Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Gene & Judy at MGM, Pt. 2
Director Charles Walters yelled for quiet on the set and then in a much quieter voice asked Judy, “Darling, are you ready to rehearse the number yet?”
“Rehearse it?” barked Judy. “Hell, I’m ready to shoot it! Don’t waste everyone’s time, Buster—let the film roll!”
There was much nervous laughter; Walters didn’t want to offend the emotional star, so he played along. “OK crew—you heard her—action!”
Gene whispered to Sydney, “Are they really going to do this without a rehearsal?”
“It would appear so!”
Out came the clapboard, “Get Happy—take one! Playback—begin!” CLACK!
The trumpets from the prerecorded number blared over the loudspeaker. The tuxedoed dancers performed their steps in a circle, with Judy not yet visible to the camera. When the introduction quieted down to a pulsing beat, the dancers stepped away and revealed Judy, standing casually against a backdrop of a pink sky with white fluffy clouds. Looking young and refreshed, Judy lip-synched perfectly to the playback, moving effortlessly through the routine. Gene watched in awe; she couldn’t believe that this was the same person that MGM was ready to write-off as a loss only a few months before.
At the end of the number, Judy was all smiles as she tipped her fedora to the crew. Chuck Walters applauded wildly as did the rest of those on set. Judy had done the number perfectly—in one take! Her entourage surrounded her quickly with a towel and water; she politely waved them off as she made her way over to Gene and Sydney. Judy gave Gene a big hug and said, “What are you doing here on your day off? Surely you have better things to do than to watch me do this pitiful little number!”
“Pitiful?” exclaimed Gene. “That has got to be one of the most memorable musical numbers I have EVER seen!”
“You are too kind, my dear! Now come on back to my dressing room—we have a lot to catch up on!”
As the set cleared and everyone went home, Judy and Gene locked arms, laughing and giggling uncontrollably along the way to Judy’s dressing room. After quite some time, a knock at the trailer door interrupted the two. Judy opened the door to reveal Sydney.
“Judy—they need your outfit back in wardrobe and your assistant has already left. Would you be a dear?”
Turning to her friend, Judy said, “Gene, I have to take this outfit back to wardrobe; how about going with me? It seems we’ve gabbed so long that my assistant has already gone home! Some assistant!”
“I’d love to, Judy!” Gene replied. “I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the other costumes you get to wear, too—I am so jealous of all those beautiful designs! What I wouldn’t give to wear some of the gorgeous outfits Walter Plunkett, Irene, and Helen Rose created for you!”
At that, Judy’s mouth crinkled into a devilish smile as an idea popped into her head. Without any notice, she grabbed Sydney and Gene’s hands and started pulling them with her.
“Judy, what are you doing? I need to get home to walk the dogs,” said Sydney.
“Sydney, with what they pay you here, you can afford a new rug if they leave a mess! Come with me, you two!”
Next thing Gene knew, they were at the wardrobe department. Helen Rose was getting ready to close up for the day.
“Oh thank you so much, Judy. I appreciate you bringing this back to us.”
“Just how much do you appreciate it, Helen?” Judy shot back with a grin. She whispered something in Helen’s ear; Sydney and Gene looked back and forth at each other, puzzled.
“Oh Judy, I really don’t know…I’m not sure if we’re allowed to do that.”
“Whatever she asked, Helen, just do it; you know as well as I do that there’s just no saying ‘no’ to Judy!” said Sydney, happily exasperated.
“I’m glad you feel that way, Sydney!” said Judy with a smirk. “Because I need a little help from you as well! Get a photographer from publicity, help Gene into my ‘Get Happy’ costume, and we’ll meet back on the set for photos!”
Both Helen and Sydney rolled their eyes, but knew they were helpless. Who could resist the bewitching charms of Judy Garland?
“Gene—your wish is going to come true today!” Judy said to her confused friend.
In part 3, see Gene model more of Judy's famous costumes. Follow my Gene Marshall updates on Twitter. See more Gene Marshall & Friends photos at my regular website.