The Wizard of Oz is a popular American musical fantasy film in 1939 that was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer or MGM. It is considered as one of the greatest films of all time, and as well as the most successful adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s fantasy novel that was published in 1900, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” The film was characterized by its use of technicolor, musical score, storytelling, and as well as memorable characters. These things made it become a pop culture icon in America.
If you are a fan of The Wizard of Oz, or you’d like to learn more about it, you’re in the right place. Read on as we’re giving you a guide to The Wizard of Oz.
The Wizard of Oz in Different Mediums
The Wizard of Oz is a popular movie, but its story was adapted from a book. In addition to that, it was also made into a television series, a musical, and as well as in comics and graphic novels. With this, let us take a look at the story of The Wizard of Oz.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum. It was originally published in 1900 by the George M. Hill company. The book has seen several reprints, usually under the title The Wizard of Oz, which is the title of the 1902 music and the iconic 1939 film.
The story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz revolves around a young farm girl named Dorothy in the magical Land of Oz. They were brought there after she and her pet dog Toto are swept away by a cyclone from their home in Kansas. The book is among the most popular stories in American literature. It is also named America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale by the Library of Congress. Due to its success, the author wrote thirteen additional Oz books that served as official sequels to the first story. In 1901, all of its 10,000 copies were quickly sold out. By the time it entered the public domain in 1956, it had sold three million copies.
There were several film adaptations of The Wizard of Oz book. The earliest surviving film adaptation is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1910, which is a silent fantasy film. The film was made to fulfill a contractual obligation associated with Baum’s personal bankruptcy. In 1975, there was a feature-length 115-minute film of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that was produced by Teaching Resource Films. It is also an adaptation of Baum’s book.
But among the many film adaptations, the most popular is the 1939 American musical fantasy film, The Wizard of Oz. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and won in two categories which are Best Original Song for Over the Rainbow and Best Original Score by Herbert Stothart. Even though it was considered a critical success when it was released in August 1939, it failed to make a profit for MGM until its 1949 re-release. It is MGM’s most expensive production during that time.
In 1956, the film was reintroduced to the public via the CBS network. Based on the Library of Congress, The Wizard of Oz was the most seen film in movie history. It was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress in 1989 as one of the first 25 films for preservation in the National Film Registry as it was culturally, aesthetically, and historically significant. The Wizard of Oz is also the source of many referenced contemporary pop culture.
In 1902, The Wizard of Oz, a musical extravaganza, was made, which is also based on Baum’s book. The original music in this musical was by Paul Tietjens. However, most of it has been forgotten. But it was still well-remembered and in discussion at MGM in 1939 when the classic film of the story was made. The show premiered on June 16, 1902, at the Chicago Gran Opera House. In 1903, it moved to the Majestic Theater on Broadway, where it ran for 293 performances until 1904.
The main plot of the musical, based on the newspapers of the time, revolves around the attempts of Pastoria to regain the throne from the Wizard of Oz. The original search of the protagonist for the Wizard puts them on the wrong side of the law.
In 1986, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was made into a Japanese anime television series known as Oz no Mahotsukai. It is based on four of the original early 20th century Oz books by Baum. It aired on TV Tokyo from 1986 to 1987, having 52 episodes. These TV series explained other parts of the Oz stories, including the events that happened when Dorothy returned home.
In 1990, The Wizard of Oz animated television series produced by DIC Animation City premiered on ABC. It was made to capitalize the popularity of the 1939 film version, to which DiC had attained the rights from Turner Entertainment, Co. It aired for thirteen episodes, and it presented many stories and characters from Baum’s original Oz series.
If you’d like to learn more about the story and popularity of The Wizard of Oz, here are some links that you can check out:
- Learn About Authors and Wizard of Oz Experts
- Happy Birthday to The Wizard of Oz!
- That’s a Lot of Candy!
- Perhaps They Should Have Called it the “OZcars”!
- Oz at the 1939 Oscars
- Fun Oz Facts in a Fun Oz Article
- The First American Fairytale
- Oz Becomes a Part of American Culture
- The Unforgettable Somewhere Over the Rainbow
- What Else Was Happening in America 1939?
- Remember the First Time You Saw The Wizard of Oz?
- Director Victor Fleming’s Other Films
- The Wizard of Oz – The Magic is Timeless
The Wizard of Oz Characters
One of the things that made The Wizard of Oz a successful story, musical, and film is the characters that Baum created in his book. Here are some of the characters from The Wizard of Oz:
Dorothy is a young and energetic girl. She lives with her aunt and uncle on the dreary Kansas grassland. She also has a dog named Toto. When a cyclone lands her house in Oz, she goes on board on a journey to the Emerald City to ask the Wizard of Oz how to go back to Kansas. Dorothy is a sweet and simple character that represents traditional and idealistic moral values. Throughout her journey in the story, her main goal is to return home despite the magic of Oz.
Uncle Henry and Aunt Em
Uncle Henry is Dorothy’s uncle, and he is a Kansas farmer. He is married to Aunt Em. The hot and dreary Kansas prairie has stripped her of her youth and fun. With this, Aunt Em does not understand the freshness of spirit that Dorothy has.
Wicked Witch of the East
The Wicked Witch of the East wreaked havoc on the Munchkins for years by enslaving them. She was killed when Dorothy’s house landed on her after the cyclone dropped it in the land of Oz. When she died, Dorothy took her magic silver slippers from her feet.
Witch of the North
The Witch of the North was one of the two good witches. She is small, elderly, and kind. She greeted Dorothy upon her arrival in Oz. However, she can’t help Dorothy go back to Kansas. What is did was she gave her a mark of safety on her forehead.
The Scarecrow was rescued by Dorothy from his dull life in a farmer’s field. Its greatest wish is to acquire brains for himself from the Wizard of Oz. Even with his perceived lack of brains, he is remarkably intelligent and resourceful.
The Tin Woodman
The Tin Woodman was also rescued by Dorothy after rusting in the forest. What it desires is a heart from the Wizard of Oz. He used to be a man and was in love with a Munchkin girl. However, the Wicked Witch of the East’s machinations caused him to lose his limbs and become a man of tin without a heart. Even though he believed that he lacked emotion, he proves himself a kind man.
The Cowardly Lion
In the forest, the Lion encounters Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Woodman, and the Scarecrow. The Lion claims to be a coward. That’s why his wish for the Wizard of Oz is to give him courage. But throughout the novel, he proves himself courageous. Later on, he rules all of the animals in the forest.
Queen of the Field Mice
The Queen of the Field Mice was saved by the Tin Woodman and Scarecrow from being consumed by a malicious wildcat. She returns the favor by recruiting her thousands of subjects to carry the sleeping Lion out of the deadly poppy field.
The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard reveals himself to be a balloonist and a ventriloquist from Omaha, Nebraska. He accidentally ended up in the land of Oz and was taken for a powerful sorcerer by its Munchkin inhabitants. He prolonged the illusion and had them create a beautiful Emerald City. However, he was unmasked by Dorothy and her companions when they return to claim the promises that he made to them if they are successful in killing the Wicked Witch of the West. He tried helping Dorothy go back to Kansas in a hot air balloon but unfortunately leaves without her.
The Wicked Witch of the West
Dorothy and her companions were given the task of killing the Wicked Witch of the West. With this, the witch begrudges their intrusion and sends many of her creatures to capture them. The witch is powerful, full of rage, and bitter.
Glinda is the good witch of the South. Dorothy appeals to her help to go back to Kansas. However, Glinda reveals to her that the power of the silver slippers can take her there immediately. She is also wise and merciful as she used the three commands of the Golden Cap to help the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion.
Gayelette is a beautiful and powerful princess and sorceress who lived in the North. When the Winged Monkeys played a trick on her betrothed, she suggested the monkeys be rounded up, their wings tied, and then dropped into the river. But Quelala intervened. He spared the lives of the monkeys in exchange for their agreement to do the bidding of whoever wears the Golden Cap.
He is Gayalette’s betrothed. Before their wedding, he was dropped into the river by the Winged Monkeys, which made Gayalette angry. However, he reasoned with her and got her to reduce her punishment. This is where the power of the Golden Cap over the Winged Monkeys began.
If you want more information about the characters from The Wizard of Oz, here are some related articles that you might like to read:
- A Heart for the Tin Man
- Oz Around The World
- Meet the Scarecrow!
- Auntie Em! Auntie Em!
- As If the Wizard of Oz Characters Weren’t Adorable Enough!
- Which Witch is the World’s Most Famous Witch?
- Be Honest, Did the Flying Monkeys Give You Nightmares?
- Your Favorite Character and Why
The Wizard of Oz Cast
Let us also learn about the actors and actresses who portrayed the characters from The Wizard of Oz in the 1939 film adaptation.
Frank Morgan – The Wizard of Oz
Frank Morgan was an American character actor on the radio, stage, and film. In The Wizard of Oz, he played multiple roles, from Professor Marvel at the start to the Wizard of Oz at the end. He did an amazing performance as these characters have different levels of likability. In addition to those, Frank Morgan also played the role of the odd guard to the Emerald City. You can learn more about him by reading our article, Frank Morgan: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Judy Garland – Dorothy Gale
Judy Garland was an actress, singer, vaudevillian, and dancer. She appeared in more than two dozen films for MGM, but her most memorable role was when she portrayed Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. You can learn more about her when you read our list of 25 Facts About Judy Garland.
Ray Bolger – Scarecrow
Ray Bolger was a film and television actor, singer, dancer, and stage performer. He is best known for his role as the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Get to know him more by reading our article, Ray Bolger Had a Brain, as well as a Brilliant Career.
Jack Haley – The Tin Man
Jack Haley was an actor, comedian, radio host, dancer, and singer. He is best known for his portrayal of the Tin Man in the 1930 MGM film The Wizard of Oz. If you’d like to know more about his life, you can read our article, Jack Haley Who Portrayed the Tin Man Lived a Heartfelt Life.
Bert Lahr – The Cowardly Lion
Bert Lahr was an actor and comedian. He is popularly known for his role as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz 1939 film adaptation. Learn more about him in our article, A Regal Homage to the King of the Forest.
Margaret Hamilton – The Wicked Witch of the West
Margaret Hamilton was a film actress who is best known for her portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. To learn more about her, read our article, Margaret Hamilton – The Wicked Witch Everyone Loves to Hate.
Billie Burke – Glinda the Good Witch of the North
Billie Burke was an actress who was popular on Broadway and radio, and as well as in silent and sound films. She is best known for her portrayal of Glinda the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard of Oz. Learn more about it in our article, Billie Burke, The Good Witch, and an Equally Good Performer.
Clara Blandick – Aunt Em
Clara Blandick was a character, film, stage, and theater actress. She played the role of Aunt Em in The Wizard of Oz. She often played eccentric elderly matriarchs in her projects.
Charley Grapewin – Uncle Henry
Charley Grapewin was a vaudeville and circus performer, a writer, and a stage and film actor. He appeared in more than 100 motion pictures during the silent and sound eras. His most notable role was Uncle Henry from The Wizard of Oz.
If you need more information about the casts of The Wizard of Oz, you can click on the links below:
- 20 Facts About Oz’s Bewitching Billie Burke
- 25 Fun Facts About Ray Bolger
- You Weren’t There! And You Weren’t There! The Cast and Crew Who Were Almost Part of the Wizard of Oz
- Fan Q&A: Part One
- Fan Q&A: Part Two
- Judy and Mickey, Forever
- Shirley Temple and Toto?
- Who was Going to Play Dorothy?
- King of the Jungle, and His Craft as an Actor
- No, You’re Not Seeing Double, Triple, or More
- Judy Garland’s Greatest Performance
The Wizard of Oz is indeed a wonderful story that people have loved through the years. It has captured viewers of all ages. It is regarded by many as one of the greatest Hollywood movies of all time. It has left an incredible mark on global popular culture.
In addition to its many adaptations, The Wizard of Oz had also set fashion trends over the years. And it’s likely that if people were to watch The Wizard of Oz in the present time, chances are they would still be as charmed as those who watched it on its release date back in 1939. It will surely remain a classic in the future and will continue to have a great impact on popular culture in many years to come.
We hope this helps you learn more about The Wizard of Oz. For more information about it, you may also click on the following links:
- The Wizard of Oz and the Amazing Technicolor Process
- From Scratch: The Amazing Sets of The Wizard of Oz
- More Fun Facts from the Making of The Wizard of Oz!
- The Sounds of The Wizard of Oz!
- A Rubber Face for Rubber Legs
- Glowing Words for a Film That Still Shines Brightly
- Memorable Songs from a Memorable Movie
- The Wizard of Oz Used Some Pretty Special Special Effects
- MythBusters: Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers
- MythBusters: Common Myths About the Wizard of Oz
- The Wizard of Oz Collectibles
- Haute Couture Meets Oz, and Helps a Worthy Cause
- A Very Fashionable Tribute to Oz