Monthly Archives: June 2019

Oz in the News 6.29.19

A man lights candles on a memorial outside the Stonewall Inn for victims of the Orlando Shooting, Thursday, June 16, 2016, in New York. Members of the United Nations’ LGBT Core Group met at the bar on Thursday. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Lorna Luft Reflects on the Connection Between Her Mother Judy Garland and Stonewall Under the bright New York City summer sun and among the abundant flowers at the Flatiron rooftop eatery Serra by Bierra, Lorna Luft is nursing an iced tea and talking about the legacy of her famous mother. “She really championed everybody,” she says of Judy Garland in between sips. “She championed the message of decency and hope. I mean, she recorded ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ the song of the century about hope that’s become an anthem for so many people.” It was only a mile from where Luft speaks to Billboard in Manhattan where the Stonewall Uprising occurred on June 28, 1969, serving as a flashpoint in the fight for LGBTQ rights that arguably kicked off the modern movement and changed the face of the community forever. “I’ve seen so much chatter on social media and in news articles talking about Stonewall, and often they dismiss the Judy Garland connection,” says John Fricke, an expert on Garland’s legend and author of multiple books on her (including 2011’s Judy: A Legendary Film Career) as well as the Oz film itself. “What that proves to me is that they know a lot about sociology, but they don’t know a damn thing about Judy Garland’s audiences.”

Oz in the News 6.25.19

William F. Brown, Tony-Nominated Book Writer of The Wiz, Dies at 91 Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on April 16, 1928, Brown began his professional writing career contributing to Look Magazine in 1950. After a year in the US Army, he worked as a television producer for the advertising agency Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborne (BBDO) from 1952-54 while starting a freelance career as an author, illustrator, cartoonist, and TV writer. His first show-business credits would come from contributing comedy sketches and lyrics to nine of cabaret producer Julius Monk’s revues throughout the 1950s and ’60s. He made his Broadway debut in 1967 with the comedy The Girl in the Freudian Slip. Though it only ran for four performances, it did feature Bernadette Peters in her first adult Broadway credit, as a standby in the role of the psychiatrist’s teen daughter. His most famous credit remains his book for The Wiz, a contemporary retelling of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, featuring a score by Charlie Smalls and an all-black cast of performers. It would win seven Tony Awards in 1975, including Best Musical, and run for four more years on Broadway. A movie adaptation followed in 1978, as did a Broadway revival in 1984.

Oz in the News 6.22.19

The Secret Jewish History Of ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ The historian Adele Reinhartz has recalled the “religious” devotion with which her Canadian Jewish family binge-watched WoO, followed by Cecil B. de Mille’s “The Ten Commandments.” The music of “Oz” doubtless plays a key role in this intense ongoing attraction. Songwriter Harold Arlen (born Hyman Arluck) the melancholy son of a cantor from Buffalo, New York, created plaintive ballads and sprightly earworms that creep into the consciousness and never depart. This effectiveness is also due to the feisty lyricist, E. Y. Harburg (born Isidore Hochberg), a leftist political activist who grew up in a family where the Yiddish Forvertswas read aloud nightly. Arlen’s biographers Walter Rimler and Edward Jablonski explain that the songwriter was profoundly influenced by the blues. The plaintive, heart-wrenching anthem “Over the Rainbow,” is so affecting that originally a brief reprise was planned to be sung by Judy Garland when Dorothy is trapped in the Witch’s castle, but this was deleted because it was deemed to be too upsetting for moviegoers.

Oz in the News 6.21.19

Southington’s Cava Restaurant unveils ‘Wizard of Oz’ theme, summer menu Tony Papahristou, Cava general manager, said he got inspiration from Las Vegas. Papahristou designed the flowers and decorations for the “Wizard of Oz” theme. He said it’s a story with enough elements for the entire rooftop. A large grass lion greets customers coming up the stairs as well as a large sunflower heart with the Tin Man’s hat on top of it. The centerpiece is a 275-gallon tube fountain, the center of which swirls to resemble a tornado. Behind the bar are green glass tubes to suggest the Emerald City. “We did some elements where it’s clear what the characters are, and others are interpretations,” Papahristou said.

Oz in the News 6.18.19

The Wizard of Oz at 80: how the world fell under its dark spell The Wizard of Oz was one of the first films I watched as a toddler in Rio de Janeiro, on my dad’s Super 8 projector. My parents were already dreaming of their own escape to London, where we would go a few years later. They hadn’t been born when the film was released, a few days before the start of the second world war, though by then my mother’s Jewish parents were building a life in Rio, their own Oz, far away from Poland – a land that would turn out to be far bleaker than Kansas. My grandparents were homesick, not quite settled, for the rest of their lives. Unlike Dorothy, they couldn’t click their heels together and magic themselves back. Home didn’t exist any more; it was a memory, an idea, a receptacle for feelings of loss.

‘The Wizard of Oz’ premiered nearly 80 years ago in Oconomowoc On June 4, the common council approved the placement for statues from the classic film. According to Bob Duffy, the city’s director of economic development, statues of Dorothy with Toto, The Tin Man, Scarecrow and The Cowardly Lion will be in the City Hall Plaza. The Wicked Witch of the West will be located on the north end of the plaza and the Wizard of Oz statue will be in front of City Hall, next to the commemorative monument installed after the 70th anniversary. The cost of the statues was estimated at $28,500. A yellow brick road is also planned for the celebration.

‘Wizard of Oz’ 80th Anniversary 4K Blu-ray in Works Several sources have cited July or the July-August time frame but there has been no official word from Warner on when a 4K version will be released on disc and how it will be packaged. It’s reasonable to expect that the studio will celebrate the milestone with something special as it has for past anniversaries, including the 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition and 75th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (including a 3D version). We also know that an 8K scan of the film exists.

Warner Bros. To Adapt This Wizard Of Oz-Tinged Dystopian Novel Readers are introduced to Truckee Wallace as a nobody teenager living in what used to be Little Rock, Arkansas (now known as Crunchtown 407). Along the way Truckee is joined on his journey by not only the intelligent-but-fainthearted goat, named Barnaby, but also a friendly android named Sammy, and a lobotomized giant (a.k.a. “Straw Man”) named Tiny Tim. It’s an ensemble purposefully reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz – with each respectively standing in for Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow – and it was apparently a key element that came together as the author began to define his lead characters. King explained, “Truckee and Sammy were the first characters who came to me. As soon as I knew that Truckee would be getting on the road with an early-generation android, I thought of Dorothy and the Tin Man. The archetypal quest embodied by the four central characters —to return, to restore, to fill, to repair—immediately struck me as having thematic parallels to FKA USA.”


Oz in the News 6.17.19

Witches And Wizards: A Scrapbook From The Land Of Oz “I grew up in Indiana, so the threat of tornadoes marked every spring and summer season. When I was about 10 or 11, one particularly dangerous storm — one that produced golf-ball sized hail — sent my family to our basement where we were forced to sit and wait for the storm to subside and electricity to return. I comforted myself with a big flashlight and a hardback copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, reading the opening chapters over and over. This early infatuation and fascination with Oz may be why I am now working on my English Ph.D. with a specialization in children’s literature, so I’m continually blown back again and again to Baum’s marvelous land.”

JUDY GARLAND FESTIVAL ON 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE STAR’S PASSING This year, 50 years after her passing, from June 20 – June 22, 2019, The Judy Garland Museum will celebrate Garland, the iconic star the world came to know and love best as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” with a three-day filled festival of events. On Thursday, June 20, from 3-4 p.m., the festival will open with a showing of Judy Garland’s December 1962 appearance on The Jack Paar Show. “With a Laugh and a Smile and a Song” will be hosted with comments by John Fricke. On Friday, June 21, there will be “Judy in the Movies” – John Fricke presents film clips and anecdotes in a program he created for the 2014 Turner Classic Movie Festival in Los Angeles. From 3:30-4:45 p.m., Fricke will host a much more personal program on Judy Garland titled, “Powerful, Sincere, Fragile, Triumphant, Joyous, Iconic, Legendary.” In this program, Fricke will present backstage and behind the scenes memories of Judy from fans, friends and strangers she met across the years. For more information, call the Judy Garland Museum at 218-327-9276; e-mail, or visit their website:; or

Oz in the News 6.15.19

Wicked Witch of the West personified by son during presentation Margaret Hamilton will always be remembered as one of the most frightening witches of all time in the 1939 classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” At the annual meeting of the Southport Historical Society June 10, facing more than 100 enthusiastic listeners, guest speaker Hamilton “Ham” Meserve painted a very different picture of his mother as a classy, kindhearted lady who loved children and had a sense of humor. According to Meserve, Hamilton grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and caught the acting bug when she landed a lead role in a high school play. The next morning, during breakfast, she announced she was going on the stage. Without missing a spoonful of oatmeal, her mother responded, “Ladies in Cleveland do not go on the stage.” But then being a concert pianist herself she relented by saying, “You’ll go to college first to learn how to make a living.”

A look inside the Land of Oz at Beech Mountain, NC “I’ve had grown men who insist on skipping with Dorothy, or they get teary-eyed,” Barrett said. Of course, the journey ends with a happy ending, as all see the Wonderful Wizard for their individual requests. Barrett said, “It’s absolutely out of this world because I don’t think people expect to have the reaction they do, the second they hit the yellow brick road. The theme park is open Thursdays and Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those interested should not waste any time because the Friday dates have been completely booked, with the Thursday dates soon to fill up as well.

Up and Over the Rainbow: The Impact of Judy Garland on the work of Tyler Houchins We all have our childhood heroes. Tyler Houchins looks back to musical icon Judy Garland, returning with his  evening-long celebration of Judy’s 50 years on the other side of the rainbow. Ahead of his pride month performance June 22, 2019, at L’Etage Cabaret, he talks with Henrik Eger about his life, from being bullied to falling in love with Judy Garland.

Oz in the News 6.12.19

Backstage at the Emerald City: Never-before-seen candid photographs showing 17-year-old Judy Garland getting ready on set of the 1939 Wizard of Oz go up for auction The photos have remained in the photographer’s family for eight decades but are now being sold with California-based Julien’s Auctions. They are expected to fetch $5,000. Jason DeBord, specialist at Julien’s Auctions, said: ‘These never before seen photos give fans of the film and cinema at large a rare glimpse into the making of one of the most famous, revered and beloved films from the Golden Age of movies.

ESMoA transforms into the ‘Wonderful World of Oz’ for latest exhibit ESMoA (El Segundo Museum of Art) transforms beginning Thursday, June 13, into Oz with vintage memorabilia and artwork from the nearly 120 years of the Oz universe to current artwork inspired by the Baum series of books. “There’s this whole expanded universe of this world of Oz… we’re trying to help people see this whole hidden world that they didn’t expect,” said curator Jeff Cason. The foundation of the exhibit is Baum’s first book “The Wonderful World of Oz,” which was followed by 39 other books in the Oz series. All 40 books will be on display at ESMoA as well as original illustrations by W.W. Denslow, John R Neill and others. “We’re featuring a first edition of that book on display and we have a corner of the museum that’s almost set up like a collector’s library… the imagination and the storytelling of this book kind of flows out and paints all the walls of the museum as if the story has come to life around you,” Cason said. Five murals, some as high as 15-feet tall, by L.A. artists Aiseborn and Copyison, bring famous locations from Oz to life including Munchkinland, Emerald City and the witch’s castle.

Bay Street to present ‘My Witch’ about Margaret Hamilton “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too.” How many of us had nightmares instigated by that famous line from “The Wizard of Oz,” and more notably the woman who uttered them, Margaret Hamilton, playing the Wicked Witch of the West? Her life will be examined in a new play added to the summer schedule at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. “My Witch: The Stories of Margaret Hamilton” by John Ahlin will run at the theater July 12-21. Jean Tafler will play Hamilton, who started out as a kindergarten teacher in Cleveland. Ahlin’s play traces Hamilton’s transformation to the actress who scared (and is still scaring) the living daylights out of generations of youngsters. (Her performance is ranked fourth on the American Film Institute’s 2003 list of Best Movie Villains.) Though best known for her role in “Oz,” the character actress, who died in 1985, had a busy career in film and on television. Bay Street describes the play as “surprising, fun, haunting and delightful.” Tickets start at $40 at

Lorna Luft to Host Recreation of Legendary Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall Concert In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Judy Garland’s death, the Axelrod Performing Arts Center, in collaboration with the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, presents Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall, on Sunday, June 23 at 7:00pm. The first recreation of a historic concert that’s been hailed as “the greatest night in show business history,” the event will be hosted by Garland’s daughter Lorna Luft, accompanied by a 40-piece orchestra conducted by Minnelli’s former musical director Michael Berkowitz. The concert is the brainchild of the Axelrod’s Artistic Director, Andrew DePrisco, and will feature four divas in addition to Miss Luft. “Judy Garland is the definitive musical icon, and no single lady could possibly hold the stage for two hours and do her justice,” says DePrisco. “So, we decided to hire five amazing singers…and 40 musicians.”


Oz in the News 6.11.19

Egypt through the eyes of L. Frank Baum In 1906, the Baums used the profits from The Wizard of Oz to fund a “grand tour” of Egypt and Europe, organized by the Thomas Cook travel company — one of the first companies to offer tours of Egypt. This June, Egyptologist and Baum expert David Moyer followed their journey up the Nile through a special photographic presentation at the Cazenovia Public Library. Baum captured the trip through photographs, while Maud documented their adventures through letters written home to family members. After learning that Baum’s photographs survived in an album owned by the author’s great grandson, Moyer began putting together a lecture around the historic images. The resulting presentation, delivered on June 4, features Baum’s 1906 photos side-by-side with Moyer’s own photos of the same sites. Accompanying the images are excerpts from Maud’s “often humorous and sometimes poetic” letters. “My photos were taken long before I knew about the existence of Baum’s,” Moyer said. “When I first saw his photos, I knew right away that I could pretty much match most of them.”

Oz in the News 6.10.19

André De Shields just won his first Tony at 73 Here are 5 facts on his epic career In accepting his award, De Shields shared his three cardinal rules for longevity: One, surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming. Two, slowly is the fastest way to get where you want to be. And three, the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, so keep climbing, he said. De Shields grew up in Baltimore, the ninth of 11 children. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he made his professional debut in the 1969 Chicago production of “Hair.” In 1975, De Shields starred in his breakout role: the title character in “The Wiz,” the Broadway black retelling of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” “The Wiz” ran for more than 1,600 performances and won seven Tony Awards, including best musical. De Shields’ role was later reprised by Richard Pryor in the 1978 film and Queen Latifah in the live NBC TV special in 2015.

Wizard of Oz Festival, Grand River Arts & Craft Show set for June 21-22 in Ionia We are pleased to announce the festival’s lineup of Celebrity Guests will include Mary Ellen St. Aubin (Munchkin by Marriage), famed Oz authors Amanda and James Wallace and Ron Baxley. Representing the ever popular gift shop Storyland Collectibles, Karen Owens will be showcasing a complete gift line for all ages. Ralph Zellem will be displaying and selling his collection of autographed Oz-related photos. The International Wizard of Oz Club invites you to join their organization at a special vendor booth filled with Oz memorabilia.