JUDY IN HOLLYWOOD (continued)
By Tracy Terhune
CBS… C. B. S.
We all gathered in anticipation at CBS Television City at 9:30am to get a guided
tour of Stage 43 by George Sunga, no less! Our tour would start and begin at
the same place, the CBS Artist entrance. Since I had been on the same tour on
JIH #1 the area was familiar to me. Jan and Frankie had put together a tri-fold
brochure of archival photos provided by various people that showed people including
Judy, Joey and Lorna all coming and going up/down the very same steps with the
very same red railings still in place today just as they were 50 years ago.
Inside the lobby our names were checked off a list on a clipboard by a young CBS
page. Once the full group was together we went down the fabled hall, the very
same path that Judy took upon her daily arrival at CBS. The hallways were
adorned with oversize photos of various artists associated with the network.
Jack Benny, Carol Barnett, Dinah Shore. I looked for Judy but did not see any.
However there were many more corridors that perhaps hers was down there. We
were whisked to the right and a huge freight elevator was made available so we
could all fit in at one time and the elevator slowly ascended to the 2nd floor.
Once we reached the floor and the lift opened, we were almost blocked in by
various props used on the Price Is Right show. We navigated past several
`games' spin dials, etc., which were in our path. George Sunga led the troupe
and he stopped at a particular spot, and noted that all that we had seen behind
us was added since Judy's show. He showed the separation in the floor and hall
and that Judy's trailer had been right here at this location.
yellow brick road had been painted on the floor leading to the door of Stage 43.
This was the same route Judy took to the stage from her dressing room! Once you
opened the door at Stage 43 there was a narrow short corridor that lead you
directly into Stage 43. How exciting to be tracing the same steps Judy took
each day she shot the 26 episodes of the show.
to find the lights. He only turned on what was called the work lights which
still left the stage pretty dark. Also, different from last time (JIH#1) we had
all the lights on, there was a larger area in the middle of the stage where a
group photo was taken. Sadly, this time there was no room for such a photo op.
However I got a few shots of the stage and George patiently explaining where
everything was located such as Judy's runway, and the orchestra., where the
regular guests sat, where the VIP section was.
George Sunga and Eleanor Lyon
I remember looking at the padded walls, a typical sound stage of course, but
thinking these very same walls at one time boomed with the sounds of The Judy
Garland Show. I inquired of George Sunga what door the audience came in from,
as we had just entered the door Judy used.
All these questions and more, were answered. George went to great
lengths to explain many of the technical obstacles of 1963 vs how easy it is
today. What an experience for a Judy Garland fan! Once back outside we were
treated to first-hand recollections by Bench Wench Eleanor Lyon. She audibly
recalled so many wonderful in person memories of waiting for Judy to arrive/exit
the various tapings of the show, that it seemed to all be a surreal dream to be
standing right there, in the very spot where all of her stories took place.
Wonderful is an understatement. Thank you SO much Eleanor.
Then everyone was on their own for lunch. Most dashed over to the famed
Farmer's Market that resides next door. Everyone would later gather for the
grand finale at Matteo's restaurant that evening.
I arrived a bit early for this evening. Overly excited perhaps, as I had
already been informed that I was to sit at George Schlatter's table. Me? at
the table of the original producer of The Judy Garland Show?! I couldn't even
believe he had agreed to attend the event, now I was to sit at his table!
I wanted to be there to absorb every detail and as fate would have it, it was a
night we will all remember, and for good reason. As I got there, audio
equipment was still being set up by Richard Glazier and Frank Labrador. Details
of who's sitting where, were being settled. Stella was placed at the top of the
stairwell to check guests in against the list. First to arrive was Joe Luft who
was his usual quiet, reserved self. Graciously, he posed with photos for anyone
who asked him. He answered all questions with a quiet dignity. I got a photo
taken with him as well as taking one pairing him with the just-arrived Margaret
O'Brien. What a treat!
Margaret O'Brien and Joe Luft
Within moments a booming, commanding voice was heard. Yes, George Schlatter had
arrived solo. Richard Glazier introduced him within moments in the lobby to
Frank Labrador and told him about the JGS documentary Frank was working on. I
happened to be standing there (fancy that!) and I joined the chorus of verbal
praise of the documentary. George was asking Frank what he planned to do with
his material, and then asked about the rights to the photos. After every answer
from Frankie, George had a "… then what?" rebuttal. Not mean, it was just he
wanted to know the details. I injected that the real "gem" of the documentary
was the original audio interviews that Steve Sanders had conducted that have
remained unheard for over 25 years. George nodded at that. He quickly waved
Frankie and I out onto the adjacent patio saying it would be cooler. There for
the next almost 40 minutes George Schlatter held court.
Tracy Terhune, George Schlatter, and Frank Labrador
Boosted by a round or two of Grey Goose on the rocks, he began to tell his Judy
Garland Show stories and then would stop himself. begin laughing & saying…. `
I'm going to get into SOOOO much trouble tonight…" At first it was just Frankie
and I there, then others began to gather around.
When I mentioned or referred to Steve's book Rainbow's End he drew a blank.
I went to our dinner table and fetched my copy that I had brought with me.
He took the book looked it over, saying he had never owned nor read the completed book.
He began to thumb through Rainbows End and even began to read aloud passages
from it and then George would tell us his version of the story he had just read.
George then told us one particular story then returned to look thought the book,
turned the page, and there was that very story he had just told us! He seemed
very pleased at pointing that out. He admitted that the book was fantastic and
asked for a copy if anyone had one. Frankie said he would make sure he got one.
George Schlatter, Meredith Ponedel, and Joan Beck Coulson
Did I mention he held court? At one point he noticed Meredith Ponedel standing
off to the side, silent just taking all this in. He leaned over telling her to
"keep it down" and everyone laughed. Meredith introduced herself and her
family association with Judy. Joan Coulson came over and introduced herself.
She talked about her book and the use of photos. She asked if she could use
some of George's photos. He grasp her hand and leaned in saying in a stage
whisper "….well, you may have to fool around a little…" and everyone including
George had a laugh. Story after Garland story was told. He howled at the
mention of Mel Torme's name. He said that Mel always tried to write as if he
was at the center of decisions when in truth he was just an musical arranger.
He also said that he did not believe Mel's book that said Judy called him late
night… He said that yes Judy called people but that Mel was down here (to
emphasize he leaned from the table and put his hand near the floor) on the list
of whom she'd call. Not finished, he said why would she call Mel? that Mel was
more F*@!#! Up than she was. Talk about being saved by the bell.. dinner was
starting and everyone made their way to their seats. The impromptu discussion
on the patio was something truly memorable. The unchecked candor of Mr. George
Schlatter was refreshing.
The official start of the evening had our wonderful producer Jan Glazier thank
everyone and turned it over to Richard Glazier who introduced our guests.
Margaret O'Brien came up and spoke a few words. Joe Luft as well as Margaret
were introduced in short well done videos. Then introduced as a "legend" who's
joined us I assumed he was going to introduce George Schlatter, but imagine my
shock when he called the name of Randall Malone. What? Well soon George
Schlatter as well as George Sunga were introduced to a round of applause.
Dinner was served and was quite good and the hostess was prompt about refilling
water glasses and small requests that people may have. Just before desert,
George Schlatter leaned over to George Sunga and said that we need to get this
going… that he couldn't be there all night. George Sunga informed those that
need be, and without delay the show was started. I never did get desert that
night. However the show to unfold was sheer 30 minutes of POW. George Sunga
introduced George Schlatter and without much prodding, George began to tell his
stories of the series and even called out to the audience to Joe Luft saying
"your father… what a piece of work" but it was done in jest and good fun. He
loved seeing Margaret O'Brien and they got on a back-and-forth banter with each
other that was quite funny and lively. Judy Garland stories, just as on the
patio poured forth and all of us were the dry sponges to absorb the clever,
funny, stories first hand.
Margaret OBrien, Sam Irvin, Joe Luft, and George Schlatter
When the famed producer stepped down from his stool, the party was over.
Everyone seemed to swarm our table to get a photo with George to catch his ear
for one more question. He was gracious to accommodate everyone. He did come
talk with both Margaret and Joey before he left for the evening. While the
event was taped, George Sunga who arranged Mr. Schlatter's appearance that
evening allowed the taping ONLY on the provision that no copies could be made
without Mr. Schlatter's permission, and he had the final edit rights and also
could nix things should he feel he didn't want that material released.
Ruth Turner stepped forward to present a small bouquet of flowers to Jan Glazier
in a small token of gratitude from all of us.
Ruth Turner and Jan Glazier
Thus the curtain came down on Judy In Hollywood II
I am thankful to all the old friends and new that I met at JIH II It goes
without saying the guiding force of the brilliant Steve Sanders was evident
throughout the whole weekend and his loss to the Judy community will be felt for
years to come.
Image by Allen Morris