“Judy Garland is a pert, persuasive and amazingly sympathetic little Dorothy.” – Edwin Schallert, 1939
August 10, 1939: The Wizard of Oz had its world premiere in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The world premiere was previously thought to have been in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, but recent research has proven that to be false.
The reality is that the Hollywood premiere was originally scheduled for August 10th but was moved to the 15th at almost the last minute. The film was already scheduled for several dates in several spots around the country and those engagements were not changed. According to newspaper records, the film was scheduled to premiere in several cities and towns in the midwest on August 11 although its first showing was on August 10th in Green Bay, Wisconsin, followed by August 11: Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Kenosha, Neenah, and Appleton, Wisconsin; August 12: Oconomowoc, Wisconsin; August 13: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Racine, Rhinelander, and Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Oconomowoc has laid claim to being the location of the film’s world premiere on August 12th, and it was reported as such for several decades, but in fact the film actually (and quietly) premiered August 10th in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In fact, since the film had been playing for a couple of days in Green Bay there was time for their paper to publish an early review of the films (see August 12 entry).
Images above: Clippings from the “Green Bay Press-Gazette,” Green Bay, Wisconsin, from August 9, 10, 11, & 12 (last two).
August 10, 1939: This review of The Wizard of Oz appeared in the “Film Daily” trade paper.
“The Wizard of Oz”
with Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley
HANDSOMELY MOUNTED FAIRY STORY IN TECHNICOLOR SHOULD CLICK SOLIDLY AT THE BOX OFFICE.
Leo the Lion is privileged to herald this one with his deepest roar – the one that comes from way down – for seldom if indeed ever has the screen been so successful in its approach to fantasy and extravaganza through the medium of flesh-and-blood. And if the You in Heart, to whom Metro dedicates the Mervyn LeRoy production in a foreword, have not wholly disappeared from the earth’s face, this handsomely mounted fairy story in Technicolor, with its wealth of humor and homespun philosophy, its stimulus to the imagination, its procession of unforgettable settings, its studding of merry tunes should click solidly at the box-office. And this despite the fact that there is no boy-meets-girl, but, instead, girl-meets-scarecrow-tinman-and-lion. And, of course, wicked and good witches and that old humbug, Oz’s wizard, who, too, hails from Kansas.
From the creative standpoint, set down the picture as a corking achievement all the way through. The screen play by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf has been fashioned with obvious determination to preserve the full flavor of L. Frank Baum’s book, and the adaptation by Noel Langley is in kind. Naturally, there are innovations, just as there were departures in the stage extravaganza which, for four or five years, served Fred Stone and Dave Montgomery on Broadway. But the essence is there, faithfully, and that’s what counts. Victor Fleming, directing, carries the action forward at sustained pace, no minor accomplishment in a musical extravaganza when song and dance are necessary interruptions. Story starts (in sepia) on the Kansas farm where Dorothy (Judy Garland) lives with Uncle Henry (Charley Grapewin), Auntie Em (Clara Blandick), Toto, her canine pet, and the three farmhands, “Hung” (Ray Bolger), “Zeke” (Bert Lahr) and “Hickory” (Jack Haley), the three latter to turn up at Oz as the brainless strawman, the heartless tinman and the cowardly lion.
Running away from home because Miss Gulch (Margaret Hamilton), later a wicked witch, would turn Toto over to the sheriff, Dorothy meets Prof. Marvel (Frank Morgan), afterwards the wizard, whose second-sight sends her scurrying home. Come the Kansas twister and Dorothy is whirled away to encounter those astounding adventures in Oz, land of witches, diminutive munchkins, haunted forests and the Emerald City where the unseen wizard rules. All in all, it spells surcease from cares, tribulations and taces – just what the doctor ordered. Well played (and sung), the best remembered performances are turned in by Lahr, who well nigh steals the picture; Judy Garland, Bolger, Haley and Morgan who make the most of the opportunities for make-believe. Miss Hamilton and Billie Burke are effective as the contrasting wicked and good witches, while Singer’s Midgets have a field day as the Munchkins. On the musical side, count these numbers as hits: “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” “The Merry Land of Oz,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” “Over the Rainbow” and “Ding-Dong! the Witch Is Dead.” There’s splendid staging of musical numbers by Bobby Connolly, and Harold Arlen who did the tunes and E.Y. Harburg who wrote the lyrics can take a couple of bows. Finally, too, can Harold Gillespie, who devised the special effects, and Harold Rosson, who handled the camera.
CAST: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Berth Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin, Pat Walshe, Clara Blandick and the Singer Midgets.
CREDITS: Producer, Mervyn LeRoy; Director, Victor Fleming; author, L. Frank Baum; screen play, Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf; adaptor, Noel Langley; music, Harold Arlen; lyrics, E. Y. Harburg; musical adaptor, Herbert Stothart; musical numbers, Bobby Connolly, camera man, Harold Rosson; sound, Douglas Shearer; film editor, Blanche Sewell.
August 10, 1939: Two more items from the “Film Daily” trade magazine, chronicling Judy and Mickey Rooney’s tour of the eastern seaboard on their way to New York for the NY premiere of The Wizard of Oz.
The text for the two notices:
“JUDY GARLAND and MICKEY ROONEY will be in New Haven today for a personal appearance, arriving in New York Monday. They will make a. p. a. [a personal appearance] here next week when Metro’s “Wizard of Oz” opens at the Capitol.”
There can be something new under the sun ..… witness Metro’s plans for the first cocktail-less cocktail party ….. ever given for movie stars in lil’ ol’ New York ….. (Attention, Governor Dickinson!) ….. 200 high school boys and girls ….. picked from all parts of the metropolis ….. via “elections” conducted by 75 Loew theaters ..… will be luncheon guests next Wednesday of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland ..… in the Empire Room at the Waldorf-Astoria ….. this will follow their service on the Official Reception Committee ….. at Grand Central on Monday ….. when the two young players arrive ….. for their p. a.’s [personal appearances] at the Capitol ….. in connection with the engagement of “The Wizard of Oz” ….. starting Aug. 17 ..… Judy is the pictures little heroine, Dorothy ….. Call this a press agent stung ..… if you must ….. but remember it has the unusual merit ….. of bringing a thrill and joy ….. to 200 youngsters who never hoped ..… to meet a start “in poisen” ..… or lunch at the ritzy Waldorf ..… The shade of Syracuse’s L. Frank Baum ….. must agree that the Wizard of Oz himself ….. never worked a happier miracle …..
August 10, 1939: Judy and Mickey Rooney were in Washington, D.C. on August 9th, where they met with youths who won contests to see them at a reception at the Willard Hotel. According to one article, Judy and Mickey only had 10 minutes to eat before meeting with the guests. This was the first of several personal appearances in the northeastern U.S., culminating with the NY premiere of The Wizard of Oz on August 17th.
The notice at the top left is from Allentown, Pennsylvania, and reads:
Robert F. Snelling, son of Dr. and Mrs. Walter O Snelling, 110 S. 13th St., Allentown, who is visiting Washington, D.C., with his parents, yesterday won the privilege of meeting Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, famed screen stars, at a Washington Theatre. The privilege was awarded the boy and girl writing the best letters on why they should meet the cinema performers. Snelling, who graduated from Allentown High school last June, plans to study medicine.
The caption to the photo at the bottom left, from Wilmington, Deleware, reads:
The life of a Boy Scout isn’t always making trails and building camp fires. Here’s Robert Bickling of Troop 41 of Wilmington having a swell time with two young screen stars, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Bickling in his scout togs went to Washington yesterday to meet the youthful actors. Edgar Doob (extreme left) manager of Loew’s Theater here presented Robert to Mickey and Judy. The Wilmington scout greeted the pair on behalf of Mayer Walter W. Bacon of this city. Mickey and Judy are in the East to attend the opening of MGM’s Technicolor movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” in New Ork. The film will open at Loew’s Aug 17. Scout Bickling, who lives at 2110 Jessup Street, met the movie stars at a reception in the Willard Hotel, Washington, yesterday.
The article in the top right photo, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, reads:
Fun and glamour came to Washington yesterday, in the persons of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Their first personal appearance in the East, was made at the Capitol Theatre in Washington, and was greeted by capacity crowds.
They made four appearances and after the first show in the morning were given a luncheon in the Crystal Room of the Hotel Willard, by Carter T. Barron, eastern division manager of Loew’s Theatres.
After being ushered into the room, Mickey and Judy were given about ten minutes to eat, and then spent the rest of the hour meeting people and answering questions. But they did not mind in the least.
Rooney is the same off the screen as on. He is extremely short, and wears his clothes in a regular school-boy manner. He was overjoyed at the attention he was receiving. People crowded around the room and waved and screamed at Mickey. After a while he turned from the people to whom he was speaking and went to the door. “Hello,” he said. “Come on out,” they screamed in return. “I can’t,” he replied, laughing. Then one girl screamed. “Where are you going from here.” “I don’t know myself,” was the answer.
No Romance For Mickey
There is no romance in Mickey’s life. When asked if there was any truth to the rumor that is is “that way,” about a certain 18-year-old dancer in New York Mickey appeared bewildered.
Then he replied: “Listen dear, I haven’t been to New York for twelve years. I never even heard of the girl. There is absolutely no truth in the statement. You see I figure that romance and a career will not go together. So I am doing away with the romance because I want a career. In fact there is no romance in my life at all.”
Willingly he signed pictures of himself and posed for more. “I just love it,” he said. “I like to get away from home. At home the kids just treat me like any other person and no one stares, but it certainly is different here.”
Coming from the coast, they stopped over at Chicago and Mickey, with his secretary, went to his first big league baseball game. “It sure was swell,” he laughed, “until the hot dog man saw me, and yelled: ‘Here is Mickey Rooney!’ Everyone stood up and that ended all the fun for me.”
Miss Garland, who was charming and polite, came to the luncheon in a black silk frock, with a full skirt, puffed sleeves, and white Irish lace collar and cuffs. White sandals and a white shoulder bag completed the outfit.
The pretty red-haired little singer, was very lovely. Her whole thought seemed to be for Mickey. When asked about her own picture, “Wizard of Oz,” she replied, “It is very beautiful technically. Of course, you know it is a fantasy, but I hope everyone will like it.
Good Time on Stage
On the stage they are just a couple of kids having a wonderful time. They have a code between them, “22-14,” which they call continually as a “good luck” greeting while the other is on the stage. Miss Garland is not concerned about herself, her attention is centered on Mickey. She wants him to go out there and act by himself.
Mickey seemed to be having the time of his life. He did some of his own impersonations, sang one of his own songs, and as a final spontaneous gesture, played the drums, which, as a result, almost brought down the house.
Judy did several songs in her own appealing way, and when they finally started to take their final encores, Mickey would not go out alone, and as he would run from the wings to the stage, he would whisper, “Come on, Jutes.”
Judy said she had never been so tired before in all her life, but even after the day was half over, Mickey still seemed to be “raring to go,” His hair was standing on end, and his clothes were certainly unpressed, but in Mickey’s own words, “It certainly was fun.”
Judy’s latest picture, “Wizard of Oz,” will be at Loew’s Regent Theatre in Harrisburg, opening next week, and Judy and Mickey will soon be seen together in their latest picture, “Babes In Arms,” which will also play Loew’s.
August 10, 1939: Judy and Mickey arrived in Bridgeport, Connecticut, as part of their short tour of the east coast prior to their opening at the Capitol Theater in New York City, for the NY premiere of The Wizard of Oz. Judy and Mickey performed at Loew’s Poli Theater in Hartford, Connecticut on August 11th.
August 10, 1939: More Oz-related items. The first is from the Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, and reports on the response to the recent Wizard of Oz coloring contest; the second is an example of an ad for a dress on sale that’s similar to Judy’s “Dorothy” dress published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette out of Green Bay, Wisconsin; The third is a syndicated column purporting to tell about the use of animal sounds in the film.
August 10, 1939: Still more Oz-related items. The first is an as from the Sheboygan Press, Wisconsin, promoting the opening of the film on August 13th. That pre-dates the premiere by several days. The Hollywood premiere was originally scheduled for August 10 but was moved to the 15th. The film was already scheduled for several dates around the country: August 11: Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Kenosha and Appleton, Wisconsin; August 12: Oconomowoc, Wisconsin; August 13: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Racine and Sheboygan, Wisconsin, which is why the actual world premiere of the film ended up taking place in Cape Cod and not Hollywood.; an ad for Judy and Mickey’s personal appearance at the Loew’s Poli Theater in Hartford, Connecticut on August 11th; A review of the film from the Los Angeles Times.
August 10, 1940: This article appeared in various newspapers around the country. It’s interesting that although it was published in 1940 they used a photo of a much younger Garland.
Also on this day: Judy took a short break from filming Little Nellie Kelly to film retakes for Strike Up The Band on the “Exterior Holden Home” and “Exterior Street” sets (on MGM’s Lot 2, the “New England Street” commonly known as the “Andy Hardy Street”). Time called: 7 p.m.; dismissed: 2:45 a.m.
The text of the article is as follows:
HOLLYWOOD’S RED HOT MAMMA
If you didn’t know that Sophie Tucker herself had said so, you wouldn’t believe that Judy Garland was Hollywood’s “red hot mamma.” But take Sophie’s word for it, ’tis so.
Sophie you know – or perhaps you don’t, since Sophie’s fame may not have spread “down under” was ‘the last of the red hot mammas.’ Asked to name a successor, before she retired from torch singing to play straight roles, Sophie named little Judy Garland, the teen age blues singer. “She has a greater understanding of lyrics than any child I have ever met during my many years in the theatre and on the air,” said Miss Tucker.
Judy was born with the theatre In her veins. Her father and mother, Frank A. and Ethel Gumm, were professional vaudeville folk. When she was three she started singing professionally with her elder sisters. Virginia and Suzanne. Before she was five she was headlining in vaudeville.
In her 16 years – or whatever it is – Judy has been in every State in the U.S.A. With her sisters she appeared at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933 and then started a tour of big theatres of the mid-west. In August 1935, Suzanne married and broke up the Garland Sisters Trio.
The Garland name, by the way, was bestowed on the sisters by George Jessel, when Judy and Suzanne and Virginia appeared with him in Chicago. Gumm, said the show-wise Mr. Jessel, was no name for a theatre foyer.
One day Judy, calm and composed as usual, walked on the M-G-M lot and told officials she had had eight years of stage experience. The best they could do for her at the time was to put her in the short “Every Sunday” with Deanna Durbin (who was just a face on the cutting room floor in those days). Then she was loaned out for “Pigskin Parade” and then put in “Broadway Melody of 1938,” when she scored a hit with her “Mr. Gable” song.
Judy’s career zoomed along nicely, with smallish roles here and there until she was allowed to play Dorothy in the technicolor feature “The Wizard of Oz” and to co-star with Mickey Rooney in “Babes in Arms.”
Since then the Garland babe has rated high in Hollywood.
She’s still the same forthright, sane kid that she was when she came here, and if her sensible mother has any say in the matter, that’s how Judy Garland will stay.
Of course, she’s growing out of the socks-and-sandals roles now. She likes biography and history – goes to a movie every day because she likes to see how other people act – has graduated from junior high school with high honors, and has entered high school, but she’s still kid enough to adore chocolate cake and ice cream, nine or 10 hours’ sleep every night – rooming with her Pekingese Phooey, funny papers, and Mickey Rooney.
Mickey Rooney, “they,” say, is tops in Miss Judy Garland’s young heart.
August 10, 1942: Judy was in the early weeks of filming Presenting Lily Mars when she posed for this lovely photo.
August 10, 1944: Filming on The Clock continued with scenes shot on the “Interior Living Room – Alice’s Apartment” set. Time called: 1 p.m.; dismissed: 5:55 p.m.
Photos: Judy with co-stars Ruth Brady and Marshall Thompson. Photos provided by Kim Lundgreen. Thanks, Kim!
August 10, 1945: While in New York on her honeymoon with husband Vincente Minnelli, Judy appeared on the CBS Radio show, “The Jerry Wayne Show.” Her appearance had been originally scheduled for July 27th but Judy was ill, which might have been the first signs of morning sickness as she was newly pregnant with Liza at this time.
Judy sang “If I Had You” and “Love.” Judy had just recorded “If I Had You” at Decca’s New York Studios that previous July 7th. “Love” was recorded for Decca in Los Angeles the previous March 22nd. The former was a sort-of unofficial theme song to her film The Clock (the melody is heard in the background scoring) while “Love” was performed by Lena Horne in the upcoming MGM all-star Ziegfeld Follies.
The 1970s album “The Judy Garland Musical Scrapbook” featured “Love” but it is unclear if the version of “Love” on this album is from this August 10, 1945, CBS “The Jerry Wayne Show” or if it’s from the NBC/CBS “March of Dimes” radio broadcast on January 20, 1945. Judy sang the song several times on the radio in 1945.
Here is that track:
Listen to Judy’s Decca version of “Love” here:
Listen to Judy’s Decca single of “If I Had You” here:
Listen to the alternate take of Judy’s Decca single of “If I Had You” here:
August 10, 1947: Judy was currently in treatment at the Austin Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, when she attended the 10th annual Berkshire Festival at the Tanglewood Estate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Her appearance was noted by the papers and by columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, who (see the second clipping above) mentioned that Judy was at the music festival but after spending a day in New York. Judy returned to her treatment before her return to California, and MGM, in late August.
August 10, 1953: The casting of “Norman Maine” for A Star Is Born was a hot topic in Hollywood. As noted before, Louella Parsons mentioned Victor Mature for the role while Hedda Hopper reported that Cary Grant turned down the role because he didn’t feel capable of playing it, “It’s so complex a character, I wouldn’t know how to approach it,” said he. “And Judy’s so great I wouldn’t let her down. She has spellbinding talent. Those of us who have taken so much from the industry must be ready to put back what we can. And I wouldn’t be doing my duty as an actor by accepting a part I didn’t understand.”
August 10, 1956: Famed columnist Walter Winchell reported on Judy’s recent case of laryngitis while performing at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Jerry Lewis stepping in to help her.
August 10, 1961: Louella Parsons reported on the recent split of Judy and husband Sid Luft. Also, Judy’s 1960 Capitol Records album “That’s Entertainment!” received a nice mention in Melbourne, Australia.
Check out The Judy Garland Online Discography’s “That’s Entertainment!” pages for details about the LP which many consider it to be Judy’s best for Capitol Records.
August 10, 1962: Judy received permission to take her children, Lorna and Joe Luft, out of England and back to the United States. She had previously petitioned the British courts to keep her estranged husband, Sid Luft, from taking the children from her, and back to the U.S., while she was in England filming I Could Go On Singing.
Photo: Judy with Lorna and Joe in the U.S. just prior to leaving for England that previous April 28, 1962.
August 10, 1965: More marital woes for Judy as estranged husband Sid Luft requested custody of their two children, Lorna, and Joe Luft.
Photo: Judy and Lorna and Joe when they arrived in Los Angeles on January 11, 1965.
August 10, 1989: As Angela Lansbury said in the documentary The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic, “Munchkin memories are special.”
August 10, 2010: The groundbreaking 4-CD set “Judy Garland – Lost Tracks 1929-1959” was released in the U.S., it had been released in the UK on August 2nd. The set is notable for the premiere of the long lost “Decca Tests” that Judy made on March 29, 1935, “Bill” and a medley of “On The Good Ship Lollipop/Object Of My Affection/Dinah” which were Judy’s very first ever studio recordings and were thought lost for 75 years. The set also included many more previously unreleased performances, all restored and remastered.
Check out The Judy Garland Online Discography’s “Judy Garland Lost Tracks” pages for details about the set and its follow-up “The Best of Lost Tracks.”