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Yesterday in La Crosse

February 29th was a historic day at the Oscars, 80 years ago

Brad Williams



The Academy Awards were given out on the 29th of February in 1940, to honor plenty of movies from 1939 which have become classics.  “Gone With the Wind” was named best picture.  Vivien Leigh was best actress for playing Scarlett O’Hara, and a black performer won an acting Oscar for the first time–Hattie McDaniel, who was Mammy in “Gone With the Wind.”  Clark Gable did not win best actor as Rhett Butler.  Neither did Laurence Olivier for “Wuthering Heights,” or Jimmy Stewart for “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”  The best actor was British star Robert Donat, as the title schoolteacher in “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.”   

Bob Hope hosted the Oscars in 1940 for the first of his 19 times in that job.  The best original movie song nominees included “Wishing,” “Faithful Forever,” and “I Poured My Heart Into a Song.”  Never heard of them?  That’s not surprising, but everybody knows the song that did win: “Over the Rainbow,” from “The Wizard of Oz.”

In western Wisconsin, George Storandt of Mindoro turned 76, but as a leap year baby, it was only his 18th birthday.  Logan was about to host Central’s basketball team for the first time in the new Logan gymnasium.  There weren’t many Oscar nominated films at La Crosse theaters on Leap Day, but you could see John Wayne in “West of the Divide,” or the romantic comedy “All Women Have Secrets.”  Going to the movies in 1940, yesterday in La Crosse.              

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