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On this Day in Movie History, August 15, 1969: Woodstock Music and Art Fair Open

It was on this day, August 15, 1969 the Woodstock Music & Art Fair (informally, Woodstock or The Woodstock Festival) was opened at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in the Catskills near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel, New York. Billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music” it was a music festival at which thirty-two acts performed outdoors in front of 500,000 concert-goers.

The event was captured in the 1970 documentary movie Woodstock, an accompanying soundtrack album, and Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock”, which commemorated the event and became a major hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

The documentary film Woodstock, directed by Michael Wadleigh and edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese, was released in 1970. Artie Kornfeld (one of the promoters of the festival) came to Fred Weintraub, an executive at Warner Bros., and asked for money to film the festival.. Artie had been turned down everywhere else, but Fred Weintraub became his hero and, against the express wishes of other Warner Bros. executives, Weintraub put his job on the line and gave Kornfeld $100,000 to make the film.

With no money to pay the crew, Wadleigh rounded up a crew of about 100 from the New York film scene. He agreed to a double-or-nothing scheme, in which the crew would receive double pay if the film succeeded and nothing if it bombed. Woodstock received the Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

The film has been deemed culturally significant by the United States Library of Congress. In 2009, the film was re-released on DVD. This release marks the film’s first availability on Blu-ray disc

Woodstock is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history. Rolling Stone called it one of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll.

1879 – Ethel Barrymore (Ethel Mae Blythe) (Academy Award-winning actress: None But the Lonely Heart [1944]; The Farmer’s Daughter, Pinky; died June 18, 1959)

1912 – Dame Wendy Hiller (Academy Award-winning actress: Separate Tables [1958]; A Man for All Seasons, Making Love, Murder on the Orient Express, Pygmalion, The Elephant Man, Toys in the Attic, David Copperfield; died May 14, 2003)

1931 – Janice Rule (actress: American Flyers, L.A. Bad, Invitation to a Gunfighter, The Life You Save; died Oct 17, 2003)

1935 – Abby Dalton (actress: Falcon Crest, Barney Miller, Hennesey, The Joey Bishop Show)

1945 – Jill Haworth (actress: Exodus, In Harm’s Way, Tower of Evil; died Jan 3, 2011)

1950 – Tess Harper (Washam) (actress: Tender Mercies, Flashpoint)

1968 – Debra Messing (actress: Will & Grace, N.Y.P.D. Blue, Ned and Stacey)

1972 – Ben Affleck (actor: Pearl Harbor, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Glory Daze, Good Will Hunting, Armageddon, Forces of Nature, Reindeer Games)

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