Wamego #82 April 14, 2017
One hundred and seventeen years ago next month, L. Frank Baum's THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ rolled off the presses in Chicago. Its first-edition -- illustrated profusely and in a riot of colors by W. W. Denslow -- was a critically well-received and best-selling success. But no one then and very few since could have imagined, predicted, or prophesied the ceaseless magic, emotional power, or ongoing product that would be launched by Baum’s imagination. To be sure, the author himself had no idea in 1900 that his own subsequent career would encompass the writing of thirteen full-length sequels, more than thirty short stories, musical theater scripts and lyrics, a multi-media stage show, and silent film scenarios -- all of which grew out of that initial story about Dorothy, Toto, & Co.
At this point in hoztory (as some of us are unabashedly wont to put it), even a multi-volume encyclopedia of Oz couldn’t trace or notate -- even cursorily -- all the major and minor facts, factoids, fulfilled projects, rumored plans, and unfulfilled announcements that have stirred and often excited fans across the past eleven decades-plus! But for any uber-devoted Ozians here among the readership, this month’s blog will note a few of the tantalizing tidbits of lore that have been part of that Ozzy morass!
Did you know that tentative negotiations began in 1961 for an Oz cartoon TV series – in which Judy Garland would have provided the voice of Dorothy?
Did you know that MGM's Toto in the 1939 WIZARD OF OZ film was a female dog named Terry, whose owner originally brought her to trainer Carl Spitz for instruction – and then disappeared without reclaiming the little Cairn terrier? Carl not only kept Terry, he put her in the movies!
Did you know that L. Frank Baum’s eleventh “Oz book,” THE LOST PRINCESS OF OZ, celebrates its centennial this year? (above left) And did you know that the book had several other possible titles prior to its 1917 publication. These included ADVENTURES IN OZ, THREE GIRLS IN OZ, and PRINCESS DOROTHY OF OZ?
Did you know that Jack Haley titled his autobiography HEART OF THE TIN MAN? It was privately, posthumously published by his family in 2000. (above right)
Did you know that Walt Disney almost starred his “Mickey Mouse Club” Mouseketeers – Annette, Darlene, Karen, Cubby, Jimmy Dodd, Bobby Burgess, and all – in a 1957 Technicolor musical film called RAINBOW ROAD TO OZ?
Did you know that “Glinda, the Witch of the North” did her own singing in THE WIZARD OF OZ movie? For years, a session vocalist named Lorraine Bridges was credited with the warbling of “Come out, come out, wherever you are...,” but all of those accounts are incorrect. Billie Burke sang for herself!
Did you know that – in the “melting scene” in THE WIZARD OF OZ movie – Margaret Hamilton wore a larger Wicked Witch of the West hat, to make it look as if her head were shrinking away? (above)
Did you know that when THE WIZARD OF OZ film was first shown in Great Britain in 1940, it was categorized “Adults Only” because of the terrors that might be caused for children by the Wicked Witch and her minions?
Did you know that, in 1962 -- long before Dunkin Donuts adapted this Ozzy name for their own use – there were cookies called Munchkins?
Did you know that Judy Garland refused to perform a comedy version of “Over the Rainbow” on her 1963-64 CBS television series? (She didn’t want anything to impair the public’s great emotional tie to – and affection for – either the song or the character of Dorothy Gale.) She only offered “Rainbow” once during the twenty-six episodes of her series, at the finale of the Christmas episode. Her eight-year-old son Joe and her eleven-year-old daughter Lorna drew near for that special moment. (above left)
Did you know that MGM gave Ray Bolger his Scarecrow costume from THE WIZARD OF OZ movie after filming was completed? His widow later donated the cherished garb to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. He models it here in 1939 with, of course, Judy as Dorothy. (above right)
Did you know that there’s a new trilogy of Oz books en route, the first of which will be published next month on May 16th? Watch for A FIERY FRIENDSHIP, the initial entry in the “Ages of Oz” stories by Gabriel Gale (as told to Lisa Fiedler). It’s ideal reading for middle schoolers – and starts out when Glinda was a thirteen-year-old girl in the Quadling Country of Oz, and then tells how she came to discover that she was, by heritage, a sorceress.
Did you know that most of the soundtrack -- songs and dialogue -- for the 1973 cartoon, JOURNEY BACK TO OZ, was actually recorded eleven years earlier? (It took the producers more than a decade to raise the money to finish the animation…and after all of that, the film was financially unsuccessful!) Judy Garland’s daughter, Liza Minnelli was sixteen in 1962 and sang and spoke for Dorothy Gale; Broadway legend Ethel Merman voiced Mombi the Witch. (above)
Did you know that Oz illustrator -- supreme! -- Dick Martin actually used a 1920s’ promotional copy of THE OZMAPOLITAN newspaper, collage fashion, in the picture he drew of the Munchkin farmer as he first painted the face of the Scarecrow? That picture is shown at the very top of this blog; it’s from THE VISITORS FROM OZ book (1960).
Did you know that YOU can travel to OZ on October 7th and 8th, 2017, by attending OZtoberFest -- and visiting The OZ Museum in Wamego, KS? (Details coming soon, but SAVE THE DATES NOW!)
Article by John Fricke