Monthly Archives: October 2019

Oz in the News 10.21.19

The Wizard of Oz at 80: Archive of a Rust Belt Girl The preceding generation (see, for example, Gore Vidal, Alison Lurie, Ray Bradbury, and Henry M. Littlefield) wrote mainly about the Oz books, exploring L. Frank Baum as author – his storied themes and devoted readers – as well as the series’ subversive possibilities in relation to capitalism, populism, and feminism.5 John Updike was a crossover here: in a New Yorker piece about Baum written for the centenary of the book’s publication, Updike identified himself as belonging “to the generation more affected by the movie than by the book” under a subheading that claimed “the movie is the main road to Oz.”6 It is as though the great chronicler of Cold War America had one foot in the year 1900 with Baum, and the other in 1959 with Rabbit Angstrom. Writing in 2000, Updike noted the appearance of a “sub-genre” of works that would draw on Oz – “the products, presumably, of Oz-besotted children now aged into postmodern creators freed from fear of copyright infringement.” And certainly, writers born later tend to give equal importance to, if not privilege, the film. Geoff Ryman’s Was (1992) and Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995) are the works of authors born in 1951 and 1954 respectively. Maguire has described the annual broadcast as a “national ritual when we baby boomers were kids.”7 Michael Chabon references the film regularly in his fiction. In an essay titled “The Movie That Changed My Life,” author Terry McMillan recalled her identification with Dorothy as year after year, she watched the film in a chaotic household in Port Huron, Michigan.8 But perhaps the most telling evidence of how television empowered the film version of The Wizard of Oz came from Carol Billman, a children’s literature scholar. In a comparison of film and book published in 1981, her starting point was the realization that her students (having grown up with the broadcasts), came to the book after the film. For Billman, the film “transcends its original in popular culture.” It has become “the authoritative work to which all other tellings of the story, even the original one, must answer.”

Oz in the News 10.19.19

One of last living Munchkins reflects from her home in Sonoma A childhood role in a treasured film classic during the Golden Age of Hollywood didn’t define Betty Ann Bruno’s life, but being a Munchkin in “The Wizard of Oz” has been a joyful claim to fame. “Oz has been a presence in my life, my whole life, a huge presence,” said Bruno, who turned 88 earlier this month. She was one of about 10 young girls of average height who sang and danced with more than 100 little people in the bright and colorful Munchkinland in the beloved 1939 movie. Even today, 80 years after the film’s premiere, Bruno still finds handwritten fan letters and autograph requests in her mailbox on a quiet cul-de-sac in El Verano, where she lives with her husband, former KTVU cameraman Craig Scheiner. Bruno, who stands 5 feet, 1 inch tall, is one of the film’s few surviving cast members. She took amused exception to news reports last year that the world’s last living Munchkin had died. When Jerry Maren passed away at age 98 (he was the Lollipop Guild member who welcomed Garland to Munchkinland), he was presented as the final adult Munchkin to die. A few child Munchkins are still around to share their memories, Bruno emphasizes.

Dorothy who inspired ‘The Wizard of Oz’ character is from IL We all know Dorothy the movie character… but the real Dorothy is from central Illinois. Dorothy Gage is from Bloomington. She can be found at the Evergreen Cemetery. Gage died at the very young age of five months. It is believed the cause of her death was “congestion to the brain”. Gage’s uncle, L. Frank Baum, named her after the main character of his book. In 2017, it was decided a tree would be carved in the image of Dorothy and her dog, Toto. Now Gage’s memory serves as a reminder of her impact in children’s literature.

Final Fantasy 8’s director drew inspiration from the Wizard of Oz A new interview with the creators of Final Fantasy 8 has revealed a surprising source of inspiration for the game: The Wizard of Oz. During the 23 minute look at the classic JRPG, which was posted on PlayStation’s YouTube channel, the original game director, Yoshinori Kitase, shed light on the game’s design and how the Judy Garland classic helped inspire him. “While visually, it presents as near-future sci-fi,” Final Fantasy 8’s director Yoshinori Kitase says, “I wanted the base of the story and the world to be centered in fantasy, so I included sorceresses.” Kitase explains that this aspect was inspired by one classic fairytale in particular. “In fact, I wanted to channel a bit of the essence of The Wizard of Oz, and that was what inspired me when I was creating the fairytale-esque fantasy base of 8.”

Oz in the News 10.18.19

Disney+ Is All Set To Traumatize A New Generation With Return To Oz Return to Oz is reportedly more faithful in tone and weirdness to L. Frank Baum’s original novels than 1939’s Wizard of Oz. I’ve never read them, so I can’t speak to that, but what I can point out is how it’s more or less in keeping with the decade’s trend of traumatizing “children’s fare.” Maybe it was to prepare Gen X kids for the inevitability of nuclear war, but the 1980s were rife with unsettling efforts: Something Wicked This Way Comes (Mr. Dark!), Dark Crystal (Kira getting stabbed or the life-draining, take your pick), The Never-Ending Story (adios, Artax), The Secret of NIMH (sayonara, Nicodemus) … I could go on. Disney+ goes live November 12. Your kids have a little less than a month to enjoy their childhoods, in other words.

Ohio State Beauty Academy takes a trip to Oz for Fall Showcase The Ohio State Beauty Academy hit the runway for their fall student competition with the theme, “A Night in Oz”. The competition is a good way for the students to think outside the box, instead of performing the regular hairstyles that they do at the academy. 36 of the cosmetology students picked a character from one of the movies based on “The Wizard of Oz”, and completely reimagine a look complete with hair, makeup, nails, and costume.

Oz in the News 10.16.19

A Touch of Whimsy in Wausaukee, Wisconsin On August 26, Carol and I drove nearly two hours from Clintonville to Wausaukee—almost to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Garry Parrett, the friendly curator, greeted us at the former grocery store/American Legion Hall turned museum. Its small size belied the amount of Oz memorabilia packed inside—Garry guestimates 14,000 to 15,000 items, wall to wall, ceiling to floor. The collection includes hundreds of dolls and figurines, 130 records, movie posters, Oz tins, clocks, a garden center, pre-school items, and a few artifacts from the MGM movie and Wicked.

Oz in the News 10.12.19

The End of Oz: Reflections on the Centenary of L. Frank Baum’s Death In Oz, women rule most of the major precincts; they are the chief instigators, villains, and culprits in most of the plots; they solve most of the problems, and afterward forge long-term relationships with their motley friends and companions (scarecrows and lions and tin woodmen, et cetera), promoting a happy, beneficent society while keeping the world’s less beneficent societies (us) out. Men, on the other hand, are relatively helpless and bewildered, and most of their efforts lead to disaster. Uncle Henry loses Dorothy (and his house) to a tornado; a few books later, he loses Dorothy to a storm at sea; and still later, he loses her to an earthquake in San Francisco that swallows her up. (In fact, the only way Uncle Henry can stop losing Dorothy is by moving with her and Aunt Em to Oz at the conclusion of The Emerald City of Oz [1910].) Cap’n Bill (like most of Baum’s male mariners) gets himself and his girl companion, Trot, lost at sea (The Scarecrow of Oz, 1915), and the redoubtable Wizard crashes the same balloon twice — once when he inadvertently lands in Oz, and later when he leaves and gets lost in the center of the earth (Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, 1908).

Oz in the News 10.3.19

Renee Zellweger talks Judy in behind the scenes featurettes Pretty much everyone is unanimous in their praise of Renee Zellweger, who gets under the skin of Hollywood icon Judy Garland. Zellweger brings us the emotionally crumbling Judy of the 1950s as she battled her difficult past and her own personal demons. With Zellweger potentially in line for her first Best Actress Oscar, here are some behind the scenes featurettes in which she discusses the making of the film.

Oz in the News 10.2.19

OzFest to kick off day with return of parade “This isn’t actually the first time we’ve had a parade to go with OzFest. When it started, we had huge parades and look-a-like contests and cosplayers – it was HUGE. We’ve gone away from the parade in more recent years, but we want to bring back that tradition of the OzFest parade and really build up how big Oz in Kansas is, especially in Liberal,” Watt said. “As far as actual expectations, we have no idea because it all depends on the community – it’s up to them to enter floats and/or classic cars, and it’s up to the people to come out and actually watch the parade and see everything. It’s a Saturday morning parade, and once you’re done with the parade, people will head right out to the Dorothy’s House/Land of Oz grounds at the Coronado Museum to see the rest of the entertainment that will be happening throughout that day. It’s a chance to get started on the Oz celebration a little early, and it’s the 80th year, so if people want it to be a big celebration, people need to come out and put together floats and support it by watching. And people love classic cars, so if you have one you want to highlight and show off, bring it out. If you want to get the word out about your group, get a group and float together and sign yourselves up. It’s also free to enter, it’s no cost to drive down Kansas Avenue and be part of the 80th anniversary of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”