Play Guide By William Randall Beard Music arranged by David Lohman

Play Guide
By William Randall Beard
Music arranged by David Lohman
Oct. 8—Nov. 6, 2011
History Theatre
30 East Tenth Street
Saint Paul, MN 55101
651-292-4323 Box Office
651-292-4320 Group Sales
Table Of Contents
Welcome By Playwright William Randall Beard
Judy Garland Timeline
Judy at Carnegie Hall
Ethel and Frank Gumm
Vincente Minnelli
Hedda Hopper
Louis B. Mayer
Play Guide published by History Theatre c2011
Celebrating Judy
Notes from the Playwright
William Randall Beard
It’s good to have Beyond the Rainbow back at the History Theatre, where it all began. Ron Peluso
commissioned the show and it was produced in 2005. Since then it has been produced almost a
dozen times around the country, including theatres in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Vero
Beach, FL, Atlanta, GA, Indianapolis, ID, Buffalo, NY, Detroit, MI and Des Moines, IA.
I never thought my life would become so connected with that of Judy Garland, particularly since
she had never been much a part of my consciousness before the commission. I’d never even seen
films like Meet Me in St. Louis or A Star is Born until I started doing research. As such, I escaped the
influence of the dark mythology that surrounds her.
The more I read, the more I realized that the common perceptions about her were not only unfair,
but inaccurate. Hers was a hard life, with more than her share of struggles, but she was not a
pathetic figure. She vociferously rejected any notion that her life was tragic and would never have
considered herself the victim of anyone or anything. She was an incredibly strong woman,
powerful as well as passionate, a fact that gets lost in the sexist fictions that have grown up
around her.
That’s the story I wanted to tell in Beyond the Rainbow, the story of a survivor. She was a woman
who reinvented herself over and over again. She came back from one body blow after another,
overcoming them time and again.
In my mind, the 1961 Carnegie Hall concert is her quintessential comeback moment. The New
York Times called it “the concert of the century.” The live two-record set was on the Billboard
charts for well over a year and won five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
So I use the concert as the frame for my play. The middle-aged Garland comes out onto the
Carnegie Hall stage and sings her heart out. The playlist includes most of the songs for which she
was famous. David Lohman has been scrupulous in his arrangements to evoke the sounds of the
original concert.
Garland said, “My history is in my songs,” so in the play, the songs trigger memories, the
flashbacks acted out by her youthful self and all the other ghosts. But Garland’s
relationship to the music is more complicated than that. When the memories sometime
become too painful, she grabs the microphone and uses the songs as a way to regain control of her life.
One of the elements of the play that is the most unique and of which I am particularly
proud are scenes in which the young Judy and the middle-aged Garland come together and
converse. For that idea, I have to credit my husband, who tells the story of meditating in
the woods several years ago and being greeted by his teenaged self. To his surprise, his
younger self had significant words of wisdom for him in the present. In the play, the two
Judys empower each other in ways that are likely to be unexpected.
It’s important to remember that this is a play and not a biography. Garland fanatics will
take me to task for any inaccuracy. But my goal is to capture the spirit of this amazing
woman. I don’t gloss over her flaws and weaknesses, but choose to celebrate her as one of
the world’s greatest entertainers.
Judy Garland Time Line
June 10, 1922— Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand
Rapids, Minnesota. She is named after her beloved father Frank and her
ultimate stage mother Ethel.
December 26, 1924— Frances (nicknamed Baby) makes her first public singing debut with her
two older sisters Virginia and Mary Jane at her father’s theater. She sings Jingle Bells over and
over until her father has to carry her off of the stage.
Summer of 1926— The family moves to Lancaster, California where Frank purchases a new
theater. Ethel spends most of her time trying to get her girls into show business. Over the next
nine years, The Gumm Sisters make hundreds of stage and radio appearances.
1929 - The sisters are featured in the Mayfair Pictures The Big Revue. They will go on to sing in
three other Vitaphone Variety Shorts: A Holiday in Storyland, The
Wedding of Jack and Jill, and Bubbles.
1934—Comedian George Jessel suggests that the girls change their last
name to something more theatrical and he suggests Garland. A few months
later, Frances changes her first name to Judy after a popular song by Sammy
Lerner. Judy’s daughter Lorna later would state that her mother told her
that they changed their last name because someone had stated that the girls
“looked pretty as a garland of flowers”.
September 27, 1935—Judy lands a seven-year contract with MGM after
Louis B. Mayer hears her sing. She is signed without a screen test—something that was unheard
of at the time. Her teeth are capped and she wears rubber disks in her nose so that it doesn’t turn
up as much.
November 16, 1935– Frank Gumm is hospitalized with spinal meningitis. Judy is making a radio
appearance and cannot be by his side. She sings the song Zing! Went the String in My Heart for
her father to hear over the radio. Frank will die the next day. Judy later states in her biography:
“now there is no one on my side”.
Summer 1936—MGM loans Judy to 20th Century Fox for a small part in Pigskin Parade, a
musical comedy starring future Tin Man Jack Haley.
1937—Judy sings Dear Mr. Gable to a scrapbook full of Clark Gable
photos in the movie Broadway Melody of 1938. This is the turning
point of her career.
1937—Judy makes five movies for MGM. Studio executives decide that
she is too fat and she is introduced to the appetite suppressant
October 12, 1938—Filming begins on The Wizard of Oz. Judy has to wear a corset and bind her
breasts during the five months of filming to make herself look younger. Although
Judy was always a favorite to play Dorothy, the studio also looked at casting
Shirley Temple or Deanna Durbin.
August 17, 1939— 37,000 people show up at Lowe’s Capital Theater on
Broadway of the New York Premiere of The Wizard of Oz. Judy and Mickey
Rooney are there for a promotional tour of Babes in Arms and perform for three
weeks five to seven times a day between screenings.
February 29, 1940—Recieves special Oscar for her work in The Wizard of Oz.
July 28, 1941—In defiance of her mother and MGM, nineteen year old Judy elopes
with David Rose; a 31 year old composer/arranger. MGM refuses to give her any time off and she is
back to work later that day.
1941—Judy’s film include Ziegfeld Girl, Life Begins for Andy Hardy and Babes in Broadway.
1942—For Me and My Gal is the first film Judy’s name is billed above the title of the picture. The
picture marks the screen debut of Gene Kelly. Judy becomes pregnant. Under the advisement of her
mother who believed a baby would be detrimental to her career, Judy has an abortion.
February 1943—Judy and David announce their separation. They will divorce on June 8, 1944.
November 10, 1943—Filming begins for the movie Meet Me in Saint Louis directed by Vincente
Minnelli. She is at first intimidated by him, but soon comes to realize his genius. They begin to date.
They will make two movies together the following year: Ziegfeld Follies and The Clock.
June 15, 1945—Judy and Vincente are married at her mother’s house. She is
given away by Louis B. Mayer. While on her honeymoon in New York, she
throws her pills away in the river promising never to use them again.
March 12, 1946—Liza Minnelii is born in Hollywood.
1947—Has a major breakdown during the
production of The Pirate. First suicide attempt. Sent to Las Campana
Sanitarium, then to Austin. She leaves after two weeks and is back to
MGM soon after.
1948—When Gene Kelly breaks his ankle, Fred Astaire comes out of retirement to play the male lead in Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade. Judy
has Vincente fired as the director of he film. It is the biggest grossing
movie to date of Judy’s career. She is also reunited for the last time on
screen with Mickey Rooney , playing herself in the movie Words of Music.
1949—Enters Bent Bringham Hospital in Boston for rest—stays 11 weeks.
1950—MGM buys the rights for Annie Get Your Gun specifically with Judy in mind for the lead. After
three weeks of filming, a change in directors, terrible footage and an attempt to slit her wrists, Judy
was fired and suspended from MGM. She returns to Brigham for pill addiction. Her weight is down to
June 19, 1950— Returning to MGM, Judy is told that she most
lose fifteen pounds before filming. Summer Stock with Gene
Kelly will be her last MGM production. Judy is slated to film
Royal Wedding, but again she is suspended due to delays in
filming . Judy attempts suicide by slashing her throat and the
information is picked up by the press. In September, MGM
releases her from her contract.
March 29, 1951—The divorce of Vincente and Judy is finalized.
April 9, 1951—Opens show at London Palladium and performs twice a day. On October 16,
moves the show to the Legendary Palace and breaks all box office records. The show moves to
Broadway and is extended for a nineteen week run.
June 8, 1952—Marries Sid Luft. On November 21, has her second daughter Lorna.
January 5, 1953— Ethel Gumm has a heart attack and is found
dead outside the parking lot at her place of work.
March 29, 1955—Joseph Luft is born.
1954—Judy makes her triumphant return to film in A Star is
Born for Warner Brothers. It is a critical success, but not a
financial one. She had personally bankrolled much of the
production. Along with this loss and not paying taxes in 1951 or
1952, she is in financial failure.
September 29, 1954- She is up for an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in A Star is Born , but
loses to Grace Kelly. It is considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Oscars.
1955—Judy signs with Capital Records and release twelve albums in the following ten years.
September 24, 1955—The Ford Star Jubilee series on CBS marks Judy’s television debut. She
draws the largest audience in TV history to date. The program wins an Emmy Award.
July 1956— Judy makes her Las Vegas debut as the highest paid entertainer ever.
1957—A five week return to the Dominion Theatre in London is followed by a command
performance before Queen Elizabeth on December 1.
1959—Judy is the first popular singer to appear at New York’s Metropolitan
Opera. The show travels around the country to sold out crowds.
November 18, 1959—Judy is hospitalized in New York for a severe case of
hepatitis; a disease caused by the immune cells in the body attacking the liver
due to a bacteria, alcohol or overdose. Doctors tell her that she will never
work again and will live as a semi-invalid.
April 21 , 1961— Judy’s New York engagement on April 23, 1961 at Carnegie
Hall is recorded live by Capital Records and wins five Grammy Awards,
including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal Performance. The album
is on the record charts for 97 weeks and is ranked number one for 13. It is
the fastest selling two disc set in history.
1961— Judy is cast in a dramatic role for Judgment at Nuremburg. She
earns a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her portrayal of Irene
Wallner, a witness for the prosecution.
1963— In A Child Is Waiting, Judy plays opposite of Burt Lancaster and stars in her final movie I
Could Go On Singing.
1963— Her CBS Special with Robert Goulet and Phil Silvers is Emmy-nominated along with her TV
series The Judy Garland Show. The show will be canceled after a 26 episode run due in large part to it
being on against the popular show Bananza. Personally and professionally, Judy is devastated.
May 1964– Heads to Australia for a concert tour. Her Sydney performance is received positively.
When she reaches Melbourne, things begin to fall apart. She is believed to be drunk during the
concert and is booed off the stage after 45 minutes. She deflects some of the criticism by announcing
her near fatal attack of pleurisy; an inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest.
May 27, 1964— Mary Jane, Judy’s sister commits suicide due to alcoholism.
November 8 & 15, 1964— Two nights of sold out performances take place in the
London Pallidium, where Judy shares the stage with her daughter Liza.
May 19, 1965— After years of living apart, Sid Luft and Judy’s divorce becomes
final. She will marry Mark Herron on November 14. The marriage will only last
for six months. It is believed that the marriage was never consummated due to
Herron’s sexuality.
February 1967— Judy is casted in the movie Valley of the Dolls. She is ultimately dismissed in April
after repeatedly missing rehearsal.
July 1967— Along with her children Lorna and Joey, Judy books 16 days at the Palace Theatre in New
York. She will take the tour out for seven months to sixteen different cities. Her largest concert will
be at the Boston Common, where over 100,000 people come to enjoy her music.
December 1968—Five weeks at The Talk of the Town in London breaks all records for the venue.
March 15, 1969— Judy marries her fifth and final husband, Mickey Deans in London.
March 25, 1969—Judy performs at her final concert in Copenhagen.
June 22, 1969—Judy is found dead by her husband in their bathroom in London.
The cause of death was stated as an accidental overdose of prescription medication.
Judy’s long time doctor stated she was living on borrowed time due to a severe case
of cirrhosis. The day she died, there was a tornado in Kansas.
Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall
Judy Garland's career had moved from movies to elaborate vaudeville stage shows in the 1950s. Her tours
in Europe and North America were a huge success and she was soon billed as 'The World's Greatest
Entertainer”. Garland's concert mania was on the rise.
On the night of April 23, 1961, what has been called "the greatest night in show business history"
happened at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The night began with a high emotional overture and then
Judy appeared to a very loud ovation from the audience. In photo’s from the evening, you can see people
in evening dress, lining the stage to get as close to Garland as they could.
Judy seemed to mesmerize her audience from start to finish. She sang 27 numbers in front of the
rapturous crowd that night and was frequently interrupted by extended ovations. It was a Sunday
evening; Broadway performers night off, and the audience was at the very least a friendly one.
She was acclaimed not only for her singing but for her jokes, teasing her orchestra of 40 and for poking
fun at herself. The audience continually called her back for encore after encore and even asked her to
repeat songs after he song list was complete. As the reviewer Frank Aston stated: “She’ll be back in May.
Try to get tickets. Just try. This kid is still a killer.”
The reviews of the show gave Garland high marks, and commented on her healthy appearance,
showmanship, vocal power, and the uplifting emotional power that Garland has on her audience. The
concert, and the release of Garland's record set only two months after the concert, cemented her
comeback and brought her a new public acclaim. The recording would go on to spend 95 weeks on the
U.S. charts, including 13 weeks at number one. It also would go on to sweep the 1962 Grammy Awards
including album of the year and female performance of the year.
The Set List
When You’re Smiling
Almost Like Being in Love
This Can’t Be Love
Do It Again
You Go To My Head
Alone Together
Who Cares
Puttin’ On the Ritz
How Long Has This Been Going On?
Just You, Just ME
The Man That Got Away
San Francisco
That’s Entertainment
I Can’t Give you Anything But Love
Come Rain or Come Shine
You’re Nearer
A Foggy Day
If Love Were All
Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart
Stormy Weather
You Made Me Love You/ For Me and My Gal/ The Trolley Song
Rock –A– Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody
Over The Rainbow
After Your Gone
Judy Garland Filmography
1929– The Big Revue
1930– Holiday in Storyland
1930- Bubbles
1930– The Marriage of Jack and Jill
1935—La Fiesta de Santa Barbara
1936—Every Sunday
1936—Pigskin Parade
1937—Thoroughbreds Don't Cry
1937—Broadway Melody of 1938
1938—Everybody Sing
1938—Love Finds Andy Hardy
1938—Listen, Darling
1939—The Wizard of Oz - Juvenile Oscar
1939—Babes in Arms
1940—Andy Hardy Meets Debutante
1940—Strike Up the Band
1940—Little Nellie Kelly
1941—Ziegfeld Girl
1941—Life Begins for Andy Hardy
1941—Babes on Broadway
1942—For Me and My Gal
1943—Presenting Lily Mars
1943—Girl Crazy
1943—Thousands Cheer
1944—Meet Me in St. Louis
1945—The Clock
1946—The Harvey Girls
1946—Ziegfeld Follies
1946—Till the Clouds Roll By
1948—The Pirate
1948—Easter Parade
1948—Words and Music
1949—In the Good Old Summertime
1950—Summer Stock
1954—A Star Is Born—Oscar Nominated/Golden Globe Winner
1960— Pepe
1961—Judgment at Nuremberg - Oscar Nominated
1962—Gay Purr-ee
1963—A Child Is Waiting
1963—I Could Go on Singing
Judy Garland Discography
Original Vinyl Releases
1950 Summer Stock / The Pirate
1952– Judy Live at the Palace
1954 A Star Is Born
1955 Miss Show Business
1956 Judy
1957 Alone
1958 Judy in Love
1959 Garland at the Grove
1959 The Letter
1960 That's Entertainment!
1961 Pepe (one song)
1961 Judy at Carnegie Hall (Live, 2 discs, recorded April 23, 1961, released July 10, 1961)
1962 Judy Takes Broadway
1962 The Garland Touch
1962 Gay Purr-ee (one song)
1963 I Could Go On Singing
1964 Just for Openers
1964 Judy Garland Sings Maggie May
1965 Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli Live at the London Palladium
1967 Judy Garland at Home at the Palace: Opening Night
1969 Golden Years at MGM
1972 Judy in London
List does not include most of her movie soundtracks
Ethel Milne was born on November 17, 1893, the
first of eight children. Her parents were Scottish
immigrants that first went to Canada, then to
Michigan and finally settled in Superior, Wisconsin.
Her family was very musical with Ethel being the
most versatile—she could sing, dance, write music
and play the piano.
Frank Gumm was born in March 20, 1886 in
Murfreesbro, Tennessee. His mother would die in
childbirth when he was nine. The family was barely
making ends meet, when Frank’s savior came into
the picture. In June 1899, when Frank was just 13,
George Darrow plucked him out of his poor
household and sent him to the Episcopalian boy’s
school. Frank’s voice had been his deliverance, and
Darrow got him a scholarship for the choir. In 1904,
Ethel and Frank Gumm
his farther died and Frank had to head back home
to support his family. He was a court stenographer
during the day and performed at his uncle’s theater
at night. He left in 1911 and traveled with a
vaudeville troupe around the country. He would soon end up in Cloquet, Minnesota and
purchased two theaters. His brother would take over those theaters after six months and he
would move on to Superior, Wisconsin and the Orpheum Theater.
Ethel Milne and Frank Gumm met in 1912 when Frank rented a room from Ethel’s parents, John
and Eva, and a romance blossomed. Ethel played the background music for the films that flickered
on the Orpheum Theater’s screen while Frank sang on stage while the reels were being changed.
They had a whirlwind romance and they headed to the alter in 1912. However, before they could
say “I do”, Frank had left town.
For the next year, Frank went to 28 states on another vaudeville circuit, ending up in Portland,
Oregon. For a year he managed the Crystal Theater. By the fall of 1913, he was back in Superior
and resumed his romance with Ethel and on n Thursday, January 22, 1914 they married at her
parent’s home. They soon bought a theater in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and would have their first
child in 1915 (Mary Jane) and then another in 1917 (Dorothy Virginia).
In 1921, they found out unhappily that they were expecting a third child. They were in a tight
financial position and they felt like they couldn’t afford to support another child. Ethel
halfheartedly attempted several methods of aborting the child. However, once the baby was born
on June 10, 1922, their reservations quickly turned to love.
Four years later, the family decided to move t to Southern California, citing the harsh Minnesota
winters and the lure of warm weather. Ethel immediately started to try to replicate her children’s
success in Los Angeles. At the same time, Frank opened another theater and the family made their
debut on May 22, 1927.
The difficulties the family faced began to show up in Ethel and Franks’s marriage, which was
slowly falling apart. As the two began to drift apart, Ethel began spending more time on the girl’s
careers. She began making frequent trips to Los Angeles to set up auditions for her children.
During the next four years, At home, Frank was an affectionate father. He would play with the
girls on the floor and shamelessly indulge them. Ethel’s quest for show business and Frank’s
desire to have his family at home made them constantly at odds.
During that year and the next, Ethel and Frank came close to
divorcing several times. Ethel would try to use the girls as pawns
when she and Frank would get into arguments. She would gather
girls up and tell them that they were leaving their father. When
one of them would object, she would say that that they didn't
love her.
Frank hated having the children carted around town for
auditions. He was also opposed to the girls going to Chicago to
work the World’s Fair. The trip to Chicago was a roller coaster of
activity; the most important being their name change to Garland. Performing again in various
cities when they returned to Los Angeles, Frances Garland was beginning to get a reputation. It
wasn’t long before she came to the attention of Louis B. Mayer.
Shortly after Frances was signed to MGM, her beloved father died of spinal meningitis. Frances
loved her father more than anything and it was a terrible blow she never really got over. Since she
never felt a strong emotional bond to her mother or sisters, she looked for love from her father.
After he was gone, she continually sought out love from others—mostly men. When her mother
married Will Gilmore, a man she had been having an affair with for years, it was one more thing
Judy could not forgive her mother for—especially since they married on the anniversary of her
father’s death.
Mr. Mayer filled that vacuum in Judy’s life. Judy felt that Ethel always sided with him and not with
her. This lead her to become more and more resentful toward her mother. Ethel had worked out
an arrangement with the studio where she would act as Judy’s secretary and chaperone, making
sure that she fulfilled all of her obligations to the studio. This caused a huge conflict. Her mother
was suppose to be a supporter and a caregiver, but instead became an employee of MGM.
During this time, the studio continued to believe Judy was too fat to be a star. Thus began her
continual dieting that last her whole life. Benzedrine had been introduced to the film community
to take away appetites and give a sense of wellbeing. Ethel was consulted when Judy first began
the pills, and she consented to the studio. However, they also kept Judy from falling asleep. Ethel
began to give Judy sleeping pills and thus began a vicious cycle that would persist for the rest of
her life. All of these factors made Judy develop a skewed view of what she looked really looked
Ethel also tried to put up roadblocks whenever Judy was romantically involved. It got even worse
when, after she married David Rose, Judy told Ethel that she was pregnant. Ethel was concerned
that the baby would have a negative effect on her career. She went to Mr. Mayer to consult him on
what they should do. Judy, under their advisement, was told to have an abortion. Judy’s marriage
to David Rose would be soon over.
Always it seemed to Judy that her feelings, wants and needs were the last things on her mother’s
mind. Whether it was siding with the studio or butting into her personal life, she had a knack for
infuriating Judy. Finally, the breaking point happened during the filming of Summer Stock. Ethel
had mismanaged Judy’s money for years, often putting her in financial straits and causing her to
take on projects that she did not want to do. Judy confronted her mother and they had a violent
argument that ended with Judy ordering Ethel out of her house and out of her life.
Ethel moved to Dallas, Texas and managed a movie theater there. When Judy tried to commit
suicide, Ethel came to Los Angels just to be turned away. She, however, decided to remain in Los
Angeles. Judy and Ethel would remain estranged right up to her death on January 5., 1953. Ethel
was found dead between two parked cars in the Douglas Aircraft parking lot. She had suffered a
heart attack as she arrived to work. The mother who wanted to fulfill her own unrealized show
business aspirations and the daughter who had fulfilled them, never reconciled.
Vincente Minnelli, born Lester Anthony Minnelli, was the
fifth child of Vincent Charles Minnelli and Mina Le Beau.
His parent’s owed a tent show, the Minnelli Brothers’ Tent
Theater, which regularly toured the Midwest during the
summer. As a child, Minnelli also acted in some of these
productions which were typical of tent shows of the period
– melodramas or unauthorized versions of hit Broadway
shows. During the winter, his parents would separate in
order to find scattered work in vaudeville while their child
was sent to stay with relatives.
Vincente Minnelli
February 28, 1903—July 25, 1986
. By the time Minnelli was eight, motion pictures had all
but destroyed the tent theater and his father reluctantly
gave it all up and moved his family to Delaware, Ohio. It
was the first real home the Minnellis had ever had.
At sixteen, Minnelli moved to Chicago and studied at the Chicago Art Institute, where his sketches
landed him a job as a window dresser at Marshall Field’s department store. It was also in Chicago
where he changed his name from Lester Anthony to Vincente. Eventually Minnelli’s sketches got
him the job of chief costume designer for the Chicago movie theatre chain of Balaban and Katz
which staged on a weekly basis ornate revues to accompany their films. In 1931, the company
moved the chain’s headquarters to New York and Minnelli went with them.
It was in the New York that Minnelli’s life and art would take shape and flourish. His theatrical
costume and set designs were lavish, extravagant and beautiful. He began to design for Earl
Carroll’s Vanities and for Radio City Music Hall spectaculars, the latter of these eventually leading
to the job of not only designing but directing these monthly shows along with the splashy
productions of Ziegfeld Follies.
After eight years on Broadway, Minnnelli’s success brought him to the attention of Hollywood. It
was Arthur Freed who lured Minnelli to MGM to make a movie based on a series of turn-of-thecentury reminiscences which would later be reprinted in book form as Meet Me in St. Louis.
Minnelli was excited about the project and was in full agreement with Louis B. Mayer that Judy
Garland should play the lead. Judy did not relish the idea of working with Minnelli. His style and
sophistication intimidated her. However, due to her mother’s mismanagement of her money and
lack of paying taxes, Judy found that she was forced to work simply to have her life remain in keel.
Slowly, Judy’s opinion of the film and the director began to change. The release of Meet Me in St.
Louis in November 1944 prompted critical praise and produced tremendous box office receipts.
The courtship between them began and they wed in June 13, 1945. On their honeymoon in New
York City, Judy threw away her pills into the river and promised never to take them again. On
March 12, 1946 he and Judy’s daughter Liza was born.
During the filming of The Pirate, which Vincente directed, Judy’s mood swings became legendary.
And her emotional problems on the set began to affect the Minnelli’s home life. Vincente was
tortured wondering if he was responsible for her regressions. Their fights frequently resulted
with one of them spending the night at the Gershwin's. After The Pirate rapped, Vincente sent
Judy to Las Campanas, a sanitarium for therapy and pill addiction. Vincente was hard a work on
His latest film and his visits to see Judy were infrequent. He felt it better that he left Judy alone,
since his presence had done little for her emotional state before.
On Judy’s return home, she started to stabilize her home life. She also began working with Vicente
on Easter Parade. Judy went to the studio bosses and told them that she did not want him as the
director and Chuck Walters took over. With multiple separations and reconciliations, they finally
divorced in 1951. He would go on to marry three more times: Georgette Magnani (1954-1957),
Danica Radosavljec (1960-1971) and Lee Anderson (1980– his death).
Minnelli remained under contract to MGM for over two decades. As with his work on stage, Minnelli
was quickly recognized for the distinctive quality of his visual style. Though widely known for his
musical direction, he also was responsible for some of the most interesting comedies and
melodramas of the post war era. During his career he directed seven Oscar nominated actors and
was nomination for An American in Paris in 1951. He eventually won an Academy Award for his
direction of Gigi.
Minnelli died on July 25, 1986 at the age of 83 after struggling with emphysema and pneumonia that
plagued him the last few years of his life. He reportedly also suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. By
the time of his death in 1986 Vincente Minnelli had completed over thirty features, which standout
for their magisterial use of color and costume and for the brisk and skillful handling of some of
Hollywood’s greatest stars of the period, including Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Shirley
MacLaine, Leslie Caron and Lucille Ball, to name just a few.
1943—Cabin in the Sky
1944—Meet Me in St. Louis
1945—The Clock
1945—Yolanda and the Thief
1946—Ziegfeld Follies
1946—Till The Clock Rolls By (Judy segment)
1948—The Pirate
1949—Madame Bovary
1950—Father of the Bride
1951—An American in Paris
1952—Lovely to Look At (segment)
1952—The Bad and the Beautiful
1953—The Story of Three Loves (segment)
1953—The Band Wagon
1954—The Long, Long Trailer
1955– The Cobweb
1956—Lust for Life
1956—Tea and Sympathy
1957—Designing Woman
1957—The Seventh Sin (uncredited)
1958—The Reluctant Debutante
1958– Some Came Running
1960—Bells Are Ringing
1962—Four Horsemen of he Apocalypse
1962—Two Weeks in Another Town
1963—The Courtship of Eddie’s Father
1964—Goodbye Charlie
1970—On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
1976—A Matter of Time
“Nowadays the
audience has changed.
No one can anticipate
the audience.”
- Vincente Minnelli
Hedda was born Elda Furry on May 2, 1885 (although she
would change the year to 1890 in order to conceal her true
age) in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. She was the fifth of
nine children born to Quaker parents. She left home at the
age of 18 to pursue a musical theater career and became a
chorus girl in amateur theater productions before making
her Broadway debut in 1909 in a small role in The Motor
In 1913 she married marquee star William DeWolfe, a man
who was 32 years her senior. They had one son, and
divorced in 1922. She kept his last name for the rest of her
life and changed her name to Hedda on the advice of a
Hedda Hopper
May 2, 1885— February 1, 1966
Hopper’s silent movie career started in 1916 in the motion
picture Battle of Hearts. Hedda appeared in more than
120 movies over 23 years, usually portraying distinguished society women. In 1931, she began
The Hedda Hopper Show, which initially ran as a 15 minute gossip radio show mostly devoted
to Hollywood marriages and divorces. Enormously popular, it ran until 1951. In 1938, The Los
Angeles Times offered to carry a print column that would compete with Hearst’s resident
gossipmonger, Louella Parsons. The Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood debuted on February 14, 1938
and would last for 28 years. Hedda and Louella became archrivals, competing fiercely and often
nastily for the title of Queen of Hollywood. Although those who knew both declared that Hopper
was by far the more sadistic. When Hedda purchased her home in Beverly Hills, she referred to it
as the “house that fear built”.
She steadily gained a reputation for exposing tidbits about the lives of Hollywood figures and
made many enemies. After publishing a story about Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s
relationship, Tracy confronted her and Ciro’s and kicked her in the bottom. She also spread
rumors about a relationship between the actors Michael Wilding and Stewart Granger. Wilding
sued Hopper for libel and won . ZaSu Pitts compared Hopper to a ferret and Joan Fontaine sent
her a skunk on Valentine’s Day with a note reading “ I stink and so do you”.
In addition to her titillating coverage of the latest pregnancy or breakup, Hopper
became famous for her fashion sense, most notably her flamboyant hats.
Hedda’s conservative politics became very powerful over the years. She had
unlimited sources of dirt on the entertainment industry through her
relationship with J. Edgar Hoover. She aided Joseph McCarthy in “outing”
suspected Communists actors through hearsay during the Hollywood Blacklisting Era of the 1950’s. Her badgering of Charlie Chaplin about his love life and
leftist politics led to his leaving America in 1952.
“Nobody is
interested in
sweetness and
- Hedda Hopper
With the advent of television’s popularity in the early 1950s, her radio show
waned, and she became a staple of television programs and game shows. In
1960 she received the Journalistic Merit award, and published her autobiography The Whole
Truth and Nothing But!, which recapped her over 20 years of being an Hollywood insider. She
died in Los Angeles of double pneumonia in 1966, working right up until her passing.
Louis Burt Mayer was born Eliezer Meir in the summer
moths sometime between 1880-1885 in Minsk, Russia. His
family immigrated to Canada in 1886 to flee the Russian
oppression of the Jews. In Canada, his father cobbled
together a living by collecting scrap metal, with Louis
working by his side at an early age. As a teenager, Louis
would make trips to Boston to sell the scrap metal. By his
late teens, Mayer decided to move to Boston to pursue more
career opportunities.
Once he became a citizen of the United States, he changed his
name to Louis Mayer and picked the patriotic birth date of
July 4, 1885. While working in Boston, he became enthralled
Louis B. Mayer
with the theater business. On November 28, 1907 in
July 4, 1885—October 29, 1957
Haverill, Massachusetts, Mayer opened a Burlesque theater.
Soon, he began to alternate between live shows and the new
rage of motion pictures. Within a few years he had the largest theater chain in New England. In
1915, Mayer entered into an arrangement with Jesse Lasky, who was producing films in California
and began Metro Pictures Corporation. One of the first films they acquired for distribution was
D.W. Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION, which was an enormous financial success.
Soon afterwards, Mayer left the partnership to start his own production company, Lois B. Mayer
Pictures and moved the operation to Los Angeles. Marcus Lowe, who owned a large and
successful chain of theaters, approached Mayer in 1924 to helm the newly merged Metro Pictures
with Samuel Goldwyn. Louis B. Mayer Pictures was rolled into the Goldwyn facility and Mayer
became the head of the new Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Corporation. MGM soon surpassed
Universal Pictures as the most financially successful motion picture studio in the world.
He raised the contract system to an art using established stars who were legally bound to his
studio to the fullest. Mayer ruled over MGM as a big family, rewarding loyalty and obedience,
punishing insubordination and regarding opposition as a personal betrayal. He was also a master
manipulator. He was widely known as the greatest actor on the lot— moaning, crying and becoming hysterical when it served his purpose. Mayer was often personally involved in the private lives
of his employees, usually to make sure their public reputation match the studio’s image for
wholesomeness and decency.
For 27 years, Mayer reigned supreme at MGM and continued to build up his roster of star names,
living up to MGM’s slogan of “more stars than there are in heaven” including Judy Garland, Clark
Gable, Joan Crawford, Katharine Hepburn, Mickey Rooney and Mayer’s personal discoveries such
as Greta Garbo. By 1936 Mayer was making over one million dollars a year, which made him the
highest paid executive in the country.
MGM continued to prosper through the war years, however Mayer began to lose touch with the
changing tastes of the audience. Conflicts between Mayer and Nicholas Schenck, President of
Lowes began when Dore Schary was hired as Production Chief. When the slumping financial
situation of MGM began to improve, it was attributed to Schary. Mayer became furious and gave
an ultimatum “It’s either me or Schary”. To Mayer’s shock, Schenck choose Schary, and Mayer
submitted his resignation in 1951.
During his retirement, he dabbled in real estate, became an accomplished horse breeder and
would occasionally grant an interview complaining of the state of the American movie industry
and his hatred for the new medium of television, and .
Mayer received a special Academy Award for his distinguished service to the motion picture
industry in 1950. He contracted leukemia and died in 1957. Works that came out of MGM while
under his leadership included such classics as Grand Hotel, Mutiny on the Bounty, Mrs. Miniver,
Anchors Aweigh, Adam’s Rib, The Philadelphia Story, Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of
He leave a legacy of classic films that defined a generation of Americans.
“The sign of a clever auteur is to
achieve the illusion that there is a
sole individual responsible for
magnificent creations that require
thousands of people to accomplish."
- Louis B. Mayer