We Love Wisconsin Tour

Oconomowoc played host to original 'The Wizard of Oz' premiere

CREATED Mar 28, 2014

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OCONOMOWOC - The Wizard of Oz opened in theaters 75 years ago.  But before it went nationwide, it was shown at the historic Strand Theater in Oconomowoc.

"I imagine it was a packed house," said Joe Haas, a board-member with the non-profit group Moonlit Movies. "The film was highly touted."
 
Oconomowoc was one of three locations selected for a 'soft launch' of the film.  Haas has some theories as to why it was chosen.
 
"Oconomowoc was the hometown of one of the munchkins in the movie," Haas explained.  "Meinhardt Raabe played the coroner who pronounced the wicked Witch dead."
 
"Plus, Herbert Stothart (who wrote the score) was from Milwaukee.  He had a home in Okauchee Lake."
 
Oconomowoc will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the film with a large outdoor viewing of the movie on Aug. 7th.  It's something the city has done annually ever since the 70th celebration in 2009.
 
"It's quite a sight to see 7,500 people in the street," Haas described.  "The (75th Anniversary viewing) is going to be huge.  We anticipate a larger audience.  It's truly a gem of Lake Country.