This Week In Film History, 10.18.09

October 18, 1931: “The Wizard of Menlo Park” and film pioneer Thomas Alva Edison passes away at the age of 84 in West Orange, N.J.

October 19, 1936: A British court declares that Bette Davis, who wishes to make films in England, must honor her Warners contract and work exclusively for the studio.

October 19, 1938: Buddy Ebsen, cast as the Tin Woodman in The Wizard of Oz, is hospitalized by an allergic reaction to his makeup; Jack Haley will step in. 

October 18, 1941: John Huston‘s directorial debut, The Maltese Falcon, wins acclaim for both him and its star, former screen heavy Humphrey Bogart.


October 20, 1945: Two years after being let go by MGM due to waning popularity, Joan Crawford wins renewed acclaim (and an eventual Oscar) as Mildred Pierce.

October 20, 1947: The House Un-American Activities Committee opens its hearings into Communist activities in the entertainment industry.

October 23, 1950: Al Jolson, legendary entertainer and star of the seminal talkie The Jazz Singer, dies in San Francisco at age 64.

October 24, 1955: The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down as overbroad the Kansas state censorship law used to ban The Moon Is Blue.

October 19, 1961: After dazzling audiences for four years on Broadway, Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story continues to do so for moviegoers with its film translation.

October 22, 1964: “The most loverly motion picture,” My Fair Lady, with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison, opens, after Warners paid a record price for the film rights.

October 19, 1966: The first instance of a Hollywood studio being swallowed up by a corporate conglomerate occurs when Paramount Pictures is acquired by Gulf + Western.

October 21, 1984: Film theorist-turned-director François Truffaut, who spearheaded France’s “New Wave” school, dies at 52.

October 24, 1984: The beloved “mother figure” from John Waters‘ off-the-wall films, Edith “Edie the Egg Lady” Massey, dies at 66.

October 23, 1992: Video store clerk-turned-filmmaker Quentin Tarantino scores a hit with his debut feature, the blood-soaked caper drama Reservoir Dogs.

October 20, 1994: Oscar-winning actor Burt Lancaster, who began his show business career as a circus acrobat, passes away from a heart attack at 80.