Today marks the 75th anniversary of the premiere of one of the world’s most beloved films – The Wizard of Oz – which took place at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on August 15, 1939. Since its debut,this timeless MGM film has become a treasure to young and old alike. David J. Hogan’s new book, the Wizard of Oz FAQ, celebrates this classic by providing a wealth of information about the film’s conception, creation, and reception. David includes a special section commemorating the Hollywood premiere. Read below!
The Hollywood premiere for industry insiders was mounted at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 15, 1939, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, prominently located on Hollywood Boulevard. The theater’s forecourt was dominated by a faux cornfield.
Although Judy Garland was already in New York City for the August 17 Loew’s Capitol opening and her live show there, the Grauman’s event was attended by other cast members, Victor Fleming, and Mervyn LeRoy. Maud Gage Baum, widow of L. Frank Baum, attended, along with L. Frank Baum’s granddaughter, Frances Ozma Baum. Fred Stone, who had played the Scarecrow in the 1903 Broadway Wizard of Oz, also was an honored guest.
Typical of any high-profile Hollywood premiere of the time, the Oz gala was attended by a gaggle of stars. Eddie Cantor, a great fan of the Oz stories, was on hand. Others were Wallace Beery, Ann Rutherford, Bonita Granville, Harold Lloyd, and Orson Welles (less than a year after his Mercury Theatre “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast scared the pants off America). Most of the Munchkin players had left Hollywood months before, but a few who remained were recruited to appear in costume at Grauman’s: Nona Cooper, Tommy Cottonaro, Billy Curtis, Jerry Maren (as the mayor, filling in for Charley Becker), and Victor Wetter. Most of the opening-night Munchkins remained for the duration of the Grauman run.
The cost of reserved-seat admission to this gala event at one of the finest movie theaters in Los Angeles was two dollars, plus twenty cents for tax. (An admission ticket from the premiere—center left section, row 28, seat 1—sold at auction for $6,083 in the spring of 2013.) Those at the Grauman premiere received the requisite souvenir program. Fans could do star spotting from the relative comfort of five thousand specially erected sidewalk bleacher seats. The bleachers filled quickly, and the surrounding area was clogged by another three thousand fans that stood.
An after-screening party was held at the Trocadero nightclub, on Sunset Boulevard. Days after the Grauman’s event, Maud Gage Baum wrote to Mervyn LeRoy to express her pleasure with the faithful translation of her husband’s “kindly philosophy.”
Another video of another funny lady! Here is Carla Cackowski, whose monologue “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” can be found in Women’s Comedic Monologues (available now!).
Carla also answered some questions about the book, and why she thinks it will be such an important resource for actresses and comedians:
Q:What makes something funny?
A: Patterns, particulars, and pratfalls. And alliteration.
Q: Write a bit about why you think actors NEED this book.
A: Every actor needs this because “funny” monologue books featuring the likes of O’Neill, Strindberg, and Shaw does not a balanced bookshelf make.
See more from Carla on her website.
Today marks the first day of the 2014 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in Jamestown, NY! The festival, which is designed to showcase the best in the comedy biz, will feature acts such as Lucie Arnaz, Jay Leno, and Tom Cotter. James Sheridan, author of the Lucille Ball FAQ will also be there to sign copies and to give his expert opinion on America’s favorite redhead. Below, James tells us a bit about the history of the festival and what to expect. We hope you all have your tickets!
On August 6, 1911, Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, New York. On August 6, 2014, the annual Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy will commence in Jamestown, New York. Lucille Ball spent her formative years in Jamestown and this was evident in her work. Her long running sitcom characters Lucy Ricardo, Lucy Carmichael, and Lucy Carter all hailed from Jamestown and there were many references to the city, its surroundings, and its inhabitants throughout the years. For instance, nearly every woman in Lucy Ricardo’s women’s club on I Love Lucy was named after a citizen of Jamestown who Lucy knew in her youth. Since Lucille Ball was described as Jamestown’s greatest export, it was only natural they would honor her in some way.
In the late 1980s, the city approached Lucy about hosting a festival for new comedy in her honor. Lucy loved the idea of promoting rising young comedians, but passed away one month before she was scheduled to attend the first such event in May of 1989. The festival officially launched in two years later with Lucy’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, as guest of honor. The festival expanded, but with the opening of the Lucy – Desi Museum in 1996, its focus became more about Lucy and less on comedy. In the past few of years, the event has struck a happy medium by going back to the original idea of promoting comedy that pleased Lucy so much, but with enough Lucy themed events to enthrall the hundreds of fans who attend every year. A Comedy Hall of Fame is currently in the planning stages.
This year’s festival will feature Lucie Arnaz, Jay Leno, Caroline Rhea, and America’s Got Talent finalist Tom Cotter. I will be on hand to sign copies of Lucille Ball FAQ: Everything Left to Know About America’s Favorite Redhead. Events will include a Lucille Ball fashion show hosted by costume designer Ret Turner, an I Love Lucy trivia contest, a masquerade ball, and various screenings of Lucy programs. Hundreds of fans from all over the world are expected for the five days of events, which is sure to be a laugh riot.