The Wizard of Oz is back on the big screen at Marcus theaters this afternoon in celebration of Judy Garland’s 100th birthday.
Wizard of Oz historian John Fricke joined Wisconsin’s Morning News to discuss the film and why it’s still reaching kids generations later.
“There isn’t a kid alive of any age who can’t relate to worrying about a pet,” Fricke said. “About being in trouble with the school teacher, Miss Gulch; about having a pet taken away; about running away from home; about being lost and trying to get home. And that’s just the first 16 minutes, we haven’t even gotten to color yet”
Fricke’s devotion to the film and it’s star intensified after meeting Garland after a Chicago show in the mid-60’s. After the show, Fricke and other fans went out dinner only to spot Garland. After moments of hesitation, Fricke took the walk over to the actress.
“I said well I might not ever get another chance,” Fricke said. “Now you’ve seen pictures of me at 16, Vinny. I looked like Opie from Mayberry or Ronny Howard as Richie Cunningham. The red hair and freckles and the little Robert Hall suit.”
“I went over and she was immediately welcoming and warm,” Fricke continued. “Not theatrical, just very down to earth. She was a woman of 45 years old who just finished her dinner and someone had come up to talk to her. But she was funny and everything I knew she would be and I had no right to expect her to be. When she wasn’t Judy Garland at the moment, she was Frances Gumm from Grand Rapids, Minnesota. But I’m so grateful I have those memories.”
You can listen to the full interview above.