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Summer Stock finished filming in February of 1950. But after viewing the footage, MGM executives felt that it needed a rousing finale. So the crew was called back to complete that extra special something in March.
At the time, Judy Garland was on vacation, taking a much needed rest. However, she happily agreed to return under the condition that the new song would be “Get Happy,” a number she had always wanted to perform.
“Get Happy” was the first song that composer Harold Arlen and lyricist Ted Koehler wrote together, and it made its debut in a revue in the 1930s. The duo continued their collaboration and wrote other well-known hits such as “Stormy Weather” and “Let’s Fall in Love.” Arlen was also known for co-writing the Academy Award winning song "Over the Rainbow" for The Wizard of Oz (read about that song here).
Speaking about Arlen, Judy said, “He is an amazing man because he can write 'Over the Rainbow,' which has a childlike, wistful quality, and yet, he can then turn and write 'Come Rain or Come Shine.'"
Saul Chaplin, who arranged the song for the film, recalled, “It was very complicated. I played it for Judy, and after the second or third time, she knew it. She was there the following Tuesday, and she did it in three takes. It was like magic.”
Garland’s rendition of “Get Happy” was just what Summer Stock needed. The stylish choreography and that iconic costume combined with her dynamic singing created the film’s strongest number. In fact, the song became so closely associated with Judy that she continued to perform it in her stage shows.
She even performed a version of it on her television series in 1963 with Barbra Streisand, as a mash-up with "Happy Days Are Here Again." Remembering the duet, Streisand said, “Such a special moment in my career. She was incredible. Totally unique.”
The song continued to hold a special place in Garland's heart too, as she kept the black felt fedora for the rest of her life. In 2010, it was sold at auction for $10,000.