We're off to see the Wizard... 75 years later

Written by Maria Sciullo on .


Someone in our household wanted to watch "The Wizard of Oz" on VHS just about every day when she was little. So we know a bit about the MGM classic that is celebrating its 75th anniversary this weekend... oh yes, we do.

Various media sites are running those "(fill in a number) things you didn't know about "The Wizard of Oz," and for the most part, they are worth reading. Reminisce magazine has a particularly good feature with some nice images. 

Here's one of my own. When Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch sends the flying monkeys to harass Dorothy and her friends, she tells them she's sent an insect ahead to soften them up. It's a reference to a song and dance number that didn't make the final cut, called "The Jitterbug."

Although MGM's $2.7 million big film of 1939 had a splashy Hollywood premiere on August 15, then one in New York City several days later (with star Judy Garland performing), it actually debuted in the tiny Strand Theatre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin on August 12.

There are several theories to this, but the most common: the studio was eager to field test the movie in what it considered America's heartland. Some sources claim there was a similar early showing in Massachusetts as well.

Director Victor Fleming's film was initially a box-office dud. According to Box Office Mojo, it has since made about $23 million worldwide, but it's found a loving home on television. Broadcast in 1956 for the first time, it became a stand-alone TV event that ran on commercial TV until 1991. Those of a certain age will remember families gathering to watch, and how there was always a commercial break just after the Cowardly Lion freaked and jumped out the window in the Emerald City.

Today of course, the Wizard of Oz can be watched in any number of DVD versions, even rented on iTunes. Skipping down the yellow brick road on your iPhone? Now that is a horse of a different color.


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