David Rose was the first of Judy Garland’s five husbands. They met when she was just 17 (and he was still married to Martha Raye), got engaged when she was 18, and married shortly after she turned 19. While the marriage ended in divorce in 1944, here’s a peek into their lives during happier days together.
The private life of Judy Garland Rose
This is about two young people who love chocolate ice cream, and music, and each other — in a way that will best answer those rumors you’ve heard about them
Automobiles, due to war priorities, may be limited in mileage and speed, but the Gar-Rose railroad is still running on schedule around an exclusive Brentwood estate. Of course, it doesn’t get its passengers anywhere in particular but it goes like sixty behind the playhouse, past the living room windows, out to the edge of the cliff and back again.
Occasionally, people in cars will glance upward and see a procession of heads moving like fury at the edge of the cliff and then suddenly and mysteriously disappearing around a turn. Visitors to Hollywood will stand and stare open-mouthed at this phenomenon until someone explains, “That? Oh, they’re riding on the miniature train that belongs to Dave Rose and Judy Garland. It runs around their estate. You ought to see the thing go.”
When Judy and Dave set out on their search for a home, they considered first a place for the train. Sometimes the house was ideal, but the grounds were too small for the Honeymoon Express. Real-estate agents, quick to adjust themselves to Hollywood’s demands, began telephoning, “I have a wonderful place I want you to see. The grounds would be swell for the train.”
The house that Judy and Dave finally found, they bought for its comfort, beauty and for the grounds, large enough for the Express to take the bends at forty miles an hour. After a year and a half of marriage, theirs is the story of most any pair of modern and successful young Americans, each with his own career, meeting the everyday little problems happily, facing the big ones of a war-racked world bravely. For the time is now drawing close when Dave will be joining the Army.
Hollywood hasn’t always been content to let Judy and Dave go their quiet way. Rumors of their separation have continued to crop up, like mushrooms after a heavy summer rain — or like whispers after a quarrel.
Judy says, “I won’t give life or dignity to any such reports by denying them,” and goes back to practicing her scales. Her music teacher is exacting. She must know her lessons or get her fingers thoroughly kissed between chords. Her teacher, of course, being her musician husband who is teaching his wife to read by note.
This is the culmination of an entire life for Judy which does not encompass so many years but is filled with the drama of a girl who fought her way from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and a family name of Gumm to Hollywood, its fame and its sudden riches.
It is not likely that she would let anything but catastrophe itself rob her of the man she says she loves most in all the world and the endearing relationship of marriage which she so treasures.
The private life of Judy Garland Rose is sweet, simple and filled with the things that are nearest to her heart. Judy and Dave bought most of the furnishings with the house. The living room, dining room and Judy’s bedroom and dressing room were bought just as they stood. Room was found for their own favorite pieces of furniture in the den, the music room and Dave’s bedroom. It’s the first time Dave has had a music room of his own and its steel filing cabinets and record cases are his special delights. It was Judy’s idea to have a huge bright red music cleft painted on the jet black linoleum that covers the floor and sets off the grass paper that covers the walls. In this room Dave does his studying and arranging for his four weekly radio shows.
It’s in the comfortable den with Judy’s favorite chairs and couches the two do most of their living. Together they’ll go to the living-room door and look in at its beauty, its rich blue carpets, its occasional chairs of silver and crimson, and say; “Gee isn’t it beautiful?” But the only time they’ve ever really used the room was when they gave their first and only big party for some twenty people. That was a time! The very day before the party, the maid walked out and left Judy flat. Almost any experienced housewife knows the awful feeling of panic such an event can produce.
To a young bride it can be the end of the world — only to Judy, somehow, it wasn’t. Accustomed to lightning-quick changes that can happen to show people on the move, Judy got up early the day of the affair, donned an apron and went to work, When her friend Betty Jane Graham came over, Judy was deep in carpet sweepers and mops. The two pitched in; time flew by.
The guests were due at eight. At 7:45, Judy was still in a bungalow apron, a nudge of dust across her slightly upturned nose and her red hair standing up in small frightened curls. But the caterers were busy in the kitchen, the table was set, the house was abloom with flowers everywhere, the fire blazed brightly in the living room. Fifteen minutes later Judy, a beautiful young matron, came down the stairs in her smart black dinner dress to meet a hurried husband blowing in from his radio broadcast two leaps ahead of the first guests.
All Judy’s household troubles ended with the older couple she was finally able get who stepped straight from heaven, to hear Judy tell it. Each morning, Judy gives the menu order for dinner and in be sure of deliciously cooked food waiting her at the end of a hard day’s work. And hard work is what we mean, with the whole day devoted, at times, to one scene, with a few lines of dialogue and one song repeated over and over for an exacting director.
A typical Judy menu for her and Dave will consist of roast lamb, mashed potatoes, gravy, two and often three vegetables, a green salad, and always dessert. Dave is the vegetable hound and likes a lot of them at once. If ever two people were born with a sweet tooth, it’s Dave and Judy. Pie with gobs of chocolate ice cream and most everything else chocolate is the favorite with the Roses. At night when Dave gets home from a the, broadcast they’ll go out to the kitchen and whip up chocolate malts on their own malt machine.
Each has his own whimsical likes and dislikes in food. Dave, for instance, loathes butter and can’t eat anything cooked in it. How to scramble eggs without some fat was always a worry for Judy until she visited Chicago. Dave had lived at the Blackstone Hotel for several years and bragged unceasingly about their wonderful scrambled eggs, so Judy sought out the Blackstone’s chef for an explanation. It was simple. He merely broke the eggs into a double boiler and stirred them gently over the heat from the boiling water. Judy is now a wow at double-boiler scrambled eggs. Her stirred-together salads of lettuce and hard-boiled eggs are eaten wholesale by the young set that are invited in for Sunday supper. But just before the salad dressing is added, Judy carefully dishes out her own plate of salad and, before eating, sprinkles it with some water — salad dressing being one of Judy’s “no like” phobias.
Judy and Dave like to eat most of their meals at home, with an occasional request for dinner. When Vaughn Paul was in New York, Deanna Durbin would come over on Sunday, spend the day, and have dinner with Dave and Judy. Sometimes Ann Shirley, Gene Tierney and Oleg Cassini will come in for dinner on Saturday night. But their closest friends are song writer Hal Arlen and his beautiful wife, Andra Tayranda of the stage.
The music of Hal, who wrote “Blues In The Night” and Judy’s own favorite “Over The Rainbow,” has brought a close affiliation between the Arlens and the Roses. There’s lots of good talk about music that results in many thrilling songs pouring out from the music room. Sometimes Dave talks about the background music for the Shirley Temple radio show, which he has been directing (the music, not the drama). It’s a once-a-week-at home for this group that movie audiences would give their eye teeth to hear. On Thursday nights, Dave and Judy have gone over to her married sister’s and had dinner with her mother who makes her home there since Judy’s marriage.
Holidays find the whole Gumm family and Dave’s mother at Judy’s with turkey and fixings and the strangest combination of all — pie, ice cream and beer, for those who like it. Judy takes milk with her desserts and still climbs into a size eleven dress. In fact, her extreme slenderness, following so quickly upon her natural plump roundness, has her studio greatly concerned.
Dave and Judy have a sort of gentleman’s agreement about clothes. When Judy first expressed a desire to go shopping with Dave he wisely declared he thought each should select his clothes. “I’ll never influence your selections,” he said, “and I think it should work both ways.” Judy agreed he was right.
Judy Garland’s love of games and decorations
A party for the convention of train owners was held this year at the Rose home, a convention that brought West the president of the Southern Pacific Railroad and other big men of industry who donned, in turn, their overalls and asbestos gloves to drive the engine at its top speed of forty miles an hour.
Traces of Judy’s “little girl” love of games and decorations have lingered about. Guests would obligingly step around the unfinished games on the floor before the den fireplace. Christmas time has always had a great big little-girl kick for Judy who spends days hanging holly and mistletoe. Of course, at times she has hung the outdoor wreaths with so much enthusiastic energy a nail hole or two remained behind, but at least i1 was fun doing one’s own pounding.
She’ll spend hours on her between picture days working out new table centerpieces, a white feather and flower arrangement being her favorite.
That Dave understands her “little girl’ complexes is evidenced by his gifts. He’ll come home of an evening not with the usual elaborate boxes of candy, but a_ huge sack clutched in one hand, a sack that contains every conceivable kind chocolate candy bar, mounds, rings, buds and nut clusters. This is Judy’s favorite type of candy. Perfume to Judy is something to decorate her dressing table Jewels, unless they are unusual pieces of inexpensive costume jewelry, interest her not at all. No one has ever heard Judy exclaim over an elaborate frock or fur coat. But a peasant blouse, a dirndl skirt or unusual sweater sends her off into reams of descriptive phrases, all favorable.
Before her marriage, Judy couldn’t wait to grow up, to grow past the Mickey Rooney pictures, to get into sophisticated womanhood. Judy has grown up far beyond those aims. “I hope I can always make pictures with Mickey,” she says, “They are such fun to make and have such a warm appeal for everyone.”
To Ava Gardner, Mickey’s bride, went Judy’s own hope chest filled with new linens. Sometimes the four will get together for dinner and games afterwards. Between Judy and Mickey exists a rare and wonderful friendship to which the marriage of each has brought only deeper understanding.
Marriage has also given to Judy the courage to be young, to be herself. With pigtails, bobby socks and gingham skirt, Judy will appear at the studio for her daily stints. In fact, the only occasion that calls for high heels, hat and gloves is Judy’s recording day, the day she sings her songs before the picture begins. “But why dress up to make recordings?” a friend will ask. Even Judy seems puzzled when put right to it, nevertheless the gesture stands.
Dave and Judy never visit each other during their working hours. The only exception was the day Dave made recordings for Victor records. Judy was so impressed at the honor accorded Dave, she dressed up in her best and sat entranced during the procedure. Three nights a week, when Judy isn’t too fatigued, are given over to movie-going.
She and Dave have seen all the good movies as they were shown. For hours at a time, Dave and Judy would “borrow” little Judy Sherwood, the three-year-old niece named after her aunt. Little Judy has always occupied a deep and special place in the heart of big Judy.
Judy Garland is an intense, emotional girl who feels deeply and keenly. The blackouts fill her with terror not for her own safety alone but for the suiffering and hurts to others that might come. She’ll lie awake all night in the dark after a raid warning, her heart aching with the dread of it all. She can’t bear to drive with anyone who exceeds a twenty-five-mile speed limit.
Tense and nervous, she sits on the edge of her seat, miserable and unhappy. Dave Rose, older in years and experience, is, on the contrary, calm and quiet. Judy needs that quietness, that calmness, almost as badly as a thirsty man does water. To make her feel more secure and to provide a place for her friends, Dave has consented to have the outdoor playroom converted into a shelter to be used during raid warnings. Dave was absent during one blackout, and like a child Judy tore out of her own house and down the hill to her sister’s home.
The financial arrangement of their home has been worked out perfectly. Dave has taken over the expenses of the home and Judy has bought her own clothes or little gifts. A small bank on the den mantel labeled “Trip Bank” received all the change Dave and Judy collected during the day and when vacation time rolled around the pair had a bank night in their own home with all the change counted up to defray expenses. The “Trip Bank” furnished the cash for the extras on the last trip Judy and Dave made to New York. A Business agent manages the funds of each, allowing to each only a set sum for weekly expenses. Judy is allotted twenty-five dollars a week. Since she almost always forgets to put any money into her purse, it just so much gravy to Judy.
Judy Garland: Sentimental
Their beloved sport of taking a Sunday drive in Dave’s open convertible with Judy’s hair flying free had to be given up, not due just to conservation, but because only month or two ago someone stole the car from Sunset Boulevard while Judy and Dave were having dinner.
The “hair flying” meant little to Judy who does her own, even to washing and drying it with her recently purchased secondhand dryer. In the morning when not working, Judy will twist her hair about bobby pins, tie her head up in a scarf and, when evening comes, appear with a beautiful coiffure. Their two dogs, Judy’s miniature poodle, named “Choo-Choo” after the train, and Dave’s schnauzer, have adjusted themselves to living in one household by simple expedient of ignoring each other completely. Even when engaged in their faro tie sport of train riding, the two would take elaborate measure to ignore the existence of each other — to the amusement of Dave and Judy.
Judy is sentimental. On her finger is a small plain wedding ring, borrowed from her own mother for the wedding. It is still there – a mark of love from “a family girl” for her husband, her very own private family. Of all her accomplishments — her brilliant acting, her radio work, her singing – the one that most thrills her husband’s heard is Judy’s success as a writer.
Dave will come home from his radio work to find his wife sitting cross-legged, like a little girl, in the middle of her bed, her copybook on her lap, her left hand scratching out her thoughts on the white pages. Already she’s sold several stories, but it’s one lengthy beautiful poem that Dave loves and hopes one day to set to music.
“When people say, ‘My, you have much to be thankful for,’ I wonder if they think I don’t realize I have?” Judy said, between her numbers on the “Me And My Gal” set.
“There’s never a night before I go to sleep that I don’t count my blessings. I have the work I love, the man I wanted to marry, I’ve had a home I’ve loved. Even if I have to tie it up for a while, even if Dave has to go away — for a while — I’m still a lucky girl.
“I think back sometimes to those unhappy days when the kids in our neighborhood snubbed me because I was in show business; how they’d eat my birthday ice cream and cake but wouldn’t stay to play; of that little theater right over in Alhambra where the matinee kids threw their lunches at me when I sang in vaudeville and broke my heart. And then I think of now and I just can’t thank God enough….”
Judy was perhaps thinking also of that night when the Gumm family had completed the final preparations for their daring journey from the poverty and heartbreak of Minnesota to the happy, inviting sunshine of California. The bags were packed, all of the furniture had been disposed of; even the piano with the lemonade rings on the lid was to be left behind. The Gumms were on their way.
There remained only a last chance for the Gumm Sisters Trio to sing at the County Fair nearby. Very little money, but money just the same — that extra $15 added to the $200 that had been accumulating all summer and all autumn, would make the success of the trip ahead that much more certain.
Burdened with the cares of last-minute preparations, the family slipped up in its eternal vigilance and left the house door unlatched when it went to the Fair. It was a common ordinary thief who took their savings. At least that was what the police conjectured. The Gumms never saw the thief, they only saw their dream turning into Minnesota dust…