Posts Tagged ‘Judy Garland’

‘Wizard of Oz’ is 70

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009


70 years later, we still feel the echoes of ‘Oz’



‘The Wizard of Oz’ has influenced everything from ‘Star Wars’ to ‘Lost’


By Troy Brownfield
Aug 24, 2009

Ruby slippers. If I only had a brain. We’re not in Kansas, anymore. I’ll get you, My Pretty, and your little dog, too. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. That’s just the tip of a pop-culture iceberg, a towering mountain of nostalgia and influence that rises above most movie fare in a time when the majority of entertainment seems fairly disposable.


On Aug. 25, 1939, “The Wizard of Oz” was released into theatres nationwide and began its not-so-classic journey toward classic status.


Now, 70 years later, the echoes of Oz continue to reach into all corners of filmmaking and pop culture in general, from the iconic “Star Wars” characters Chewie and C-3PO to frequent references on ABC’s “Lost,” from adaptations for upcoming graphic novels to mysterious ties to Pink Floyd.


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Trouble in Oz…

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Trouble in ‘Oz’: the Munchkins’ dirty secret



Betty Ann Bruno, 77, left, Priscilla Clark, 79, and Ardith Todd, 78 were Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz.


Snubbed at a Hollywood event, women hold own reunion to share memories of film shoot.


By Stephen Cox
Los Angeles Times
December 2, 2008


If you thought you knew everything there was to know about the iconic film classic The Wizard of Oz, then here’s a twister for you.


Everyone knows about the Munchkins, portrayed by 124 pituitary midgets in the 1939 motion picture starring Judy Garland. These days, the word “Munchkin” — now included in some dictionaries — is synonymous with small. Credited in the film as the Singer Midgets, the diminutive cast was comprised of little people from all over the United States, with the core group being part of the famous troupe of performing midgets managed by Leo Singer.   (Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)



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Diane Keaton on The Ambassador…

Monday, October 13th, 2008


The Ambassador Hotel lesson



The Ambassador Hotel just before its demolition


Demolishing such iconic buildings not only destroys history, it wastes resources.


By Diane Keaton

From The Los Angeles Times
October 13, 2008


Last week, I drove past the 22-acre vacant lot once known as the Ambassador Hotel. As I looked at the rubble of our lost cause, I pulled over, sat back and gave in to a feeling I can only describe as guilt. I thought about my connection to the once-iconic hotel, about why places like it are so difficult to save, and about what it takes to be a better, more effective advocate for historic buildings.


I was just a little girl the first time I visited the Ambassador. My father held my hand and led me down a long hallway before we stopped in front of an ornate facade. I remember Dad’s smile as he slowly opened the door to … the fabulous Cocoanut Grove nightclub! In the magic of a perfect moment, I looked up and saw a parade of dreams etched across the face of the man I loved more than anyone in the world. It was at that moment that something clicked inside my little 9-year-old brain, something that helps me, even today, believe in the ability of the built world to change the trajectory of our lives.


In our battle against the Los Angeles Unified School District’s decision to tear down the Ambassador and put up a new school, we made many arguments. We focused on “reuse” as an economic incentive. The LAUSD wasn’t buying it. We hired a team of architects to come up with options that would transform Myron Hunt’s 350,000-square-foot building into a series of classrooms, administrative offices and low- and moderate-income housing. That didn’t fly either. Neither did the argument that the Ambassador was a national landmark, or that six Oscar ceremonies had been hosted there, or that Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and even Barbra Streisand broke hearts on the stage of the Cocoanut Grove. It didn’t matter. Nothing stopped the Ambassador from becoming another little death of no consequence.


Preservation has always been a hard sell in Los Angeles. But maybe in the years ahead it won’t be as hard as it used to be, considering several new facts. No. 1, as my Dad would have said, a building represents an enormous investment of energy — much bigger than we thought when we were fighting to save the Ambassador. No. 2, we now know that construction of new structures alone consumes 40% of the raw materials that enter our economy every year. No. 3, according to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the resources required to manufacture these materials and transport them to a site and assemble them into a structure is the equivalent of consuming 5 to 15 gallons of oil per square foot. No. 4, a Brookings Institution study indicates that the construction of new buildings alone will destroy one-third of our existing building stock by 2030. And finally, No. 5, the energy used to destroy older buildings in addition to the energy used to build new ones could power the entire state of California for 10 years, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


The Ambassador in its heyday


We’ve treated old buildings like we once treated plastic shopping bags — we haven’t reused them, and when we’ve finished with them, we’ve tossed them out. This has to stop. Preservation must stand alongside conservation as an equal force in the sustainability game. More older and historic buildings have to be protected from demolition, not only because it affects our pocketbooks but more important because it threatens our environment. Let’s face it, our free ride at the expense of the planet is over.


I’ll never understand why architecture is considered a second cousin to painting and film. We’ve never been married to our romance with architecture. A building, unlike a canvas or a DVD, is a massive work of art with many diverse uses. We watch movies in buildings. We look at paintings on their walls. We pray in cathedrals. We live inside places we call homes. Home gives us faith in the belief of a well-lived life. When we tear down a building, we are wiping out lessons for the future. If we think of it that way, we will begin to understand the emotional impact of wasting the energy and resources used to build it in the first place.


As for me, I’m keeping the door to the Cocoanut Grove open. I’m still holding on to my father’s hand and the memory that grew to inspire my dream of a golden — now green — future among structures that stand as invitations to a past we can only imagine by being in their presence.


Diane Keaton is an Oscar-winning actress. She is a former board member of the Los Angeles Conservancy and is currently a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.



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Garland/Davis Estate for Sale…

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008


Judy Garland / Sammy Davis Jr. estate for sale



Located in the prestigious hills above the Sunset Strip has been lovingly restored and renovated with no expense spared by the award winning firm of Davis Design and Development. This one of a kind, five bedroom 7.5 bath, trophy property, situated on a double lot of over 13, 000 square feet, offers an ultra rare combination of superb location, grand size and scale – 5000 square foot main house plus fabulous 1100 square foot guest house – , stunning views, sprawling grounds, amazing privacy, and luxury hotel style pool area. This exceptional compound unites classic grandeur and the finest amenities, befitting today¹s a-list client. Features include state of the art kitchen, fully automated home theater, surround entertainment system, luxurious baths, lush landscaping, multiple decks and patios, and numerous custom features, as well as many eco­friendly elements. Truly an incredible property for the most discriminating buyer. All for $4,995,000.00.



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