On this day March 4, 1937 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's The Great Ziegfeld took the Oscar for Outstanding Production/Best Picture for the films of 1936.
A fictionalized biography of Florenz Ziegfeld from his show business beginnings to his death, The Great Ziegfeld showcases a series of spectacular musical productions. The film includes original music by Walter Donaldson and Irving Berlin. Berlin's work was featured in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1918, 1919, and 1920.
The film, which premiered in Los Angeles at the Carthay Circle Theatre, was the first musical film in history for which one of its cast members won an Academy Award - Luise Rainer received the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Ziegfeld's first wife, Anna Held.
Featured in the film are William Powell as Ziegfeld, Myrna Loy as Billie Burke, Luise Rainer, Nat Pendleton, and Frank Morgan. Real-life Ziegfeld performers Fanny Brice and Ray Bolger play themselves. Dennis Morgan, in an uncredited role, performed "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" (dubbed by Allan Jones).
The film was originally developed at Universal Pictures in late 1934 and in their 1935 development book appears as a pre-production, to star Powell. Due to financial problems at the studio at the time, the entire production, including some already constructed sets and musical arrangements were sold to MGM. Universal retained the services of Powell however, which ultimately resulted in his appearance in the classic screwball comedy My Man Godfrey the same year as The Great Ziegfeld.