Hello everyone. Today is the 80th anniversary of the premiere of The Wizard of Oz. In Chicago, it debuted at The United Artists Theater once located at 47 W Randolph St on August 25, 1939. I will be writing about my first memory of watching the movie on television.
The first telecast aired on a TV show called Ford Star Jubilee on November 3, 1956, on WBBM-TV Channel 2. It was a huge success and the next time it aired was on December 13, 1959, with Red Skelton hosting it. That year started the tradition of the movie airing annually as a television special. It aired on WBBM-TV Channel 2 every year, except in 1963, until 1967.
From 1968 through 1975 it aired on WMAQ-TV Channel 5. The first time I saw the movie was in the early 1970s when I lived in the Roseland neighborhood. My family didn’t have a color set then, so we were stuck with a black and white one. Don’t remember the exact year, but I watched it every year until 1998 when it stopped airing on WBBM-TV Channel 2. It returned to CBS in 1976. The years that were skipped were 1992, 1995, and 1997. It has been on cable TV ever since.
I watched the movie on TV and on Blu-ray all the time. It’s a movie that the whole family watches together. My favorite scene is when Dorothy is starting to walk on the Yellow Brick Road and the Munchkins start singing. When she is on her way, that’s when the movie gets your undivided attention and you want to see if get to see the Wizard of Oz in Emerald City, so he can help her to go home. There are so many classic scenes and lines in the movie, that are remembered today.
I would love to see the movie on the big screen in a theater, but I haven’t done that yet. I would like to experience what was it like watching the movie, before television. The first time I saw the movie on TV in color was Easter Sunday, March 30, 1975, on my Zenith Chromacolor II Console TV. My Greek Orthodox was celebrated on May 4 of that year. Watching the movie in color for the first time was mesmerizing.
If I am not too busy tonight, I will watch the movie on my Blu-ray DVD player to honor the anniversary. Another scene that I look forward to was when returns home during the tornado. She is looking for everyone, calling by their names, and is knocked out unconsciously by the windows and starts dreaming. That one always gets me excited.
If you have a favorite memory of watching the movie the first time or multiple times, please comment here on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Reddit. There’s no place like home. Thank you. Pete Kastanes, Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.
One thought on “Celebrating The 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz and watching it on TV for the first time.”
My mother, who would have been 87 this year, told me her grandparents took her and my uncle Jack (who was almost 5) to see it downtown. Apparently, the sight of the Wizard (before they realized he was the “man behind the curtain”) scared my uncle so badly that he ran screaming from the theater.
The networks used to show it around Thanksgiving, and Mom and Dad (while he was alive) would watch it with us. We didn’t have a color TV until the ’70’s, and I didn’t see it in color until Ted Turner played it on Turner Classic Movies about 20 years ago.
As I’ve gotten older, the more I can appreciate the contribution of Margaret Hamilton. She was a superb actress and played the part of the Wicked Witch so well, I don’t think the movie would have been anywhere near the masterpiece it is without her.