Eight year old Judy sings "The Land of Let's Pretend"
in the 1930 film short Bubbles
Judy Garland was one of the most photograhped personalities of the 20th Century.
before she began with MGM in 1935, she had already been much
photographed as a child, and as a child performer. When she entered the
gates of MGM, she came under the control of the massive MGM Publicity
Department. MGM was the biggest and best studio, so naturally they had
the biggest and best publicity department.
Once the studio began to actually groom her for stardom, she would be photographed almost constantly.
is a part of the lives of Hollywood stars of the day that sadly, is
rarely mentioned by writers and historians today. Stars (and all
contract players) had to take singing, dancing and acting lessons
(regardless of whether they really COULD sing, dance or even act!) -
they had to take classes on "poise and manners" - they had to learn how
to dress and act in public, how to give interviews, and how to pose for
Portraits" were a vital part of the studio's publicity departments.
These pictures would go out (usually for free) to all the fan
magazines, newspapers, and other periodicals - all for the sole purpose
of publicizing their latest or upcoming film. The star power at the
various studios would be used, even if a star wasn't in a current
release, to at lease keep that studio's name in the public consiouness.
Example of publicity photos being used in advertising
and supporitng players spent endless days sitting for portraits.
Sometimes they were in costurme for the film they were making, and the
subsequent photos would be used in ads, posters, displays & lobby
cards to promote the film.
popular were publicity shots showing action from the films, and behind
the scenes action - like the "Oz" pictures that show the filming of the
movie. Usually these were used, like "Oz," to show how big and opulent
film sets were.
famously though, the stars (and soon-to-be-stars) would sit for
"Glamour Shots" or "stills" - beautifully done portraits. Some of these
portraits are, to this day, works of art. The studios enlisted some of
the greatest photographers of the 20th Century. George Hurrell was
famous for his portraits of Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, and other MGM
stars, including Judy.
Carpenter did most of the beautiful portraits of Judy during her years
with MGM. Clarence Sinclair Bull headed the portrait department for
four decades, and you can be sure the he did some of the lovely
portraits of Judy as well.
Judy left MGM - she would continue to sit for portraits, whether it was
for her work with Columbia & Capitol records and film and tv work.
Whatever the case, there are tons of wonderful photographs out there of
Judy which document her entire life.
Judy & Toto in a publicity pic from The Wizard Of Oz
Collecting movie and movie star photos (or "stills" as theiy're commonly called) is a fun and inexpensive hobby.
most popular of these are the 8x10's which were the standard (and still
are) for most publicity and glamour stills (see the column on the
left). Sometimes you can get original 8x10's from the time period, with
a white "border" that would have the name of the film, the star's
names, and the studio's name - and sometimes a quick line or two
describing the action. For stills of scenes from films, MGM would put
the production number of the film followed by the sequential number of
the still (see the photo from "Broadway Melody of 1938" below).
In her famous pantsuit - circa 1968
the advent of the Internet, so many great pictures from the golden
years of Hollywood have been traded, sold and given away because
collectors now have a much easier way to find each other. eBay and
other auction sites are great resources to find photos in all price
are other memorbilia specialty stores that can be found using any good
Internet search engine. But buyer beware! While most people on the
auction sites are reputable, there are a few who will sell you what
they call and 8x10 (technically it is), but it's really just a copy of
the original - sometimes even a badly scanned copy that's been printed.
But overall most people are honest about what they have. After a while,
you get a feel for the pictures and you can usually tell if pic is a
rare Judy pic came from the old MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. I
believe they're called "contact sheets" - it's a high quality B&W
picture - about 3'X5" in size. The production number 1484 is listed on
the side as is the date, January 23, 1950. It's obvious that Judy is in
costume for Summer Stock, although that isn't the production number
assigned to the film - or is it? That's Spencer Tracy chatting with
Judy. There is a slight crease on the left side of the picture, going
down part of Spencer's coat - but it's still a fun, unusual photo.
Casual pictures like these are always fun to find - showing the stars
just having a break (rare for Judy!) or out having fun.
Lana Turner, Judy, and Hedy Lamarr in a publicity photo for Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
Judy and Gene Kelly perform the title song in For Me And My Gal (1942)