Daniel P. Mannix was the co-founder of the Munchkin Convention. He could also eat fire. He was a true renaissance man: an author, circus performer (he could swallow swords and lighted tubing as well as flames), adventurer, and animal trainer. When he stepped into the role of entertainer, he quickly gathered a crowd and held center stage.
In all, Dan authored more than 25 books, including The Fox and the Hound, which became a Disney movie. His article “The Father of the ‘Wizard of Oz’” was published in the December 1964 issue of American Heritage.
Dan’s interest in Oz had been aroused by his research on L. Frank Baum. That led him to offer his Malvern, Pennsylvania, farm as the site for the International Wizard of Oz Club’s first Munchkin Convention in 1967. It was a fantastic setting, particularly for the children, because he kept live foxes, eagles, and other wild animals there in his private menagerie.
A tree-lined lane flanked by yellow streamers led from the highway to the welcoming greenery of Dan’s estate. Club members arrived to find the most beloved Oz characters represented by painted plywood figures, and the silver slippers of the Wicked Witch of the East protruding from beneath the barn.