Monday, August 17, 2009

Wizard of Oz- 70th Anniversary

Walking into the library this last week, you may have notice the cast of the Wizard of Oz standing in the entry way. This film classic was first released seventy years ago in 1939. This film classic based on the book by L. Frank Baum features Dorothy and her dog Toto. The two are swept into a tornado and land in a fictional place called Munchkinland. To get home she must go and see the Wizard of Oz, on the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. The cast includes Judy Garland as Dorothy, Frank Morgan as the Wizard, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Bert Lahr as the Lion, Jack Haley as the Tin Man and Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West. But did you know that before the rest of the world saw Judy Garland skip down the yellow brick, people in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin were already humming the soundtrack on their way home. The makers of “The Wizard of Oz” selected Oconomowoc as a test site to measure audience response before the movie went into worldwide release. The screening on August 12, 1939 was opened as a five-day run at the Strand Theatre in downtown Oconomowoc was billed locally as the movie’s world premiere.

Learn more about historic movie theatres of Wisconsin with Konrad Schiecke new book, as his book catalogs theatres, opera houses, community halls of the mid-19th century to the ornate movie palaces of the late 1920s and 30s. Around 900 Wisconsin theatres are arranged by town including our own Badger Theatre. This book is library use only and is located in our local history collection, so it will always be here to look at in the building.

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