Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm) was an American singer and actress whose family relocated from Grand Rapids, Minnesota to Lancaster in June 1926. In May of 1927, Garland's father, Frank Gumm, began leasing the old Lancaster Theater located on the west side of Antelope Avenue.
Along with changing its name to the Valley Theater, Frank installed a cooling system, replaced the old seating, and built a box office. With its large stage, this 500-seat theater was the perfect place for the young and talented "Gumm Sisters" to perform.
While living in Lancaster, Garland would often tell neighbors she wanted to become a movie actress, singer, and dancer when she grew up. Another favorite spot of young Garland included the Jazz Candy Shop, located near the Valley Theater; this was a popular hangout for teenagers and local business people.
Garland attended a few years at Lancaster Grammar School, as John Wayne did before her. The two-story brick building was located across the street from the Gillwyn Hotel (what is now the Western Hotel Museum) -- on your next visit, ask a docent to help you locate Garland's childhood footprints, imprinted in a cement slab in the courtyard of our historic museum!
"Gurba, Norma H. Legendary Locals of the Antelope Valley. Arcadia, 2013.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"