Over the Rainbow
- After the success of Walt Disneys Snow White and the Seven
Dwarfs, M-G-M bought the screen rights of Frank L.
Baums 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
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
- 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 Metros 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 Judys
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
Gershwins music was to music.
Wizard of Oz did quite well in
the big cities but with children allowed in at half-price
it didnt 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
- 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
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
- 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
Judy, with a
wide smile: They
worked us so hard that neither of us grew to be very
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 -
- Babes 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
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 Warings
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 Graumans 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
- Babe In Arms broke box-office records everywhere and
established Arthur Freed as M-G-Ms
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 mothers 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
- 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
- Both Betty Grable and Judy were
astonished when Artie and Lana eloped to Las Vegas. It
didnt help that Judy envied Lanas looks -
Judy was constantly dissatisfied with her own.
Judy: Im so ugly.
Look at Annie and Lana Turner.
Maxine Marx: But
they have none of your talent. Youre the one who
has it all.
- 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 Shaws, 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.
to love Judy so much her mother met her after each
- 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 Ethels
daughters approved of Mr. Gilmore, and Judy was not
impressed by her mothers 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 Judys antipathy
towards her mother and there was nothing Judy could do
when Ethel and Will eloped to Yuma, Arizona.
- To Judys chagrin, the couple
were married on the fourth anniversary of Franks
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 wasnt
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
Nobodys 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 wasnt very good. They kept
telling me I wasnt 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
Judys touching version of Our Love
Reporter: Metro was praised for
at last developing a leading woman who didnt remind
you of your mother.
- Her first adult role in Little Nellie Kelly was a double-role as mother and daughter,
despite Louis B. Mayers protestations: You
cant 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. Patricks Day parade and singing with maximum gusto,
a Great Day for the Irish.
Though the song became a standard, the reviews were
her first romantic clinch: Unaccustomed as I am to public
love-scenes . . .
- Judy 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,
- Unlike the other two, Judy had no
proper love scene in the film and sang, Im Always Chasing
- Judy still continued to demand the
glamour treatment but as a mere girl-singer
she couldnt compete with the allure of Garbo, Loy
or Crawford, and rushed into Life Begins for Andy Hardy, shot in the Spring of 1941, she
didnt even sing.
Joe Pasternak: She wanted to be Lana
Turner and it didnt occur to her that Lana Turner
might have liked to be Judy Garland. She didnt
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 cameras
movements were rehearsed every bit as carefully as the
movements of the dancers, and Berkeleys 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 Hopes weekly radio, Judy
pursued a lively social life and began to rely on what
she called nuts and bolts - amphetamines and
barbiturates. Doctors 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. Theyd give us pep pills to
keep us on our feet long after we were exhausted. Then
theyd 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, theyd wake us up
and give us pep pills again, so we could work for another
72 hours. Thats the way we worked, and thats
the way we got thin. Thats the way we got mixed up.
And thats 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 Judys
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.
- Roses 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. Judys 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: Im 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
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.
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
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;
- 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
- To Judy, the Los Angeles mansion that
the Roses took a lease on with its gilt, brocades and
satin, was exactly what a movie stars home should
look like, and big enough to accommodate Davids 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.
- Davids attempts to improve her
musical knowledge and voice only increased Judys
feelings of inadequacy and caused David to become not so
much angry, as bewildered. It wasnt too long before he
joined the army.
Judy: I found myself in a big house and it was
frightening. I didnt know anything about cooking or
keeping house. My mother had always been the most
wonderful housekeeper; she never asked me to do
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
- 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 Garlands
fifteenth feature film and Kellys first, and Kelly
later recalled that Judy was a tremendous help, teaching
him dozens of little tricks.
- Judys 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)
- During 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
Ive 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
- 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
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
- 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: Im intensely
feminine. I dont think theres any other way
to be a woman. Its 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 youre half-man and half-woman,
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
Garlands career, or private life.
- Concerned about Judys emotional
state and pill taking, Mankiewicz suggested that Judy
should see a psychiatrist. Judy didnt 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 Mayers 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.
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 Ive 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
Jimmy, Judys sister: You couldnt tell her
what Joe said was wrong without getting your head chopped
- 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
Joint Is Really Jumpin Down at Carnegie Hall.
- Despite Mankiewiczs belief that
Garland should be given more adult roles, she was once
again teamed up with Mickey Rooney in the Freed Units 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! Lets 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