1943: ‘Phantom of the Opera’ Lurks into Theaters
The spooky Universal monster movie, Phantom of the Opera was released in theaters on this day in 1943. The musical horror film was loosely based on the novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux and the book’s first adaptation which was produced in 1925. In fact, part of the set used in the earlier film was reused for the remake. Directed by Arthur Lubin, the film starred Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster and Claude Rains as the Phantom, although he wasn’t the studio’s first choice. Cesar Romero, Boris Karloff, Feodor Chaliapin, Charles Laughton and Broderick Crawford were all considered first. Unlike many of the other monster movies, this one was filmed in Technicolor. A sequel by the name of The Climax was planned but was ultimately cancelled due to complications with the script and the availability of Rains. However, the studio did produce another film by the name The Climax, only it featured different characters and was not a continuation of the first Phantom film.
1927: The First and Only Oscar-Winning Silent Film
It was on this day in 1927 that the silent film, Wings appeared on movie screens for the first time. Directed by William A. Wellman, the romance/action/war movie starred Clara Bow (Paramount’s biggest star at the time), Charles “Buddy” Rogers (seen here), Richard Arlen and Gary Cooper appeared in a small role. Wellman won his part as the director of the film because he was the only working director at the time who had World War I combat pilot experience. The production of Wings also employed over 300 pilots and 3,500 infantrymen when filmed at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas. The movie became the very first Best Picture recipient at the Academy Awards in 1929 (beating out The Racket and 7th Heaven). It is also the only silent film to have won an Oscar. The movie was re-released in 2012 to Cinemark theaters during the film’s 85th anniversary and again in 2017 for the film’s 90th.
1928: Mickey Mouse is Copyrighted
As wonderful as Mickey Mouse is, and how the Disney company would be nothing without him, Mickey was actually created as a replacement for Walt’s first animated icon, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald was created for, Charles Mintz who distributed the character through Universal Studios. Under Walt’s nose, Mintz was able to hire Disney’s artists out from under him and Walt didn’t have a leg to stand on regarding the rights to the Oswald character. Walt finished his obligation to Mintz and began a new start with animator Ub Iwerks who helped him create a new character called Mickey Mouse. The mouse was copyrighted on this day in 1928.
- 1881: Cecil B. DeMille (film director)
- 1910: Jane Wyatt (actress)
- 1929: Buck Owens (singer)
- 1963: Sir Mix-a-Lot (rapper)
- 1965: Peter Krause (actor)
- 1975: Casey Affleck (actor)
- 1980: Maggie Lawson (actress)
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.