A Short History of Oz
The classic musical film, The Wizard of Oz, was inspired by the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written in 1899 and published in 1900 by author, Lyman Frank Baum. Baum actually wrote an entire series of books based on the Oz story and characters. The MGM 1939 film release was a loose adaptation of the initial book. A little known fact, however, is that many Oz films were made during the era of the silent movie.
SILENT MOVIE ERA
1908 - The Wizard of Oz
1910 - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (with 9 year old child star Bebe
Daniels as Dorothy)
1910 - Dorothy and the Scarecrow in Oz
1910 - The Land of Oz
1914 - The Patchwork Girl of Oz, The Magic Cloak of Oz, and His
Majesty - The Scarecrow of Oz were three films produced by Baum's
own Oz Film Manufacturing Company
1921 - The Wizard of Oz
1925 - The Wizard of Oz starring Oliver Hardy of the famous comic
pair Laurel and Hardy as the Tin Man was the last film in this era.
TALKING MOVIE ERA
1931-- The first talking Oz movie made was The Scarecrow of Oz.
1933 -- Canadian black and white version of The Wizard of Oz.
1938 -- A short Oz animation produced and MGM movie cast.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) had actually planned to make a movie as early as 1924, but Baum would not agree to their terms and so he sold the rights to Chadwick Pictures. Finally, in 1934, Sam Goldwyn cut a deal to get them for$40,000. The actress Judy Garland signed on with MGM in 1935 and the rest is history. She was cast to play the role of Dorothy in 1938. Other major roles cast as follows: Ray Bolger as Hunk and the Scarecrow; Jack Haley as Hickory and the Tin Man; Bert Lahr as Zeke and the Cowardly Lion; Margaret Hamilton as Almira Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West; Frank Morgan as Professor Marvel, Emerald City Doorman, Cabbie, the Wizard's Guard, and the Wizard of Oz.
Interesting Facts and Trivia
Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as the Tin man but had to relinquish the role to Jack Haley because of an allergic reaction to the silver dust makeup. Buddy Ebsen is primarily remembered for his role as Jed Clampett from the popular 1960s TV show, The Beverly Hillbillies. If it weren't for 20th Century Fox's lack of cooperation, Shirley Temple would've played the role of Dorothy and W.C. Fields would've played the Wizard. The Tin Man's son -- Jack Haley, Jr., married Judy Garland's daughter -- Liza Minnelli -- in 1974. The marriage ended in 1978. The word "Oz" derived from the alphabetical letters O-Z on Baum's bottom file cabinet drawer.
MGM’s production of The Wizard of Oz was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including best picture, best color cinematography, best interior decoration, best special effects, best original score, and best song -- "Over the Rainbow." Judy Garland received a special award for "outstanding performance as a screen juvenile." Competing against another movie classic that year, Gone With the Wind, it only received two of those Oscars for its music. The others all went "Gone With the Wind." The Wizard of Oz was the first full length feature film to be shown on television. Since 1956, its yearly television broadcasts have garnered a tradition that continues to bear a positive influence on the collective psyche and popular culture for all time. In the years since, many tributes have been made to the film, its stars and characters in many forms: multiple movies, Broadway musicals, literary critiques, analytical expositions, and boundless references throughout the entire spectrum of multimedia and entertainment. It was voted the 6th best film of the 100 greatest films from the past 100 years by the American Film Institute in 1998. As one of our greatest spiritual and artistic treasures -- it is certain to enlighten and entertain many generations to come.