The Judy Garland Show (1963)
Judy Garland was a huge star, but at age 41, her star power had faded and she was having financial difficulties. Her agent Freddie Fields signed Garland with CBS Television for a weekly variety show that would pay her handsomely and reward her with ownership of the tapes after they aired. The show, as one journalist described it, was “sometimes stirring and memorable, other times mediocre and old hat.”
The Judy Garland Show could be accused of being overproduced and burdened with a fake format. Producers and crew were hired and fired. Instead of letting Garland simply sing, CBS insisted she have tea with her guests, be cognizant of how often she touched them, and quibble on screen with her costar Jerry Van Dyke over “budgetary concerns” about the show. Of course, Judy Garland also sang all of her big hits and dueted with great stars like Lena Horne, Mickey Rooney, Mel Torme ... and Barbra Streisand.
Agents David Begelman and Freddie Fields of CMA handled Garland and also wanted Streisand as a client. “[Begelman and Fields] kept calling me,” Marty Erlichman recalled, “two, three times a day. I knew they booked the Garland show, so I said, ‘Okay, you get us Judy’s show and you got Barbra.’ They did it, and we signed.”
Garland rehearsed the show on Thursdays and Fridays (5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.), then taped the final show Friday nights – 9:00 p.m.
Barbra Streisand and the Smothers Brothers were Judy’s guests for episode 9, taped at Studio 43 at CBS Television City in Los Angeles.
The CBS executives were impressed with the show and asked that it be edited and broadcast two days after it was taped.
Streisand reflected that, “Extraordinary talent went into the making of this show. The director was Norman Jewison, the musical director was Mort Lindsey and Mel Torme did special musical material. There's also a brief visit by the wonderful Ethel Merman — but most of all there was Judy Garland. Miraculous ... soulful ... divine ... Singing these duets with her was sheer bliss. I was 21 years old.”
Barbra Streisand received her first Emmy nomination for her appearance on The Judy Garland Show — “Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program.” (Danny Kaye won that year).
In 2005, Barbra reminisced about working with Garland in an interview with Diane Sawyer. Barbra said, “[Garland] was great. She was wonderful. Loved her ... I was very secure then. I was only 21, I think. I wasn't afraid of failure or anything. But it was interesting to see someone who was so great and so famous and so gifted ... She was drinking Liebfraumilch—you know, a white wine—and her hands were shaking and she was holding onto me. I thought, what was this about? As one grows older, what is this fear? And I understand it now.”
Above: a page from the Garland Show shooting script, with a couple of changes to the final dialogue. Also, above: Another Ray Aghayan costume sketch for Barbra's opening number outfit.
“She was holding my hand and I thought, ‘Gee, she seems nervous.’ At that time, I wasn’t nervous. I was still very young, I think, about to do ‘Funny Girl,’ and now, when I think back on it, I think, ‘Oh, my God, I know exactly what she’s feeling.’ Or, you know, the fears. It’s like, as you get older and people are kind of looking for you to fail more, I think—not people, not the audience—but, you know, critics or producers or whatever. And I just felt her. I felt her anxiety. . . . Part of me is much more relaxed than I’ve ever been, less frightened, less anxious. On the other hand, it’s a coming-of-age-thing, and she was much younger than I am, but there are things with careers. . . . I just understand the anxiety even though in a sense I’m calmer. It’s a dichotomy. It’s hard to explain. . . . You wonder, ‘Well, do I give it up? Do I retire? Or do I get more in before my time is up?’”
— Barbra Streisand. National Public Radio interview, 2012
Below: It's hard to discern colors on a black-and-white program, but Barbra Streisand actually wore a burgundy-colored sailor top during her “tea time” segment with Garland and Merman. The sailor tops were auctioned in 2004.
Below, the famous duet between Streisand and Garland, each singing their signature songs:
Below: Roddy McDowall photography books with his color and black-and-white shots from the taping of the Garland show...CLICK TO ORDER FROM AMAZON.
[ top of page ]