Hollywood has always been about ballyhoo, sometimes hyping its films through outlandish promotions designed to catch a moviegoers imagination enough to get them down to the local cinema and placing their cash into the boxoffice attendant’s hands. (And it still is going on today, as evidenced by New York City’s upcoming Spider-Man Week, which coincides with the release of the next installment of the superhero franchise on May 4th.)
When it came time for producer David O. Selznick to begin publicity for his new comedy Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House in 1948, he decided he needed something big to call attention to the film. Why he didn’t feel that names of stars Cary Grant and Myrna Loy on theatre marquees wasn’t enough to bring folks in is unknown. Suffice it to say that Selznick decided to capitalize on the post World War II explosion of suburban communities – which not-so-coincidentally also serves as the backfrop for the film – in the grandiose fashion of building 73 replicas of the home featured in the film aropund the country to be raffled off to theatre patrons.
Homes were built across the country- from Bakersfield, California to Worchester, Massachuesttes, from East Natick, New Jersey to Portland Oregon.
And one was built in Toldeo, Ohio.
This weekend, The Toldeo Blade published an excellent article on the history of Selznick’s Mr. Blandings promotion including how the film’s art director, a former architect, had to modify the plans for a film set into a fully useable home as well as the history of the specific prize home in the Toledo suburb of Ottawa Hills.
It’s a great piece of writing and well worth your time.