Old Yeller, Happy Anniversary! Opened Christmas Day, 1957?

old_yeller oldyeller4c0869-001

 

Old Yeller, did not actually have its world premiere on Christmas Day, 1957, it was seen instead on Tuesday night, December 17, in two different cities. The first venue was the Metropolitan Theater, which was on Main St. (1018) between Lamar St. and McKinney St., in downtown Houston, Texas. This was a particularly unusual opening, for to see the film you had to bring a dog;[1] the Associated Press blurb proclaimed, “The Metropolitan theater went to the dogs at a premier last night.”[2] On the same evening, Yeller was viewed for a March of Dimes benefit showing, at the Trans-Lux Theater at 52nd St. in New York City; then the film went on hiatus until Christmas Day.[3]

The Christmas Day release was limited by Walt Disney Pictures, with just a dozen locations nationwide.[4] The Fox Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills was a key screen for the launch of this live action Disney drama based on the novel of the same name by Fred Gipson. Fess Parker took seventy-five underprivileged boys from the Lark Ellen elementary school in Covina, to the premier at the Fox Wilshire; he chartered a bus for the thirty-plus-mile trek and paid the kids’ admission from his own wallet.[5] In Boston, at the Beacon Hill Theater, Old Yeller broke the all-time house record;[6] the Stanton Theater in Philadelphia, located at the corner of 16th St. and Market Street, hosted a Christmas Day opening, an ole Yeller feller extravaganza.[7] Buffalo was another of the chosen-dozen to show Old Yeller beginning on Christmas of 1957; Basil’s Lafayette Theater was the Beantown host for the Yeller story.[8]

Philadelphia Inquirer Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 27, 1957

Philadelphia Inquirer Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 27, 1957

Buffalo NY Courier Express, Buffalo, New York, December 30, 1957

Buffalo NY Courier Express, Buffalo, New York, December 30, 1957

 

With the aforesaid behind us, Old Yeller’s first bark was heard not on December 17, but in November, the week prior to Thanksgiving at the New York Coliseum, which was host to the Festival of the Pets, from November 21-24.[9] Disney did not miss a beat with the canine-cross-promotion in offering this unique screening directed at both owners and their best friends.

Film Bulletin November 25, 1957

Film Bulletin November 25, 1957

 

Yet, most of the country did not see this now classic Disney tear-jerker until the middle of January and later, 1958.

The_Sedalia_Democrat_ Sedalia, Missouri,Thu__Jan_16__1958_

Sedalia Democrat, Sedalia, Missouri, January 16, 1958

The_Gazette_and_Daily_ York, Pennsylvania Fri__Jan_17__1958_

Gazette and Daily, York, Pennsylvania, January 17, 1958

The_Post_Crescent_ Appleton, Wisconsin, Wed__Jan_22__1958_

Post Crescent, Appleton, Wisconsin, January 22, 1958

 

Ho, Ho, Ho and a Very Merry Christmas to You!

By C. S. Williams

 

 

old-yeller-003old-yellerold Dorothy-in-Old-Yeller-dorothy-mcguire-10011259-853-480old-yeller-002 Old-Yeller-classic-disney-9911124-853-480

 

 

[1] Freeport Journal-Standard (Freeport, Illinois) December 18, 1957

Bridgeport Post (Bridgeport, Connecticut) December 18, 1957

[2] Courier News (Blytheville, Arkansas) December 18, 1957

[3] Motion Picture Daily, November 21, 1957

[4] Motion Picture Daily, December 2, 1957

Film Bulletin, December 9, 1957

[5] Film Bulletin, December 9, 1957

St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) December 25, 1957

[6] Motion Picture Daily, December 27, 1957

[7] Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) December 22, 1957

[8] Buffalo Courier-Express (Buffalo, New York) December 22, 1957

[9] Billboard, November 4, 1957

Film Bulletin, November 25, 1957

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