Monthly Archives: August 2019

Oz in the News 8.31.19

More pieces of ‘Oz’ pop up in Holland The yellow brick road takes visitors across the street to the Herrick Library where artist Nick Christensen will begin installing six life-size bronze sculptures of Oz characters Friday, from the Tin Man to Toto. “It does bring back memories of from childhood, which is pretty unique,” said Christensen. The statues near the library will become permanent fixtures in Holland, reminding visitors of the book that inspired a classic movie and bridged several generations since it was written 119 years ago. “It’s for the community, it’s for the children, ya know. Grown-ups as well, reliving their childhood,” said Christensen. “The Wizard of Oz” project involves the Holland Area Visitor’s Bureau, Holland in Bloom, Herrick District Library and the city of Holland. You can follow the project’s progress on the Holland Oz Project’s website.

The Subversive Messages Hidden in The Wizard of Oz The script scoffs at the idea that power and prosperity come to those who merit them, even when it is dealing with Dorothy herself. She kills one Wicked Witch by crash-landing a house on her, and kills another (Margaret Hamilton) by splashing her with water. In both cases, the killings are accidents, the results of pure chance rather than Dorothy’s bravery or virtue. (Any water-soluble witch who leaves buckets of the stuff sitting around her castle is asking for trouble.) But in both cases, Dorothy is instantly hailed as a conquering heroine, just as the Wizard was when he touched down in Oz. The message is that people will march behind any authority figure who makes a splash, however undeserving they may be. It’s a subversive message in 2019, and it was even more pointed in 1939, when fascist dictators were stomping across Europe.

 

Oz in the News 8.29.19

Movies On The Radio Honors The Legacy Of American Classic ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ Host Frank Stasio along with film experts Marsha Gordon and Laura Boyes commemorate the film on the latest edition of Movies on the Radio. Stasio also talks to literary scholar Michael Patrick Hearn about the book from 1900 that inspired the film and the life of its author, L. Frank Baum. Hearn specializes in children’s literature and is the author of “The Annotated Wizard of Oz” (WW Norton Co/2000). Gordon is a professor of film studies at North Carolina State University and a fellow at the National Humanities Center. Boyes is the film curator for the North Carolina Museum of Art. She is also the curator of the MovieDiva series.

Oz in the News 8.28.19

Dorothy Gale’s Iconic Wizard of Oz Dress Is Up for Auction 80 Years After the Film’s Release The gingham pinafore dress, which has been listed as an auction piece by Profiles in History, is estimated between $350,000 to $500,000. Judy Garland‘s screen double, Barbara “Bobbie” Koshay, wore the dress in a scene in which Dorothy opens the door to Munchkinland in the 1939 film.

Ray Bolger’s 1948 Tony Award to Be Auctioned Bolger, who famously portrayed the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz alongside Judy Garland, won the award for his turn in the Broadway production of Where’s Charley?. The actor, who died in 1987 at the age of 83, reprised his role as Charley Wykeham in the 1952 Warner Brothers film based on the Broadway musical. The Tony, which will be auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Auctions on August 29, was presented at the third annual event on April 24, 1949, when the design of the Tony Award medallion was first introduced. The medal features the comedy and tragedy masks on the front, and a profile portrait of Antoinette Perry in relief on the reverse. The sterling silver medallion reads, ”The American Theatre Wing Presents to Ray Bolger This Award for His Performance in Where’s Charley 1948-49.” Bidding for the medal begins at $8,000.

Munchkin’s widow honored at Wizard of Oz Days When a professional group of Wizard of Oz characters from Indiana led the Oz Days celebration at the Hannibal Inn and Suites on Saturday, they had a special little person to introduce to the huge crowd attending. Mary Ellen St. Aubin, whose late husband, Parnell St. Aubin, was a munchkin in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie, was honored as the first lady of the celebration. St. Aubin later explained she is introduced as age 99 but actually will celebrate her 99th birthday on Sept. 21. “I don’t mind be called a midget,” she said. “All our life we’ve been called midgets, and now they have a nationwide club called Little People of America. St. Aubin is 3-foot-7, and her husband was an inch shorter. Still in good health, St. Aubin enjoys traveling from her home in Chicago to two or three Oz events each year,

Oz in the News 8.27.19

My Journey to Oz & Kansas—Part 4: The Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas Anticipating a road trip to Kansas while bombarded with weather reports about tornadoes is disconcerting. Especially when you’re planning to visit the Oz Museum. Yup, that’s how it was in May. Every morning the week before my trip, I turned on the news to more flooding and tornadoes across Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. An omen? A premonition of being whisked across the Kansas prairie in my car? Well, tornadoes fit into the general theme of this May 12-18 road trip: Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz, and Oz author L. Frank Baum. Additionally, May 15, 2019 marked 163 years since Baum’s birth, and May 6 was the centennial of his death. Strong winds and threatening weather were the perfect accompaniment.

Oz in the News 8.26.19

The Wizard of Oz Invented the ‘Good Witch’ It can be easy at first to dismiss the Good Witch as frivolous when compared to her nemesis. “Of the two Witches, good and bad, can there be anyone who’d choose to spend five minutes with Glinda?” Salman Rushdie once asked in The New Yorker, calling her “a silly pain in the neck.” It’s true that there’s a cartoonish high-femininity to Glinda: her butterfly-bedazzled pageant gown, her honeyed singing. And then there’s the way her character affirms old-fashioned ideas about the value of beauty: “Only bad witches are ugly,” Glinda tells Dorothy upon their meeting. In Oz, prettiness and virtue are conflated, and Glinda is the fairest of them all. Billie Burke, the 54-year-old actor who played Glinda, also prized beauty, and some of her opinions on the matter come across as retrograde today. “To be a woman, it seems to me, is a responsibility which means giving, understanding, bearing, and loving. To begin with, these things require being as attractive as possible,” she declares in her 1959 autobiography, With Powder On My Nose. But she thought the wise and gracious Glinda was a departure from the (in her words) “skitter-wits,” and “spoony ladies with bird-foolish voices,” that she was known for playing. She came to consider Glinda her favorite role, though she’d insist on referring to the character as a “good fairy” rather than a “good witch,” thereby distancing herself from the very word that the film sought to redefine for the better.

10 Important Wizard of Oz Adaptations of the Last Century In addition to the various stage and book adaptations Baum’s Oz has inspired — we’d be remiss not to mention Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and the subsequent beloved musical adaptation — The Wizard of Oz has been a staple of cinema (and, later, TV) history from the form’s very inception. We’re taking some time to look back at some of the on-screen Oz incarnations that have defined the story’s legacy and the legacy of film and television. What is so timeless about this story? What do the quirks of each of these on-screen adaptations say about the respective eras they were made in? Here are 10 of the most prominent on-screen Wizard of Oz adaptations of the last century to help us ponder these all-important cultural questions…

Oz in the News 8.25.19

The Curse of Playing the Wicked Witch of the West The former kindergarten teacher had already donned the black hat in a Cleveland stage production of L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s book, but producer Mervyn LeRoy had initially wanted a more prominent actress to play the witch in what would become one of the most iconic films of all time. A single mom with a spiked chin and prominent nose, Hamilton was not exactly a casting director’s mental image of a movie star. She would often hear that she needed plastic surgery to remove the bump on her nose if she ever wanted to move her career beyond community theater and brief appearances in films. But Hamilton had gone into acting for the money, so she looked past these indignities and accepted any role that came her way. By the time the auditions for The Wizard of Oz came around, she had already played her share of spinsters and villains, both in theater productions and Hollywood films like Way Down East and The Farmer Takes a Wife, both released in 1935.

‘Wizard of Oz’ themed sand sculpture turns heads at the New York State Fair  The celebrated butter sculpture isn’t the only three dimensional work of art that attracts visitors to the New York State Fair. There’s also a themed sand sculpture each year. This year’s masterpiece at the Center of Progress building features a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing as well as an ode to ‘The Wizard of Oz.’

The Melody Makers 6: The Wizard of Oz  According to the US Library of Congress, it is the most seen film in movie history. It was among the first 25 films that inaugurated the US National Film Registry list in 1989. It is among the top ten in the British Film Institute list of films to be seen by the age of 14. Yet the writers of the songs, including the Oscar-winning Over the Rainbow, are not familiar names to most. The lyrics were by Edgar ‘Yip’ Harburg, who was born Isidore Hochberg in 1899. His parents were Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jews who had emigrated from Russia. They lived in extreme poverty on New York’s Lower East Side, and only four of their ten children survived. His childhood nickname was derived from ‘yipsl’, the Yiddish word for squirrel.

Oz in the News 8.24.19

Follow the yellow brick road to Granite Falls’ house of Oz When you visit Stacey Morris’ house, you’ll step into her very own Technicolor Land of Oz. You might just find yourself saying, “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Morris, 48, of Granite Falls, has been a “Wizard of Oz” fan since she was 4 years old. If it has to do with the “Oz” books, the 1939 film starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, or the “Wicked” Broadway musical about the Wicked Witch of the West, she has it. A Dorothy doll started it all. A 1975 Mego doll, Morris’ Dorothy is made in Garland’s likeness. She is wearing her iconic blue gingham dress and ruby red slippers. The doll has been well-loved: Over the years, she’s lost an arm, one of her braids has fallen out and she no longer carries Toto in a basket. “My ‘Wizard of Oz’ addiction started when I was 4. I’m not even kidding you, this girl went everywhere with me,” Morris said of the Dorothy doll.

How Dorothy Gale In The Wizard Of Oz Became This Season’s Style Icon Decades on, it is now impossible to ignore Dorothy’s style legacy. The iconic blue dress created by MGM studio’s costume extraordinaire Adrian (who designed gowns for Hollywood’s leading ladies that defined an era, including Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn and Joan Crawford) became one of the most iconic looks in film history. Worn, famously, with a pair of red sequinned slippers. Fast-forward nearly a century and fashion just can’t get enough of the nouveau feminine dress code this season. The exaggerated sleeves. Picnic gingham. Prairie dresses in every possible fabric, colour and print. A preoccupation with high necklines, ruffled details, floor-sweeping lengths and long sleeves a la Dorothy Gale is making a comeback once more.

The Wizard of Oz: Five Appalling On-Set Stories While filming the scene in which the witch disappears in a flash of smoke, the effects crew started their fire before actor Margaret Hamilton had enough time to safely exit the stage. According to Harmetz’s book, the flames caught on her broom and hat, “scalding her chin, the bridge of her nose, her right cheek, and the right side of her forehead. The eyelashes and eyebrow on her right eye had been burned off; her upper lip and eyelid were badly burned.” When she looked down, her skin had been burned off her hand. Incapacitated, a friend had to pick her up from the movie studio. “That was always amazing to me, that the studio didn’t send me home in a limousine,” the actor later recalled. Hamilton—a single mother—refused to take part in the stunt. But her double acquiesced—and promptly caught fire herself after flames again caught on the broom. “I felt as though my scalp was coming off,” Betty Danko recalled after spending 11 days in the hospital. “I guess that’s because my hat and my black wig were torn loose.” The double was reportedly paid $35 for her day’s work.

The Wizard of Oz Is Getting a Massive 4K Ultra HD, DVD, Digital Release with Tons of Extras The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of The Wizard of Oz will feature Dolby VisionTM HDR that dramatically expands the color palette and contrast range and uses dynamic metadata to automatically optimize the picture for every screen – frame by frame. Ultra HD showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before. The Wizard of Oz will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $41.99 SRP and features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc of The Wizard of Oz. Fans can also own The Wizard of Oz in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on October 29th.