Celebrate Judy Garland's 100th Birthday By Revisiting 10 Of Her 'Best of Broadway' Performances | Playbill

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Lists Celebrate Judy Garland's 100th Birthday By Revisiting 10 Of Her 'Best of Broadway' Performances

The legendary performer often highlighted underappreciated musicals on The Judy Garland Show.

Judy Garland at Falkoner Centret in March 1969
Judy Garland at Falkoner Centret in March 1969

Today, June 10, would have been Judy Garland's 100th birthday. To celebrate the centennial, we here at Playbill have gathered ten of Judy's illustrious musical theatre covers from The Judy Garland Show.

Garland was of the era when "show tunes" and "popular music" might as well have been synonymous. What we know today as the American Songbook is filled to the brim with songs from the musical theater, and Garland's career was built on recording many of these standards (and in some cases, turning them into standards herself). 

While the eponymous show only ran for one season (from 1963 to 1964), it is a treasure trove of top notch performances from the legend. Garland was fond of celebrating underappreciated musicals alongside the classics, and these ten clips feature songs from musicals that just might become your new favorite.

"Who Cares" from Of Thee I Sing

Garland honored the first musical to ever win the Pulitzer Prize, Of Thee I Sing, on the very first episode of The Judy Garland Show. "Who Cares" has gone on to become a Gershwin standard, appearing most recently on Broadway in An American in Paris. It was one of Garland's favorites, and she even performed it at her legendary Judy at Carnegie Hall concert.

"Too Late Now" from MGM's Royal Wedding

Garland was signed to play Ellen opposite Fred Astaire in the MGM film Royal Wedding, but she was fired from the film and replaced by Jane Powell during rehearsals. The snub was the turning point in her time at MGM; her contract was cancelled shortly after.  Fans got a glimpse of what could of been when Garland performed "Too Late Now."

The song, written by Broadway stalwarts Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane, was nominated for Best Song at the 1951 Academy Awards. Rumors of a live adaptation of the film have been bandied about for years, but have yet to come to fruition.

Dancing on a Dime and No Strings Medley

The first of many Broadway medley's on The Judy Garland Show opened Episode 2, when Garland was joined by Count Basie and his orchestra to perform a blend of "I Hear Music" from Dancing On A Dime, "The Sweetest Sounds" from No Strings, and "Strike Up The Band" from the musical of the same name. 

No Strings, which was the only Broadway musical to feature both music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers, had opened the season before The Judy Garland Show premiered, and was still running when this performance aired. Diahann Carroll was the first Black woman to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in the show, and Garland later had Carroll on the show to perform a medley of Harold Arlen and Richard Rodgers songs.

"Come Rain or Come Shine" from St. Louis Woman

Garland performed "Come Rain or Come Shine" from St. Louis Woman several times throughout her career, but this rendition from Episode 3 of The Judy Garland Show is perhaps the sweetest.

Performed to her daughter, legend in her own right Liza Minnelli, Garland can hardly control her glee whenever she catches a glimpse of Minnelli in the corner of her eye.

"Together Wherever We Go" from Gypsy

And speaking of Minnelli, we couldn't possibly leave out this remarkable what-could-have-been moment. The mother-daughter duo performed "Together Wherever We Go" from Gypsy, sparking fans to dream of what Judy Garland's Momma Rose could have looked like in a full production. After all, Garland herself had a stage mother who was cut from the same cloth.

"If Love Were All" from Bitter Sweet

Garland performed Noël Coward's "If Love Were All" from Bitter Sweet to open Episode 4 of The Judy Garland Show. The lonely tune was autobiographical for Coward, and Garland adopted it as her own personal anthem in the later years of her life, performing it in the majority of her concerts.

"Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries" from Scandals

Garland performed this Brown and Henderson classic on her penultimate episode, when the show had strayed from talk show format into a televised concert setup. 

"Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries" was first introduced by Ethel Merman in 1931 for George White's Scandals, and came back to Broadway in 1999 as the opening song for Fosse

Sophie Medley

Garland highlighted the mostly forgotten musical Sophie, based on the life of vaudeville star Sophie Tucker (you may remember her as the performer name checked in Chicago's song "Roxie") in a special medley with the shows composer-lyricist, Steve Allen.

Incidentally, Allen was also the first host of The Tonight Show, and is credited as the originator of the late night talk show trend. (Which of today's late night hosts would you like to see write a musical?)

Mr. Wonderful Medley With Jack Carter

A great comedic talent in addition to her iconic voice, Garland teamed up with Jack Carter to impersonate some of Broadway's greatest duos (Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton in Annie Get Your Gun, Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi in South Pacific, and Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady) before launching into a medley of songs for Mr. Wonderful, which had starred Carter and Garland's friend Sammy Davis Jr.

"Here's to Us" from Little Me

Garland's final performance on The Judy Garland Show was the plaintive "Here's To Us" from Little Me. A personal favorite of Garland's, she campaigned to appear in a film version of the musical should it ever be made, and this song was played at her funeral five years later.

She rewrote one phrase of the lyrics on the fly, rendering it all the more personal: "Here's to us, for letting me do what I'll do to the end of my days."

Remembering the Great Roles of Judy Garland

 
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