If you were around in the late 1930s you could have seen The Wizard of Oz when it premiered in 1939. Interestingly, it didn’t premiere in Hollywood or New York City, but at the Strand Theatre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin on August 12, 1939.
If you didn’t get to see it during its initial release in 1939, you would have had to wait another ten years to see the film until it was reissued in 1949. In 1955, The Wizard of Oz was again released, only this time it was shown in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio version, with portions of the top and the bottom of the film removed via soft mattes to produce a widescreen effect.
An estimated 45 million people were able to see The Wizard of Oz when the film was first shown on CBS television on November 3, 1956. As big a success as that broadcast was, the network didn’t rerun it until December 13, 1959, this time to an even larger audience. Thrilled by the ratings, CBS decided to make it an annual tradition, showing it from 1959 through 1962 always on the second Sunday of December. However, it wasn’t shown in late 1963, perhaps out of respect for the assassination of President Kennedy. So the telecast was moved from December 1963 to the evening of January 26, 1964. These highly anticipated single annual broadcasts spanned nearly three decades.
Today, The Wizard of Oz is televised several times a year. If you should miss any of these broadcasts, you can watch it on DVD or on Blu-ray Disc. Regardless of when you first watched The Wizard of Oz, the great news is—you have many opportunities to watch it and relive its magic again and again!