Garland appeared in a number of television specials beginning in 1955. The first was the 1955 debut episode of Ford Star Jubilee; this was the first full-scale color broadcast ever on CBS and was a ratings triumph, scoring a 34.8 Nielsen rating. She signed a three-year, $300,000 contract with the network. Only one additional special was broadcast in 1956, a live concert-edition of General Electric Theater, before the relationship between the Lufts and CBS broke down in a dispute over the planned format of upcoming specials.
I think that I ought to tell the folks that it was I who named Judy Garland, Judy Garland. Not that it would have made any difference – you couldn't have hid[den] that great talent if you'd called her "Tel Aviv Windsor Shell", you know, but her name when I first met her was Frances Gumm and it wasn't the kind of a name that so sensitive a great actress like that should have; ... and so we called her Judy Garland, and I think she's a combination of Helen Hayes and Al Jolson, and maybe Jenny Lind and Sarah Bernhardt.More Info
Garland was cast in the film Royal Wedding with Fred Astaire after June Allyson became pregnant in 1950. She failed to report to the set on multiple occasions, and the studio suspended her contract on June 17, 1950. She was replaced by Jane Powell. Reputable biographies following her death stated that after this latest dismissal, she slightly grazed her neck with a broken glass, requiring only a band-aid, but at the time, the public was informed that a despondent Garland had slashed her throat. "All I could see ahead was more confusion", Garland later said of this suicide attempt. "I wanted to black out the future as well as the past. I wanted to hurt myself and everyone who had hurt me." In September 1950, after 15 years with the studio, Garland and MGM parted company.More Info
Garland was initially outfitted in a blonde wig for the part, but Freed and LeRoy decided against it shortly into filming. Her blue gingham dress was chosen for its blurring effect on her figure, which made her look younger. Shooting commenced on October 13, 1938, and it was completed on March 16, 1939, with a final cost of more than US$2 million. With the conclusion of filming, MGM kept Garland busy with promotional tours and the shooting of Babes in Arms (also 1939), directed by Busby Berkeley. She and Rooney were sent on a cross-country promotional tour, culminating in the August 17 New York City premiere at the Capitol Theater, which included a five-show-a-day appearance schedule for the two stars. Garland was put on a diet during filming in a further attempt to minimize her curves.More Info
MGM hit on a winning formula when it paired Garland with Mickey Rooney in a string of what were known as "backyard musicals". The duo first appeared together as supporting characters in the B movie Thoroughbreds Don't Cry (1937). Garland was then put in the cast of the fourth of the Hardy Family movies as a literal girl-next-door to Rooney's character Andy Hardy, in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), although Hardy's love interest was played by Lana Turner. They teamed as lead characters for the first time in Babes in Arms (1939), ultimately appearing in five additional films, including Hardy films Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940) and Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941).More Info
Thrilled by the huge box-office receipts of Easter Parade, MGM immediately teamed Garland and Astaire in The Barkleys of Broadway. During the initial filming, Garland was taking prescription barbiturate sleeping pills along with illicitly obtained pills containing morphine. Around this time, she also developed a serious problem with alcohol. These, in combination with migraine headaches, led her to miss several shooting days in a row. After being advised by her doctor that she would only be able to work in four- to five-day increments with extended rest periods between, MGM executive Arthur Freed made the decision to suspend her on July 18, 1948. She was replaced in the film by Ginger Rogers. When her suspension was over, she was summoned back to work and ultimately performed two songs as a guest in the Rodgers and Hart biopic Words and Music (1948), which was her last appearance with Mickey Rooney. Despite the all-star cast, Words and Music barely broke even at the box office. Having regained her strength, as well as some needed weight during her suspension, Garland felt much better and in the fall of 1948, she returned to MGM to replace a pregnant June Allyson for the musical film In the Good Old Summertime (1949) co-starring Van Johnson. Although she was sometimes late arriving at the studio during the making of this picture, she managed to complete it five days ahead of schedule. Her daughter Liza made her film debut at the age of two and a half at the end of the film. In The Good Old Summertime was enormously successful at the box office.More Info
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