Despite its modest box-office reception when it was first released in 1939, the MGM production of "The Wizard of Oz," starring Judy Garland, went on to become one of the most widely viewed films in history. "The Wizard of Oz" appeared first as a book written by L. Frank Baum and published in 1900. Quickly becoming a children's classic, the book inspired a series of Oz adventures as well as a whole industry of toys, games, and collectibles based on the original illustrations. Nothing did as much to solidify the images of Oz in the popular imagination, however, as MGM's 1939 movie. In keeping with Dorothy's mantra, "There's no place like home," the movie entered 45 million living rooms across the country when it was broadcast for the first time in 1956, becoming an annual television event from 1959 until 1974.
Performed by Judy Garland in the first section of the film, "Over the Rainbow" has become a cultural icon. The Recording Industry Association of America ranked it #1 on its "Songs of the Century List," and the American Film Institute called it the greatest movie song of all time. Despite its current popularity, the song was almost never heard, as it was originally deleted from the film because producers felt it slowed down the pace.