Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Greg Peck: Was 'Oz' your favorite childhood movie?

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Greg Peck
Monday, August 18, 2014

Do you have a favorite childhood movie? Mine was “The Wizard of Oz.” I can remember my big sister, Karen, and I waiting anxiously for the movie, which aired just once every year. For you youngsters, this was back in the days when we pulled in the four Madison TV stations, including public station WHA-TV, through what was called an antenna that you mounted on a pole or your roof. There was no such thing as cable or satellite television offering dozens of channels. Nor did we have videos, DVDs or Blu-ray discs.

I remember loving but also fearing “Oz.” That wicked witch, her little flying monkeys and her tough-sounding soldiers scared the bejeebers out of me. Still, I just had to watch this musical fantasy, featuring Judy Garland as Dorothy with her little dog, Toto. (That movie is one significant reason why my wife, Cheryl, and I now have a little cairn terrier, Molly.)

If you hadn't heard, “The Wizard of Oz” marked its 75th anniversary last Friday. If you didn't know that, you probably can't answer this trivia question either: Where did “Oz” premiere?

As CBS reported, the premiere wasn't in Hollywood or even New York, but rather right in here in Wisconsin, in the city of Oconomowoc.

When MGM first showed the film, Oconomowoc became “Oz” for a day. Many residents dressed as Dorothy, a witch, or the scarecrow, tin man or cowardly lion. Last Thursday night, Oconomowoc celebrated the 75th anniversary of “Oz” with a special free outdoor screening.

CBS also reported that the Oconomowoc Historical Society proudly displays “Oz” memorabilia year-round. Granted, Oconomowoc isn't in Kansas, and historical society docent Shirley Hinds told CBS that no one in Oconomowoc is certain just why her community was chosen for the film's debut.

You'd never want me on your trivia team. I worked the first seven years of my professional journalism career in Oconomowoc. If I ever heard that “Oz” debuted there, I had long ago forgotten it.

If you knew the premiere was in Oconomowoc, or if you enjoy trivia, check out Today Entertainment's little “Oz” trivia quiz.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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