneous chorus, whip, blasting-gun and canon effects, stretched into nine days and Garland became ill. She told columnist Hedda Hopper: “I used to feel he had a big black bullwhip and he was lashing me with it.”
Dr. Marc Rabwin ordered Judy not to work for six weeks and Berkeley was replaced by Norman Taurog and Chuck Walters. Despite her health remaining precarious and missing a dozen days of shooting during the Spring, Judy was in full bloom in the film and eclipsed her co-star, Mickey Rooney.
Busby Berkeley: “Cut! Let’s try it again, Judy! Come on, move! Get the lead out!”
 
Judy Garland liked to sing, whether professionally, or at parties, or in her home, or simply riding in the back of a car. Even when she was not singing, she was performing, mimicking someone, telling a raunchy story, or camping her way through an interview. Her wit and intelligence were committed to entertainment and nothing else.
On 1 July 1943 Garland made a rare live appearance on stage at the huge outdoor Robin Hood Dell auditorium in Philadelphia accompanied by André Kostelanetz and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Filling the amphitheatre were 15,000 people and another 15,000 sat on adjoining grassy knolls. Nervous at first, Judy gradually gained confidence and wowed them at the end with ‘The Joint Is Really Jumping’.
On her return to Los Angeles she was asked to join a dozen other stars on the Hollywood Bond/Third War Drive and in a sixteen-city, three-week tour, the stars raised over a billion dollars in war bonds.
Judy: “I thought that they were probably thinking what was I doing there, so I just sang louder.”
The Gumm Sisters
 
Over the Rainbow
 
Meet Me In St. Louis
 
Playing the Palace
Judy Garland

Judy Garland

A Star Is Born
 
Judy at Carnegie Hall
 
The Judy Garland Show
Sherwood Times