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Entries in Judy by the Numbers (48)

Wednesday
Dec282016

Judy by the Numbers: Sunday Night at the Palladium

Anne Marie has spent each Wednesday morning this year, investigating Judy Garland's career through musical numbers. And now, the finale...

Somehow, we've reached the end of this series, this year, and the life and career of this incredible performer. Though Judy never starred in another television show or movie after 1964, she stayed busy with tours and TV guest star gigs, including a recurring spot as Johnny Carson's guest on The Tonight Show. Her touring schedule brought her frequently to England, where she was taped one last time in front of an audience in a sold-out January performance at the London Palladium.

The Show: "Sunday Night at the Palladium"
The Songwriters: Various
The Cast: Judy Garland 

The Story: It was a bittersweet discovery to find that the full kinescope of Judy Garland's last television performance, Sunday Night at the Palladium, has been almost totally lost to time. Though sound recordings of the special exist, the only actual image currently available is sixteen silent seconds of Garland taking her final bows. It's an oddly perfect way to end the series, though... 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec212016

Judy by the Numbers: "Hello, Dolly!"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

With only two weeks left in the year, how do we cover the five remaining years of Judy Garland's life? I've tried as much as possible to deliver beautiful numbers and biographical details as near as I could verify in between bits of high-spirited hagiography. Unfortunately, the complicated myth built by talent, timing, and Hollywood studios only amplified after her death, making fact and fiction nearly impossible to untangle...

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Wednesday
Nov302016

Judy by the Numbers: "I Like Men Medley"

 Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

So it may not look like it offhand, but today's episode marked another big shift in the rocky history of The Judy Garland Show. After producing seven episodes, firing most of the staff, kicking Jerry Van Dyke to the curb and reformatting the show, Norman Jewison exited as planned after the 13th taped episode. He would be replaced by Bill Colleran, a producer from Your Hit Parade.

The ShowThe Judy Garland Show Episode 13
The Songwriters: Various, arrangement by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, produced by Norman Jewison

The Story: (My favorite part is the surprise boas at 3:00.) Though Jewison wasn't able to improve the unsteady ratings of The Judy Garland Show, the episodes he produced would set the established characteristics of the show at its peak. More cinematic production, the movement away from sketch comedy, and an emphasis on music and a variety of guest stars all defined Jewison's tenure on the show. The Peggy Lee medley exemplifies all of these qualities, but also points towards the show under Colleran's stewardship: two cabaret singers belting standards. Colleran would transition the show towards a concert format. But before he could complete that transition, it was time for Christmas.

Wednesday
Nov232016

Judy by the Numbers: "Moon River"

 Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the simple things. This series (like TFE as a whole) has been a classic cinephile sanctuary for me this year. As the outside world has spun out, sped up, slammed down, and generally tossed us around, I’ve really enjoyed sharing music and tidbits of trivia with you all this week, and reading your reactions/stories/controversies – even when I haven’t been able to reply myself. So briefly, before we get to this beautiful solo number, I just want to thank Nathaniel & you, the TFE readers, for continuing to create a lively, loving community.

The ShowThe Judy Garland Show Episode 12
The Songwriters: Johnny Mercer (lyrics), Henry Mancini (music)
The Cast: Judy Garland, Vic Damone, Zina Bethune, George Jessel directed by Norman Jewison

The Story: I just realized that this is the first solo from The Judy Garland Show that I’ve featured on the series! Judy actually did several per show, but usually the highlight of the show was her duets and collaborations with odd guests, musical legends and nascent superstars. However, this version of “Moon River” is a good reminder of what made the show so good.

It’s not just the trivia or the name-that-guest throwback; it’s the genuine skill andoccasional artistry overlaid with real emotion. The number is comprised of two long takes, as the camera moves in and pulls away from Judy. The scene actually resembles the long take of “The Man That Got Away” from just a decade before. The camera dances through a shadowy set. Garland, bathed in spotlight, alternately moves with the camera and stands getting lost in the song, and adding wry humor to sweetly sad lyrics. Her quiet sweetness the emotional and cinematic complexity of her song.

Wednesday
Nov162016

Judy by the Numbers: "There's No Business Like Show Business"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

Sometimes, surprises happen. And sometimes those surprises are planted. I'm referring in this case to both the reappearance of Episode 9 on this series, and the "unplanned" appearance of Ethel Merman on the already-iconic show guest-starring Barbra Streisand. Though Merman's big reveal was first suggested as a way to placate both the surprise guest and her not-so-gracious host. Judy may have originally balked at the idea of her Tea for Two guest skipping the tea for some titanic trilling, but when the producers roped Barbra into the skit as well, it went from a battle of egos to a mammoth moment in musical history.

The Show: The Judy Garland Show Episode 9
The Songwriters: Various, arranged by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, The Smothers Brothers, surprise guest Ethel Merman directed by Norman Jewison

The Story: So, here's the thing. I've never been a great lover of Ethel Merman. I understand her importance in the musical canon, and some of the shows written for her rank in my Top 5 Favorite Musicals, but the Hostess with the Mostest tends to leave me cold. But even I am swayed by the sheer power of seeing the three greatest American Belting Broads belting out a song together. It's not even a passing of the torch as the Judy/Liza sketch had been. Instead, this feels very much like three old pros - well, two old pros and one new pro - sizing each other up, celebrating what they see, and cooperating. Though Merman would return later for a proper guest spot, nothing would capture the weird wonder of this trio scene. It's improvised, it's lively, and it's unlike anything else on The Judy Garland Show.

Wednesday
Nov022016

Judy by the Numbers: "Country Medley"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

Despite the upheaval caused by firing most of the crew only a few weeks before, change was slow to come to The Judy Garland Show. Producer Norman Jewison made incremental changes, first giving writers free reign to make jokes about Judy, then bumping up the presence of guests and side acts, before eventually dialing them back. This show was one of the last to feature Jerry Van Dyke, Dick Van Dyke's younger brother who had acted as comic relief for the first few episodes but was critically panned for poking fun at Garland. Already a third of the way through its eventual 26 episodes, The Judy Garland Show was still very much a work in progress.

The Show: The Judy Garland Show Episode 8
The Songwriters: Various, arranged by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Jerry Van Dyke, George Maharis, The Dillards, directed by Bill Hobin 

The Story: All of this experimentation meant strange and wonderful things appeared on the show. For instance, who would look at Judy Garland's career and think, "needs more bluegrass?" Yet, the eighth episode guest stars were bluegrass group The Dillards, best known for their recurring role as The Darlings on The Andy Griffith Show. While this episode heavily featured The Dillards playing on their own, Judy and the rest of the cast joined them for a large production number near the end of the show which blended - sometimes well, sometimes uneasily - bluegrass, big band, jazz, and folk music. No matter how many changes were pushed through, The Judy Garland Show was never dull.

previously on Judy by the Numbers

Wednesday
Oct262016

Judy by the Numbers: "Vaudeville Medley"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

On September 29th, 1963, The Judy Garland Show finally premiered. With a backlog of several episodes already in the can, CBS chose to start the show with the seventh filmed episode, which guest-starred Donald O'Connor. Reviews of Judy were favorable, though reviewers were less enamored of Jerry Van Dyke and the variety show format. But unfortunately the network's fears about Bonanza were realized: The Judy Garland Show garnered a miserable (for the time) 18 rating, compared to Bonanza's juggernaut 35 rating. As always, the network and the production team was left scrambling to make new changes.

The Show: The Judy Garland Show Episode 7
The Songwriters: Various, arranged by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Jerry Van Dyke, Donald O'Connor, directed by Bill Hobin

The Story: Despite some dismal Nielson ratings, the Donald O'Connor episode would prove to be a sweet walk down memory lane for Judy Garland. Though they had never starred in a movie together, O'Connor and Garland knew each other from their days on Vaudeville, when O'Connor was a child dancer and Garland was still one of the Gumm Sisters. Garland and O'Connor reminisce, sing, and dance together, inadvertantly proving something Norman Jewison hadn't quite figured out yet: Judy Garland's power on television came from her long history on stage and screen. While Jewison would continue to make segments poking fun at Garland's legend, fans were tuning in precisely for that legend, and they were very protective of how their star was shown. As Saturday Evening Post reviewer Richard Sherman Lewis lamented,

"The absurd notion of debasing Judy's reputation as a legendary figure and molding her show into an imitation of other prosaic variety shows has been a disaster where it hurts most, in the audience polls."

Despite these protestations, Judy Garland - and by extension her show - would garner a devoted television fanbase that tuned in every Sunday night at 6pm.


previously on Judy by the Numbers