Judy Garland’s final four years were surprisingly productive, especially considering that by 1968 she was clearly not in good health and some would say was already dying. During this time she made many successful TV appearances and gave brilliant, sellout concerts including her final return to The Palace in 1967 and its extended (and grueling) concert tour.
The decade closed with Judy’s untimely death on June 22, 1969, at 47 years old. True to form she was singing for her fans up to the end. Her death was a shock but also half-expected. Judy had given so much of herself for so long that it seemed as though she was living on borrowed time. In the end, she left us an incredible legacy of performances unequaled by any of her contemporaries. Luckily for us, so many of her performances whether they be on film or via recordings have survived for us to continue to enjoy. That’s what Judy Garland was about, sharing her talents with the world and we, as fans, are forever grateful.
Much of the information and media on this page was provided by many wonderful Garland fans as well as from the collection of the author plus the many biographies and other books about Judy Garland, her peers, and film studies in general.
A big shout out to Scott Schechter’s still invaluable 2002 book “Judy Garland – The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend” as well as newspaper online archives. Also some special thanks to Kim Lundgreen, Araman DiNucci, Bobby Waters, Adrian Wild, and Leslie HIll for providing some of the images in these pages.
February 2 through 10, 1966
THE DIPLOMAT HOTEL, HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA
Judy returned to Florida for this engagement in Hollywood, filling in for Robert Goulet, which was originally scheduled to run through the 9th but due to her popularity, she was held over an additional day (February 10).
The room Judy played carried a $7.50 dinner charge, or a $10.00 beverage minimum. Showtime was 10 p.m. nightly. Judy’s opening act was comic Pat Henry. Judy’s portion of the show ran 45 minutes, and she was backed by the 26-piece Van Smith Orchestra. Her songs included: “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands”; “Almost Like Being In Love/This Can’t Be Love”; “Just In Time”; “Joey, Joey”; “Dot It Again”; “Over The Rainbow”; “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby”; “Chicago” and “San Francisco.”
While in Florida, on Friday, February 4, there were rumors circulating that Judy had died – she laughed them off as she was playing golf that day before doing her show that night.
“The Hollywood, Florida Sun-Tattler” ran the headline “Judy Lifts The Off The Seats” and continued with “Judy Garland electrified her opening night audience at the Diplomat Hotel… Miss Garland is without question, the queen of phrasing, and can get more out of the lyrics of a song than most pros… She can do no wrong, Judy being on stage generates excitement.”
“The Miami News” ran the deadline “Judy Garland’s Rainbow Glows In The Diplomat” and continued with “Judy is singing in the Diplomat’s big Cafe Crystal and it’s a very good room for her… We’re close to her and that’s the way we want it… Requests are shouted from all corners of the nightclub, and she meets as many of them as she can.”
A BREAK IN THE CONCERT SCHEDULE
After her appearance at the Diplomat, Judy took a break from concerts. She wasn’t idle though. She made several personal appearances as well as some great guest spots on various TV variety shows.
February 20, 1966: Judy appeared on “The Kraft Music Hall” on NBC-TV taped in color at the NBC Studios in Brooklyn, New York. The show was hosted by Perry Como and guest starring Bill Cosby. It aired on February 26, 1966.
While Judy was waiting in the wings to go on stage, wearing that gown engulfed in feathers, she folded her hands under her arms, clucked like a chicken, and said if she had to wait any longer she would “lay an egg in this dress!”
Although it was taped in color all that exists of the show is an inferior black & white print.
February 27, 1966: Judy was back at the NBC Studios in Brooklyn, New York, this time to videotape (again in color) the first of two guest spots on “The Sammy Davis, Jr. Show.”
Judy sang “When You’re Smiling”; “The Man That Got Away”; “Give My Regards To Broadway” and a medley of some of her greatest hits sung with Davis and performed in Tramp costumes. At the end of the show, Davis asked her to return the next week. All that remains of the show is a black and white Kinescope film print discovered by Scott Schechter in 1995 at the Museum of Broadcasting.
March 6, 1966: Judy made her second appearance on “The Sammy Davis, Jr. Show,” taped at the NBC-TV studios in Brooklyn, NY. The show was filmed in color but all that remains is a black and white print.
Judy sang: “Almost Like Being In Love”/”This Can’t Be Love”; “If Love Were All”; and “Love.” The last two were cut prior to the show’s airing on March 25, 1966. Judy also sang this medley with Davis (video).
March 6, 1966: Judy made a walk-on appearance on “The Soupy Sales Show” while she was taping her second appearance “across the hall” on “The Sammy Davis, Jr. Show” at the NBC Studios in Brooklyn, New York.
Soupy and guest Ernest Borgnine had a running joke that Judy was to be Soupy’s guest but her plane was late so Borgnine played “Judy.”
The special never aired, but this footage has survived. Judy’s wearing the same knee-length white gown outlined in black fur that she wore on the Davis show.
April 1, 1966: ABC-TV videotaped part of “The Hollywood Palace” with Judy as the hostess. Taped on this day were: “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and “Mr. & Mrs. Clown” with her guest Van Johnson. Comedian Jack Carter was on hand to provide some levity.
On April 3, 1966, Judy taped her last two songs for “The Hollywood Palace” – “Comes Once In A Lifetime” and “By Myself.” This was the last time Judy taped a song for primetime, network broadcasting. This completed her work for the show, which aired on May 7 on ABC-TV.
April 12, 1966: Judy was escorted by her A Star Is Born director, George Cukor, to the opening of an adaptation of Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” starring her then-husband, Mark Herron. The show was staged at the Ivar Theater in Hollywood. Herron played opposite Kathie Browne.
Judy & Cukor arrived 45 minutes early. Judy sat in the front row with Cukor, singer Marti Stevens, and actress Hermione Gingold. Star and director gave a cocktail buffet at Martoni’s after the show, where Judy sang “Play Orchestra Play” and “Someday I’ll Find You” with Stevens, and then Judy ended the night (at 4 a.m.) by soloing on “The Party’s Over.”
Photos below: Judy arriving at the theater looking marvelous in red!
May 15, 1966: Judy attended the “Tribute to Judy Holiday/Cancer Benefit for The American Center in Dever” held at the Americana Hotel in New York City. Judy had flown to New York the previous day specifically to attend this event. She sang: “When You’re Smiling”; “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby”; “Just In Time”; “The Party’s Over”; and encored with “You Made Me Love You”/”For Me And My Gal”/”The Trolley Song” and “Over The Rainbow.”
Photos: Judy is seen at the May 12, 1966, event, and with Betty Comden and Adolph Green at the May 15, 1966, event.
August 17, 1966
EL PATIO NIGHTCLUB, MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
This was Judy’s Mexican singing debut. The run was scheduled for two weeks (12 days and 14 performances) for a large cash payment at the end of every show (so as not to be traced by the IRS): $17,500 a week, a guaranteed $35,000; Judy expected to gain a net of $20,750, after expenses.
Judy sang over 21 songs per show with a 50-piece orchestra during the 90-minute performance, even though her contract stated that she need only do a 30-minute show. Judy received rave reviews. Unfortunately, no recording was made of any of these shows.
Judy spent the rest of 1966 without any professional engagements. She spent her time socializing as well as taking care of some business items. She left CMA (Creative Management Agency) in September. This was the agency that her agents Freddie Fields and David Begelman had started, shortly after they signed Judy in 1960. To say that the two agents were crooks is putting it mildly. They bilked Judy out of money that should have ensured her financial security for the rest of her life. Judy and Sid Luft sued the duo and CMA on October 11, 1966, for $3 million dollars although they wouldn’t succeed in getting what was owed to them. In September 1968 (see below) Judy and CMA came to an agreement and the suit was absolved and Judy signed a new contract.
On October 1, 1966, Judy officiated the opening of an art gallery/cafe called “Yellow Brick Road” on La Cienega Blvd., in Los Angeles and posed for photos with some “Wizard of Oz” players. Judy cut the ribbon while standing on a tiny bridge that was painted like the yellow brick road and ran the entire length of the place. Judy also signed a yellow brick!
Judy spent the holidays of 1966 and rang in the new year with her new companion, Tom Green, in Lowell, Massachusetts. She was photographed playing pool with some members of the Alpha Theta fraternity at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire (Green was the class of 1960). From there Judy and Green went to New York where they saw Angela Lansbury in “Mame” (twice!), dined with Liza and fiance Peter Allen, then flew out to Los Angeles, with Liza who was about to make her second appearance on the “Hollywood Palace” TV show. Then back to New York.
On March 2, 1967, Judy held a press conference at the Versailles Room of the St. Regis Hotel in New York, announcing her participation in the upcoming film adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s hit novel “Valley of the Dolls.” Judy was to play the Broadway veteran Helen Lawson.
The next day, March 3, 1967, Judy attended daughter Liza’s marriage to Peter Allen in New York. She was escorted by her ex-husband (and Liza’s dad) Oscar-winning director Vincente Minnelli.
March 5, 1966: Judy was the “mystery guest” on the live CBS-TV show, “What My Line?” which was broadcast from New York.
The very next day Judy filmed an interview with Barbara Walters for NBC-TV which has become some of the most widely seen interview footage of Judy.
While she was in New York at this time, Judy gave other interviews and also met, on March 10, 1967, her future fifth husband, Mickey Deans. He delivered some Ritalin pills to her at the St. Regis Hotel. She hadn’t slept and needed to be “up” to catch a flight to California to begin work on Valley of the Dolls. Judy was able to catch her flight, along with ex-husband Sid Luft and their two children, Lorna and Joe.
VALLEY OF THE DOLLS
Judy arrived in Los Angeles from New York on March 10 and reported for work at 20th Century-Fox on March 27 on Valley of the Dolls. On that day she time she prerecorded her solo for the film, “I’ll Plant My Own Tree.” Judy didn’t care for the song, preferring to sing “Get Off Looking Good” but always the trouper, she managed to elevate the inferior “I’ll Plant My Own Tree” into something better than it was.
Judy’s short time of working on the film has become legendary in the story of Judy’s life and career. It’s been shrouded in misconceptions, assumptions, and gossip. Judy’s tenure on the film didn’t last long and although one scene was filmed, only photos of that scene exist along with Judy’s pre-recording and some costume test footage (shown here).
After Judy was fired from the film (the official statement from the studio was that she “resigned for personal reasons”) she tried to set the record straight by saying she was on the set every morning ready for work and that she didn’t resign. This was backed up decades later when Patty Duke (who played the character based on Judy, “Neely O’Hara”) noted that the director Mark Robson treated Judy horribly and had her on the set early, but then idle all day long and may or may not call her to work late in the day. By that point, having to be idle all day, sometimes Judy wasn’t in a good shape to be filmed.
In the end, it’s good that Valley of the Dolls didn’t become Judy’s final film. Although it’s a camp classic it was definitely below Judy’s talents and image. She probably would have imbued the harsh character of “Helen Lawson” with some much-needed humanity but even that wouldn’t have saved the film from becoming “so bad it’s good.”
Read all about Judy’s time on the film here at The Judy Room’s Valley of the Dolls Page.
Listen to Judy’s pre-recording of “I’ll Plant My Own Tree” here:
Listen to Judy’s pre-recording a capella:
Listen to the orchestra-only version here:
Audio files provided by Hisato M. Thank you, Hisato!
On May 7, 1967, Judy taped her last primetime television appearance: “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Hollywood,” an NBC-TV/Jack Paar special (her last US TV appearance was on “The Merv Griffin Show” on December 23, 1968).
“A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Hollywood” was videotaped in color at NBC’s Rockefeller Center, Studio 6B, in New York City, but only a B&W film print survives.
Judy was escorted by Sid Luft and Tom Green. She arrived at 6:20 p.m.; the taping started at 8 p.m. Judy is in good form but not sounding or looking very well.
Several stories that Judy told were cut from the show: Judy told the story of Elvis pulling up in his car only a week before the taping to say he was a big fan, but ignoring Paar who was in the car with Judy; a “recreation” of her dance down the yellow brick road; the time she sang “God Bless America” on stage with a model who was made up as the Statue of Liberty but was so plastered she fell flat on her face while Judy was trying to sing the song!
The special aired on May 15, 1967.
June 13 through 18, 1967
WESTBURY MUSIC FAIR, WESBURY, NEW YORK
Judy returned to the concert stage after being away for nearly a year (see above). This engagement kicked off a very busy year of concerts for Judy, including her third and final return to The Palace Theater in New York. It was the busiest 12+ months of concerts for Judy since her career renaissance in the early 60s.
This was Judy’s second time “in the round” on a revolving stage that allowed the performer to be seen by the audience seated the full 360 degrees around the stage. It was during this run in which she quipped, “I don’t know why they don’t let you revolve around me!”
During this Wesbury show, Judy sang a new song, “If He Walked Into My Life” from the Broadway hit musical “Mame” which starred her The Harvey Girls co-star, Angela Lansbury. Judy had seen “Mame” on January 16, 1967, and had expressed her interest in playing the role on screen. Judy didn’t get to play the role on screen but since this time fans have speculated on how great Judy would have been as “Mame Dennis.”
Listen to “If He Walked Into My Life” here:
Download a recording of the entire show from June 18, 1967, here (zip file).
Note that the sound quality of these files isn’t the best as the recording was made by a fan from the audience.
June 26 through July 1, 1967
THE STORROWTON MUSIC CIRCUS, SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS
After the opening, a press reception/party was held at the Old Storrowton Tavern. Judy told a reporter, “People are my life.” She also said that she wanted to do a Broadway musical about the life of stage legend Laurette Taylor, “It’s something I would like to do and I hope I get a chance to do it.”
July 10 through July 15, 1967
CAMDEN COUNTY MUSIC FAIR, CAMDEN/HADDONFIELD, NEW JERSEY
Another triumph for Judy. On one night, as she stopped to take a sip o water, someone in the audience yelled, “Drink hearty Judy!” Judy repeated his words slowly and quipped “Drink hearty … drink hearty … Nope, I don’t know him. Only Hearty I know is Andy Hardy!”
Judy’s two youngest kids, Lorna and Joe Luft, were a part of the act. Judy personally mapped out and arrangement of the song “Singin’ In The Rain” for Lorna to sing starting with this venue. Although she claimed to not know how to read music, her notes were very musically detailed, noting tempos and key changes.
The opening night party was held at Henry’s in Cherry Hill. Judy introduced her hairdresser Frank Buscarello, then said:
“Rock and roll music is just too much noise. I don’t know anything about it, and I don’t know how to sing it … [Am I] tired of ‘Over The Rainbow?’ Listen, it’s like getting tired of breathing. The whole premise of the song is a question. A quest. At the end, it isn’t ‘Well, I’ve found my world and I am a success and you and I will be together.’ The lyric is having little bluebirds ‘fly over the rainbow. Why, oh why, cant I?’ It represents everyone’s wondering why things can’t be a little better … Audiences have kept me alive since I was 30 months old. I enjoy them as much as they enjoy being entertained by me. I come alive on stage. I lose every pain. I don’t feel a damn thing but happiness. When I get out there, I’m myself; when I’m off, I sometimes play somebody else … Audiences and I have a private love affair going. Maybe it’s that simple.”
Here in two parts is an audio recording of this opening night concert. It was recorded by a fan from the audience so it doesn’t have the best sound quality, but it’s all we have.
July 31 through August 26, 1967
THE PALACE THEATER, NEW YORK
Judy opened at The Palace Theater in New York for the last time. It was her third run at the theater which was the site of the launchpad for her legendary concert years in 1951, then a return in 1956. This final engagement ran through August 26, 1967. Joining Judy were her two youngest children, Lorna and Joey Luft as well as dancer John Bubbles, comedian Jackie Vernon, and juggler Francis Brunn. The last three opened the show, followed by Judy and eventually Lorna and Joey.
Part of the first night’s performance, Act One to be exact, was included on the ABC Records LP “At Home At The Palace” which was a compilation of Judy’s first three nights. Act One from this night is Side One of the LP. The album was the last legitimate release of a new Garland concert during her lifetime. Sadly, the master tapes of the complete three nights of recording are lost. Only the master tapes of the final album are known to exist. MCA currently holds the rights but has yet to release the album on CD.
August 8, 1967
THE PALACE THEATER, NEW YORK
Here is another recording from Judy’s Palace engagement. It’s obvious this is one of the many recordings of Garland concerts made by fans “illegally” from the audience. At times you can even hear some laughter and mumbling from people in direct vicinity to the tape recorder. Even though it’s of very poor sound quality, it’s worth listening to if only to give one an idea of how the concert may have sounded from the audience (and through a little tape recorder).
August 23, 1967
THE PALACE THEATER, NEW YORK
Joan Crawford gets a bit of the spotlight during this night of Judy’s final run at the Palace Theatre.
The sound quality on this recording isn’t as good as some of the others from Judy’s Palace engagement being recorded from quite a distance in the audience, but it’s presented here for historical purposes.
August 26, 1967
THE PALACE THEATER, NEW YORK
August 31, 1967
THE BOSTON COMMON, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
A milestone for Judy. She played to the single biggest audience in her career. 108,000 people at The Boston Common in Boston, MA. At the end of the concert, the mayor of Boston (John F. Collins) reached up and gave Judy a silver bowl in honor of the occasion, sayingm “Judy, we’ve taken you into our hearts; I think that is the sentiment of all of us. God bless you.”
The concert was produced by the now famous producer/promoter Ron Delsner. He had a special 24-foot runway made for Judy and provided a 26-piece orchestra and a jazz trio to accompany her.
The concert received rave reviews. Color footage of some of it exists (see video), as does an audio recording made by a member of the audience.
Judy took a short break from her Palace Tour. On September 1 she made a personal appearance at the Veteran’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. She sang a few verses of “Over the Rainbow” to some of the patients and then gave a brief “concert” in the hospital’s movie room for about 50 people. She sang “Just In Time,” dueted with conductor Bobby Cole on “Bye, Bye Blackbird,” and ended with “Over the Rainbow.”
On September 4th Judy and son Joe visited the local amusement park, Paragon Park, at Nantasket Beach. Judy rode “everything in the park,” ate cotton candy and hot dogs, and had a great time (see the photos).
Judy then returned to New York for a couple of days before traveling down to Maryland for her next concert, along with daughter Lorna, son Joe, and ex-husband Sid Luft.
September 8 & 9, 1967
THE MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILION, COLUMBIA, MARYLAND
The first of a two-night engagement for Judy at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. Judy played to capacity audiences in the 3,000-seat theater. “Variety” noted that she grossed $45,000 for the two nights.
A recording of the opening night was was made by a fan in the audience and while not the greatest sound quality it’s all we have from this engagement.
September 14 through 16, 1967
THE CIVIC OPERA HOUSE, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Judy returned to Chicago’s Civic Opera House for three nights. The night of the 15th her songs included “I Feel A Song Coming On”; “Almost Like Being In Love”/”This Can’t Be Love”; “Just In Time”; “How Insensitive”; “Judy’s Olio”; “What Now My Love?”; “Me And My Shadow”; “Bob White”; “Jamboree Jones” (both with daughter Lorna); “Together” (with daughter Lorna and son Joe); “Old Man River”; “That’s Entertainment!”; “I Loved Him”; “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby”; “Chicago”; “Swanee”; and “Over The Rainbow.”
For the show on the 16th, Judy substituted “The Last Dance” in place of “I Loved Him” with Bobby Cole accompanying her; “Bye, Bye Blackbird” with the kids and ex-husband Sid Luft, instead of “Together”; and added “San Francisco” as an encore after “Over The Rainbow.”
Judy had arrived around midnight on September 13. she made an 11:30 press conference an hour late while her “theatrical press agent,” Bill Doll, kept the reporters together. During the wait, Sid Luft announced that Judy “had made a television commitment for the New Year and would appear in concert with the Washington Symphony Orchestra with Arthur Fiedler conducting.” Neither of those projects materialized. During the reception, Judy said: “I think there’s really a certain time in your life when it’s too much of a hassle to have fears. You mature. You say, ‘What good is fear going to do me? Now life seems to be sort of a steady upgrade. I’m enjoying it. I think my children have helped a great deal.”
On September 17th while she was still in Chicago, Judy made a personal appearance at the Great Lakes Naval Training Hospital and also filmed an interview for Irving Kupicent’s local television show. Video below.
September 27, 1967
THE KIEL AUDITORIUM, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
Judy took her Palace show to the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri. John Brod Peters of the “St. Louis Globe-Democrat” said:
Judy Garland’s secret is that she knows how to provoke and foster involvement . . . She tears herself open – she’s basically a sweet waif wanting love . . . She says what others dare not say for fear of embarrassment, for fear of being hurt: ‘I Love You. I want you to like me, to love me, I need your love.’ The pleading of this button-eyed waif of a celebrity – pleading to you and me – is utterly irresistible and she’s saying openly and boldly what the rest of us all our lives only say indirectly – when we say it at all . . . The experience of a Judy Garland performance may not turn everyone into a true believer, but it cannot fail to leave one utterly move.”
September 29, 1967
THE COBO ARENA, DETROIT, MICHIGAN
Judy’s next stop on her Palace tour was the Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan. In a rare change in her set line-up, she added: “Meet Me In St. Louis.” She had originally planned to sing it at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis when she was there just a few days before (September 27) but that didn’t go very well as Judy was not in good shape due to being “over-medicated.”
October 1 & 2, 1967
CLOWES HALL, INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA
“Variety” reported that Judy grossed $33,940 against a possible $36,000, with attendance at a total of 4,050 out of a potential 4,400. Ticket prices were $10 maximum, which was Judy’s standard top ticket price, a high price for the era. by early 1968 the top price was sometimes $15.
The concert was a success, with the “Star” noting: “Now she has new depth of feeling and variety of tone color that give her a more dramatic quality to supplement her wonderful exuberance. She has a voice like an organ . . . When she cuts loose with a crescendo, it makes people want to stand up and cheer.”
On Sunday, September 3, 2000, the following article appeared in the Lifestyles Section under the general reader-submitted feature “My Life.”
ACCIDENTAL MEETING OF ACTRESSES MEMORABLE
Indianapolis Star – Sunday, September 3, 2000
By Mary Vinci
I shall always remember witnessing the chance meeting of two movie actresses, Frances and Judy Garland, in Indianapolis, sometime in the year 1968.
At the time, Frances Farmer was a resident of Indianapolis, appearing in a television show every evening. [Actually ‘Frances Farmer Presents’ went off the air in 1964. ]
Judy Garland came to Indianapolis to appear in a concert at Clowes Hall. My friend and I were able to obtain tickets, and we sat in the lower half section of the first floor in Clowes Hall.
Frances Farmer and her group were seated about four or five rows in front of us.
Frances Farmer apparently left the concert hall and was standing in the doorway just as Judy Garland opened the show, making her appearance by walking down the side aisle to the stage.
Judy Garland walked past Frances Farmer, then she stopped abruptly and ran back to Farmer. They were happy to see each other embracing and chatting. It was quite a reunion.
The Judy Garland show was spectacular, and I believe she sang better that night than at anytime I heard her.
If my memory serves me correctly, this was her last concert in the United States before going to England [It wasn’t]. It was during her stay in England that Garland passed away.
I was so happy to be able to witness the happy reunion between two fine actresses.
October 7, 1967
VETERANS MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM, COLUMBUS, OHIO
Judy arrived at the Columbus Union Terminal at 8:30 a.m. that morning, admitting as she went into the press conference that she had slept well on the train.
Here is an audience recording of the show. By this point, Garfans had gotten pretty good about sneaking recorders (in spite of their sometimes bulky size) into the concerts. The sound quality of these recordings varies greatly depending on the equipment used and where the person happened to be sitting. But, they’re all we have!
Images: An article about Judy being on the comeback trail published on this date in the Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; and a notice about Judy’s upcoming engagement at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey.
October 16, 1967
ASCAP SALUTE, LINCOLN CENTER, NEW YORK
This wasn’t an actual concert, but it was a notable appearance by Judy. She sang at a party after an ASCAP salute thrown by “Cue” magazine, at Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall – in the lower level garage! Judy sang “Over the Rainbow” with composer Harold Arlen at the piano, among other songs.
Judy’s date (as seen in these photos) was Paul Millard, the fashion editor for Men’s Harper’s Bazaar. Earl Wilson gave the event some good space in his column which ran in papers across the country for several days. Judy is also seen giving Angie Dickinson a kiss.
After her concert in Columbus, Ohio, Judy returned to New York then flew to London for a brief vacation but as soon as she arrived, she turned around and came right back to New York, due to a disagreement with the wife of Raymond Filiberti, the owner of the production company she was working for, “Group Five.” According to the papers, Judy was playing gin rummy with Filiberti and his wife when Judy made a sarcastic remark at Filiberti’s wife who proceeded to throw a drink in Judy’s face. An argument ensued.
The round trip took 19 hours, 15 of them spent in the air. Judy arrived back in New York’s Kennedy airport, at 2:45 p.m. on October 11. She told the waiting press “I’ll see him, he’s my boss. But I’ll be darned if I’ll see her. She’s about nine feet tall, and I wouldn’t dare.”
October 20 & 21, 1967
BUSHNELL AUDITORIUM, HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT
The first night of a two-night engagement for Judy at the Bushnell Auditorium, Hartford, CT. Judy performed with the Hines Brothers, a dance duo that included the future dance legend, Gregory Hines. Years later, Hines said that when Judy took their hands while on stage he felt an electric bolt rip through his body. It was something he hadn’t felt before or since from any other performer.
Download the concert here (zip file).
NOTE: The sound quality is very poor due to its being recording from the audience.
Judy arrived from California – according to press from Hartford papers – and checked into the Hartford Hilton at 2:30 a.m., the morning of her first concert, October 20.
There had been a press conference scheduled for Thursday evening, October 19, which she, Sid, and the children missed. One reporter who waited for them was Allen M. Widem of the “Hartford Times,” who got a few scoops. There was “constant talk of a television series, but at the moment nothing offered seems to smack of the Judy Garland individualist approach. She’s still open to suggestions, however.” This might explain the sudden and quick trip to California: for business meetings about doing another series, which seems incredible considering the “failure” of the one she did, and the fact that she was blacklisted from all primetime television variety series work, after the April 1, 1966 “Hollywood Palace” debacle. However, the Palace Theater engagement and the tour had established yet another “comeback” for Judy, so it’s possible that there were some offers; it could just as easily have been for the benefit of the press.
At this time, Judy also said she’d “love” to do a movie version of the Broadway musical “Mame” saying she didn’t believe anyone was signed yet, “and the field’s still wide open. The role’s the kind that contains a tremendous excitement to me as a performer.”
The morning of the show, October 20, found Judy starting a six-hour rehearsal with Bobby Cole and the 26-piece orchestra at 11 a.m., only 8 1/2 hours after her arrival.
November 3 & 4, 1967
SETON HALL, SOUTH ORANGE, NEW JERSEY
This concert is notable (more than usual) because Judy sang “Get Off Looking Good” which was the song she wanted to sing in Valley of the Dolls rather than “I’ll Plant My Own Tree.”
On November 11, 1967, Judy sang at the Tay Sachs dinner honoring her good friend Tony Bennett as “Man of the Year” held at the Waldorf in New York. Earl Wilson’s column of November 13 stated she sang “with him and to him.” That’s New York’s WNEW DJ & Sinatra devotee/scholar, William B. Williams on the right.
November 30 through December 16, 1967
CAESAR’S PALACE, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Judy returned to Las Vegas for a two-week engagement at Caesars Palace. The December 4th performance was canceled due to the death of Bert Lahr. Judy was upset about his passing.
Judy did only one show per night, at a special time: midnight. She appeared in the Circus Maximus room and there was often an overflow of 200 or so people who would stay outside of the room to hear her even if they couldn’t see her!
When a squeal came from the sound system, Judy quipped: “And that may be the best note you hear all night!” On one night, Judy was in such form that she gave a two-and-a-half-hour show that featured some songs she hadn’t performed in concert before, including “Joey, Joey.”
The usual line up of songs consisted of “I Feel A Song Coming On”; “Almost Like Being In Love”/”This Can’t Be Love”; “Just In Time”; “Ho Insensitive”; “By Myself”; “Old Man River”; “That’s Entertainment”; “What Now My Love?”; “For Once In My Life” – her first time singing this song, which would stay a part of all of her subsequent concerts – “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby”; “Swanee”; and “Over The Rainbow.”
December 25 through 27, 1967
THE NEW FELT FORUM, MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Judy appeared with daughter Lorna and son Joe at the Felt Forum, Madison Square Garden, New York.
Judy was scheduled at the Forum through December 31st but only played through the 27th, canceling the remaining nights due to laryngitis. She grossed $75,000 and would have garnered another $75,000 if she had completed the run.
February 18, 1968
CIVIC CENTER, BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
Judy shared the stage with Tony Bennett at The Civic Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
Judy was suffering from food poisoning so the concert was not completed. An audiotape of this performance was recorded through the sound system and Judy is in pretty bad shape. It’s a wonder she was allowed to go on at all. Ticket prices ranged from $5 to $15 which was considered high for the time. Imagine! The show grossed $27,093.85 with a packed house of 9,990 audience members.
Judy was in such bad shape that it made the news the next day with reports of people wanting their money back. This prompted the chairman of the Civic Center Commission, Philip H. Goodman, to call for a review of performances, as reported in the article shared here.
February 25, 1968
PHILHARMONIC HALL, LINCOLN CENTER, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Judy was in good form only a week after her disastrous engagement in Baltimore.
On April 6, 1968, Judy appeared at a benefit at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. Clad in her white pantsuit (and shoeless), Judy sang five songs: “I Feel A Song Coming On”; “Judy In Time”; “How Insensitive”; “What Now, My Love?”; “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby”; and “For Once In My Life.” Then she sang “Over The Rainbow” sitting in the middle of the ballroom surrounded by about 50 people.
Listen to recordings from this show here:
I Feel A Song Coming On
Just In Time
What Now My Love?
For Once In My Life
Over The Rainbow
Photo: Judy in her white pantsuit at the Garden State Arts Center on June 25, 1968.
May 24, 1968
BACK BAY THEATER, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
Judy was in a fairly good voice for this performance, which was a little over two hours. Tickets ranged from $4 to $7. These recordings were made from the audience and are of varying sound quality. It’s been previously noted that Judy was the last performer to appear at the theater but in fact, the Four Seasons were the last, performing there on May 26, 1968, the night after Judy’s two-night appearance.
On a side note, the theater had originally been a Loew’s movie theater until it was converted into a live venue in 1959. It’s safe to assume that Judy’s MGM films most likely were screened there during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.
Download the entire show here (zip file) – These are the unaltered original recordings taken from the audience.
On June 24, 1968, Judy appeared on “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson. Although she didn’t sing, she was very funny and looked great.
June 25 through 29, 1968
THE GARDEN STATE ARTS CENTER, HOLMDEL, NEW JERSEY
Judy was the first artist to play this new $10 million dollars indoor/outdoor theater. On the afternoon of the opening, she had someone hastily write an arrangement of Barbra Streisand’s “Free Again.” She sang it once that afternoon, then said “I’ll never sing it as good as she does,” and never sang it again!
On the 26th, Judy gave an interview to “The Asbury Park Press” at her hote, the Berkeley Carteret (see gallery).
udy also mentioned a possible return to the Palace that fall, 1968, but she never played there again. Later that day, on June 26, she insisted that Sit Luft pay her daily salary of $1,200 (after taxes) for each performance, by 4 p.m., before every show. An agreement on this day, written by Sid Luft on hotel stationery – reprinted in the 1975 Anne Edwards book – states that her salary would be paid to her by John Larson of the Garden State Arts Center, if “Mr. Luft is not available.” Judy’s salary was to be paid to Wes Fuller, her musical advisor, and current romantic interest, or to Gene Palumbo, Judy’s conductor if Fuller was not available; or then, as a final option, directly to “Miss Garland.”
For her concerts on June 26 and the 27th, Judy was ill and in poor voice but on June 28 she bounced back and gave a powerful performance. On closing night, June 29, she was 35 minutes late in taking the stage; after 25 minutes, during her third song, at 10:50 p.m., Judy fell asleep on stage and had to be helped from the stage, then taken by ambulance to the nearby Monmouth Medical Center. Judy was carried off the stage on a stretcher in full view of the audience, still clutching her microphone! She then went from the Monmouth Medical Center to New York, where Dr. Udall Salmon placed her in the LeRoy Hospital. Over the next few weeks, she went through a withdrawal program at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. By the time of her next engagement (her concert at the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), she was medication-free and in fantastic shape.
July 20, 1968
JFK STADIUM, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
Judy’s last concert in the U.S. Over 20,000 people were in attendance. Ironically, Philadelphia was also the location of Judy’s first real concert on July 1, 1943.
Recordings from this concert exist and were expertly remastered and presented on the 2015 3-CD set “Swan Songs, First Flights.”
Here are two examples of the remastered songs from the CD:
Over The Rainbow
The first photo here: Snapshot of Judy backstage at the JFK Stadium with conductor Gene Polumbo.
Judy took another break from her concerts until the end of the year. From July 31 through August 7 she took a trip to Los Angeles, California, staying with her friend John Carlyle for a few days then staying in the guestroom of a couple of Carlyle’s friends, Tucker Fleming and Charles Williamson. On the night of August t, Judy, son Joe, and “Tuck and Chuck” went to the Factory disco where Judy and Joe danced together for possibly the first, and definitely the last time, in public. It was the last time Judy saw her son.
On August 7 Judy decided it was time to go back to Boston (she had chosen Boston as her new “hometown”). It’s possible that Judy’s abrupt departure was due to her desire to surprise and help her old friend Peter Lawford who was co-hosting “The Mike Douglas Show.”
On August 9 Judy appeared as a guest on “The Mike Douglas Show” hosted by Mike Douglas and co-hosted by Peter Lawford. Judy and Lawford reminisced about making Easter Parade together.
The show was taped in color at the KWY-TV Studios, Channel 3, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Judy sang “For Once In My Life,” “How Insensitive,” and “Over the Rainbow.” The show aired on August 16, 1968, but since it was a syndicated show, it also aired in Philadelphia a few days prior on August 12th.
Included here is a video of Judy’s segment. According to Scott Schechter’s book “The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend,” the original videotape “is rumored to be sitting in the apartment of a long-time fan, where it is certain to be deteriorating as it is not being stored in a proper facility meant to house videotape masters.” To date, this footage has not surfaced.
Judy spent most of August and September 1967 in Boston, although she did travel to New York a few times, most notably to pose for photos with photographer Richard Avedon. Judy was the third star featured in the “What Becomes A Legend Most?” campaign from Blackglama furs.
Also in September Judy signed a statement releasing CMA from any claims she had previously made against them in 1966 & 1967. Judy had a new agent, Benjamin S. Freeman of Boston, who arranged the deal which was a new, three-year management contract with CMA. The actual reason for Judy dropping the suit and resigning was so that she would receive the $8,000 in back royalties that CMA was holding. She was desperate for money. Judy was having serious money issues including the IRS on her tail due to back taxes that were owed.
In late October Judy met songwriter John Meyer. The two had a brief affair and Meyer wrote two original songs that Judy made her own, “It’s All For You” and “I’d Like To Hate Myself In The Morning.” Meyer was also able to get Judy some gigs at the nightclub “Three” in Manhattan. The nightclub was run by singer/actress Mary McCarty who had worked with Judy way back in 1929 when they both worked on the short Bubbles when Judy was only 8 years old and McCarty was 7! Judy was paid “under the table” in cash to avoid the IRS. Judy performed at the club usually in the early mornings (after 1 a.m.) on October 26 & 27, and November 2 & 3. Meyer recorded some of the performances. For the next several months, Judy and Meyer spent their time in New York and Boston.
After the November 2nd performance, Judy, John Meyer, and McCarty sang around Stan Freeman’s player piano. Audio from this gathering was recorded by Meyer. Judy sings “Hello, Bluebird,” “For Once In My Life,” “I’ve Confessed To The Breeze,” as well as an impression of Marlene Dietrich singing “Falling In Love Again.”
Listen to that recording here:
November 17, 1968
ASCAP SALUTE TO HAROLD ARLEN, VINCENT YOUMANS, AND NOEL COWARD, AT THE LINCOLN CENTER, NEW YORK
Judy’s first major appearance since the Douglas show in August was her personal appearance at the benefit show “ASCAP Salute To Harold Arlen, Vincent Youmans, and Noel Coward” at the Lincoln Center in New York. Judy and Meyer arrived at the center at 3:20 p.m. for rehearsals. After the orchestra played her overture, Judy appeared to the surprise of the audience (she wasn’t advertised or noted as being a part of the show). She sang “The Man That Got Away,” “It’s A New World,” “Get Happy,” and with Arlen at the piano, “Over the Rainbow.”
Judy’s performance was restored and remastered from the original tapes in 2016, and released on the fantastic JSP 2-CD set “Judy Garland Sings Harold Arlen.“
Listen to Judy’s songs here:
The Man That Got Away
It’s A New World
Over the Rainbow
FINAL U.S. TV APPEARANCES
Judy spent the rest of 1968 mostly with her new companion, John Meyer, who had been taking care of her both personally and professionally. The duo spent their time shuffling between Boston and New York.
By early December Meyer was able to procure three TV appearances for Judy: Dick Cavett, Johnny Carson, and Merv Griffin.
December 13, 1968: The first of Judy’s TV appearances in December 1968 was “The Dick Cavett Show” which was taped in color at the ABC-TV Studios in New York City, and broadcast on December 16, 1968. Only a poor quality black and white videotape survive. [see below]
December 17, 1968: “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” taped in color at the NBC-TV Studios in New York City. This is the last television appearance by Judy that is known to still exist. [see below]
Also on December 17, 1968, Judy signed a new recording contract with Bob Colby and his “Blue Records” label – but only after he went to the bank to cash her advance check of $2,500. Nothing became of the association.
December 19, 1968: “The Merv Griffin Show” taped in color in New York City for syndication. This show is not known to exist except for some silent color footage shot from a television set and an audio recording. It didn’t air until January 2, 1969, and on January 5 in some markets. Judy sang John A. Meyer’s “I’d Like To Hate Myself in the Morning” as well as “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “The Trolley Song.” The latter was sung with the audience.
Listen to “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” here:
Listen to “The Trolley Song” here:
December 23, 1968: Judy’s last TV appearance in the U.S. She videotaped her guest hostess stint on “The Merv Griffin Show” in New York, which was broadcast in color on January 6, 1969. Merv’s other guests were: Margaret Hamilton, Arthur Treacher, Moms Mabley, Van Johnson, Rex Reed, and The Ohio Express.
Judy sang “If You Were The Only Girls In The World” with Treacher and soloed on “Just In Time.”
The original footage of the show has been lost. Only some silent color footage, taken from filming a television set, and an audio recording, are known to exist. Griffin later stated that the footage was not in his vaults since the material was erased after his series went to CBS in 1969 although his show was already on CBS at this time.
After the taping, John Meyer again went to the Hilton and played for Mickey Deans some of the arrangements on a couple of the songs Deans would need to know for the London engagement. Also later that night – or possibly one night the last week of December – Judy and Deans attended a nightclub performance of a Hollywood girl singer at the Plaza’s Persian Room, with Judy wearing a wide-brimmed black hat trimmed with coq feathers, apparently one of her own creations.
December 30, 1968, through February 1, 1969
THE TALK OF THE TOWN, LONDON, ENGLAND
Judy opened the already extended engagement (from four weeks to five weeks, earning about $7,000 per week), walking out at 11:15 p.m. (only 15 minutes late) to a star-studded audience that included Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ginger Rogers, David Frost, Danny LaRue, and Johnnie Ray.
Judy allegedly went through some physical exercises, and a yoga headstand, to relax before opening night, then took a long bath and a shower before her hairdresser came. The cabaret’s resident makeup artist, Vivian Martyne, was waiting for Judy when she arrived at the club that night.
Judy’s songs included: “I Belong To London”; “Get Happy”; “The Man That Got Away”; “I’d Like To Hate Myself In The Morning”; “For Once In My Life”; “Medley: You Made Me Love You/For Me And My Gal/The Trolley Song”; “Just In Time”; “San Francisco”; “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby”; “Over The Rainbow”; and “Chicago.”
Recordings from this engagement have been released over the years with varying (and usually poor) sound quality. The 2015 3-CD release “Judy Garland – Swan Songs, First Flights” presents these recordings newly remastered – many on CD for the very first time. Check out the Discography link above for details about the release and where to purchase it – it’s amazing!
Here are a few highlights:
I’d Like To Hate Myself In The Morning
Over the Rainbow
These photos were taken of Judy and Mickey Deans at the Ritz Hotel, London, England, presumably just prior to her opening at “The Talk of the Town” cabaret. The first photo is also dated with this day and is noted as showing the two leaving the Ritz Hotel, which must have been taken earlier in the day when the couple went out for some unknown reason.
Although Judy was occupied with her engagement at the Talk of the Town she still managed to make a couple of notable personal appearances.
On January 4, 1969, Judy attended an event at The National Film Theater in London. Between the first and second showings of A Star Is Born she took questions from the audience. When talking about Barbra Streisand, Judy said: “She is a STAR, she makes a sound, she has a LOOK. No one will be able to really deny the fact that Barbra Streisand is a great talent . . . There doesn’t have to be a comparison. She has her way of singing, I have mine. There’s enough room for all of us.”
Judy also said she hoped to do more recording work and stay in London for a while. She did say that MGM “still doesn’t trust me,” and wouldn’t consider her for their planned musical biography of Irving Berlin, to be titled Say It With Music. That production had been in development by producer Arthur Freed for most of the 1960s. It was to be directed by Vincente Minnelli but it was never produced. Judy spoke twice at the theater: after the first screening and again right before the second. For these talks, Judy wore her Blackglama mink over a pink mini dress. After her show at the Talk of the Town that night, Judy brought some friends back to the theater for a private showing of A Star Is Born.
Listen to a recording of this event here:
On January 19, 1969, Judy made a short TV appearance which is notable as it was her last appearance on TV, and her final appearance at the London Palladium. Judy filled in for an ailing Lena Horne and sang “For Once In My Life”; “Get Happy”; and “I Belong To London.”
All that survives of this appearance, aside from the audio files that have been remastered and were included in last year’s fantastic “Swan Songs, First Flights” set, are the several seconds of bows shown here.
January 28, 1969
THE TALK OF THE TOWN, LONDON, ENGLAND
The second night of Judy’s final week at the Talk Of The Town nightclub in London, England. Her return on the 27th was her first night back since her disastrous night of January 23. Songwriter John Meyer was with Judy during these performances and had rented a “Nagra” reel-to-reel tape recorder (which used five-inch reels and a multidirectional Sehheiser microphone) to record some of them. The zip file linked here is from one of those recordings taped on January 28th. The sound quality isn’t the best, but it’s all we have!
Judy’s final night at the Talk of the Town was the early morning of February 1st.
Here is a nice compilation of performances, recorded by Meyer, from various nights during the week of January 17, 1969: Talk of the Town Compilation (zip file)
More performances from Judy’s “Talk of the Town” engagement, all remastered and restored, can be found on the amazing 2015 3-CD set “Swan Songs, First Flights.”
Photo: Judy and Mickey Deans backstage on January 27, 1969.
JUDY MARRIES MICKEY DEANS
Judy continued her engagement at The Talk of the Town through February 1st. Not long afterward, Judy and Deans moved from the Ritz Hotel to a small mews cottage at #4 Cadogan Lane in the Belgravia district which was part of the greater Chelsea district in London. On February 9, 1969, Judy sang a duet with Johnie Ray at Caesar’s Palace in Luton, England where he was performing (see the first two photos here).
On February 11, 1969, Judy’s divorce from husband number four, Mark Harron, became final, which opened the door for Judy and Deans to be legally married.
That previous January 28, Judy made international headlines with the news of her secret marriage to Mickey Deans. She had returned the “Talk of the Town” the night before (January 27, 1969) for the first time since her bad night of January 23. She told the audience that she and Deans had recently been married and that they would soon go on a honeymoon.
The secret ceremony happened on January 9, 1969, in a chapel at St. Marylebone Parish (in London) and was given by Reverend Peter Delaney. The ceremony wasn’t actually legal. The divorce papers for Judy’s marriage to Mark Herron had not been picked up. Judy and Deans were finally legally married on March 15, 1969. The event made international headlines and lost of newsreel footage was filmed, some of it is shown here. The reception was at Quaglino’s in Lond’s West End.
March 19, 1969
THE STOCKHOLM CONCERT HALL, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
This was Judy’s first concert since ending her engagement at the Talk of the Town in London. This was also the beginning of Judy’s Scandinavian tour with Johnnie Ray as her co-star. Ray would open for her and then Judy would perform the second act. This concert was a triumph, with Judy getting a standing ovation that lasted 10 minutes!
March 23, 1969
THE KING KRONER CLUB, MALMO, SWEDEN
Judy was in concert at The King Kroner Club in Malmo, Sweden. Judy’s husband, Mickey Deans, along with the concert promoter, Arne Stivell and his Music Artists of Europe company, agreed to film this concert as part of a documentary to be titled “A Day In The Life Of Judy Garland.”
An audio recording was made of this concert, in mono, although it would be dubbed in the film with the audio from Judy’s next concert in Copenhagen. Only the audio of Judy and Johnnie Ray singing “Till The Clouds Roll By” remained.
The film never became a reality for a variety of reasons, but much of the footage has made its way onto YouTube in various incarnations. The video here is an excerpt from the film featuring Judy and Johnny Ray singing “Till The Clouds Roll By.”
March 25, 1969
FALKONER CENTRET, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
This was Judy’s final concert.
The concert, newly restored and remastered from the 2-reel ¼” 15-IPS copy of the master tape provided by Danmarks Radio, is available in the fantastic 3-CD set “Judy Garland – Swan Songs, First Flights.”
As with the rest of the concerts on this short Scandinavian tour, Judy was joined by singer Johnny Ray.
The twenty-nine piece orchestra was conducted by Tony Osborne. The 1,100-seat theater was sold out at a record 125 kroner each (about $18).
After the “Overture” Judy sang: “Get Happy”; “Just In Time”; “The Man That Got Away”; “I’d Like To Hate Myself In The Morning”; “For Once In My Life”; “Till The Clouds Roll By (with Ray)”; “Judy’s Olio”; “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby”; “Chicago”; “Till The Clouds Roll By” (with Ray); “Am I Blue?” (with Ray); “San Francisco”; and “Over The Rainbow.”
Listen to a few highlight here:
Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody
On March 26, Judy gave what would be her final taped interview, Hans Vangkide for Radio Denmark. Listen to that interview here:
The videos below: “Am I Blue?” and “Till The Clouds Roll By” (below) (duets with Johnnie Ray). These two rare Copenhagen performances were released to the public for the first time in 2017.
In 2015, a recording of Judy’s concert at the Falkoner Center in Copenhagen was released on CD (“Judy Garland – Swan Songs, First Flights”) having been sourced from an excellent-sounding radio station tape used for broadcasting in 1969. Since the release of that CD set amazingly another tape of this same concert surfaced, made by the concert hall itself. This second tape is unrelated to the broadcast and is in equally fine sound as that first tape.
From this newly discovered hall tape, we know definitively that the first half of the evening was a performance by pop singer and Garland friend Johnny Ray, with Garland appearing in the second half of the concert. We also now know that the radio station eliminated two duets, “Till The Clouds Roll By” and “Am I Blue,” in which Judy was joined by Ray, who also accompanied both himself and Garland at the piano.
These duets occurred right after the number “Chicago” on the program, before Garland concluded the concert with “San Francisco” and “Over the Rainbow.” If there were any encores thereafter, they are undocumented and are not preserved on any known tape.
These songs are part of the very last public performance that Judy Garland gave on any stage. Listen and be held again in Judy Garland’s hand as she works her magic spell on the audience, and by extension, us lucky listeners many decades later.
JUDY’S FINAL MONTHS
Although Judy’s final concert was March 25, 1969, it wasn’t her final performance or her final appearance in public.
On March 27, 1969, Judy and husband Mickey Deans flew to Torremolinos in Spain for a long weekend. Judy was in a frail condition and Deans thought that a trip to the sun would be better than a trip to the hospital. On the first night there, Judy slipped in the bathroom of their hotel room and bruised herself. The next morning she fell asleep on the floor of the bathroom. Deans had to break down the door to get in. The next day they moved into a suite. A local doctor changed Judy’s medication from Ritalin to a milder medicine, Longacton, and suggested that she go to the hospital. Instead, Deans insisted he could help her more at the hotel. Judy improved after a few days. Deans rented a Fiat and drove Judy along the coast. That night, Deans claimed that “a change came over her” and she began to talk to herself and was “irrational.” Instead of taking Judy to a hospital, Deans felt it was better to get her back to London and their mews cottage. Judy’s doctor, John Traherne, immediately came over. He thought there might be brain damage and that Judy might not fully recover. He gave her some tranquilizers and she woke up the next morning “bright and alert” and with no recollection of the previous 24 hours. Dr. Traherne surmised Judy had suffered the trauma of withdrawal due to the abrupt switch from Ritalin to Longacton.
Judy took time to relax and get better. Deans went to court to keep the proposed film, A Day in the Life of Judy Garland, in England and out of distribution. He ended up having to fly with his lawyer, George Eldridge, to Sweden. Due to a copyright law in Sweden they were able to keep the film from being shown. A couple of weeks later Judy and Deans lost their initial court case in London attempting to stop the distribution of the film altogether. Luckily, Judy’s performances were covered under that Swedish law of copyright and so the film was not distributed, anywhere. The footage allegedly includes scenes of Judy in the nude and obviously intoxicated. As noted before, footage from the film can be found in various pieces on YouTube but the alleged nude and intoxicated footage has not surfaced.
When Deans returned to London he found that Judy had been booked into the Olympia Theater in Paris. He said that he made unreasonable demands deliberately to cancel the engagement although surviving notes stated that the show, as well as a proposed May 19 show, were canceled due to “illness.”
From April 6 through 14, 1969, Judy and Deans visited their friends Matthew West and his partner Brian Southcombe in Hazelmare West Sussex. Judy had a relaxing week Deans went back and forth to London (part of it was taking care of the court issues regarding the film noted above). Judy read “Citizen Hearst.”
The couple flew to New York on May 21st but returned to London on May 29th then returned again to New York the following week (around June 2nd), and stayed until June 17th, when they went back to London.
The time in New York was spent in meetings for the proposed Judy Garland Cinema Mini-Theaters. The couple stayed in the apartment of Charlie Cochran. Judy had the chance to see daughter Liza Minnelli, who told biographer Gerald Frank that Judy resembled a calm, middle aged housewife and asked her if she had ever tried Teflon ware, saying that she seemed less like ‘Judy Garland” or even “Mama.”
On June 10, 1969, Judy celebrated her last birthday in bed at Cochran’s apartment. Composer Harold Arlen had found out that Judy was in New York and sent her flowers. Judy called friend John Carlyle, and expressed her desire to visit him in California. John mentioned that his cat, named after Judy, was ill. Judy sang to the cat through the phone which was the last time Carlyle heard Judy sing. NTC-TV’s “The Today Show” aired a special birthday tribute to her.
Photos: Judy in March 1969; Arriving with Deads at London’s Heathrow Airport on May 21, 1969, on her way to New York.
June 15, 1969
THE HALF NOTE CLUB, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Judy’s last public appearance. Judy appeared at the Half Note nightclub in New York’s Greenwich Village. Anita O’Day was the headliner. Day was also staying at Cochran’s apartment with Judy and Deans. Judy was invited on stage and sang “Day In, Day Out” and “Over the Rainbow.” She and O’Day sang “April Showers.” This was the last time Judy Garland sang on stage.
No recording of the show exists, but there is a recording of Judy in a jam session recorded either just before or just after this appearance. Judy sings “I Love A Piano” and attempts a new song for her, “When Sonny Gets Blue.” These are the last recordings made of Judy Garland singing.
Listen to this recording here:
Photos: These are alleged to be the last photos taken of Judy Garland. Judy is seen with her friend Bob Jorgenson. It’s thought that these were taken at some point on June 15, 1969. Provided by Bobby Waters. Thanks, Bobby!
THE FINAL DAYS OF JUDY GARLAND
June 17, 1969: Judy and husband Mickey Deans flew back to London from New York. Bob Jorgenson took the couple to New York’s Kennedy Airport where, according to Gerald Clarke, after saying his goodbyes, Jorgen called Mickey back to say “take very good care of her, because she’s dying.” On the plane, Judy allegedly agreed to Dean’s proposal of their own “A Day In The Life Of Judy Garland” film, plus a concert for which Judy had handwritten a list of songs: Orchestra Arrangements: “Georgia Rose”, “Georgia On My Mind”, “Second Hand Rose”, “San Francisco Bay”, “You Came A Long Way From St. Louis”, “Before The Parade Passes By”, “Second Hand Rose (reprise)”, Intro Orchestra and “I Love A Parade.” Good New Songs: “Open 1. “Someone Needs Me”, “Who Am I?”, segue into “At Last I Have Someone Who Needs Me”, (above-definite!), “Newley’s This Dream”, Get Lindsey’s Orch of “Here’s To Us.”
When they arrived home at the mews cottage, Judy’s friend, and the head of the London fan club, Lorna Smith, who had dressed her at the Talk of the Town in January, came over to help unpack. Judy also spoke on the phone with Brian Glanvill, a London fan, who called Judy at the suggestion of their mutual friend, the designer Beatrice “Bumble” Dawson. Dawson thought Brian might work for Judy as an assistant. Brian says Judy told him he should come over to see her soon, and he sent her flowers to thank her until he would be able to meet with her. They would never meet.
June 18, 1969: Judy was picked up at 9 p.m. by her neighbors Gina Dangerfield and Richard Harris, and taken to Bromley, to Dangerfield’s friend’s – singer Jackie Trent and her husband, orchestra leader Tony Hatch’s home. Trent and Hatch had just opened a men’s apparel shop and previously it was assumed that Judy was at the grand opening that evening, but according to what Hatch told a fan in 2020, Judy didn’t make the grand opening event that evening. She didn’t even get to Bromley until later that night, long after the event had happened. So the assumption that she was at the event and it was her last “personal appearance” is false.
June 19, 1969: Judy stayed home (at the mews cottage in London, England, that she was sharing with husband Mickey Deans), engrossed in the book “Nicholas and Alexandra.” She also made a piece of molding from a tube of ready-mixed plaster that Deans had brought home; Deans then painted it gold and heated it in the kitchen until it was hard; he finally placed it by her bedside, in a Tiffany box that had held pearls Tony Bennett had given her for Christmas 1968.
JUDY AND MICKEY DEANS IN THE DOORWAY OF THEIR MEWS COLLEGE IN LATE SPRING 1969
June 20, 1969: Judy’s publicist, Matthew West, visited her at her mews cottage in London for lunch. Judy told him she wanted to go back to work. There had been talks of doing an album for the Blue Records label and a TV special, both to be done in London, in July 1969.
Judy hoped that daughter Lorna and son Joe would fly over to visit her in July. She was also making plans for a return concert at the Olympia in Paris, also in July. She planned to return to the States in August and spend the rest of the summer at Jerry Herman’s summer home on Fire Island. Per West’s report, Judy looked at her skinny arms and told him that she needed to put on some weight and build up her strength. He said that Judy was in a light and fun mood and the two enjoyed a lunch that consisted of doughnuts and milk.
Judy’s husband, Mickey Deans, said that on this day he saw Judy write in her red leather-bound “Ye Olde Bitch Book” and later saw that she wrote, “Sid” (Sid Luft) along with a comment that a friend had sent her a clip from a New York newspaper. Luft was having legal issues over a hotel that their company “Group Five” had not paid. Judy wrote “Joey and Lorna” on these pages, underlining their names, apparently afraid of any adverse publicity affecting them. Garland biographer Anne Edwards says the Reverend Peter Delaney called to tell her about it. Edwards also wrote that on this same day Judy called Lorna in California and the call seemed to make Judy feel better.
Later that evening, Judy and Deans went to a dinner party celebrating the Reverend Peter Delaney’s birthday. Judy appeared to be enjoying herself, but they didn’t stay at the dinner party for very long.
June 21, 1969: Judy had a difficult time sleeping the night from June 20th into June 21st, even with her barbituates. She spent the day quietly at home. Deans said they listened to their favorite records and he played the piano for Judy, taping “some of her favorite numbers. I still have the tapes, and I can feel when I listen to them, the intensity of Judy listening as I played them for her. Her voice comes through clearly: ‘Great-groovy-brilliant, darling …'” These tapes are not known to have surfaced. According to one fan’s written report, Deans was apparently big on taping Judy, he had been known to be “taping candid conversations between Judy and others as a private practice.”
Deans said he was suffering from a sore throat this day, and that Dr. Traherne had sent over some penicillin tablets for him. They had planned, with Matthew West, to see Danny LaRue’s closing nite, but decided that Matthew should go on his own. Later in the day, Philip Roberge, a 29-year-old American friend of Deans, who had said in the “Daily Sketch” to be a “close friend” and someone who assisted Deans in his “recording and show business deals” (who Deans said “has a theatrical agency”), “dropped by.” As, by then, Judy “felt a little ill too,” Deans says Phillip offered to fix dinner; Judy claimed she had eaten earlier, which is doubtful if she wasn’t feeling well, and hadn’t slept well the night before. She excused herself and went upstairs to bed. Deans says Phillip “broiled hamburgers, and [we] ate as they watched the television documentary ‘The Royal Family.’ He left before midnight, and I went to our bedroom. Judy was still awake.”
Biographer Anne Edwards (who worked with Mickey Deans on the final draft of his book about Judy) claimed that Judy had taken a heavy dose of Nembutal. She was very restless and still awake when the postman came at 8:00 in the morning. She went down to collect the mail but didn’t bother to read it. Judy wrote Deans a note, as he was asleep, leaving it on the television set. The note talked only about where Judy had placed their mail, that she was going to have some food, and, after that, she was going to bed.
Deans said he didn’t think it would be wise to sleep in the same bed, as his throat was very sore. Judy apparently pointed to her own throat, and laughed, with Deans getting into bed with her. Deans does not mention that Matthew West had called from the theater during intermission and had spoken with Judy. West has said that Judy and Deans were going back with him to his country home the following day (where Judy had stayed the first week in April). Matthew would be the last person to talk with Judy Garland, and he told Garland historian Scott Schechter during an interview that Judy “was not panicky. She had a lot to live for – including three great big reasons to live: Liza, Lorna, and Joe. She sounded happy and serene, and rather mellow.
Although a clear and precise picture has yet to be painted of Judy’s final hours (and probably never will be), at some time during the very early morning hours of June 22, 1969, sometime between 2:30-4:40 a.m., Judy Garland passed away.
Judy was discovered by Mickey Deans in the bathroom of the cottage. He had been awakened at 10:40 a.m. London time by friends Charlie Cochran and John Carlyle who were calling from California (where it was 2:40 a.m.). Deans didn’t see Judy on her side of the bed so he went to the bathroom to knock on the door. When he didn’t get any response he told Cochran that he’d call them back. He climbed out of the window of the dressing room, walked over the roof, and looked into the bathroom window where she saw Judy sitting with her arms on her lap and her head resting on her arms. When he picked her up, he knew she had passed and he gently put her back in the same position and called the police and an ambulance.
There have been unsubstantiated rumors among Garland fans that Deans was one for taking late-night walks without Judy, in a park near their mews cottage, and that Deans had only just returned home at the time of the 10:40 a.m. phone call. Matthew West told biographer Scott Schechter that Judy told him that Deans was home, upstairs in bed with a sore throat.
There have also been questions raised about the strength of the medication Judy was taking during the week, including the unfounded rumors that she may not have known she was taking medication that was double the strength of her normal dosage. According to a new-wire service report, reprinted in the July 11, 1969, issue of “Life Magazine,” there had been meditation (barbituates) “prescribed on Thursday, June 19, 1965, 25 tablets, found half-empty, and on Saturday, June 21, a bottle of 100 – found unopened.”
The official cause of death was an accidental overdose of “barbiturate poisoning.” The news spread around the world generating an avalanche of shock and sadness.
On the day of her death, Judy’s name was in the papers not because of her passing or any concert triumph but because ex-husband Sid Luft was news due to passing a few bad checks. The news of her death didn’t hit the papers until the next day, June 23.
June 27, 1969: Over 22,000 people descended on Campbell’s Funeral Home in New York City to pay their last respects to Judy. The crowds began to gather in the early morning of June 26, not long after Judy’s body arrived from London. Campbell’s opened at either 11:30 a.m. or noon on the 26th, depending on which report you read. The actual funeral services were on the 27th. Judy’s A Star Is Born co-star, James Mason, gave the eulogy.
Much of the above entries regarding Judy’s finale days were transcribed (with a few minor corrections and edits) from Scott Schechter’s wonderful book “Judy Garland – The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend.”