The Wizard of Oz


The Wizard of Oz is probably the most iconic and recognizable story in American culture. Most people instantly associate The Wizard of Oz with the 1939 film starring Judy Garland which is one of the most beloved films in history but the original story of the Wizard of Oz was based on a book. In 1900 Fran Baum published a children’s book called the Wonderful Wizard of Oz which told the story of Dorothy Gale, a Kansas girl who is swept away to a magical land during a fierce tornado. The book was so popular when it was published that in 1902 Frank Baum created a musical based on the book for the Broadway stage. From that musical came the 1939 film which remains the most popular depiction of this American folklore tale. Every Halloween the well known characters from the movie including Dorothy Gale, The Tin Man, The Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion are some of the most popular Halloween costumes worn. Glinda the Good Witch, the Wicked Witch of the West and the flying monkeys that the witch uses to put her evil plans into action are also very popular costumes for Halloween.


This year Spirit Halloween is offering the wicked witch of the west.  They did a great job in detail as you can see at:

There have been many different books and movies based on the Wizard of Oz story and there have been prequels and sequels written. One of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time, Wicked, tells the tale of the two witches from the land of Oz who feature prominently in the original story. Frank Baum wrote additional books about Oz but none of them captured the public’s imagination quite like the Wizard of Oz. Even though the story is one of the most heavily borrowed from stories in American culture very few of the projects that reference the original story stray too far from the original, probably because people love the original story so much that trying to change or modernize the story is a big risk. Syfy, the science fiction TV channel, took a chance and ran a TV miniseries called Tin Man starring Zooey Deschanel and Alan Cummings which was a modernized science fiction version of the story set far in the future after Dorothy had found her way back to Kansas. Reaction to the miniseries was mixed, and no projects since then have attempted to modernize the original story.


Because the 1939 film version of the story was so popular and very few items of memorabilia from it remain some of the screen used and much loved props from the movie have sold for enormous sums of money. Recently the Ruby Slippers worn by Judy Garland in the most beloved scene in the movie, when she clicks her heels together three times in order to return home to Kansas, sold for more than a million dollars at auction. A group of Hollywood actors and investors pooled their money to buy the slippers and put them on display in a museum dedicated to the history of film.


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