Oz in the News 4.9.15

wizard-2-e1428581659356Own the Original Wizard of Oz Concept Painting for $8,000  Two original pre-production paintings by artist Jack Martin Smith are slated to go under the hammer on April 18, during the Entertainment & Music Memorabilia sale at Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills. The pieces were made as concepts before designing the film’s classic sets, and are estimated to fetch $8,000 each. One painting shows the iconic main characters Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion at the moment of their first meeting with the Wizard. Befitting with that pivotal scene’s somber mood, the concept painting is rendered in dark shades, with the Wizard in white. The second painting depicts a man on a horse, with the splendid Emerald City seen in the background, possibly corresponding to the movie’s “horse of a different color” scene.

Today in history: ‘Wizard of Oz’ songwriter & socialist Yip Harburg is born  It is a quirk of culture that most popular songs are known by their composer, although lyricists are songwriters too. Few have had as much impact, musically and socially, as the man who wrote “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” “April in Paris,” songs for the 1943 all-Black movie “Cabin in the Sky,” the musical “Finian’s Rainbow,” as well as the lyrics and much of the screenwriting for “The Wizard of Oz.” He and composer Harold Arlen won a 1939 Oscar for “Over the Rainbow.” Harburg wrote more than 600 songs for shows and films.

What do Barbarella, Mr Spock and the Wizard of Oz have in common?  Frank Drake is now better known for the Drake equation, which does the mathematics on the possible number of technological civilisations that may exist in our galaxy. Back then, however, he was a 29-year-old researcher with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, in Green Bank, West Virginia. He had the idea that if its 26-metre dish could be pointed to nearby sun-like stars, it might pick up radio signals from civilisations outside our solar system. Drake called it Project Ozma after the princess in L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books, because Baum used to pretend to be in radio contact with Princess Ozma, who would update him on news from Oz – signals from a distant civilisation. As for the others, Mr Spock,  of Star Trek fame, was from the planet Vulcan, which orbited Epsilon Eridani, and Barbarella went on a mission to Tau Ceti.


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