Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mervyn LeRoy, The Wizard of Oz, and Snow White

With the tremendous success in 1938 of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, expectations would be high the following year for MGM's Wizard of Oz. Mervyn LeRoy, producer of the film, was a great admirer of Walt Disney.

Mervyn LeRoy image copyright WB/Turner Entertainment Co. and The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion by William Stillman and Jay Scarfone. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers © 2013, from the Scarfone/Stillman Collection. Used with permission.

In the brand new book, The Wizard of Oz: Official 75th Anniversary Companion by Jay Scarfone and William Stillman, we learn of the professional relationship that LeRoy and Disney had with each other.

In the spring of 1938, LeRoy found himself unimpressed by the many Oz script drafts and rewrites that had been contributed to the project. On May 10, 1938, as a way to "revitalize his production team's mind-set," he would screen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs right on the MGM lot. LeRoy asked for a print of the film directly from Disney himself, and of course, Walt agreed.

One of the most notable signs of respect that Mervyn showed for Walt was revealed at the eleventh annual Academy Awards in February 1939. The Oscar statuette along with the seven smaller ones that Disney received for Snow White was actually LeRoy's idea.

Image copyright Culver Pictures/Vanity Fair.

When principal photography had wrapped on the film in February 1939, LeRoy once again turned to Disney. This time he sought help with merchandising his characters. Walt connected him with Kay Kamen, the marketing genius responsible for the massive Snow White promotions of 1938.

After the release of the The Wizard of Oz, Walt wrote a letter of congratulations to Mervyn on August 23, 1939. Both he and Lillian had seen the picture and "liked it very much."
Knowing the difficulty that we have with cartoons, a medium that is limited only to the imagination, I can fully realize how tough a production of this type would be in the live-action medium.
Pg.151, Scarfone and Stillman book.

More on Walt's Snow White Oscar in an earlier post. Also see the "Snow White pages" in the original Wizard of Oz press book.


  1. What a terrific fact that the Oscar statuettes Walt received for Snow White were Mr. LeRoy's idea!

  2. I thought that was pretty cool too. Hadn't heard about it before until reading it in Scarfone and Stillman's book.