Monthly Archives: June 2018

Oz in the News 6.26.18

Tree in cemetery carved to honor Dorothy of ‘Oz’ Like most people, Bill Baker is familiar with “The Wizard of Oz,” the movie about Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, trying to get home from the land over the rainbow. Now the Oz books, and the story behind their creation, have become an inspiration for Baker, a tree carver from Top Notch Chainsaw Carvings in Naperville. He is nearing the end of work on a sculpture of Dorothy in Bloomington’s Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, near the grave site of the girl for whom she was named. In the late 1800s, L. Frank Baum was putting the finishing touches on the story his wife, Maud, had been urging him to write for a long time. About that time, on June 11, 1898, Dorothy Louise Gage was born to Maud’s brother and sister-in-law, Thomas Clarkson and Sophie Jewel Gage. Five months later, however, Dorothy died after a short illness from “congestion of the brain,” a pneumonia-like illness. In an effort to cheer up his wife, Baum named the main character in his story after his niece. He dedicated what became the first book in the series, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” to Maud. A special ceremony to dedicate the sculpture will be announced once the project is completed.

Oz in the News 6.24.18

An umbrella adventure: Yorkshire Children’s Playhouse performs ‘Sky Island’The story begins with Trot, played by Raima Kreifels, and Cap’n Bill, played by William Wilton meeting a young boy with a magical umbrella named Button-Bright, played by Charlie VanGomple. Skeptical of the truth behind Button-Bright’s story about the umbrella, Trot and Cap’n Bill decide to take hold and humor his tales of traveling by umbrella. The set build for this particular show is remarkable in its ability to continuously transform as the cast travels from country to country. The multiple setting technique used for this play where multiple scenes take place simultaneously on the stage is done seamlessly. As the spotlight moves from one scene to another, the audience can feel the action and tension growing between the characters. “Sky Island” is performed by the Yorkshire Playhouse’s Children’s Theatre, but there is nothing child-like in their acting talent and professionalism. The large cast of this year’s show packs a huge punch in bringing L. Frank Baum’s children book alive on the stage. The characters are whimsical and the costumes and make-up are out of this world.

Oz in the News 6.22.18

33 Years Ago Today, The Underappreciated Sequel To ‘Wizard Of Oz’ Was Released When I was a child, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz. It wasn’t until I rewatched as an adult that I really appreciated the glittery, gaudy camp, and the whole “making cinematic history” thing. But as a kid, I was severely unimpressed by (what I perceived to be) cheap costume design and terrible world-building. “That guy doesn’t look anything like a lion,” I would scoff. “The Wicked Witch isn’t even scary, and everyone in this weird fantasy land is having way too much fun.” Alice in Wonderland stories are inherently frightening, I think, and I wanted something creepier, more Tim Burton-esque, rather than a happy-go-lucky musical. But then I watched the criminally underappreciated sequel, and I don’t think I slept for a week after. And no, I’m not talking about Oz the Great and Powerful (let’s just forget that movie exists, if we haven’t already). Return to Oz was released 33 years ago today, and starred a young Fairuza Balk (of The Craft fame). From the very first scene, it was clear that this movie wasn’t going to acknowledge the previous film, at all, seeing as Dorothy was suddenly eleven years old, and had forgotten how to sing. Instead of breaking out into spontaneous dance numbers, the grim-faced adults force Dorothy into electroshock therapy in a bid to break her Oz delusion.

Virgil Abloh Debuts ‘Wizard of Oz’ Partnership at Louis Vuitton’s SS19 Men’s Show Amidst all of the mayhem surrounding Virgil Abloh’s debut Louis Vuitton showtoday, you may have missed a key moment from the fashion house. LV has thus partnered with Warner Bros. to celebrate the upcoming 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. Two pieces were featured on the runway earlier today in Paris, noting shadows of The Wizard of Oz characters set against the famed yellow brick road.

There’s no place like his home: Local artist to have work displayed at Netherlands U.S. Embassy An Ottawa County man is getting a unique opportunity to share, some of the hidden gems here in West Michigan, internationally. Larry Sybesma will be sending a piece of art to the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands to be on display over the next few years. “There’s a lot of history here in town and you don’t know hear much about it,” Sybesma said. That history he referred to was that of his hometown and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. “L. Frank Baum had a neighbor that had a monkey and another neighbor who was Dorothy so it’s a lot of debate on where it was written.” Some even say the old Castle at Castle Park was the inspirations for the witches in the book. It was these connections to a classic that Sybesma wanted the world to know about. Now he’s getting his opportunity to do that. He refurbished a bike filled with themes linking the Wizard of Oz and its link to the lake shore. The bike will be on display at the lobby of the Netherlands U.S Embassy in hopes to attract more people to the West Michigan area.


Oz in the News 6.21.18

Dates Set for Love, Liza: The Auction In Los Angeles, With Over 1,700 Lots From Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland & Vincente Minnelli Profiles in History is proud to announce the dates of Love, Liza: The Auction. The 3 day auction will be July 30th, 31st & August 1st, in Los Angeles. Highlights include: Liza’s personal tribute “Ruby Slippers” worn at her wedding to Jack Haley, Jr. (son of Jack Haley who played “The Tin Man” in The Wizard of Oz). Judy Garland’s 16mm prints of her films, concert programs and sheet music. Judy Garland ‘s “Dorothy Gale” wig from the first week of shooting on The Wizard of Oz — gifted to Liza by famed Hollywood hair stylist Sydney Guilaroff. The finest collection of rare and unpublished photographs in existence from the careers of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli. Rare and unpublished photographs of baby Liza with parents Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli, both at work and at home. Judy Garland’s personal handwritten notes to husband Vincente Minnelli — filled with love and admiration. Judy Garland’s tramp clown tailcoat from a portrait sitting with Richard Avedon.

‘The Wizard Of Oz’ Book By L. Frank Baum Actually Has A Fascinating Feminist Origin Picking up the book today, it doesn’t exactly read like a cutting edge feminist manifesto. We can thank L. Frank Baum, though, at least in part, for several generations of fierce, female protagonists in fiction. We can thank him for planting the seed of a witch who was powerful and magical without being evil in the public consciousness. And we can hope that Matilda Joslyn Gage, who never lived to see the Oz books published, would have been (begrudgingly) proud.

Oz in the News 6.19.18

A Death in Emerald City To adult LPs, Jerry and his wife were elders of our community. They were the folks you would point out to your kids when you saw them in the hotel restaurant. To kids they were heroes. To adolescents, they were a little something more complicated. When you’re plagued with feelings of not fitting in, and you find yourself fending off insults by both peers and members of the general public, it was easy to feel embarrassed by those that portrayed the Munchkins. I will admit that snarky teenager still lives in me a bit. The last time I saw Jerry at a Little People Convention, I stood in line with my husband to get an autograph for our future children. I found myself wondering, aloud, what would be the most creative pick-up line you could use if you were the last living Munchkin. The list was long, and served to embarrass my husband for over an hour. Now as an adult, and a parent myself, we’ve watched the film with our kids. My kids are still young, but I imagine that they’ll grow up with us having similar conversations about representation, about history, and about why things like “The Wizard of Oz” matter. And while it leaves us with longing for better, more well-developed work, its legacy laid the groundwork for that. So thank you, Jerry. Thank you for the work you did to put our people in front of the camera, for taking the time to talk to so many scared families, for encouraging so many awestruck kids, for sharing so many stories, and for helping create a community at a time when so many of our people felt so alone. And for the other 123 of you changed history that day in October 1938, thank you for making it possible for me to be here now.

Oz in the News 6.16.18

Reception takes art gallery guests over the rainbow Vocalist Chelsea Low sang the wistful lyrics of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as guests explored “The Wizard of Oz,” a new interactive exhibit at The Frank art gallery in Pembroke Pines. Created by Miami Children’s Museum and licensed by Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the exhibition opened on Thursday, June 7. Reception visitors embarked on a multi-sensory experience as they traveled from the Gale Farm along the Yellow Brick Road to the colorful Land of Oz and explored Munchkinland, the Crossroads, the Witch’s Castle and the Emerald City. The Frank’s Chief Curator Joshua Carden combined the exhibition with contemporary artwork by Jason Aponte, Franklin Gonzalez, Gabriele Gutwirth, Aaron Miller, Brian Reedy and Santiago Rubino. “Any chance we get to invite the community in to experience art in a new way is always a victory for us,” Carden said. “The Wizard of Oz” is on display through August 18. Admission is $5. The gallery will also host related workshops, lectures and events throughout the summer. For more information, visit

Tavares’ Wizard of Oz Train Ride brings old favorite to life “This has been a wonderful experience overall and certainly telling the story has been a dream come true. I must have seen this move hundreds of times as a child,” said Katherine Riley from Celebration, who plays Dorothy. “It’s just amazing to know that this is a classic story, it’s a classic film and there are so many generations that we have found connecting to it.” Clermont’s Bob Wright, who plays the Wizard, said, “It has been just a really terrific experience for me. I get to work with a lot of extremely talented young people and then, I get to interact with the guests on the train as well as in the Emerald City and that s so much fun. It is just awesome. The people seem to love it.”

Oz in the News 6.13.18

Woodstock Chimes goes ‘Over the Rainbow’ Musically tuned windchime manufacturer Woodstock Chimes’ latest creation takes inspiration from “The Wizard of Oz.” Its latest chime is tuned to the opening notes of one of the most iconic songs of the 20th century, the Academy Award-winning ballad “Over the Rainbow” from the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz.” Composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg, the ballad Judy Garland popularized reminds us that “somewhere over the rainbow … dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” The Over the Rainbow Chime’s removable windcatcher has a rainbow image to exemplify the song. The chime is also one of the first Woodstock Chimes with a second hangtag designed to call attention to the significance of the tuning, so shoppers can understand at a glance what differentiates the chime from others. Measuring 27 inches in overall length, the Over the Rainbow Chime features seven silver aluminum tubes and cherry finish ash wood. Listen to and order a set here.

The 2018 Wizard Of Oz Festival Opens With A Variety Of Events This year, the 2018 Wizard of Oz Festival will host an exciting variety of programs. From Thursday, June 14 through Sunday, June 17, there will be live performances, lectures, movies, dinners and a free Land of Oz event for children.  For more information,
call the Judy Garland Museum at 218-327-9276;
or visit their website:; or


Oz in the News 6.11.18

Last remaining Munchkin actors share their stories On May 24, actor Jerry Maren passed away at age 98 in San Diego, Calif., and — as was widely reported — the world lost its last living “Wizard of Oz” munchkin. Well, its last munchkin played by a dwarf actor. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, I’m a munchkin and I’m still alive!’ ” Betty Ann Bruno told The Post of hearing about Maren. As children in 1939, Bruno and Joan Kenmore, both now 86, were two of a dozen little girls cast as extras to round out the movie’s Lollipop Guild. Kenmore seconded Bruno’s cry not to be forgotten. “I’m still here, and I can still breathe and I can still walk,” she told TMZ. The 12 girls, who are not listed in the film’s credits, sang and danced with the “real” munchkins (all dwarf actors), but were given short shrift.n“We were always in the background. They didn’t want to see children’s faces but they wanted our little bodies,” said Bruno, who is now ­5-foot-2 and lives in Sonoma, Calif., where she teaches hula dancing.

‘Wizard of Oz’ leads list of books with links to Illinois It begins in Kansas and detours to the Emerald City, but “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was written in Chicago and now heads the list of Top Illinois Books chosen by voters in the Illinois Top 200 project. Other books on the list are decidedly darker than the beloved children’s classic. “The Jungle” and “Spoon River Anthology” take readers from Chicago slaughterhouses to a small-town cemetery. “Devil in the White City” and “Native Son” explore the mind of a serial killer and the rage of a poor African-American man. The Illinois Top 200 project lets Illinoisans vote every two weeks on the most inspiring leaders, greatest inventions, top businesses and much more. By the state’s 200th birthday on Dec. 3, voters will have chosen 10 favorites in 20 different categories – the Illinois Top 200.


Oz in the News 6.9.18

A ‘Wizard of Oz’ train opens in Central Florida this weekend The Wizard of Oz Train Ride will finally be making its stop on the Orlando and Northwestern Railway in Tavares tomorrow. From June 8 to June 24, guests will board in Munchkinland and ride along the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion as they try to vanquish the notorious Wicked Witch of the West. When the train reaches its destination of Emerald City, guests will have the chance to meet the Great and Powerful Oz himself at a live stage show.

Oz in the News 6.7.18

Hoosier Lottery releases ‘The Wizard of Oz’ scratch-off The Hoosier Lottery announced the special release of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ scratch-offs available in retailers Tuesday. The $2 ticket gives ‘The Wizard of Oz’ fans the chance to instantly win up to $20,000 and comes printed in six different iconic scenes for fans to collect. The ‘Wizard of Oz’ ticket estimated overall odds are 1 in 4.47. 2nd Chance promotion odds are dependent upon the number of entries received.

Follow the yellow brick road to this Oz theme park open just a few days a year Fans of The Wizard of Oz look no further than Beech Mountain, North Carolina, to make lollipop guild dreams come true. Located in the Appalachian Mountains, the Land of Oz theme park is only open a few days each year — Fridays in June and for a short festival each autumn. Visitors become part of the story. Guests are picked at random to play the Scarecrow, TinMan, Lion, and Witches opposite of Dorothy on a guided tour of Oz as they travel down the Yellow Brick Road on the “Journey With Dorothy” that occurs on Fridays in June. Miss Gulch and the Wizard also make an appearance. Autumn at Oz takes place September 7-9 this year. In it’s 25th year, the festival celebrates all things Oz where guests can follow the Yellow Brick Road and meet all of their favorite characters, including the Scarecrow, TinMan and Lion, as well as Munchkins, Flying Monkeys — and Toto, too!