1985-1999: Return to Oz and the 50th Anniversary of the MGM Film

1985

  • Jan.-March – Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew in the Oz-Wonderland War Trilogy is published by DC Comics. The story by E. Nelson Bridwell combines characters from Baum’s The Wizard of Oz and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland with its own animal superheroes in a battle against Baum’s Oz villain the Nome King. The artwork is by Carol Lay.
  • May 16 – Actress Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the classic MGM Wizard of Oz, dies. Though she acted in 70 films, her 12 minutes of screen time in The Wizard of Oz are best remembered. Following her first career as a teacher at Rye Country Day School in Rye, N.Y., she married landscape architect Paul Meserve. They have a son, Hamilton Meserve, prior to their divorce in 1938.
  • The L. Frank Baum Memorial Award is presented to Edward Wagenknecht.
  • June 21 – Disney’s Return to Oz premieres at Radio City Music Hall. Gary Kurtz is the executive producer of this 109-minute live action movie filmed in England. The story combines plot elements from The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz, with a lengthy opening segment original to the screenplay. Walter Murch, the director, and Gill Dennis write the screenplay.Its release fails to appeal to the public. The short-lived tie-in merchandise includes puppets, games, puzzles, books, and records. The film is more enthusiastically received – and inspires more merchandise – in Japan. The cast includes 10-year-old Fairuza Balk as Dorothy (the youngest of 400 children who tried out for the part), Nicol Williamson as the Nome King, and Sophie Ward as Princess Mombi. Michael Sundin, an acrobat, is Tik-Tok in a costume that required him to curl up with his head to his knees and walk backward.

    Costume designer Raymond Hughes used John R. Neill’s illustrations to guide his work. A coronation sequence includes brief glimpses of dozens of Oz characters from the series.

    Products connected with the film include a novelization by Joan D. Vinge published by Ballantine/Del Ray Books, New York; five Little Golden Books; Walt Disney Pictures’ Return to Oz by Scholastic, New York, which presents the story through cartoon-style color panels and is a offered in American, British, and German printings; a “retold by William Furstenberg” version of The Wizard of Oz published by Weekly Reader Books and available only through its book club; boxed jigsaw and frame-tray puzzles; Topps bubble gum trading cards; plush hand puppets available as a Smucker’s promotion; audio and video tapes; activity and coloring books; plastic jointed figures; stuffed dolls; an 18-inch German Dorothy Gale doll (also marketed in Great Britain) of Fairuza in costume; pins and buttons; film posters; and other items. Dunkin’ Donuts also uses the film to promote its doughnut holes.

    Illustrator Maurice Sendak is initially selected to develop concepts for set designs, but proves unavailable during the production’s time frame. He does, however, finish one Oz poster.

  • June – Starlog announces a new script by Tom Benedek for a film treatment of Baum fantasies.
  • Oct. – A video game of The Wizard of Oz is produced by Windham Classics/Spinnaker Software/Apple II. Characters from The Land of Oz also are included.
  • Dec. – MGM releases That’s Dancing! It features an extended version of Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow dance cut from the release print of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • Dec. 17 – Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is produced by Rankin/Bass for television, using stop-action puppet animation. The music is by Bernard Hoffer with lyrics by Julian P. Gardner.
  • Thompson’s The Wizard of Way-Up and Other Wonders is published by the International Wizard of Oz Club, Inc., with illustrations by Charles J. Coll, Dick Martin, and others. James E. Haff and Douglas Greene edit the collection of short stories.
  • A television documentary on the Public Broadcasting System, The Whimsical World of Oz, is produced by Production Associates, (U.K.) Ltd. The program features film clips from The Wiz (1978), the Australian production Oz (1976), Journey Back to Oz (1971), The Rainbow Road to Oz (projected 1957), Disney’s Return to Oz (1985), and other productions.Celebrities interviewed on camera include Dr. Robert Baum and Ozma Baum Mantele, representing the author’s family; Ray Bradbury; Erica Jong; Justin Schiller, who founded the Oz Club; C. Warren Hollister, an Oz collector and authority; Romola Dunlap, who appeared onstage as Dorothy in Baum’s Fairylogue and Radio-Plays (1908); and others. Ray Bolger and Jack Haley represent the 1939 MGM film classic. Mason Adams is the narrator.
  • The Wizard of Oz is published by Pennyroyal Press, West Hatfield, Mass., with illustrations by Barry Moser.
  • The Wizard of Oz is published by the Unicorn Publishing House, Parsippany, N.J., with illustrations by Greg Hildebrandt.
  • Baum’s The Marvelous Land of Oz is co-published by Books of Wonder, New York, and William Morrow and Company, New York. This title is the first in a “Books of Wonder Classics” series through which the two companies have agreed to produce first-edition facsimiles.
  • Books of Wonder, New York, produces a catalog of Oz material for sale, The Oz Collector.
  • The Wonderful World of Oz, Volume II – a second illustrated catalog of rare and out-of-print Oz books and related items (including a facsimile of a rare Baum short story, “The Suicide of Kiaros”) – is issued by Books of Wonder, New York.
  • Mago de Oz Cuento de Frank Baum (a.k.a. El Mago de Oz,) a Spanish-language live-action film of The Wizard of Oz, is produced by Million Dollar Video Corp., Los Angeles.

1986

  • Feb. – Denslow’s 1915 grave is marked with a headstone illustrated with his portraits of the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman from the back cover illustrations of the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Following inquiries from Stan Barker, a member of the International Wizard of Oz Club, Vito Sorrentino donates the headstone to the Kensico Cemetery gravesite.
  • Feb. – In Variety, Filmation Company lists Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus as one of their projected animated theatrical features.
  • Feb. 1 – Matilda Jewell Gage, Baum’s niece and a lifelong Oz enthusiast, dies. Baum had once named a strain of chrysanthemum he had developed in honor of his favorite niece.
  • April 21-28 – Gregg Galleries of the National Arts Club, N.Y., exhibits 30 Oz paintings created by Michael Herring for the covers of the Del Rey paperback Oz books.
  • April – A traveling exhibit by the Smithsonian Institute includes a pair of Judy Garland’s ruby slippers, Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow costume, and a matte painting of the Emerald City from MGM’s Wizard of Oz.
  • May 1 – Author/illustrator Eric Shanower’s The Enchanted Apples of Oz is published in graphic novel format by First Comics, Inc., Chicago.
  • May 16 – Virginia Glasgow Koste adapts Baum’s The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913) as Scraps! The Ragtime Girl of Oz. The play is presented at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Mich., and is published by Coach House Press, Morton Grove, Ill.
  • Jay Delkin is given the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award by the International Wizard of Oz Club.
  • June 28 – A dress worn by Judy Garland in MGM’s Wizard of Oz sells at Sotheby’s for $20,000.
  • July – Fundamentalist Christian families in Tennessee file a lawsuit to remove The Wizard of Oz and several other children’s classics from the required reading lists in public schools. The passage to which they object is later described as an excerpt in the basic reader that was adapted to “use simpler language.”
  • Aug. – The American Theosophist includes a report, “A Notable Theosophist: L. Frank Baum.”
  • Aug. 7 – Author/illustrator Eric Shanower receives the Ross Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award at the San Diego Comics Convention, primarily in recognition of his Oz graphic novels.
  • Aug. 31 – Disney’s 1985 feature Return to Oz airs on television for the first time.
  • Aug.-Sept. – Off-the-Wall Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., shows the 1914 film The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Other early Oz films follow. The Boston Society of Film Critics later awards the theater for “best discovery…(of) The Oz Chronicle.”
  • Sept. 24-26 – “The American Fairyland: An International Conference on Oz & L. Frank Baum” is announced at PittsburgStateUniversity in Pittsburg, Ks., under the direction of Steve Teller.
  • Oct. – The American Theosophist includes the essay “The Wizard of Oz: The Perilous Journey.”
  • Oct. – Alexander Volkov’s Yellow Fog Over Oz is translated into English from the Russian original, Zholti Tuman (1974), by March Laumer and published by Buckethead Enterprises of Oz, Albuquerque, N.M., with illustrations by Chris Dulabone.
  • Nov. – The Chrysanthemum Festival & Wonderful Garden of Oz at LongwoodGardens, Kennett Square, Penn., presents the Oz story in a new media: topiary figures and scenes created entirely with plants and flowers.
  • Nov. 13 – Author/illustrator Shanower’s The Secret Island of Oz is published by First Comics, Inc., Chicago.
  • An Oz poster by artist Maurice Sendak, originally created for Disney’s 1985 film Return to Oz, is included in Posters by Maurice Sendak published by Harmony Books in New York.
  • Dick Martin’s The Ozmapolitan of Oz is published by the International Wizard of Oz Club, Inc.
  • Books of Wonder opens a second New York bookstore at 132 7th Avenue. This store offers three times the space of the company’s Hudson Street location.
  • Saban Video Productions/Entertainment, Burbank, Calif., produces a short animated version of The Wizard of Oz.

1987

  • Jan. 15 – Actor Ray Bolger dies in Cheviot Hills, Calif. Obituaries and illustrations show that the character of Scarecrow in the classic MGM film was his most memorable role. He is often quoted as saying that he did not receive residuals for his work on The Wizard of Oz, “just immortality. I’ll settle for that.”
  • Jan.-Feb. – Plays prints “Lessons of Oz” by Christina Hamlett, in which Dorothy returns home to Kansas and writes a book titled Kansas Never Looked So Good.
  • March 21 – The Sylmar Chamber Ensemble of Minneapolis performs Baum’s libretto “The Astonishing Flight of the Gump” wearing Oz costumes at their 10th anniversary.
  • April 15 – A special edition of the comic Amazing Heroes spoofs the popularity of swimsuit issues. Issue number 115 includes Ozma, ruler of Oz, in a bathing suit as depicted by Oz author/illustrator Eric Shanower. The comic is published by Fantagraphics Books, Angoura, Calif.
  • Brenda Baum Turner, widow of Harry Neal Baum, is given the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award by the International Wizard of Oz Club.
  • July 12 – A one-woman show of Baum’s The Enchanted Island of Yew (1903), written and performed by Carmen De Lavallade, is staged at the White Barn Theatre in Westport, Conn.
  • July 15 – The Alexandria (Louisiana) Daily Town Talk reports that seven fundamentalist Christian families have filed suit, asking that several books including The Wizard of Oz be removed from the required reading list of the community grade school. They allege that the story teaches that courage, love, and wisdom are personally developed traits rather than God-given gifts. Also, they argue that the story elevates animals to human status. Other writings named in their suit include Ann Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl; the works of Isaac Asimov and Hans Christian Andersen; and Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Publicity that follows the case soon adds that in The Wizard of Oz females assume traditional male roles and witches are portrayed as being good.
  • Aug. – The U.S. Court of Appeals rules, in review of the Tennessee case, that exposing students to material to which the parents object is not in violation of their religious beliefs, but that no student may be forced to act in accordance with such teachings or speak in allegiance to them.
  • Sept. 1 – Composer Charlie Smalls (The Wiz, 1975) dies.
  • Sept. 13 – MGM producer Mervyn LeRoy dies.
  • Sept. – The Smithsonian Institution acquires an original script from MGM’s 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz.
  • Oct. 29 – The Louisiana lawsuit is settled. The books in question are not removed, but the judge agrees to let parents remove their children from class when material they think is objectionable is being used.
  • Nov. 6 – Author/illustrator Eric Shanower’s graphic novel The Ice King of Oz is published by First Comics, Inc., Chicago.
  • Dec. – The Royal Shakespeare Company presents a new musical version of The Wizard of Oz. This production expands on the 1939 MGM film to include material not used in the final cut, such as “The Jitterbug” and intros to other songs.
  • Christmas season – Baum’s daughter-in-law Brenda Baum Turner lights the 30-foot Christmas tree at the Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island, Calif. The tree is covered with Wizard of Oz Christmas ornaments. (Following Harry Neal Baum’s death, Brenda married Frank Turner but continued to use Baum as a middle name.)
  • Dorothy Meets Ozma of Oz, a 30-minute animated film by Lorimar Home Video, is released. It is hosted by Michael Gross and produced by Atlantic/Kushner-Locke, Hollywood.
  • Hanna-Barbera purchases animation rights to 34 of the Oz books.
  • Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is co-published by Books of Wonder, New York, and William Morrow and Company, New York, in their “Books of Wonder Classics” series. This is the first true facsimile of the first edition of the classic American fairy tale.
  • Baum’s Sea Fairies (1911) is published by Books of Wonder, New York, in its first paperback edition.
  • Franklin Heirloom Dolls issues a limited-edition 17-inch doll of Judy Garland as Dorothy that sells for $135. This is one of the first collector’s items specifically developed for and marketed to Oz fans in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the classic 1939 MGM film. The company began to advertise the doll in 1986.
  • The Classical Wizard – Magus Mirabilis in Oz is published by Scolar Press, Berkeley & London. C. J. Hinke and George Van Buren are responsible for this Latin translation of The Wizard of Oz.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is produced by Cinar Films, Inc., Canada. This series of fifty-two 23-minute episodes is based on Baum’s Wizard of Oz, Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, and Emerald City of Oz. Margot Kidder narrates the English-language versions; they also are produced in French. Four 93-minute videotapes of material compiled from the series are released beginning in 1988.
  • A Baum quote, lifted from the author’s foreword in The Lost Princess of Oz (1917), is printed on boxes of Celestial Seasonings herbal teas.
  • A new Hebrew translation of The Wizard of Oz, translated by Uriel Ofek, editor of the Israeli Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature, is published in Israel following Ofek’s death.

1988

  • Feb. 19 – The Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island, Calif., celebrates its centennial. In recognition of Baum’s connections to the facility (c. 1904-1908), costumed Oz characters participate in the festivities. Special guests include surviving Munchkin cast members from MGM’s 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz.
  • Feb. 28 – MGM’s The Wizard of Oz (1939) is one of 40 films chosen to be shown in Russia to advance Soviet-American relations.
  • April 3 – The Los Angeles Times prints a letter to the editor from Baum’s granddaughter Ozma Baum Mantele. She explains that Baum’s book was written with no political messages or symbols but simply to please children.
  • June 9-12 – Point West Inn on LakeMacatawa, where the Baum family had spent many summers, holds an Oz festival.
  • Robin Olderman receives the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award from the International Wizard of Oz Club.
  • June 21 – Roberta Jeffries Bauman’s pair of ruby slippers, which she won in 1940, are auctioned off at Christie’s East. Anonymous buyer Anthony Landini pays $165,000, setting a world record for the sale of a piece of movie costume memorabilia. At the urging of Christie’s staff, he soon contacts Bauman, and the two become fast friends.Also sold are the spray can of Witch Remover carried by the Cowardly Lion ($20,000), two of costume designer Adrian’s Munchkin designs ($10,000), and an early edition of The Wizard of Oz signed by all cast members – including Toto ($19,000).
  • Summer – An exhibition at the New York Public Library, “Timeless Tales: Three Centuries of Children’s Books from the New York Public Library,” includes 220 items. Among them are the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that Baum inscribed to his mother and two original Denslow drawings for the book.
  • Aug. 9 – The Kent Warner pair of ruby slippers sold by Christie’s auction house in October 1981 is sold again, this time to Philip Samuels of St. Louis for the same $165,000 price just paid by Anthony Landini for the Roberta Bauman pair. Samuels had been the next-highest bidder in the June sale.
  • Sept. 22 – Oz stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the classic MGM film are issued in Montserrat. The four designs are by British artist Derek Miller and sold together on a souvenir sheet.
  • Nov. 22 – Author/illustrator Eric Shanower’s The Forgotten Forest of Oz is published by First Publishing, Inc., Chicago.
  • Dec. 16 – Sotheby’s in New York auctions a hat from MGM’s Wicked Witch of the West costume for $33,000.
  • Dec. 16-Jan. 14, 1989 – Baum’s The Patchwork Girl of Oz is staged live at the Palace Theatre in Watford, England. Adrian Mitchell writes the play, and Andy Roberts provides original music.
  • Dec 24 – Baum’s grandson Robert Alison Baum dies in Newport Beach, Calif.
  • The Marvelous Land of Oz, a 90-minute animated video by Cinar Films Inc., Canada, is released. Directed by Tim Reid, this is one of four features compiled from Cinar’s television series of Oz stories.
  • The second, updated edition of Bibliographia Oziana is published by the International Wizard of Oz Club, Inc.
  • Baum’s Sky Island (1912) is published in paperback for the first time by Books of Wonder, New York.
  • The International Wizard of Oz Club publishes Dick Martin’s An Oz Sketchbook.
  •  The Wonderful World of Oz, a full-color panoramic map of Oz and its environs by Dick Martin, is published by Books of Wonder, New York. The concept is inspired by The Land of Make Believe, a similar “map” of many fairylands that Martin had admired as a child.
  • In Port Arthur, Texas, an Oz poster made by songwriter Janis Joplin when she was in ninth grade goes on display in the Janis Joplin Memorial.
  • Madonna Kolbenschlag’s Lost in the Land of Oz: The Search for Identity and Community in American Life is published by Harper & Row, San Francisco.
  • Baum’s Little Wizard Stories of Oz (1914) is reprinted by Bantam, Toronto/New York.

1989

  • The 50th anniversary of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz draws public attention thanks, in part, to a significant licensing effort by Turner Licensing. Products and events generate widespread awareness of Oz and appreciation for the 1939 film classic. Surviving little people from the cast of Munchkinland appear at events to promote the anniversary. They appear on virtually every popular television talk show, and at Oz festivals and retail events. Many wear costumes that duplicate their MGM wardrobe.
  • March 22 – The Wizard of Oz Live! musical presentation premieres at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Produced and directed by Michel M. Grilikhes, the show has special effects including a snowfall over the poppy field and the tornado. Mayor Koch proclaims it “The Wizard of Oz Day” in New York and honors outstanding students in a special presentation. Some critics enjoy every minute of it and report delighted fans, while another writes that the show has “no brains, no heart and a hell of a nerve.” The original plan to take the show to 70 cities is scaled back.
  • April – Hollywood Studio Magazine publishes several feature articles on MGM’s The Wizard of Oz.
  • May 1 – The Disney MGM Studios Theme Park opens in Orlando, Fl. One attraction, the Great Movie Ride, concludes in Oz. An elaborate Munchkinland set is filled with animatronic characters who interact with the tour guide before allowing park visitors to move on. Next they view an additional set recreating the first glimpse of the EmeraldCity from the Yellow Brick Road. Prior to boarding the ride, visitors view the Bauman/Landini ruby slippers, which are on loan to Disney for public display.
  • May 31 – MGM/UA Home Video announces the release of a restored videotape of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz at an elaborate media event in the Culver City Filmland Center Building in Los Angeles, Calif. John Fricke, whose 32-page booklet accompanies the tape, Munchkin Coroner Meinhardt Raabe, and Jack Haley, Jr. are introduced as celebrity guests.
  • June 10-19 – The annual Judy Garland weekend festival in Grand Rapids, Minn., is extended to a nine-day event. Crowd size is estimated at 20,000.
  • Marc Lewis is given the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award by the International Wizard of Oz Club.
  • Aug. – Macy’s Department Store at Herald Square in New York City features a 50th anniversary tribute to MGM’s The Wizard of Oz. In addition to a film screening and celebrity guests, the store itself is redecorated throughout with an Oz theme. Props and products are found in virtually every department. There is even an enormous balloon figure of Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West over the main entrance.
  • Aug. 19 – MGM hosts an Oz celebration in Culver City featuring several of the surviving Munchkin cast members. Jack Haley, Jr. and Judy Garland’s youngest daughter, Lorna Luft, attend to promote the re-release of the video.
  • Sept. 15-17 – Chesterton, Ind., again hosts a Wizard of Oz festival. This year’s event is themed to honor the 50th anniversary of the classic MGM film.
  • Sept. – The Library of Congress includes MGM’s 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz in a list of 25 American films to be placed on the National Film Registry as culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
  • Sept. – Vernon E. Crawford’s From Confucius to Oz is published by Donald I. Fine, New York. The author provides techniques for incorporating universal truths and virtues associated with the Oz characters into readers’ lives.
  • Oct. 9 – The New York Times presents an editorial by Isabel Wilkerson, who writes that Kansans “still don’t want to talk about the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in polite conversation.” “The state has been cursed with an image as a bleak and tornado- ridden wasteland that Dorothy dreams of escaping.”
  • Oct. 31 – The New York Times presents two letters to the editor with an Oz theme. In the first, Fred Whitehead argues that Oz is “an allegory of the great Populist credo” as suggested by Henry Littlefield in 1964. The second letter, from Michael Patrick Hearn, says that Baum “was not singling out Kansas for abuse.”
  • Long-time Oz enthusiasts John Fricke, Jay Scarfone, and William Stillman co-author The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History, which becomes a national bestseller. The photo-packed volume is published by Warner Books, New York, and contains extensive never-before-published material about the classic MGM film.
  • The 50th anniversary release of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz on video is the fifth bestselling video of the year.
  • Librarian of Congress James H. Billington names MGM’s The Wizard of Oz one of 23 film titles to be protected as “national treasures” under the National Film Preservation Act of 1988. This honor will protect the film from being altered or edited in the future.
  • Baum’s Ozma of Oz (1907) is published by Books of Wonder and William Morrow and Company, New York, as the third Oz book in the “Books of Wonder Classics” series. This is the first time a first-edition facsimile of this title has been published.
  • Merry Go Round in Oz is reprinted for the first time since the 1963 original edition by Reilly & Lee, Chicago. Books of Wonder, New York, publishes the title. Dick Martin, the book’s original illustrator, creates a new dust jacket design for this edition.
  • Baum’s Animal Fairy Tales (1905) is published in a single volume by Books of Wonder, New York, with the original illustrations by Charles Livingston Bull.
  • Dorothy of Oz by Roger S. Baum – a great-grandson of L. Frank Baum – is co-published by Books of Wonder and William Morrow, N.Y., with illustrations by Elizabeth Miles. Roger’s father was Frank J. Baum, who wrote The Laughing Dragon of Oz (1935).
  • Steve Cox’s The Munchkins Remember The Wizard of Oz and Beyond is published by E.P. Dutton, N.Y. The memories of 31 surviving Munchkins are recounted, and vintage and contemporary photos – many never published before – illustrate the volume.
  • Rhys Thomas’s The Ruby Slippers of Oz is published by Tale Weaver Publishing, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif. Thomas’s contribution to Oz is a reference book about Dorothy’s famous shoes in the MGM classic The Wizard of Oz (1939). Existing pairs of shoes, rumored pairs never proven to exist, and even “forged” pairs created and passed off as real memorabilia all are reported in this true-mystery-style book.
  • The Wizard of Oz: The Screenplay by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf, edited by Michael Patrick Hearn, is published by Delta (Bantam Doubleday Dell), New York.
  • Cinar Films, Inc., Canada, releases The Emerald City of Oz. Though the characters are reasonably true to Baum’s original descriptions, the plot varies wildly and widely from his 1910 book of the same name. This film is compiled from material in the company’s 1987 television series.
  • Trouble in Oz, a 35-minute educational program, is produced by the Center for Drug-Free Living, Inc., Orlando, Fl. It is used in the state’s school system.
  • The House of Harry Winston (jewelers) creates a pair of ruby slippers using actual gems.
  • Jack Haley, Jr. produces a documentary, The Making of The Wizard of Oz, about the MGM film. It is hosted by actress Angela Lansbury.
  • In Israel, a publisher releases a handsome new version of the 1979 Bosnat Even-Zolar translation of The Wizard of Oz.

1990

  • Feb. 14 – Dick Martin, an Oz illustrator, author, collector, and former president and vice president of the International Wizard of Oz Club, dies in Chicago.
  • Oz is again a featured part of a Mardi Gras ball in New Orleans. This time, the Krewe of Okeanos has chosen the Oz theme for its festivities.
  • March 23 – The U.S. Postal Service issues four stamps that commemorate classic MGM films. The Wizard of Oz stamp features a portrait of Judy Garland as Dorothy with Toto in her arms and the Emerald City in the background. The original painting for the stamp is done by Thomas Blackshear, who is known to Oz collectors for his earlier Oz paintings for collector’s plates.
  • March 31-April 1 – Camden House, Los Angeles, Calif., auctions 20 Oz items, including four matte paintings salvaged from MGM discard material. The painting of the EmeraldCity sells for $44,000.
  • May – HBO begins airing the 52-episode animated series The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, produced by Cinar Films in 1987. The weekly series airs only on the cable channel.
  • June-Aug. – A major Baum exhibit is presented by the Frances Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Library, titled “The Road to Oz: The Life of L. Frank Baum.” Many rare items from the collection of Warren and Edith Hollister – such as the pencil Baum used to write The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – are, fortunately, included; on June 27 the Hollisters’ home is destroyed by fire. They lose all their personal belongings, saving only the original artwork and rare books that constitute the major part of their extraordinary Oz collection.
  • Jean Brockway is given the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award by the International Wizard of Oz Club.
  • June – The Judy Garland Festival in Grand Rapids, Minn., unites 13 surviving little people who had appeared as Munchkins in MGM’s The Wizard of Oz.
  • The Chittenango Foundation announces that it will honor Baum with a museum and library, permanent and rotating displays, and a children’s theater. A nine-acre site is donated, and fundraising efforts begin.
  • July – Sudan, Ks., holds its first community Wizard of Oz Festival.
  • Summer – The Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., adopts a temporary Oz theme. Hands-on exhibits, science experiments, laser shows, and other attractions are included. “Animals of Oz,” for example, is a special presentation.
  • Aug. 25 – Jim Henson’s Mother Goose Stories airs on the Disney Channel. The stories themselves are based on Baum’s first children’s book, Mother Goose in Prose (1897). Character voices include Angie Passmore as Mother Goose.
  • Oct. – Oztoberfest, an Oz event in Liberal, Kan., unites 14 little people who had been Munchkins in MGM’s classic Oz film. They are joined by one additional Munchkin, Viola White Banks, who, as a child of average size, also had been cast in the film.
  • Nov. 20 – The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, based on the 1902 musical, is featured in a 28-page issue of Prologue.
  • Dec. – A new play, a two-man version of The Wizard of Oz incorporating Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and characters from Robin Hood, is performed at the Pasadena Playhouse.
  • Dec. 10 – The Dreamer of Oz, a Baum biography, is broadcast on NBC. The Bedrock Productions, Inc., made-for- television movie stars John Ritter as L. Frank Baum, Annette O’Toole as Maud Baum, and Rue McClanahan as Matilda Gage. David Kirschner and Bob Myman produce. Jack Bender directs. Baum’s grandson Robert Baum provides rare books – including inscribed first editions – from his own collection to use as props. The production receives a 1991 Christopher Award for “affirming the highest values of the human spirit.”Though produced in cooperation with the Baum Trust, the film relies heavily on imagery from the MGM film to tell Baum’s first Oz story. Factual accuracy also is altered for dramatic impact or to condense the story. For example, Baum’s niece Dorothy (who died at five months – a baby he never saw) is presented as a much older child and his inspiration to write. The Baums’ fourth son, Kenneth Gage, is entirely omitted.
  • Christmas – Neiman Marcus department store offers for sale the pair of gemstone ruby slippers made by jeweler Harry Winston in 1989. The shoes are covered with 4,600 real rubies and 50 carats of diamonds. The retail price is $3 million.
  • The Wizard of Oz is paired on stage with another children’s classic in Joseph Robinette’s new musical, Dorothy Meets Alice or The Wizard of Wonderland. It is published by the Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Ill.
  • Baum’s Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908) is published by Books of Wonder and William Morrow and Company, New York, as the next Oz book in the “Books of Wonder Classics” series of first-edition facsimiles. This is the first time in nearly 90 years that the title has been available with all 16 of its color plates.
  • Books of Wonder, New York, reissues Neill’s The Wonder City of Oz (1940) in honor of its 50th anniversary.
  • The Dinamonster of Oz, written in 1941 by Kenneth Gage Baum – fourth son of L. Frank Baum – is published by Buckethead Enterprises of Oz, Albuquerque, with illustrations by the author’s granddaughter Dorothy Gita Morena.
  • Roger S. Baum, great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, continues his original Oz stories with The Rewolf of Oz, published by Green Tiger Press, San Diego, Calif., with illustrations by Charlotte Hart.
  • Eric Shanower’s Oz graphic novels are approved by Parent’s Choice as one of the best comic series for children for 1990.
  • The Wizard of Oz is produced by Turner Enterprises. This series of thirteen 23-minutes cartoons is based on the 1939 MGM film.
  • American Film Investment Corp. produces a short animated film of The Wizard of Oz. Executive producers are Diane Eskanzzi and Ron Layton. Jim Simon directs.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a play by Virginia Glasgow Koste (1983), is revised and released as On the Road to Oz. It is published by the Dramatic Publishing Company, Woodstock, Ill. This is the author’s third Oz play.
  • Six of Denslow’s 1903 picture books are collected as Denslow’s Picture Book by Arcade Publishing of New York. The volume includes Denslow’s Five Little Pigs, Old Mother Hubbard, Simple Simon, The House That Jack Built, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Animal Fair.

1991

  • Jan. 3 – A $3.2 million production of The Wizard of Oz opens on stage in the Australia (Melbourne) Victoria State Opera House. The sell-out season grosses more than $500,000 a week. Extra matinees are added to meet demand. The musical is based on the 1989 Royal Shakespeare Co. production.
  • Jan. – Mad Magazine spoofs The Wizard of Oz with a contemporary cast of famous personalities in “The Wizard of Odds.”
  • Frederick E. Otto receives the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award from the International Wizard of Oz Club.
  • Sept. – A new Baum biography by the mother-daughter team of Jean Shirley and Angelica Shirley Carpenter is published by Lerner Publications Co., Minneapolis, Minn.L. Frank Baum: Royal Historian of Oz includes illustrations from the Oz books and rare family photos. The book is designed for readers ages 10-13.
  • Sept. – Jelly Bean Press publishes The Wizard of Oz with new illustrations by Charles Santore. Although the text is somewhat condensed, Santore’s 58 watercolors please critics and fans.
  • Oct. – Groundbreaking ceremonies are held for the MGM Grand hotel and theme park in Las Vegas. Though no Oz attractions are included in the theme park plans, the hotel itself will be filled with Oz images including murals in two restaurants, a towering Emerald City in an atrium, Oz shops, and slot machines with Oz graphics.
  • Dec. 20 – The New York Times presents two letters to the editor about Oz in response to a Nov. 28 report about “The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America” by Paul Nathanson. First, Saul Rosen argues that The Wizard of Oz is “a secular political tract firmly based in history and ideology” and proceeds to relay alleged populist messages from the book, though Henry Littlefield is never credited as the source of this familiar 1964 theory. The second letter, from Michael Patrick Hearn, details Baum’s involvement with and rejection of organized religion.
  • Baum’s The Road to Oz (1909) is published by Books of Wonder and William Morrow and Company, New York, in the “Books of Wonder Classics” series. This is the first time a first-edition facsimile of this title has faithfully reproduced the book using colored paper stock for its pages.
  • Books of Wonder, New York, reissues two Jack Snow Oz titles, The Magical Mimics of Oz (1946) and The Shaggy Man of Oz (1949), in both hardcover and paperback, as well as John R. Neill’s The Scalawagons of Oz (1941) in honor of its 50th anniversary.
  • The Book of the Hamburgs, a poultry manual that was Baum’s first book (1886), is reprinted by Books of Wonder, New York, using a rare copy from the collection of Bruce and Gail Crockett.
  • An unusual Oz pastiche, How the Wizard Came to Oz, is published by the Emerald City Press (Books of Wonder), New York, N.Y. Author/illustrator Donald Abbott successfully mimics Denslow’s original artwork for this Oz prequel well enough to fool many fans familiar with the classic illustrations. This is the first book published using the imprint of the Emerald City Press; it will be used on additional titles of original Oz fiction.
  • The Oz Squad comic series is published by Brave New Worlds, Providence, R.I. Steven Ahlquist and Andrew Murphy collaborate to produce what critic and second-generation Oz collector Steve Teller describes as “the most repellent published work with the name Oz in the title I have ever seen.” Other Oz fans, however, are quick to collect the series.
  • Tales of Magic Land 1 (soon followed by volume 2) offers the Alexander Volkov Oz books in English. Peter L. Blystone has translated them, and they are published with two tales per volume by Red Branch Press, Staten Island, N.Y.
  • Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America is published by the State University of New York, Albany. Author Paul Nathanson merges elements of both Baum’s original story and the 1939 MGM film and analyzes them from sociological, historical, and psychological perspectives. This theory follows Dorothy’s “passage” as it “recapitulates paradigmatic stories of both America and Christianity… defining human identity on three symbolic levels (individual, collective, and cosmic).” His 68 pages of chapter notes include such remarkable claims as “Dorothy was played by Baum’s wife” in the 1925 Chadwick Pictures film The Wizard of Oz.
  • Behind the Scenes at the Making of The Wizard of Oz (the complete NBC Maxwell House Good News Radio Broadcast of June 29, 1939) becomes available on CD.
  • The feature film Rambling Rose, produced by Renny Harlin with Edgar J. Scherick as executive producer, includes a scene in which a young boy is reading The Wishing Horse of Oz. Other Oz books can be spotted in the background.

1992

  • Jan. 10 – The New York Times presents a letter to the editor from Michael Patrick Hearn, “‘Oz’ Author Never Championed Populism,” in which the respected Baum scholar and biographer methodically proves that Baum did not write The Wizard of Oz with any purpose but to please children and earn a living. A previously unpublished poem is included; it was written by Baum in anticipation of the election of McKinley, the Republican candidate, as president.
  • Feb. 7 – The New York Times presents a letter to the editor from Henry Littlefield, who originally proposed that The Wizard of Oz was a parable on populism. He writes that he absolutely agrees with Michael Patrick Hearn’s recent letter “that there is no basis in fact to consider Baum a supporter of turn-of-the-century Populist ideology.”
  • May 1-23 – The Nevada County Performing Arts Guild presents an original play, The Ozard of Wiz, in Nevada City, Calif. It is written and directed by Mila Johansen.
  • May 8 – Baum’s niece Cynthia Baum Tassini cuts the ribbon at the site of a proposed museum to be built in Chittenango, N.Y.The Emerald City of Oz (1910) is dedicated to Cynthia. She is the daughter of Baum’s brother Henry Clay “Dr. Harry” Baum.
  • May 11 – British author Salman Rushdie’s essay “Out of Kansas” is published in the New Yorker. Rushdie says the MGM film The Wizard of Oz affected him deeply when he first saw it at age 10 and prompted him to begin writing fiction.
  • July 10 – Jay Scarfone and William Stillman’s The Wizard of Oz Collector’s Treasury is published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., West Chester, Penn. This is the first extensive reference work of Oz memorabilia and collectibles. The first copy is presented at an International Wizard of Oz Club convention to dedicatee and Club secretary Fred M. Meyer. Meyer’s anonymous contributions to the volume from his own impressive Oz collection are extensive.
  • Oct. 27-Nov. 8 – An original ballet, Oz, written and choreographed by Paul Taylor, is performed at New York’s City Center. The Paul Taylor Dance Company production is a plotless series of short pieces. A Neill illustration of the Patchwork Girl is featured in promotional material. The performers represent a wide variety of characters from many of Baum’s Oz books. Wayne Horvitz provides a modern jazz-rock score.
  • Nov.-Jan. 1993 – Charles Santore’s illustrations for children’s books, including some of his Wizard of Oz watercolors (1991), are exhibited at the Brandywine Library in Chadds Ford, Penn.
  • Dec. 4 – Animator Rob Roy MacVeigh dies at age 37. Left uncompleted is his lifelong project, an animated version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that would be true to the original book.
  • Dec. 16 – Eric Shanower’s The Blue Witch of Oz is published by Dark Horse Comics, Inc., Milwaukie, Or.
  • Roger S. Baum writes an original Oz trilogy, The SillyOzbuls of Oz, The SillyOZbul of Oz and Toto, and The SillyOzbul of Oz and the Magic Merry-Go-Round. The books are published by Yellow Brick Road Publishers (a Roger Baum company) and illustrated by Lisa Mertins.
  • Michael Ploog adds an interesting new title to the list of Oz-related comic treatments. His condensed version of Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is printed as a hardcover graphic novel by Tundra Publishing, Ltd., Northampton, Mass.
  • A controversial adult novel, Was, incorporates sexual abuse, insanity, and other evils in an Oz-related theme, although the characters never actually reach Oz in the text. It is published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. One review calls author Geoff Ryman’s work a “perversion of material to purposes that the original author, by all we can determine, would almost surely have disavowed.” Another calls it brilliant and describes it as a modern classic.
  • Lucky Bucky in Oz (1942) is reissued by Books of Wonder in honor of the Neill story’s 50th anniversary.
  • A proposed $300 million Wizard of Oz theme park to be called “The Wonderful World of Oz” is announced in Kansas City, Ks. The ambitious plan wins the support of the Baum family. Planners begin long-range financing for the project.
  • Reportedly, an Italian translation of Ozma of Oz called Regina di Oz is published.
  • Woman, Church and State (1893) by Baum’s mother-in-law, Matilda Joslyn Gage, is republished by Ayer Co., Salem, N.H.

1993

  • Jan. 13 – Oz puppeteer, entertainer, and illustrator Bill Eubank dies at age 68. Eubank’s “Wizard” magic shows, clown acts, and Oz performances have delighted audiences for decades. His contributions to the Oz Club include original artwork for an annual Christmas card and The Baum Bugle. He was also instrumental in the naming of Oz Park in Chicago (1976).
  • Spring – Aberdeen, S.D., announces plans to include a Land of Oz area in WyliePark.
  • May 30 – Marge Henderson Buell, illustrator of Thompson’s King Kojo (1938) and the popular “Little Lulu” comics, dies at age 88.
  • June 12 – Rachel Cosgrove Payes’s The Wicked Witch of Oz is published by the International Wizard of Oz Club with illustrations by Eric Shanower.
  • Aug. 4 – Science fiction writer and long-time Oz fan Harlan Ellison devotes a three-minute segment on the Sci-Fi Channel to the virtues of the Oz books. He advises parents of troubled kids to turn off the television and “sit them down – or possibly nail them to the chair if they move too fast – and you read them the Oz books. One after another, you read them the Oz books.”
  • Dec. – Oz collector Nicholas Salerno donates a collection of 425 pieces (circa 1975-1990) to the Arizona State University Library.
  • Dec. – A massive hotel opens in Las Vegas. The MGM Grand features Oz-themed décor including a towering indoor Emerald City, animatronic characters, and restaurant murals. Oz merchandise shops make a wide range of materials available. In the Emerald Towers wing, guest rooms feature poppy field carpeting and bedspreads, and framed portraits of Oz characters from the MGM film. The hotel also offers an MGM Theme Park, but it does not include any Oz attractions.
  • Dec. 9 – The lifelong Oz collection of twin brothers David L. and Douglas G. Greene is auctioned at New York City’s Swann Galleries. World-record prices are achieved for three books. The 366-lot collection sells for a total of $175,846. The auction catalog rapidly becomes a new reference book for Oz collectors.
  • A Wizard of Oz video game is produced by Seta USA, Las Vegas, for Super Nintendo Entertainment Systems.
  • John Fricke writes, hosts, and co-directs a new home video documentary about the MGM Munchkins. We’re Off to See the Munchkins presents background and festival footage, film clips, and vintage photos. Eight Munchkins are interviewed on camera: Lewis Croft, Jerry Maren, Nels Nelson, Margaret Pellegrini, Meinhardt Raabe, Clarence Swensen, Karl Slover, and Betty Tanner. John Anderson co-produces the 77-minute tape as Cinema Video Productions. Distribution is handled by West Coast Entertainment.
  • Sugar & Spice: The Wizard of Oz is released by Saban Video Productions/Entertainment, Burbank, Calif. This new 30-minute animated version imitates well-known celebrity voices. Contemporary puns are common, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Tin Man, who announces in a crisis, “I’ll become the Tinmanator!”
  • The Emerald City of Oz is issued in the “Books of Wonder Classics” series by Books of Wonder and William Morrow and Company, New York. This first edition facsimile marks the first time in more than 80 years that the lavishly illustrated Baum book is reprinted with the metallic-green inks that made the 1910 first edition unique in the Oz series and prized by collectors.
  • Eric Shanower’s novel The Giant Garden of Oz is published by Books of Wonder, New York. This is Shanower’s first departure from his successful Oz graphic novel format.
  • Teachers at the Center of Inquiry, a program for gifted and talented students from Syracuse, N.Y., teach children about the American court system by putting Dorothy on trial for killing the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Educational software called Reading Adventures in Oz is introduced by Davidson of Torrance, Calif. The computer program is designed to help develop reading skills in young children.
  • The Wizard of Oz, adapted by Barbara A. Oliver, is produced as a 30-minute animated film. Doug Parker is the voice director.

1994

  • Feb – The Lilly Library of Indiana University presents an Oz exhibit of material from the files of publisher Bobbs-Merrill, now in the library’s collection.
  • May – TCI (Theatre Crafts) magazine provides detailed descriptions of the MGM Grand’s Emerald City animatronic characters, sets, and laser light show in Las Vegas.
  • June 27-28 – Special showings by the Alex Film Society of Glendale, Calif., of the MGM classic are attended by 2,400 people. Special guests include Munchkin Jerry Maren; authors John Fricke (The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History, 1989) and Steve Cox (The Munchkins Remember the Wizard of Oz and Beyond, 1989); Ozma Baum Mantele and Robert Baum, representing the author’s family; Willard Carroll and Thomas Wilhite, co-producers of the Oz Kids animated series; and Dona Massin, who served as assistant choreographer for the Munchkinland sequence in the MGM film classic.
  • Aug. – A color photo of the hourglass used by the Wicked Witch of the West to terrorize Dorothy in the classic MGM film illustrates the cover of Collector’s Showcase. It also is featured inside with the article “Movie Classics Original Props and Costumes.”
  • Fall – The extensive Oz collection of longtime Oz fan and Club member Bronson Pinchot, an actor, is auctioned at Sotheby’s, New York, N.Y. The auction catalog is printed in three topical volumes.
  • Hyperion Studios begins production on Little Wizard Stories (a.k.a. The Oz Kids), a 26-episode animated television series. The programs are written and created by Willard Carroll, who also co-produces with Thomas L. Wilhite. John Bush is the producer.
  • An Oz-inspired play, Twister by Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), gets mixed reviews from small audiences.
  • An article by David Parker, “The Rise and Fall of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a ‘Parable on Populism,’” is published by the Journal of the Georgia Association of Historians. The essay traces the 1964 Littlefield theory that Baum’s book was a parable on Populism from its original proposal to its widespread acceptance. He provides substantial evidence – including quotes from Littlefield – that argue that Baum did not write the book to promote political issues and ideologies.
  • Baum’s Little Wizard Stories of Oz are reissued in one book with the original John R. Neill illustrations by Books of Wonder and William Morrow and Company, New York.
  • Baum’s Dot and Tot of Merryland (1901) is reprinted under the Emerald City Press imprint of Books of Wonder, New York. New illustrations are provided by Donald Abbott, who successfully imitates Denslow’s style in this book as he has in his own original Oz stories for the publisher (How the Wizard Came to Oz, 1991; The Magic Chest of Oz, 1993; Father Goose in Oz, 1994). This publication marks the return of a rare Baum title that has been out of print for 50 years, and the book’s first-ever paperback edition.
  • Volshebnik Izumrudnogo Goroda, a live-action version of Volkov’s first Oz book, is produced in Russia.
  • The class schedule from Syracuse University has an Oz theme. Denslow and Neill illustrations, local festival photos, a photo of an Oz board game from the university’s museum collection, and an essay on Baum and Oz are included. The bulk of the university’s Oz collection had been a gift from Russell P. MacFall.
  • A German translation of The Wizard of Oz, Der Zauberer von Oz, is published by J. F. Schreiber, Esslingen, Germany. Sybil Grafin Schonfeldt provided the translation.

1995

  • Jan. 12 – The Oz collection of Chuck Boller is auctioned at Pacific Book Auction Galleries in San Francisco, Calif.
  • March 28 – Jean Shirley, co-author of L. Frank Baum: Royal Historian of Oz (1992), dies.
  • Summer – The Columbian Museum in Wamego, Ks., exhibits the Oz collection of Tod Machin. More than 3,000 books, toys, posters, and other memorabilia are displayed in chronological order. Considered the most comprehensive Oz exhibit to date, “A Century of Oz” attracts national attention from the press.
  • Rhino Records releases a compact disc of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz as an original motion picture soundtrack. A 48-page booklet by John Fricke accompanies the five hours of material.
  • June – The JudyGarlandMuseum in Grand Rapids, Minn., acquires the carriage drawn by the Horse of a Different Color in the EmeraldCity sequences of MGM’s classic Oz film. The carriage had originally been commissioned by a group of New York businessmen for President Abraham Lincoln and was used by the president during the Civil War. It appeared in nearly 200 motion pictures, including MGM’s The Wizard of Oz.
  • June 28 – Oz-story Magazine, No. 1 is published by Hungry Tiger Press, Bloomfield, N.J. It includes “Percy and the Shrinking Violet,” a new short story by Rachel Cosgrove Payes with illustrations by Eric Shanower, and Baum’s Sam Steele’s Adventures on Land and Sea (1906) with illustrations by John R. Neill. David Maxine edits the magazine.
  • Sept. – The Wizard of Oz on Ice, a $9 million spectacular, opens in Florida and begins to tour the United States. The full-length skating program is produced by Kenneth Feld (CEO of Irvin Feld & Kenneth Feld Productions, Inc., and owner of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus) and choreographed by Robin Cousins, a 1980 Olympic gold medal skater. Singer Bobby McFerrin provides all the speaking and singing voices except for Dorothy; Laurnea Wilkerson is the voice of Dorothy, a role familiar to the actress since her national tour as Dorothy in The Wiz. Skating in the role of Dorothy is Jeri Campbell, a U.S. National Championship skater and member of the U.S. International Team. The show includes spectacular sets and costumes. A wide variety of Oz merchandise is available.
  • Oct. – A nine-foot sculpture of the Tin Woodman is erected in Chicago’s Oz Park. The 900-pound sculpture is made entirely of chrome auto bumpers by John Kearney.
  • Nov. 5 – A concert version of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz is presented by Turner Network Television to benefit the Children’s Defense Fund at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. It features an all-star cast including recording artist Jewel as Dorothy; Jackson Browne as the Scarecrow; Roger Daltrey as the Tin Woodman; Nathan Lane as the Cowardly Lion; Debra Winger as the Wicked Witch of the West; Joel Grey as the Wizard; Natalie Cole as Glinda; and Lucie Arnaz as Aunt Em. The Harlem Boys Choir sings the Munchkin numbers. Special appearances include Ronnie Spector, Phoebe Snow, Ry Cooder, Dr. John, and David Sanborn. The event is filmed for broadcast on Thanksgiving Eve.
  • Nov. – A 35-foot-long Oz float is featured in the Detroit Thanksgiving Day parade. The float’s sponsor, Hudson’s department store, bases its holiday exhibit on The Wizard of Oz with a walk-through display of 21 vignettes.
  • Dec. – Dave Hardenbrook begins The Ozzy Digest, an online publication of Oz commentary and information distributed free over the Internet to interested subscribers.
  • Dec. 9 – The Oz Kids World opens in Tokyo. The store is devoted entirely to merchandise featuring characters from the Oz Kids (a.k.a. The Little Wizard Stories) animated series by Hyperion Animation, Los Angeles.
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, is published by HarperCollins, New York, with illustrations by Douglas Smith. This book relays the adventures of Elphaba, who becomes known as the Wicked Witch of the West, and presents the Land of Oz from her unique perspective. The novel, which is written for adults, shows considerable knowledge of Baum’s Oz.
  • Dorothy and Alice (an adaptation of two classics) is presented on stage at the Glassboro, New Jersey, Center for the Arts.
  • The Oz Kids (a.k.a. Little Wizard Stories) are produced by Hyperion Animation, Inc., Los Angeles. The twenty-six 23-minute episodes are a made-for-television series following the adventures of second-generation “Oz kids” such as Dot, Tin Boy, Scarecrow Jr., Boris and Bella (children of the Cowardly Lion), and Toto 2.
  • The Runaway in Oz by John R. Neill (1877-1943), edited and illustrated by Eric Shanower, is published by Books of Wonder, New York. This previously unpublished Oz adventure is the fourth manuscript by the illustrator of 35 Oz books.
  • Baum’s The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913) is issued in the “Books of Wonder Classics” series by Books of Wonder and William Morrow, New York. This volume reproduces the book’s original color illustrations and color endpapers for the first time in more than 50 years. The publisher makes a few minor edits to material, including removing one illustration considered racist by contemporary standards. The edits spark debate among Oz fans.
  • Nancy Tystad Koupal’s research into Baum’s Aberdeen years is published by the University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, as Our Landlady by L. Frank Baum. The book includes all 48 installments of Baum’s “Our Landlady” columns for the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, along with an extensive introduction and annotated notes. Koupal’s findings further discredit the 1964 Littlefield theory that proposes Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a parable on Populism and establish Baum’s political opinions on various issues of the day, such as suffrage, the Ghost Dance Movement, and prohibition.
  • Roger Baum, a great-grandson of the original author who now writes his own original Oz stories, announces the Yellow Brick Road Oz Club.
  • Actors and actresses who appeared as Munchkins in the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz continue to appear around the country to attract fans to various Oz events. Jerry Maren reports a memorable moment at one of his appearances; he was approached by a man representing Michael Jackson, the pop star who was cast as the Scarecrow in the film version of The Wiz. Maren agrees to meet Jackson, and is whisked away in a limousine to meet and exchange autographs with him.

1996

  • Feb. – “America’s Smithsonian,” a traveling exhibition of more than 300 items, opens in Los Angeles. A pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the MGM classic film The Wizard of Oz is included. As background information, the exhibit sponsors further perpetuate the 1964 Littlefield theory that The Wizard of Oz is a parable about the Populist political movement by presenting that information as fact. It is eventually dropped, following complaints.
  • Feb. 27 – The Wizard of Oz on Ice, a made-for-television version of the touring ice skating show, airs on CBS. Bobby McFerrin is the host and narrator. The show features Olympic gold medalists Oksana Baiul as Dorothy and Victor Petrenko as the Scarecrow.
  • March 1 – The Fox television network airs an episode of Sliders that mirrors the plot of The Wizard of Oz.
  • March 16 – A comprehensive exhibit of the work of the first Oz illustrator, W. W. Denslow, opens at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa. Curated by Michael Patrick Hearn, “W. W. Denslow: The Other Wizard of Oz” features original drawings from Baum’s Father Goose: His Book (1899) and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as well as books, letters, photographs, comic strips, prints, and posters relating to his work with Baum.
  • April – Remember, a nostalgia magazine, includes an article about Oz. Judy Garland as Dorothy from MGM’s classic 1939 film is featured on the cover.
  • April 1 – The television program High Incident includes an episode that attempts to present how Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz. The facts of the matter are quite confused.
  • May 20 – Time magazine mentions the Totable Tornado Observatories in an article about tornadoes. These devices are referred to as Totos for short. A popular film in theaters presents the same device named “Dorothy” that has Judy Garland as Dorothy painted on its side.
  • June 2 – “One Hundred Years of Children’s Book Illustrations,” an exhibit of original artwork, opens at the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va. Among the items on display are drawings by Maxfield Parrish for Baum’s Mother Goose in Prose (1897), W. W. Denslow for Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), John R. Neill for The Road to Oz (1909), and Charles Santore for The Wizard of Oz (Jelly Bean Press edition, 1991). A catalog is issued to accompany the exhibit. The collection moves to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, Tenn. (Nov. 3-Jan. 6, 1997), and the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Del. (Feb. 15-April 15, 1997).
  • June 2 – Parade magazine writer Marilyn vos Savant discusses the Pythagorean theorem that is scrambled by Ray Bolger in his MGM role as the Scarecrow. She explains that the brains provided in Baum’s book (where the Scarecrow does not spout mathematical theorems at all) were a mixture of bran, pins, and needles that tended to stick out of his head when he thought hard – “proof that he is sharp,” according to the Cowardly Lion in Baum’s text.
  • June 7 – Peter Glassman is featured on Personal Fx, the Collectible Show in a discussion of proper care of books. He uses copies of Baum’s The Scarecrow of Oz and The Sea Fairies and Ruth Plumly Thompson’s The Hungry Tiger of Oz to illustrate his points.
  • Eric Shanower receives the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award from the International Wizard of Oz Club.
  • July – Books of Wonder again relocates to a larger space, 16 West 18th Street in New York. The bookstore offers many rare Oz volumes in addition to facsimiles and reprints.
  • Sept. – Matilda Joslyn Gage, Baum’s mother-in-law, is inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y., for her role in the woman’s suffrage movement.
  • Sept. – All That, a sketch comedy show on Nickelodeon, presents a parody of the MGM film version of The Wizard of Oz called the Wizard of Cos. A Bill Cosby imitator is cast as the Wizard. In this version, Dorothy meets a toad-man and a man made of pasta.
  • Lyricist Harold Arlen is included in a set of four songwriter stamps, the Legends of American Music Series, issued by the United States Postal Service.
  • Sept. 30 – John Lahr’s article for the New Yorker about his father Bert’s career includes references to his work on the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz.
  • Oct. – Journey to the West, an ancient Chinese tale, is adapted from an English translation for the stage. The theme’s parallels to Baum’s original Oz story are so strong that the local reviewer, Ed Siegel, opens his article with “We’re off to get the scriptures, the wonderful scriptures of Buddha.” Marketing materials also promote the Oz undertones.
  • Nov. – Locus features Oz collector, dealer, and publisher Peter Glassman and the Oz books.
  • Nov. – An exhibit about lyricist Yip Harburg opens at the New York Public Library. His role in the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz is included.
  • Nov. 26 – American Home Entertainment releases a boxed set of early Oz films on video with soundtracks. The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914), His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (1914), The Magic Cloak of Oz (1914), and the Chadwick production of The Wizard of Oz (1925) are included. A competitor soon releases the same set at a slightly lower price.
  • Baum’s Tik-Tok of Oz (1914), with all its color plates and its original color map endpapers, is reprinted by Books of Wonder and William Morrow, New York.
  • Dave Hardenbrook, an Oz fan and astronomy enthusiast, mounts an effort to name geologic features on Pluto’s newly discovered moon Charon after names and places in Oz. He learns in New Worlds by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest that astronomer James Christy’s first choice for the moon’s name on his discovery of it was Oz. The astronomical community, however, limits the names of new moons to those found in Greek mythology.
  • Maureen McGovern records two Harold Arlen songs from MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, “Over the Rainbow” and “Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead,” on her CD Out of This World: McGovern Sings Arlen.
  • The Wizard of Oz is illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger and published in English, Dutch (translated by Ernst Van Altena and published by De Vier Windstreken), and German (published by Michael Neugebauer Verlag AG, Gossau-Zurich).
  • Esperanto-language editions of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz are translated by Donald Broadribb and become available over the Internet. He plans to continue translating the series into this international language based on Indo-European languages.
  • American Fairy Tales: From Rip Van Winkle to the Rootabaga Stories includes Baum’s “Glass Dog.” Compiled by Neil Philip, the book is published by Hyperion Books, New York.
  • Jim Henson’s Mother Goose Stories (1990), based on Baum’s Mother Goose in Prose (1897), becomes commercially available. An advertisement for them is added to the Muppets Treasure Island Sing-Along Tape.
  • A Greyhound bus tours the country with a small Oz museum aboard to promote sales of the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz on video. MGM costumes and replicas, videos, and costume character appearances are included. The exterior of the bus is completely wrapped in Oz graphics.
  • Oz characters are used to illustrate coworkers and interoffice relationships in Alicia Williams’s The Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tin Man.

1997

  • Jan. 24 – Sally Roesch Wagner lectures on the topic “The Intellectual Connection Between the Onondaga and the Land of Oz” at the Wellwood Middle School in Fayetteville, N.Y.
  • Jan. 26 – The Columbus Dispatch includes an article by critic Michael Grossbery comparing The Wizard of Oz to Star Wars.
  • Jan. 29 – Daniel P. Mannix, a noted Oz scholar, dies. In addition to writing books as diverse as The Fox and the Hound (1967), on which Disney based an animated feature; All Creatures Great and Small (1963); The History of Torture (1986); and Black Cargos: a History of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1518-1865, Mannix had been a professional swallower of swords, lighted tubing, and fire, and an award- winning naturalist.
  • March 31 – Rosie O’Donnell’s television talk show features Jessica Grove. The young Hilliard, Ohio, actress has been cast as Dorothy in a New York stage production of The Wizard of Oz scheduled to open in May.
  • April 24 – The Tarpon (FL) Operetta Company stages a revival of the 1902 Baum/Tietjens Wizard of Oz musical.
  • May – A Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz based on the MGM screenplay opens in New York City at Madison Square Garden. The role of the Wicked Witch of the West is played by television actress Roseanne.
  • June – Jim Vander Noot receives the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award from the International Wizard of Oz Club.
  • Aug. 8-10 – Aberdeen, S.D., hosts its first annual L. Frank Baum Festival. A Chautauqua on Baum’s Dakota Heritage, theater presentations of The Wizard of Oz and Scraps the Ragtime Girl of Oz, children’s activities, storytelling, an arts fair, and other activities are included. Costumed characters based on Baum’s character descriptions wander through the site, which is adjacent to Wylie Park. In the park’s Storybook Land, a Land of Oz area is under construction. The Mitchell Library publishes a catalog of its extensive Oz collection, and an additional publication serves as a walking tour program for those interested in visiting Baum sites.
  • Radio Free Oz, streaming audio comedy from Peter Bergman, is available on the Internet. Bergman claims he had a radio show of the same name 30 years ago.
  • Mad magazine features another Oz parody, “The Buzzard of Oz.”
  • Roger Baum, the original author’s great-grandson, publishes his latest Oz book, The Lion of Oz and the Badge of Courage.
  • Oz: The American Fairyland is released by Sirocco Productions. Leonard Swann the 90-minute video biography of L. Frank Baum and the Oz saga. During interviews for it, Oz illustrator Charles Santore provides Swann with so much interesting footage that he completes a second production about the illustrator’s Oz work.
  • Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum by Michael O. Riley is published by University of Kansas Press.
  • Jill C. Wheeler’s biography L. Frank Baum: Young at Heart is published by Abdo & Daughters.

1998

  • March 28 – New York Fashion Week includes an MGM Wizard of Oz-themed fashion show by designer Isaac Mizrahi.
  • April 4 – Newspaper readers of USA Today vote for “There’s no place like home” as “the best, most quotable line from a movie.”
  • May 16 – A tribute concert to Judy Garland opens at Carnegie Hall.
  • June – Ruth Berman receives the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award from the International Wizard of Oz Club.
  • July 13 – Pacific Book Auction Galleries auctions the collection of Rob Roy MacVeigh, including a first edition Emerald City of Oz in dust jacket that sells for $12,650.
  • Aug. 13 – Oz Club member and MGM film dancer Dorothy Nitch dies.
  • Sept. 12 – “A Tribute to the Wizard of Oz,” a commemoration of the makeup artists of the MGM film, is hosted by Scott Essman in Hollywood.
  • Oct. 10 – Rachel Cosgrove Payes, author of The Hidden Valley of Oz (1951), The Wicked Witch of Oz (1993), and numerous non-Oz books, dies.
  • Nov. 6  -  MGM’s The Wizard of Oz is digitally remastered and re-released in theatres across the country.
  • Dec. 12  – An auction at the Pacific Design Center includes the Cowardly Lion costume ($250,000) and Wicked Witch’s hat ($50,000) from the MGM film.
  • An exhibit titled “The Science of Oz!” tours science and technology museums.
  • Film director Tim Burton is reportedly developing Lost in Oz, a TV drama series; the show is not produced.
  • Robert Halmi, producer of numerous fantasy TV specials and miniseries (Gulliver’s Travels, The 10th Kingdom, Dinotopia) is reported to be working on a live-action TV special, The Land of Oz, in which the Nome Kingdom wages war against the Ozites; the show is not produced.
  • Actor Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night, On the Waterfront, Doctor Zhivago) is reported to be working on a script involving 60-year-old Dorothy retuning to Oz, and Elizabeth Taylor is rumored to be interested in the lead role; the film is not produced.
  • The Wizard of Oz: Shaping an Imaginary World by Suzanne Rahn is published by Twayne Publishers as part of their Twayne’s Masterworks Studies series.
  • Visitors from Oz by Martin Gardner is published by St. Martin’s Press.
  • Dr. Gita Dorothy Morena, great-granddaughter of L. Frank Baum, writes The Wisdom of Oz. This study of spiritual growth using themes from Oz is published by Inner Connections Press.

1999

  • Jan. 1 – A float depicting Munchkinland from the MGM Wizard of Oz film is included in the Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade and wins the Grand Marshal’s trophy.
  • June  - Michael Gessel receives the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award from the International Wizard of Oz Club.
  • June 9 – “Over the Rainbow: Yip Harburg’s America,” the first musical review of the MGM Oz lyricist, premieres in Philadelphia.
  • June 16 – Judy Garland is ranked as the #8 female “greatest screen legend of all time” by the American Film Institute (AFI).
  • Oct. 10 – Ozma Baum Mantele, the granddaughter of L. Frank Baum to whom The Lost Princess of Oz was dedicated, dies.
  • Oct. 19 – Warner Brothers releases the digitally restored 1939 Wizard of Oz on DVD.
  • Nov. 9 – Mabel King, who played the Wicked Witch in both the stage and film musical versions of The Wiz, dies.
  • Dec. 10 – One of Judy Garland’s gingham dresses used in the MGM Wizard of Oz is sold for $324,000 at a Christie’s (London) auction to Garland collector Michael Benson.
  • The Wizardry of Oz: The Artistry and Magic of the 1939 M-G-M Classic by Jay Scarfone and William Stillman is published by Gramercy Books.
  • 100 Years of Oz: A Century of Classic Images from the Wizard of Oz Collection of Willard Carroll by John Fricke is published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
  • Cooking in Oz: Kitchen Wizardry and a Century of Marvels from America’s Favorite Tale by Elaine Willingham and Stephen Cox is published by Cumberland House.
  • Susan Ferrara’s The Family of the Wizard: The Baums of Syracuse is published by Xlibris.