GARLAND, Judy: Over the Rainbow

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\Over The Rainbow" Original 1936-1949 Recordings

A legendary child-performer, a Hollywood-style archetype of the "little girl who grew up too soon" and the star of nearly forty features, Judy Garland was born Frances Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, on 10th January, 1922. The daughter of vaudevillians, she was the very essence of showbiz, made her first stage appearance at two years of age and her debut proper at five and shortly afterwards began a singing routine with her two elder sisters, entitled ‘The Gumm Sisters’ Kiddie Act’. Billed as "Baby Frances Gumm – The Little Girl With The Great Big Voice" Frances worked with them variously in vaudeville and film shorts, including The Meglin Kiddie Revue (1929) and Holiday in Storyland (1930). When her family moved West to Lancaster, California, Judy attended drama college where she sang in plays and revues.

During 1931 the sisters were appearing in Chicago with George Jessel (1898-1981), the entertainer and sometime film-producer, who suggested the girls change their stagename to Garland and, when she was ten, Frances went a stage further and altered her Christian name to Judy. The trio split when her sisters married and, spurred on by the machinations of the mother she was later to describe as her "real-life Wicked Witch of the West", Judy went solo and at thirteen was signed up without a screen-test by Louis B. Mayer. In 1935 she shared her MGM screen-debut with Deanna Durbin in the two-reel short Every Sunday and signed a recording contract with Decca. The following year her first feature film, the Oscar-nominated ,"livelier-than-average college comedy" Pigskin Parade (for which she was temporarily loaned to 20th Century Fox) proved an unqualified success and her first commercial disc, "Swing, Mr. Charlie" coupled with a vocal version of the Edgar Sampson-Benny Goodman swing hit Stompin’ At The Savoy, was released.

Returning to MGM in 1937, Judy was immediately given top billing for the first time and teamed for the first of nine screen collaborations with Brooklyn child-star Mickey Rooney (b. 1920) in Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry, a "ho-hum racetrack yarn" which costarred Sophie Tucker. With Broadway Melody of 1938 (also made during 1937), Mayer carried through his resolution to make Judy a star and, through a star-studded cast headed by Robert Taylor and Eleanor Powell, the fifteen-year-old bombshell emerged. With this film Judy was established as a singing screen star. Her numbers included All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm and she stole the show, endearing herself to millions of film-goers by serenading a photo of Clark Gable with You Made Me Love You, a Joe McCarthy-James v. Monaco vaudeville song of 1913 vintage.

Her 1938 films included Everybody Sing, Listen, Darling and Love Finds Andy Hardy (in one of the best comedies of the Andy Hardy series which finds ‘Andrew Hardy’ Rooney two-timing Garland and Lana Turner, Judy’s numbers included It Never Rains But What It Pours and In-Between), while 1939 brought Babes In Arms (in this she introduced "I’m Just Wild About Harry" and Figaro) and the film which made her an international star: The Wizard of Oz. Scored by Harold Arlen and Ed ‘Yip’ Harburg, this monumental, Academy Award-nominated, surreal fairy-tale best-seller also won the Oscar for the song Over The Rainbow, which became Judy’s first charted US Pop Hit (No.5) in September 1939. The Garland Legend thus came into being overnight and, for her portrayal of the wide-eyed Dorothy, the role that had originally been ear-marked for Shirley Temple, Judy earned a special 1939 Academy Award for "the best juvenile performer of the year".

During 1940 she further consolidated her reputation with Andy Hardy Meets Debutante, Strike Up The Band and Little Nellie Kelly and the following year (which produced such further light comedy vehicles as Ziegfeld Girl and Life Begins For Andy Hardy) at nineteen Judy married the first of her five husbands, the British-born American bandleader and composer-arranger David Rose (1910-1990). Catapulted to stardom too young, she was already fighting an ongoing battle with her weight and related psychological problems, but continued to expand her career with radio broadcasts and on screen in Babes On Broadway (a backstage musical whose Ralph Freed-Burton Lane score included the Oscar-nominated Garland classic How About You?) and For Me And My Gal (in this "they-don’t-make-‘em-like-that-any-more" musical romance now renowned for its classic song-and-dance routines and which won two nominations, Judy was paired with Gene Kelly with whom she aired, among other material, the film’s title-song, a US Charts No.3 in January 1942.

During 1943 she separated from Rose but kept busy nonetheless in no fewer than three wartime musical morale-boosters: Presenting Lily Mars, Thousands Cheer (with Rooney) and Girl Crazy (a predictable star musical with Gershwin tunes, again with Rooney and subtitled When The Girls Meet The Boys) and the next year made one of the most successful of all her films: Meet Me In St. Louis, which won four Oscar nominations, including one for Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane’s US No.4 hit The Trolley Song. In 1945 she married the Chicago-born film director Vincente Minnelli (1903-1986) who directed her in a straight-acting part in the comedy romance The Clock, but in 1946 she returned to the more tried and trusted medium of film-musicals with The Harvey Girls (this included Johnny Mercer’s Oscar-winner "On The Acheson, Topeka And The Santa Fe" with which Judy scored a US No.10 in her commercial recording), Ziegfeld Follies (actually made in 1944 and directed by Minnelli, this all-star extravaganza included Astaire and Gene Kelly) and Till The Clouds Roll By (a biopic of songwriter Jerome Kern).

Judy’s 1948 film-musical appearances number three: The Pirate (with Gene Kelly), Words And Music (a guest appearance in the Rodgers and Hart biopic which featured Tom Drake, Rooney, Perry Como, Betty Garrett, Lena Horne, Kelly, Ann Sothern, Cyd Charisse and others) and Easter Parade. An Irving Berlin-scored piece of froth which won two Oscars, this paired Judy with Astaire, in substitution for Kelly who had damaged an ankle. They danced and duetted, most memorably in A Couple Of Swells.

Peter Dempsey, 2001


1. THE TROLLEY SONG (Blane–Martin)

With Georgie Stoll’s Orchestra

(Decca L. 3388-A) Recorded 21st April, 1944, Hollywood 2:54

2. STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY (Sampson–Goodman–Webb–Razaf)

With Bob Crosby’s Orchestra

(Decca 61165-A) Recorded 12th June, 1936, New York 2:29

3. ALL GOD’S CHILLUN GOT RHYTHM (Kahn–Kaper–Jurmann)

With Victor Young’s Orchestra

(Decca DLA 861) Recorded 30th August, 1937, Los Angeles 3:08

4. YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU (‘DEAR MR. GABLE’) (Monaco–McCarthy)

With Harry Sosnik’s Orchestra

(Decca DLA 967-A) Recorded 24th September, 1937, Los Angeles 3:13


With Harry Sosnik’s Orchestra

(Decca DLA 1437-A) Recorded
Disc: 1
Over The Rainbow
1 The Trolley Song
2 Stompin' At the Savoy
3 All God's Chillun Got Rhythm
4 You Made Me Love You ('Dear Mr. Gable')
5 It Never Rains But What I Pours
6 In-Between
7 Figaro
8 Oceans Apart
9 Swanee
10 Friendship
11 I'm Always Chasing Rainbows
12 Blues In The Night
13 Poor Little Rich Girl
14 How About You?
15 For Me And My Gal
16 Mine
17 There Is No Breeze (To Cool The Flame Of Love)
18 Aren't You Kinda Glad We Did
19 A Couple Of Swells
20 Medley: I Love A Piano; Snooky Ookums; When The Mi
21 Over The Rainbow
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