From Julie Andrew to Ginger Rogers, the Golden Age of movie musicals weren’t short of immensely talented, showstopping leading ladies. But in our opinion, no female star of classic Hollywood song and dance shone as brightly as Judy Garland. From Tony Awards to Grammy Awards to Emmy Awards to Academy Awards, “the little girl with the big voice” has triumphed on stage and on screen. Her unbridled energy and soaring performances have brought joy to millions, and continue to live on till this day. In tribute to the enduring legacy of an all-time great, we’re delighted to revisit some of Garland’s most iconic musical numbers.
“The Man That Got Away”
A Star Is Born (1954)
This is Garland at the height of powers, delivering the greatest vocal and acting number of her storied career. This performance is a genuine marvel of unfolding emotion and wrenching revelation, and you feel it in every lyric, thanks to Garland’s tremendous delivery.
“Somewhere Over The Rainbow”
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
It doesn’t get any more iconic than Judy’s turn as Dorothy Gale from Kansas. Although she was only 17 when she filmed this, you could already tell that Garland was something special. This wide-eyed performance was her breakout showcase, and is still her best-known role.
“The Trolley Song”
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Though this film featured many of the songs that became synonymous with Garland through the years – including “The Boy Next Door” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – it’s this infectious number, capturing the delight of falling in love, that stick with us the most.
Summer Stock (1950)
Even towards the tail end of Garland’s tenure at MGM, she still continued to wow in smaller films such as this underrated comedy gem, where she starred alongside Gene Kelly. This number in particular is a wonderful production, juxtaposing dark lyrics with sexy brightness.
“Ballin’ the Jack”
For Me and My Gal (1942)
Besides being a terrific actress and singer, Garland could also bust a move. Here she performs with the great Gene Kelly during his screen debut! This was when the 19-year-old Garland transitioned from being a teenage star to an adult actor – billed at the top of the credits for the first time in her career.
“I Want To Go Back To Michigan (Down On The Farm)”
Easter Parade (1948)
Starring alongside the legendary Fred Astaire, perhaps no other Garland performance is as singularly charming as this one. Bolstered by this wonderfully written song by Irving Berlin, Garland is thoroughly entertaining with her early turn as a wistful and naive chorus girl.
“On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe”
The Harvey Girls (1946)
Garland is known for heartbreaking drama and delightful whimsy, but this was where she proved herself to be an adept physical comedian as well. This corny Wild West caper also gave us a jaw-dropping, Oscar-winning ensemble number, led magnificently by Garland herself.
“I Got Rhythm”
Girl Crazy (1943)
The dream team of Garland and Mickey Rooney have resulted in 10 great films, but our favourite of their prolific partnerships has got to be this one. Garland absolutely knocks it out of the park with this swingin’ Sy Oliver arrangement of a classic George Gershwin tune.
The Judy Garland Show (1964)
While best known for her movie work, Garland also had a fantastic variety show on television during her later years. And while many of her performances there were incredible, nowhere is her matured voice more powerful than this deleted number, which CBS deemed “too dark.”
“Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son”
Presenting Lily Mars (1943)
Although the movie itself wasn’t amazing, this was a great showcase for Garland as a magnificent singer and a burgeoning comedienne. In one of her first adult roles, she’s winsome as the fresh-faced titular character, doggedly pursuing a career on Broadway.