This Week in Film History, 9.28.14

September 28, 1914: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum’s movie company releases The Patchwork Girl of Oz, the first feature-length film based on his books.

September 29, 1926: MGM production head Irving Thalberg marries actress Norma Shearer, a union that would last until the “Boy Wonder’s” sudden death in 1936.

September 28, 1928: Sales for Al Jolson‘s record of Sonny Boy soar into the millions, the first hit song from a movie soundtrack (The Singing Fool).

September 28, 1929: Silent screen star John Gilbert’s performance in his first sound film, His Glorious Night, meets with cries of laughter from patrons.

September 29, 1932: The opening of John Barrymore‘s drama A Bill of Divorcement is notable for the film debut of 24-year-old stage actress Katharine Hepburn.

September 30, 1943: Army Air Force lieutenant Clark Gable is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal after taking part in five combat missions.

September 29, 1949: My Friend Irma opens, giving moviegoers their first look at the comedy duo of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

September 30, 1952: The big screen gets considerably bigger when the tri-projector spectacle This Is Cinerama premieres at New York’s Broadway Theatre.

September 29, 1954: Warner Bros.’ musical remake of A Star Is Born, with Judy Garland and James Mason, has its Holywood premiere.

September 30, 1955: An undying cult of personality will soon begin, as James Dean gets into a fatal auto accident on a California highway at age 24.

October 3, 1961: The Production Code, easing up on portrayals of “sexual aberration,” gives the Code of Approval to The Children’s Hour and Advise and Consent.

October 1, 1968: George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, shot in black-and-white for $150,000, opens and sets a new, gorier tone for American horror films.

October 3, 1971: The opening in Hong Kong of The Big Boss (released in America a year later as Fists of Fury) revives the martial arts genre and makes Bruce Lee a star.

October 1, 1974: Bloodshed and power tools make for a terrifying mix as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre opens.

September 28, 1977: Eraserhead, director David Lynch’s bizarre debut feature, premieres in New York City.

October 2, 1979: Universal and Sony lose their case against Sony-Betamax when a  U.S district court rules VCR owners can record TV broadcasts for personal use.

September 30, 1983: Baby Boomers have a feast of late ’60s nostalgia with the release of Lawrence Kasdan’s ensemble-casted The Big Chill.

October 2, 1985: Less than three months after revealing to the world he has AIDS, actor Rock Hudson succumbs to the disease at 59.

September 30, 1993: Walt Disney Pictures announces its acquisition of arthouse powerhouse Miramax Films for a reported $64 million.

October 2, 1998: The last of the great screen cowpokes, warbling whitehat Gene Autry, rides into the sunset at age 91.

September 28, 2003: The controversial director of On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan, dies at 94.

October 3, 2004: Actress Janet Leigh, who took a legendary last shower in Psycho, dies at 77.

September 29, 2010: Tony Curtis, star of The Defiant Ones and Some Like It Hot, dies at 85.