Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘The Wizard of Oz’ Made Its TV Debut on This Day in 1956

‘The Wizard of Oz’ Made Its TV Debut on This Day in 1956

Television makes hit shows and stars, yet movies also can get the same treatment as The Wizard of Oz has over the years. This glorious film, shot in both black-and-white and wonderful Technicolor, made its debut on TV on this day in 1956. At that time, color television was still in its testing stage. It had not been developed for public use. Therefore, the film was shown in complete black-and-white in its first airing.

The Wizard of Oz is a simply amazing movie, which didn’t set the box office on fire immediately. By now, millions know about the story first brought to life in L. Frank Baum’s book. A young girl from Kansas, played by Judy Garland, finds herself whisked away to a magical land. She soon meets a cowardly lion, played by Bert Lahr; a scarecrow, played by Ray Bolger; and a tin man, played by Jack Haley.

They, along with Dorothy’s dog Toto, follow the Yellow Brick Road. Danger lies ahead with the Wicked Witch of the West, played by Margaret Hamilton. She and her merry band of flying monkeys would like nothing better than to capture the four of them.

Ultimately, these four find their way into the castle where the Wizard himself lives. And guess what? This wizard, played by Frank Morgan, turns out to be a bit phony. We learn that behind a booming voice and scary image lies a little man who is scared out of his wits. Once he’s outed, his tune changes.

‘The Wizard of Oz’ Was Not A Box-Office Smash

And yes, Dorothy wants to go back to Kansas. She gets her ruby red slippers, clicks her heels three times, and says, “There’s no place like home.” So, after the Wicked Witch of the West dies, Dorothy ultimately goes home.

For many years, The Wizard of Oz was a must-see program on television. It was shown every year during the holiday season. Families made time for their yearly trip to Oz. This is one movie that you can definitely say earned a greater appreciation on the small screen.

When it first came out, The Wizard of Oz was not a box-office smash. Yet it found a home on TV. Garland’s star just got a little bit brighter thanks to the movie’s new audience. “Over the Rainbow,” a song that anchors the movie, becomes Garland’s signature number. And it didn’t hurt the movie to get more attention in the early 1960s. Garland had a music variety show on CBS, the same network that showed The Wizard of Oz for years.

The movie’s broadcast on TV “changed the whole nature of that movie,” Hollywood historian Scott Essman told the Los Angeles Times in a 2013 interview, according to Yahoo! “It became an event to see this film.” For first-time viewers and old-timers too, it still is an event to see.