Wamego #158 July 2023
[Above: Dick Martin was widely regarded as the preeminent Oz illustrator of the mid-Twentieth Century. Circa 1963-65, he was called upon by The Reilly & Lee Company to more-or-less recreate John R. Neill’s original cover art for their new, deluxe “white editions” of L. Frank Baum’s fourteen Oz Books. Fans were delighted, especially as Dick’s work alternated between faithful restoration and fanciful adaptation. It’s no understatement to note that a special pleasure of the Oz public was manifested over Martin’s use of a recently discovered, previously pretty much unknown, and long-ago-filed-away Neill wraparound design, actually intended for either the dust jacket or endpapers of the initial 1914 edition of TIK-TOK OF OZ. For the new printing, Dick reinstated it to semi-proper placement as the “stamped on” TIK-TOK front cover, spine, and rear cover; it’s a dazzler! From left: Hank the Mule; seated front row: the Shaggy Man, Tik-Tok, Queen Ann of Oogaboo; in the rear: Polychrome the Rainbow’s Daughter, Betsy Bobbin of Oklahoma, and Princess Ozga of the Rose Kingdom.]
If you’ve been following the 2023 Wamego OZ Museum Vlog and Blog series, you’re aware that there were definitely “revisitations” in author L. Frank Baum’s approach to his Oz stories. The writer was a life-long theater enthusiast, and it took little encouragement for him to adapt the 1900 THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ book into what became one of the greatest musical stage presentations of the first decade of the last century. THE WIZARD OF OZ toured North America (at times with two companies) from 1902-1909. Of course, Baum had a lot of professional aid in assembling that successful vehicle, and given the triumph of both the children’s novel and the for-all-ages show, he planned a second book, THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ (1904) -- primarily so as to turn it into another extravaganza, THE WOGGLE BUG, in 1905. Unfortunately, he worked much more on his own during that production, and while the second Oz Book succeeded, its transposition to the stage was an immediate failure.
Baum (the Single-Thought Scribe) quickly had underlying plans, however, for Oz Book # 3, OZMA OF OZ (1907). Over the next few years, he developed multiple script drafts of that story and wrote its show lyrics --- all the while alternating composers, cowriters, and titles: THE RAINBOW’S DAUGHTER, OR THE MAGNET OF LOVE; OZMA OF OZ; and by 1913 (when it was finally produced by Oliver Morosco), THE TIK-TOK MAN OF OZ:
Across those same six years, Baum also wrote (among many other projects) three additional full-length Oz Books for his clamoring readers. The economical novelist then freely developed and/or incorporated some of his new Ozian characters and plot elements into the ever-evolving libretto of THE TIK-TOK MAN OF OZ. The title character himself was retained from the OZMA OF OZ book, and to a certain extent, replaced the Tin Woodman in the musical version of the story. Similarly, the Scarecrow’s “sidekick” spot was filled by the Shaggy Man from the 1909 Oz Book, THE ROAD TO OZ. (Polychrome, the Rainbow’s Daughter, segued from that tale into the show, as well.) Dorothy Gale of Kansas and Billina the Hen (and their shipwreck adventure) from OZMA OF OZ were supplanted in the libretto by Betsy Bobbin of Oklahoma and Hank the Mule. Ozma’s 1907 army – intended to overthrow and correct some of the mischief caused by the chicanerous Nome King – became, in the 1913 musical, the lesser aggregation of Queen Ann of the tiny Oz hamlet of Oogaboo. Ann’s combatants, however, comically resembled those of Ozma in that they employed the same compliment of numerous officers, plus one single private soldier. The latter was, in both accounts, expected to do any and all of the fighting.
THE TIK-TOK MAN OF OZ musical plot was rounded out by a disenfranchised Rose Princess -- a living rose come to life and barred from her realm; Queen Ann’s determination to conquer the Nome Kingdom (she wants all the jewels of the world for herself); and the Shaggy Man’s desire to free his kidnapped brother (being held by the Nome King).
[Above: Three gleeful views of those who were relished by audiences of the musical, THE TIK-TOK MAN OF OZ: (top) Charlotte Greenwood as Queen Ann and Sydney Grant as Private Files. Greenwood is best remembered today for her supportive comedic turns in a raft of 20th Century-Fox Technicolor movie musicals during the 1940s. Each of them invariably incorporated the sky-high, sideways leg kicks that were her dance trademark. Most notably, she captured the coveted role of Aunt Eller in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s spectacular cinematic OKLAHOMA! in 1955. (middle) Private Files – here portrayed by Charles Purcell – and his romantic counterpart, Princess Ozma (Ilon Bergere); the duo shared one of the hit songs of the production, “Ask the Flowers to Tell You.” (bottom) From left, this happy foursome encompasses James Morton as Tik-Tok, Dolly Castles as Polychrome, Fred Moore as the Shaggy Man, and Fred Woodward as Hank. The latter actor, a masterful animal impersonator, was a constant showstopper in THE TIK-TOK MAN OF OZ, and youngsters were consistently and noisily rapturous about his antics.]
Lavishly produced by highly regarded producer Oliver Morosco, THE TIK-TOK MAN OF OZ opened to reasonable success in Los Angeles in March 1913. Reviews were mixed, but Baum and his fellow creatives continued to work on the show, and it continued to entertain and attract very good audiences in San Francisco, Chicago, and throughout the Midwest. It finally concluded its year-long tour with return engagements on the West Coast in late winter 1914. Whatever its undeniable, diverting, and engaging appeal, THE TIK-TOK MAN OF OZ was deemed by many a critic as a genial but definite carbon copy of the earlier THE WIZARD OF OZ show, and Morosco decided not to risk taking it to Broadway.
Thanks, however, to the public enthusiasm shown THE TIK-TOK MAN OF OZ – and even without a fresh New York City stage conquest of which to boast -- Baum was theatrically supercharged once again. He next, however tentatively, planned a musical of his 1913 Oz Book, THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ, but then opted instead -- in 1914 – to create The Oz Film Manufacturing Company and to use that story for its first feature-length silent movie. (Please see the Blog prior to this one for a cursory look at the arc of hope, imagination, ahead-of-its-time output, and failure of the Oz Film Co.) More importantly -- and with all of the foregoing at hand in late 1913; with THE TIK-TOK MAN OF OZ still on the road; and with his emotional and contractual allegiance (respectively) to his readers and publishers -- Baum also had to address the immediate demand-at-hand for a 1914 addition to the Oz Book Series. So he cleverly, sagely, and somewhat loosely adapted the musical show’s script for his 1914 effort: the truncated-ly titled TIK-TOK OF OZ.
How did he do it? Per usual, the author had the superlative aid of John R. Neill, whose customarily beautiful, humorous, and outstanding work suffused the new volume. With acknowledgement and appreciation to “Jno” (as the illustrator abbreviatedly nicknamed himself), here’s a joyously illustrated and brief recounting of the story told in the eighth Oz Book.
Just Above: Queen Ann of Oogaboo rallies the men of her small village into an army of sixteen officers and one private, as it’s her intent to conquer the world. (Please see “The Map of the Marvelous Land of Oz” in the OZ Museum’s November 7th Facebook Vlog posting about the TIK-TOK OF OZ book. You’ll find Oogaboo in the top right hand corner of the Winkie County.)
From her own palace in the Quadling Country, however, the magnificent and omni-powerful Glinda the Good reads of Ann’s plans in her Great Book of Records; the latter concisely reports on every personal, professional, political (etc.) activity in the world, large or small. To deflect trouble from Oz, Glinda enchants the mountain passageway out of Oogaboo, so that Ann and Army unknowingly find themselves across the Deadly Desert in the Nome Kingdom. (This and other regions explored and experienced in TIK-TOK OF OZ also may be seen in its Vlog reproduction of the “Map of the Countries Near to the Land of Oz.”)
Meanwhile, a little American girl -- Betsy Bobbin -- and Hank the Mule are swept off a seagoing ship in a violent storm that besets one of the oceans of the Great Outside World:
When they float to land, they’re “not in Oklahoma anymore” but near the Rose Kingdom. By chance, they encounter the Shaggy Man of Oz, transported to that region by Princess Ozma in the Emerald City, so that Shaggy might search for his missing brother. He befriends the girl and mule, yet all three are spurned by the beautiful but heartless human flowers of the Rose Kingdom. When Shaggy and Betsy purposefully pick a new ruler for that country, they, Hank – and the caring, lovely, and newly-“born” Princess Ozga – are banished and left to wander away together. (So as to avoid confusion for Oz Book readers – who well knew Ozma as the ruler of Oz – Baum changed the name of the musical’s romantic heroine, the Rose Princess, to Ozga, and labeled her Ozma’s cousin.)
As fate and author would have it, the travelers swiftly encounter mystical and beautiful Polychrome, the Rainbow’s Daughter, whose desire to dance on the earth’s surface has once again left her behind when her father removes the end of his arch from that spot on the plain. Next to join the ensemble are the Oogaboo contingent; yet when Queen Ann and her officers order Private Files to capture and bind Shaggy’s company in conquest, the military man not only refuses the dictate but abruptly resigns and becomes specific protector and companion of Ozga:
Ann is left without a warrior to overthrow the world on her behalf, until the famous Clockwork Man of Oz – Tik-Tok himself! – is discovered at the bottom of a roadside well. He’d been tossed to its depths by the legendarily terrible Nome King, who was furious to find Tik-Tok in his domain. Ann seizes upon the opportunity to engage the copper
“wind-up” as her new private, and the entire band sets off to conquer the Nomes and commandeer the unfathomable number of jewels and assorted riches they’ve dug from (and then hidden in) their underground kingdom.
Furious when he discovers their approach, Nome King Ruggedo magically manipulates the road to his kingdom so that it runs directly over a large, invisible hole. All Baum’s protagonists not only fall in but tumble entirely through the earth via a magician’s amazing construction – a tube that comes out in the land of the Great Jinjin, Tititi Hoochoo. There, that supreme potentate – a peaceful and just ruler who has often warned Ruggedo not to use the cylinder for any reason -- decides to render the Nome King powerless. To do this, he sends his own emissary back through the tube: Quox, the three thousand (and-nearly-fifty-six) year-old dragon To comfortably accommodate the refugees, the Great Jinjin also equips the amiable beast with rows of seats along his back so that Shaggy, Betsy, Hank, Tik-Tok, Poly, Files, Ozga, and the Oogaboo party might comfortably ride back through the earth’s interior:
Ann determinedly refuses Quox’s aid and decides to use Tik-Tok and her army to conquer the Nomes. In turn, the dragon – with the great, good humor of the best of Baum’s unique “fancifuls” – naps while they make the effort. In the process, the Oogaboo delegation is captured, one and all, and the Nome King’s prisoners eventually include the Shaggy Man, Files, and Ozga, as well. Only the air fairy Polychrome easily escapes the eager underground approaches of Ruggedo and his General Guph, who (surprise!) can’t resist a pretty face and form. It’s one of Baum’s best faux-romantic and slapstick-on-paper chases:
In time, Quox enters the Nome caverns, conquers Ruggedo, flushes him of his magic, and tells him he’s sentenced to eternal banishment from his subterranean Kingdom. The dragon is also able to easily break the transformations the King has imposed on Shaggy, Ozga, and Files; meanwhile, Besty and Hank have been hidden away for protection by Kaliko (one of the “good guy” Nomes), and Quox designates him as the new ruler of the whole shebang.
With Kaliko’s help, Shaggy’s brother is rescued from his imprisonment in the cavernous Metal Forest (the description of which in TIK-TOK OF OZ is Baum’s prose at its most evocative). Meanwhile, you’ll have to read the book to discover why Shaggy’s sibling is wearing a handkerchief mask in this Neill portrait – and how it takes the combined attempts of Betsy, Ozga, and Polychrome to enable him to eventually discard it:
In his expulsion, Ruggedo has been promised he may take with him as many jewels as he can carry, but his customary greed proves yet another downfall. He wearily collapses under the weight of his booty, and Kalilo takes pity on him and allows him to remain in the Nome Kingdom -- IF he promises to behave. (In less than five years and exactly five books later, he’s back to his reprehensible tricks and comportment; watch here for the Vlog and Blog about Baum’s THE MAGC OF OZ book for 1919). Meanwhile, here’s the deposed, depleted, and avaricious former king:
In best Baumian (and gleefully satisfactory-to-his-readers) fashion, the Royal Historian of Oz wraps it all up. Polychrome’s father dips down the rainbow, and she goes home again. A much worn-through, washed-out, and wised-up Queen Ann forsakes her rout of the world and is magically returned to Oogaboo with her army by the magic of The Wizard of Oz – in company with (as Ozma phrases it, in a diplomatic and non-mushy-for-boy-readers manner) “such good friends” as Files and Ozga. Tik-Tok is summoned home to the Emerald City – as is, eventually, Shaggy. But the latter is now accompanied by his brother and Betsy and Hank, all of whom have been graciously offered a home by the Oz princess.
By this point, there’s one question that I realize might be under consideration for some of you: Where the heck has Tik-Tok – our title character – been through all of this? In the foregoing summation, his name and presence are comparatively referenced only in passing. Truth be told, though (and once he’s out of the well), he’s the consistent bond from gamble to gambol and actually omnipresent throughout.
It’s he who valiantly, staunchly leads the ever-whiny men of Oogaboo into one inadvertent mishap after another, yet it is his status as “a private citizen” that enables him to win the enviable favor, respect, and aid of Tititi Hoochoo for the entire company. Following orders, Tik-Tok also bravely marches alone into the throne room of Ruggedo to overthrow the Nome Kingdom – and at every moment along the way, he proves himself stalwart, loyal, faithful, and determined to do whatever his mechanism is wound up to do. Below (top), you’ll see him as first salvaged from the well by Shaggy and Betsy. Second below, he intrepidly advances as the initial member of the Army of Revolt. For his efforts, he become the first to unexpectedly encounter the Nome King’s Rubber Country, which – when stepped upon – sends travelers bounding up and soaring through the air, as if they’d encountered an electrified trap and spring. In Neill’s third picture, Tik-Tok is shown in one of his unfortunately frequent stumble-and-fall moments, the result of his somewhat stiff and limited stance. Finally, he’s represented as Ruggedo’s captive, weighed down by an oversize jewel; this conclusively proves that diamonds remain a girl’s best friend but are detrimental to clockwork men.
In the subsequent thirty-two “official” books of the Oz Series, Tik-Tok makes many brief additional appearances and is an ever welcome denizen to readers and Ozians alike. (He’s once more strongly featured in THE SCALAWAGONS OF OZ, which John R. Neill both wrote and pictured in 1941.) Whatever his contribution, however, the unique robotic-voiced invention is cherished for all of it -- and in a more recent public and popular embrace, he also lovingly “costarred” in the 1985 Disney feature-length film, RETURN TO OZ. Therein, he companions Dorothy, Jack Pumpkinhead, Billina the Hen, and the Gump in a screen reworking of episodes from Baum’s THE LAND OF OZ and OZMA OF OZ.
Finally, his own book, TIK-TOK OF OZ, has never been out of print in one-hundred-and-nine years. And if it’s true that the stage musical that launched that story is now virtually forgotten (except by Oz enthusiasts, musical theater historians, and show business “passionistas”), even ITS unfair obscurity has just been brilliantly addressed. Within the past month or so, Eric Shaower has published – through the Hungry Tiger Press – the extraordinarily detailed and bountifully illustrated saga of THE TIK TOK MAN OF OZ extravaganza. It’s a 440-page book that provides a sensational, fervent, and exciting return to what popular entertainment and Oz were like one-hundred-and-ten years ago at this time:
My heartfelt thanks to Eric for providing two of the stage show photos above, as well as CORRECT information as to just who’s depicted in those pictures! His book (which may be ordered here: All Wound Up: The Making of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz – Hungry Tiger Press) is an ideal holiday gift for anyone you know who’s Ozzy, musically, theatrically, or historically inclined.
Also: My additional appreciation to the legendary Justin G. Schiller -- founder of The International Wizard of Oz Club, Inc. (ozclub.org) – and the Justin Schiller Collection for permission to reprint the two maps of Oz (one of which includes its surrounding countries) that appear in the Wamego OZ Museum TIK TOK OF OZ Vlog, as cited above.
See you soon! And my gratitude for sharing all of this once again. 😊
Article by John Fricke