1920-1938: Ruth Plumly Thompson: The Second Royal Historian

1920

  • March 25 – Harry Neal and Mary (Niles) Baum’s son, Harry Neal, Jr., is born in Chicago. Following his parents’ 1927 divorce and his father’s remarriage, Harry will legally change his name to Henry Barron Niles (c. 1941).
  • July 10 – Baum’s Glinda of Oz, written in the garden at Ozcot, is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill. In place of the usual author’s note, the publishers write that Baum has left this world to tell his stories to “the little child-souls who lived here too long ago to read the Oz stories for themselves.” They assure young readers that at least one more Oz book will be published from notes he left behind. Though some sources report that Frank Jr. finished the manuscript, there is little evidence to support the claim.
  • Oct. 14 – Grandson Stanton Gage Baum is born to Robert Stanton and Edna (Ducker) Baum in Pomona, Calif.
  • William F. Lee travels to Philadelphia to ask 29-year-old children’s author Ruth Plumly Thompson to write the next Oz book. In addition to her children’s page for The Philadelphia Public Ledger, Thompson’s fantasy books and many short stories assure Lee that she will be able to take over the series. The Baum family approves her selection.
  • Baum’s Snuggle Tales are reissued by Reilly and Lee, Chicago, as The Oz-Man Tales.

1921

  • May 24 – Ruth Plumly Thompson’s The Royal Book of Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill. This volume is credited to Baum, but is entirely Thompson’s work. John R. Neill’s familiar illustrations help ease the transition between authors.
  • Sept. 7 – Frank Joslyn and Helen Snow Baum are divorced in Los Angeles.
  • Parker Brothers issues The Wonderful Game of Oz. The colorful board game comes with pewter figures and includes a wide range of Oz places and characters drawn from the successful series. It will remain a top seller for nearly 20 years.
  • Baum’s song “Susan Doozan” from the 1916 Uplifters Minstrels is published by Cooper’s Melody Shop, Los Angeles. Music is by Byron Gay.
  • Thompson leaves her job at the Philadelphia Public Ledger.
  • A series of 26 Oz film shorts is proposed by Ray Smallwood but never produced.

1922

  • Apr. 18 – Thompson’s Kabumpo in Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill. A large cardboard display pictures its elephant namesake. Her work is described as “Founded on and continuing the famous Oz stories of L. Frank Baum,” a descriptor that will be used for the Oz books of Thompson and future authors (“Royal Historians”).

    Illustrator Neill writes the publishers, congratulating them on “securing an author of such superior qualifications” to continue the Oz series. He describes Kabumpo in Oz as “one of the very best Oz books so far.”

  • June 10 – Frances Gumm (Judy Garland) is born in Grand Rapids, Minn., to Frank Avent and Ethel Marion Milne Gumm. As a young actress, Garland will become the most famous Dorothy of stage or screen for her work on the MGM classic film The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • Sept. 30 – Thompson’s The Princess of Cozytown is published by P. F. Volland, Chicago, with illustrations by Janet Laura Scott.
  • Dec. 11 – Rachel R. Cosgrove is born in Westernport, Md. As an author, she will write The Hidden Valley of Oz (1951) and The Wicked Witch of Oz (1993).

1923

  • Jan. 22 – A second granddaughter, Judith Gage, is born to Harry Neal and Mary (Niles) Baum.
  • July 25 – Thompson’s The Cowardly Lion of Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.
  • Sept 29 – Kenneth Gage and Dorothy (Duce) Baum have a daughter, Janet Hilda. This third granddaughter is born in Los Angeles.

1924

  • July 9 – Thompson’s Grampa in Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.
  • July 21 – A fourth Baum granddaughter is born in Pomona, Calif. Florence Ducker Baum is the daughter of Robert Stanton and Edna (Ducker) Baum.
  • Reilly & Lee distributes a novelty leaflet to bookstores entitled “The Scarecrow of Oz Answers Questions by Radio.”
  • Oz book publisher William F. Lee dies.
  • A third edition of Baum’s American Fairy Tales (1901) is published by Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis. It contains eight original two-color plates by George Kerr.
  • Thompson writes lyrics to four Oz songs in the hope that they will be produced as records for children.

1925

  • Frank J. Baum promotes products from his Oz Doll & Toy Manufacturing Company.
  • June 27 – The Chadwick Film Company’s production of The Wizard of Oz is released with publicity materials that include posters, postcards, still photos, and a copy of the book published by Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis, with photos from the film as plates. The production also is shown overseas. The screenplay is written by Frank Baum Jr.

    It stars Larry Semon as the Scarecrow, Dorothy Dwan as Dorothy, and Oliver Hardy as the Tin Woodman. The original organ score is by Rosa Rio. Larry Semon, as one of the most popular and highest-paid comedians of the day, receives star billing. He is also Dorothy Dwan’s husband. Oliver Hardy goes on to become a film legend when he partners with Stan Laurel.

  • July 1 – Thompson’s The Lost King of Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.
  • July-Aug.-Sept. – A Baum short story, “The Yellow Ryl,” is published in two parts in A Child’s Garden. The July issue includes a biographical sketch of Baum by his widow, Maud. This previously unpublished short story was mentioned in a contract in 1905.
  • Oct. – Invisible Inzi of Oz, an Oz book written by two children is published as a series in A Child’s Garden. Authors Virginia Wauchope (age 13) and Robert Wauchope (age 9) claim their story was given to them through a Ouija board.
  • Thompson’s playlet A Day in Oz, or Scraps from Oz, is used to market the Oz books. The four songs she wrote in 1923 are used in the production. Norman Sherred writes the music.

1926

  • June 28 – Thompson’s The Hungry Tiger of Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill. A plywood counter display of the Scarecrow appears in bookstores to promote the new story.
  • July 2 – Thompson’s The Curious Cruise of Captain Santa is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by Neill.
  • July 26 – Fred M. Meyer is born. A charter member of the International Wizard of Oz Club, Inc., he serves as its secretary for more than 30 years and builds one of the finest Oz collections known.
  • WMAQ Chicago broadcasts The Land of Oz on its Topsy Turvy Time Man radio program.
  • The first issue of the revived Ozmapolitan newspaper announces the Ozmite Club. Members of the children’s reading society receive a small metal pin. Reilly & Lee distribute the paper through bookstores to promote interest in the Oz books.

1927

  • Apr. 30 – Thompson’s The Gnome King of Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill. A plywood Patchwork Girl encourages bookstore customers to read the latest Oz book.
  • June – Harry Neal and Mary (Niles) Baum divorce.
  • June 29 – Dick Martin is born in Chicago. He later claims to have been “born into Oz,” as his mother had listened to Baum tell stories as a girl, and his grandmother had taken china-painting lessons with Maud Baum. As an illustrator, author of both Oz fiction and Oz research, and early Oz collector, he will make invaluable contributions to Oz.
  • June 30 – Harry Neal Baum marries his second wife, Helen Bates.
  • Jack Snow writes Maud Baum, asking for help locating out-of-print Baum books.
  • Summer – Baum’s Macatawa cottage “The Sign of the Goose” is destroyed by fire.
  • Aug. 1 – An Oz map coloring contest sponsored by Reilly & Lee closes.

1928

  • May 25 – Thompson’s The Giant Horse of Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill. A new issue of The Ozmapolitan accompanies its publication.
  • Jean Gros’s French Marionettes production of The Magical Land of Oz tours the country. Paper bookmarks of the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman advertise the show. Written by Thompson, it is an adaptation of Ozma of Oz with a 14-piece puppet orchestra.
  • Actor Larry Semon, the Scarecrow from the Chadwick production of The Wizard of Oz (1925), dies.
  • Junior League Play adaptations of The Wizard of Oz and The Land of Oz are written by Elizabeth Fuller (Chapman) Goodspeed and are published by Samuel French, Chicago. The scripts are used by a Cleveland radio station. The surname Chapman appears on Wizard, and Goodspeed on Land, indicating a change in marital status.

1929

  • May 17 – Thompson’s Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.
  • Sept. 16 – Thompson’s The Wonder Book is published by Reilly and Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by William Donahey and others.
  • Oct. 24 – New York NBC Radio stations regularly feature Oz books in a read-aloud program.
  • The first critical study of Baum’s work, Utopia Americana by Edward Wagenknecht, is published by the University of Washington Chapbooks (Number 28).
  • Fred Stone, famous from his stage performances as the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz (1902), is critically injured in an airplane crash. He had been attempting a stunt. In addition to many other broken bones, his legs are crushed, and he is told he’ll never again dance. His good friend Will Rogers offers to fill in for Fred in Three Cheers, a stage show written for Fred and his daughter, Dorothy. Rogers is a hit, and Stone works at therapy relentlessly until he proves his doctors wrong and returns to the stage.

Late 1920s

  • Ellen Van Volkenburg directs a marionette version of The Wizard of Oz.

1930

  • May 3 – Thompson’s The Yellow Knight of Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.

    Thompson’s mail from Oz fans, like Baum’s, arrives steadily. One example that particularly amuses her reads: “Dear Ruth, Would you mind telling me how old you are? I am afraid you and Mr. Neill must be in your middle years. But never mind. When you are dead, like Mr. Baum, I am going to write the Oz books myself. With love, Judy.”

    A more typical letter reads: “Dear Ruth, Oh when is that new Oz book coming out? The kids around here have been chewing their nails and holding their breaths waiting. We’re about chewed out and winded. Please, please, when is it coming to us? Yours, Terry Scott.”

1931

  • May 19 – Thompson’s Pirates in Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.
  • Frank J. Baum writes four 15-minute Oz scripts for radio to promote Tweety in Oz, a book he says he has written, though no manuscript is ever found.

1932

  • Feb. 25 – A film short, The Land of Oz (a.k.a. The Scarecrow of Oz) is released. It is an Ethel Meglin Kiddies production featuring Sissie Flynn and Maryeruth Boone.
  • May 6 – Thompson’s The Purple Prince of Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.
  • May – The Wonderland of Oz comic page by Walt Spouse appears in newspapers. The artist faithfully adapts both the text and illustrations of The Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, and Tik-Tok of Oz from the original books. It is syndicated by the C. C. Winningham Company of Detroit.
  • July 29 – Frank Joslyn Baum marries for the second time. His wife, Rosine Agnes (Shafer) Brubeck, has three children from a previous marriage. Frank’s new stepchildren are Patricia Ann (born Nov. 7, 1921), Thomas Edward (born May 18, 1924), and Donald Philip (born Oct. 1, 1927).
  • Publisher F. K. Reilly dies. Frank O’Donnell becomes the new president of Reilly & Lee.
  • The first foreign translation of The Wizard of Oz is published. Le Magicien d’Ohz, translated into French by Marcelle Gauwin, is published by Denoël & Steel with Denslow illustrations.
  • Reilly & Lee, Chicago, produces the Little Oz Books with Jig-Saw Puzzles in boxed sets. The books are inexpensive paperbound abridgments of Baum’s Little Wizard Stories (1913).
  • Disney’s second comic strip is revised as a comic book feature. Bucky Bug comics, under the Silly Symphonies banner, opens with an unnamed bug as a principal character. Readers are asked to vote for their favorite name from a list of choices. The Woggle Bug, a central Oz character first introduced in 1902, is one of the choices.

1933

  • June 3 – Thompson’s Ojo in Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.
  • July 12 – Maud Baum, Reilly & Lee, and Young & Rubicam, Inc., N.Y., sign a contract giving Young & Rubicam rights to “use on the radio” all 14 Baum Oz titles and 13 Thompson titles plus future Oz books while the contract is in existence. According to the terms, promotional material also can be issued with extra compensation to be agreed upon. The contract is renewable after 13 weeks. It is quickly sold to NBC Radio, and programs sponsored by General Foods/Jell-O are developed.
  • Sept. 25 – Jell-O’s Wizard of Oz radio show begins. The 15-minute programs air three times a week for 13 weeks. They are based on the first three Oz books. Ozzy store displays and booklets increase awareness of the program. To receive reprinted softcover copies of Baum’s Little Wizard Stories (1913), listeners must send Jell-O box tops and a dime to the program sponsor. The cast includes Nancy Kelly (Dorothy), Bill Adams (Scarecrow), Jack Smart (Cowardly Lion and Uncle Henry), Parker Fennelly (Tin Woodman), and Junius Matthews (Toto and other characters). Ben Graver is the announcer, and Donald Stauffer directs. Frank Novak writes the music and conducts the four-piece band.
  • Sept. 27 – The Los Angeles Examiner speculates that Eddie Cantor soon will be the Scarecrow, W. C. Fields the Wizard, and either Helen Hayes (age 33) or Mary Pickford (age 40) will be Dorothy in a Samuel Goldwyn film production of The Wizard of Oz.
  • Oct. – After 443 daily episodes, The Wonderland of Oz comic page ends.
  • At the World’s Fair in Chicago, giant Oz figures are erected at EnchantedIsland, an attraction designed especially for children. The towering Tin Woodman and Scarecrow are pictured on postcards of the festival attractions.
  • Ted Eshbaugh’s animated The Wizard of Oz is produced in Technicolor by J. R. Booth for Film Laboratories of Canada, but is not commercially released. Eshbaugh is the director. The cartoon is eventually made available on home video decades later.
  • The Land of Oz is translated into French by Marcel Gauwin. Le Petit Roi d’Ohz is published by Denoël & Steel with Neill illustrations.
  • MGM wants to option the Oz books for animation, but cannot agree with Frank Baum Jr. on terms.
  • A female Cairn terrier puppy, Terry, is born to a bitch owned by animal trainer Carl Spitz. Following a 1934 debut in Shirley Temple’s Bright Eyes, Terry is cast in a series of feature films, including the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz, where she appears as Toto.

1934

  • Jan. 26 – Frank J. Baum assigns movie rights for The Wizard of Oz to Samuel Goldwyn. Maud and Denslow’s heirs share $60,000.
  • Feb. 9 – The first Baum grandchild to marry, Joslyn Stanton Baum, son of Frank Joslyn and Helen (Snow) Baum, marries Elizabeth Pollock.
  • Mar. 23 – The last episode of the Jell-O Wizard of Oz radio show is broadcast.
  • Apr. 17 – Frank J. Baum is granted copyright for a work entitled Jimmy Bulber in Oz.
  • Apr. 25 – Thompson’s Speedy in Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.
  • Sept. 2 – Frank Joslyn’s second wife, Rosine Agnes (Shafer) Brubeck Baum, dies.
  • A “Land of Oz” children’s section is included in Cincinnati’s Coney Island amusement park.
  • The Wizard of Oz Waddle Book with die-cut “walking” characters is published by Blue Ribbon Books, New York. The book contains the unabridged text and Denslow’s illustrations. Publisher’s records indicate that 38,336 copies are sold.

1935

  • Jan. – Frank J. Baum’s The Laughing Dragon of Oz is published by Whitman as a Big Little Book with illustrations by Milt Youngren (copyright 1934). A second book, The Enchanted Princess of Oz, is planned, but publication is blocked by Reilly & Lee, which holds exclusive rights to Oz sequels.
  • May 3 – Thompson’s The Wishing Horse of Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill. This is the last Reilly & Lee Oz book to be published with interior color illustrations on inserted color plates.
  • Sept. 27 – Judy Garland signs a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).
  • Mary Buchanan’s play Ozma of Oz is published by Samuel French, Chicago.

1936

  • Apr. 24 – Thompson’s Captain Salt in Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.
  • Hollywood speculates that child actress Marcia Mae Jones would be a good candidate for Dorothy in Samuel Goldwyn’s production of The Wizard of Oz.

1937

  • Apr. 17 – Thompson’s Handy Mandy in Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.
  • April – MGM again expresses interest in the Oz books as an animation property, but decides instead to purchase the rights to The Captain and the Kids because they think it offers more appeal to adults than the Oz stories.
  • May 22 – Frank Alden Baum, second son of Frank Joslyn and Helen (Snow) Baum, marries Hallie Jean Lincoln.
  • Producer Arthur Freed wants to find a good film property for Judy Garland. Agent Frank Orsatti tells him that Goldwyn has The Wizard of Oz.
  • Mary Buchanan writes a stageplay version of Baum’s Enchanted Island of Yew that is published by Samuel French, Chicago.

1938

  • Jan. – The proposed cast for The Wizard of Oz includes Judy Garland as Dorothy, “The orphan in Kansas who sings jazz”; Betty Jaynes as “The Princess of Oz who sings opera”; Kenny Baker as “The Prince”; Fanny Brice as Glinda; Edna Mae Oliver as the Wicked Witch of the West; and May Robson as Aunt Em.

    Loew’s president, Nicholas Schneck, is rumored to want a more proven star than Judy Garland, such as Deanna Durbin or Bonita Granville, in the role of Dorothy. Though no other name ever appears in print as being under consideration for the part of Dorothy, he may have tried to negotiate for the use of Shirley Temple. The young star already was a fan of Baum’s Oz books. As an adult, Temple recalled in her 1988 autobiography (Child Star, McGraw-Hill, page 69) that she was puzzled when her mother mentioned wanting her to play Dorothy someday. Temple wrote, “‘How could I play Dorothy,’ I replied. ‘She’s real. What I’d like to do is visit her.’”

  • Jan. 31 – Ray Bolger is assigned to be the Tin Woodman in MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, and Buddy Ebsen is assigned to play the Scarecrow. Bolger is adamant that the roles be switched. Raised on the Oz books since age four, he always has wanted to play the role of the Scarecrow, and claims that since he’d first signed with the studio he’s had a verbal agreement to get the role if they ever filmed the story. He had seen the original Scarecrow, Fred Stone, dance in Jack O’Lantern in 1917, and it had motivated him to dance. Confronted with Bolger’s unrelenting insistence, the studio soon switches the roles. Meanwhile, the press is disappointed (but understanding) when 65-year-old Fred Stone, now a movie actor himself, is not given the Scarecrow’s role.
  • Feb. 3 – Mervyn LeRoy signs a contract to produce The Wizard of Oz for MGM. He has loved the book since childhood and rereads it, marking favorite passages he wants to film. He has dreamed of producing the story since he first saw the stage show. Arthur Freed, who had hoped to serve as producer, agrees to work with LeRoy.
  • Feb. 18 – Samuel Goldwyn agrees to sell rights to The Wizard of Oz to MGM.
  • Feb. 24 – Variety announces MGM’s purchase of the rights to The Wizard of Oz and the casting of Garland as Dorothy. The rights include not only the story, but also the right to use material from any previous commercial dramatization.
  • When Maud is asked by Mervyn LeRoy, producer, what she is expecting from the film, she anticipates they will “have Dorothy, a wizard, a scarecrow, a tin woodman, a cowardly lion and maybe a witch in it. Outside of that, I don’t expect anything.” In a March letter to Ruth Plumply Thompson, Maud had been equally pessimistic: “I will never believe The Wizard will be produced until I see it on the screen – I’m from Missouri.”
  • Irving Breecher temporarily serves as screenwriter for MGM’s The Wizard of Oz.
  • Feb. 28 – Herman Mankiewicz is assigned as screenwriter for MGM’s The Wizard of Oz. He works on the script though March 23. Writer Ogden Nash is assigned to help him, although he makes no contributions.
  • Mar. 11 – Noel Langley becomes the screenwriter for MGM’s The Wizard of Oz. His earliest contributions include turning Dorothy’s adventure into a dream and including characters in Kansas to foreshadow characters she meets in Oz.
  • Mar. 15 – Casting for The Wizard of Oz is still uncertain. Trade publications describe it only as featuring “Ray Bolger and an all-star cast.”
  • Mar. 21 – Baum’s grandson Joslyn Stanton and his wife Elizabeth (Pollock) Baum have the family’s first great-grandson. Roger Stanton Baum is born in Los Angeles.
  • Mar. 22 – Thompson’s The Silver Princess in Oz is published by Reilly & Lee, Chicago, with illustrations by John R. Neill.
  • Artist Walt McDougall (Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz, 1904-1905) dies. His death is a suicide.
  • Langley turns in a 43-page treatment for MGM’s The Wizard of Oz.
  • Apr. 5 – Langley’s first script for MGM’s The Wizard of Oz is completed.
  • Trade press and industry experts are still debating several aspects of the MGM production. For example, some want a real lion – even MGM’s own Leo – to be used instead of an actor in a lion costume.
  • An all-midget musical movie is produced by Jed Buell staring a number of the MGM Munchkinland cast members. The Terror of Tiny Town is a Western filmed at the Lazy A Ranch, 40 miles from Hollywood.
  • May 7 – Lyricist Edgar Yipsel “Yip” Harburg and composer Harold Arlen begin work on the musical score of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz.
  • May 31-June 1 – Writer Samuel Huffenstein works on the screenplay for The Wizard of Oz, but makes no substantial contributions.
  • June 2 – Samuel Goldwyn’s right to sell movie rights for MGM’s The Wizard of Oz is confirmed. He sells the rights to Arthur Freed at Loew’s Inc., the parent company of MGM, for $75,000. This is the official date on the contract; the check is dated June 8. Mervyn LeRoy later says the deal “must go down alongside the Louisiana Purchase as one of the biggest bargains of all times.”
  • June 4 – Langley’s Wizard of Oz script is marked with what he considers his last revisions. They include changing Dorothy’s silver shoes to ruby slippers.
  • Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf replace Langley as screenwriters for MGM’s The Wizard of Oz.
  • June 13 – Ryerson and Woolf submit their first script for MGM’s The Wizard of Oz. Their contributions include many elements that are eventually cut from the script – such as a woodpecker thwarting Dorothy’s escape in the Wizard’s balloon as the Munchkin Fire Department comes to the rescue, and a blackface bootblack during the Wash and Brush Up number – and make the character of the Wicked Witch more sinister and obsessed with the ruby slippers. They develop, then cut an elaborate number involving Dorothy’s escape from the Witch’s castle over a rainbow bridge (a special effect used with great success in the stage production of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, 1913). They designate Glinda as the Good Witch of the North, combining Baum’s two good witches into one. They also expand the Wizard’s role; the actor portraying the Wizard now appears in four other parts.
  • July 25 – MGM announces that Bert Lahr will be the Cowardly Lion. Harburg, who had worked with Lahr before, is particularly pleased with the decision.
  • July 30 – Langley returns as scriptwriter. Yip Harburg helps reach a creative compromise between the Ryerson/Woolf and Langley scripts. Though uncredited for his script work, Harburg is substantially responsible for the scene in which the Wizard is revealed to be a humbug and presents tokens to Dorothy’s companions.
  • Aug. 3 – Writer Jack Mintz is assigned to The Wizard of Oz.
  • Aug. 12 – MGM announces that Charles “Charley” Grapewin will be Dorothy’s Uncle Henry in The Wizard of Oz.
  • Sept. 17 – Richard Thorpe is assigned to direct MGM’s The Wizard of Oz. He brings in Sid Silbers to help with script revisions. (Note: At some point, Norman Taurog also worked as director.)
  • Sept. 22 – MGM announces that Frank Morgan will have the role of the Wizard. Ed Wynn had turned the part down as too small. Wallace Beery and W. C. Fields also had been considered.
  • Sept. – A final cast member is signed for The Wizard of Oz at $125 per week. Toto will be played by a female Cairn terrier, Terry, owned and trained by Carl Spitz.
  • Aug. 20 – MGM announces that Gale Sondergaard will be the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.
  • Oct. 1 – Leo Singer signs a contract to supply MGM with approximately 125 little people to portray Munchkins. His compensation includes expenses for a cross-country search.
  • Oct. 8 – The final shooting script of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz is completed.
  • Oct. 12 – Thorpe starts directing MGM’s production number 1060, The Wizard of Oz.
  • Oct. 21 – Buddy Ebsen suffers an almost fatal allergic reaction to his Tin Woodman makeup and is hospitalized; his role as the Tin Woodman is filled by Jack Haley.
  • Oct. 22 – George Cukor replaces Thorpe for seven days as interim director of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz.
  • Nov. 1 – Thompson’s King Kojo is published by David McKay Co., Philadelphia, with illustrations by Marge Henderson (later Buell). “Marge” becomes famous for her Little Lulu character. She had been a friend and fan of Thompson’s since she was just nine years old.

  • Nov. 3 – Victor Fleming starts directing MGM’s The Wizard of Oz. He brings in John Lee Mahin to help with the script. Mahin suggests that a third Kansas farmhand foreshadow the Cowardly Lion in place of a caged lion at Professor Marvel’s camp. He also suggests that Toto’s cat chasing be the conflict in Kansas and the reason Dorothy misses the Wizard’s balloon.
  • Nov. 5 – Twenty-seven midgets and four others begin a New York to Los Angeles publicity-stunt bus trip. They stop often as they cross the country to pick up additional midgets.
  • Nov. 11 – Little people arrive to begin shooting the Munchkinland sequence. Most of them, those under contract through Leo Singer, make about $50 a week, half of what MGM pays Singer for their services. Though many are experienced vaudeville performers, others are first introduced to show business with their roles in this film. They stay in the Culver and  Adams Hotels. Singer’s own touring company, the Singer Midgets, shares a rented house.

    In addition to those signed by Singer, MGM begins to hire little people who learn of the studio’s need by word-of-mouth and head for Hollywood, hoping to join the cast.

    Their costumes are individually designed by Adrian, and each person’s makeup is created by Jack Dawn. The makeup is applied using an assembly line with stops for facial appliances, rubber head pieces, cosmetics, and hairpieces. Harry Monty, a veteran Hollywood midget stuntman, Walter Miller, Sid Dawson, Pat Walshe, and Buster Brody, who are among the taller little people, are cast as Flying Monkeys and fitted with battery-operated wings.

    To make the midget casts larger, director Victor Fleming regroups the Munchkins at every cut. For the Flying Monkey sequences, eight-inch painted rubber puppet monkeys with foam-like wings and pipe cleaner tails are filmed in the background.

  • Nov. 24 – Bill Gibling, the last midget actor, arrives to join the cast of MGM’s Wizard of Oz production.
  • Nov. 25 – Judy Garland is elevated to star status by MGM. She receives a private dressing room tied with a giant red bow.
  • Dec. 23 – Margaret Hamilton is accidentally burned on the MGM set during a fiery stunt in Munchkinland. Makeup man Jack Young wipes the toxic copper-laden green makeup off with alcohol as she receives first aid. His quick work prevents it from seeping further into her burned skin, where it would have caused serious infection. She will return to shooting Feb. 11.
  • Dec. 28 – The Munchkinland sequence is complete. All but 20 little people return home. Those who remain participate in publicity stills and events, and retakes. Most of the vocals are soon dubbed over by members of the King’s Men Octet and the Debutantes.
  • Dec. 30 – The remaining little people are sent home. Wizard of Oz cartoon shorts are proposed by Kenneth McLellan, who acquires rights from Maud Baum, but they are never produced.