Garland was one of the most photographed personalities
of the 20th Century...
Eight year old Judy sings "The
Land of Let's Pretend"
in the 1930 film short Bubbles.
before she began with MGM in 1935, she had already been
much photographed as a child and 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
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 "Studio Portraits."
"Studio 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 films. The star power at the various studios would be used, even
if a star wasn't in a current release, to keep that studio's name in the public
and supporting players spent endless days sitting for portraits.
Sometimes they were in costume for the film they were making,
and the subsequent photos would be used in ads, posters, displays & lobby
Also popular are 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 certain film sets were.
Most famously though, the stars (and soon-to-be-stars) would sit for "Glamour
Shots" or "stills". These were 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 was the head
of the portrait department for four decades, and you can
be sure the he did some of the lovely portraits of Judy
After 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.
The 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
should 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.
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 ranges.
There are other memorabilia 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 an 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 an 8z10 is a "copy."
The rare photo below left 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.
THANKS: A special
note of thanks to all the people out there who have
contributed many of the great photos and artwork in
this section: Eric Hemphill; Jamin Fowler; Kim Loeffler;
Simone Tarantelli; Mike Siewert; Mark Allen; & Richard