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Samuel Goldwyn (17 August 1879 – 31 January 1974) was one of the most important figures in the Hollywood movie business during the twentieth century.
He also controlled the film rights to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz during the middle 1930s. In 1933 Goldwyn arranged to buy the film rights to L. Frank Baum's first and most famous Oz book from the author's eldest son Frank Joslyn Baum. The younger Baum had to prove he controlled the rights legitimately, though, so that their deal was not formalized until 26 January 1934. The price was $40,000.
Goldwyn considered making a movie of the book, and through the mid-'30s there were reports and rumors of an impending production, with various actors cited as possible cast members. Eddie Cantor was mentioned for the role of the Scarecrow, W.C. Fields for the Wizard, and child star Marcia Mae Jones for Dorothy Gale (as were the adult players Mary Pickford and Helen Hayes). No film materialized in those years, however.
After the triumph of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Hollywood studios began looking for comparable properties, and Baum's Oz was an obvious possibility. The Fox studio tried to buy Goldwyn's film rights for their star Shirley Temple; but they were outbid by MGM, which bought Goldwyn's rights to The Wizard of Oz on 18 February 1938, paying $75,000 — which enabled that studio to produce its classic 1939 version of the story.
- John Fricke, Jay Scarfone, William Stillman. The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History, Warner Books, 1989.