Since Judy Garland was about to turn 100, I decided to see The Wizard Of Oz at Albany’s Spectrum Theatre in early April, and my wife accompanied me. We had never seen the film in a cinema before. There were only the two Tuesday showings, at 4 and 7 pm, so I figured it would be packed; there were less than ten of us there at the latter.
My wife said more than once afterward, “She could really act,” and I concurred. Her performance was vivid on the big screen. Of course, I had seen the movie on CBS-TV annually for several years in the 1960s, though only the last two times on a color TV. I had missed the “horse of a different color” joke.
My, those ruby slippers really sparkled when she ran. I did not know that one of the iconic dresses was missing until 2021. Nor was I aware that there was a black and white dress for the Kansas scenes and a blue and white dress for Oz. Movie magic.
It was strange, though. In the same timeframe that I’m watching the teenage Judy, I’d also see her on her eponymous show (1963-1964) or guesting on Ed Sullivan or another program. Also, I’m sure I watched the television special Judy and Liza at the Palladium (1964). Liza, of course, was her daughter Liza Minelli, about 18 at the time. (Liza’s 1972 movie Cabaret was shown at the Spectrum the week after The Wizard of Oz.)
Only two score and seven
I never paid much attention to the tabloids at the time, so I was very surprised when Judy Garland died in 1969 at the age of 47. I’ve viewed documentaries about her life since, though I never saw Judy, the 2019 biopic with Renée Zellweger.
One last thought. When I was in the play Boys In The Band in 1975, there was a specific cue for the lead character Michael to be playing the Judy Garland track Get Happy. So that song has had a soft spot in my heart ever since.
Here’s a clip of early films from when Frances Gumm was seven until Judy Garland turned 17.
Waltz With A Swing/ Americana -Every Sunday, 1936
Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart -Listen, Darling, 1938
Somewhere Over the Rainbow – The Wizard of Oz, 1939; plus a discussion of the isolated vocal
Our Love Affair, with Mickey Rooney
The Trolley Song – Meet Me In St. Louis, 1944
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Meet Me In St. Louis, 1944
Get Happy – Summer Stock, 1950
Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy , with Barbra Streisand, 1963?
The Judy Garland Show with Peggy Lee and Jack Carter (November 1963)
By Myself, 1964
She was accidentally slapped at the 1954 Oscars
Judy Garland would have been 100 today.