In April 1949 the movie “Tulsa” premiered in its namesake city and was the center of attention for days. Oklahoma Gov. Roy J. Turner, who allowed the filmmakers to shoot on his ranch, even declared April 13, 1949, “Tulsa Day in Oklahoma.”
Besides the numerous events and parties thrown throughout the city, the centerpiece was a parade that drew an estimated 100,000 people to downtown Tulsa. Streets were clogged with spectators hoping to see one of the film’s three stars, Chill Wills, Robert Preston and Susan Hayward, who were in separate cars during the procession.
Besides the Hollywood stars, the parade mainly consisted of showcasing the latest and greatest in oil field equipment; after all, the movie is partly about the history of oil in Oklahoma.
That evening, the film premiered in four theaters with staggered starts so the actors could introduce each picture to the enthusiastic crowds.
The response to the film by locals was largely positive as a headline in the next day’s Tulsa World noted “Tulsans love ‘Tulsa,’ the movie.”