The Munchkins received their Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on the morning of Tuesday November 20th in front of the world famous Grauman's Chinese Theater in sunny Hollywood California. The original Premiere of "The Wizard of Oz" was at this theater on Tuesday August 15th, 1939 and some of our Munchkins were there way back then! The Honorable Mayor of Hollywood, Mr. Johnny Grant acted as the Master of Ceremonies, with the Munchkins Star next to his very own. Our special guest, Judy Garland's only son Joe Luft spoke just before the walk down the yellow brick carpet for the unveiling of the star. The Munchkins arrived at the ceremony riding in a carriage drawn by a hosre of a different color, (lavender to be specific) escorted by the Hollywood High School Marching Band playing "Were Off to See the Wizard".
Immediately following the ceremony there was a private luncheon across the street in the Blossom Room of the historic Roosevelt Hotel, the very room where the first Academy Awards presentations took place in 1929. The room was made to look like the Emerald City, repleat with green table cloths and chairs, the lighting was all green, and a forty foor wide mural of the Emeral City was behind the head table.
Speakers at the luncheon included actress Margaret O'Brian who co-starred in several films with Judy Garland including the classic "Meet Me in St. Louis". Anne Rutherford who was co-starring in "Gone With the Wind" which was filming on the lot concurrently with "The Wizard of Oz" also spoke. She had great memories of going over to the Oz soundstage as well as visits with her neighbor, Oz author L. Frank Baum. Several of Baum's descendants were also in attedance, as well as the grandaughter of actor Frank Morgan who played the Wizard himself!
There was a big screen presentation of "The Wizard of Oz" at Grauman's hosted by the Munchkins on the evening of Monday November 19th. This was a fund-raiser for Hollywood Heritage and the Hollywood Historic Preservation Trust, two local organizations dedicated to preserving Hollywood and its history.
The ceremony was covered by all the major entertainment news shows, such as "The Insider" and "Entertainment Tonight", plus CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and even the BBC. "Good Morning America" did a great piece the morning of the ceremony. There was a major story on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, (check it out on our media section) which is the first time in anyones memory that any star ceremony made page one! It was covered on page two of the New York Times, page four of the Chicago Tribune with several items and photos in the Chicago Sun Times. Radio coverage included National Public Radio, the BBC, WGN & CBS radio networks and many other stations. Newpapers around the world picked up on the stories through the major wire services with articles running in Beijing, Taiwan, Thailand, australia, India, Kuwait, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and all over Europe with saturation coverage in England (due to all the BBC coverage). Warner Bros., who now own the rights to "The Wizard of Oz" told us it was covered on an unprecedented 575 television news shows around this country alone. It was also on the MSN seach home page under "Breaking News Stories" and a nice piece ran later in USA Today.
Thanks to all who supported our effort. Everyone's help was an important part of making this happen by demonstrating the enduring popularity of this film and its characters. We had over 50,000 people sign the petition in our lobby, this website and various Oz festivals around the nation. Once again, "The Wizard of Oz" just made AFI's top ten greatest films of all time! We also received overwhelming support for this effort from the film community.
Among those who sent letters of endorsement include studios like Warner Bros., Universal, MGM, and Sony. Individual letters were also sent from Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ted Turner, Hugh Hefner, Harvey Weinstein, Leonard Maltin among many others - Roger Ebert even wrote from his hospital bed.
like Hollywood Heritage, the producers of the play "Wicked", the
National Association of Theater Owners, Turner Classic Movies, the
American Film Institute and even the Little People of America stepped
up to the plate. Roger Baum, the grandson of Oz author, L. Frank Baum,
who back in 1910 opened one of the first movie production companies in
Hollywood also wrote. Jane Russell, Tippi Hedren and Mickey Rooney
called in their support. Even the rainbows anchor state of "Kansas"
came to the Munchkin's aid!
Mr. Johnny Grant
Mayor of Hollywood & Master of Ceremonies