"Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas any more," stated little Dorothy Gale of Kansas and, for almost a century, millions of people have joined her in her adventure to a magical fantasy land called Oz.

The success of THE WIZARD OF OZ by Lyman Frank Baum in 1900 led to thirteen additional Oz books by the author and more than thirty sequels by a half a dozen other authors. Even Russia had its own series of original Oz books written by Alexandr Volkov.

A musical stage production of THE WIZARD OF OZ was personally supervised by Baum in 1902 and it was followed by a variety of other appearances including silent movies (several produced by Baum himself), radio programs, animated cartoons, television programs and the memorable MGM musical film from 1939 and the Seventies' Broadway smash THE WIZ. (It was conservatively estimated in 1939 that over eighty million people had read THE WIZARD OF OZ.)

THE WIZARD OF OZ was written by L. Frank Baum who was born on May 15, 1856 in upper New York State. Indulged by his well-to-do parents, Baum explored many fascinations including chicken breeding (his first published book was about the subject), printing (he published a weekly newspaper unsuccessfully for a time) and acting (during a tour of a play he had written, he met his future wife). For a number of reasons, Baum seemed to have financial bad luck in whatever endeavor he was involved in at the time. His attempts at opening his own variety store, Baum's Bazaar, and his later flings at newspaper reporting, being a buyer for a department store, and finally a traveling salesman definitely indicated that he had not found his niche.

His mother-in-law encouraged him to write down the bedtime stories he was telling his sons and the result was Baum's first children book, MOTHER GOOSE IN PROSE in 1897. It was the first book illustrated by Maxfield Parrish, who would receive great acclaim as an artist within the next decade.

The success of the book convinced Baum to concentrate on writing and he was able to launch a trade magazine entitled THE SHOW WINDOW, about how to "dress" store windows to attract more customers. This new venture not only supplied Baum with a steady income to support his family but also allowed him to stay at home and write.

Baum became a member of the Chicago Press Club where he met William Wallace Denslow, a book jacket artist and poster designer who already had a strong reputation. They were the same age (early 40s) but Denslow lived up to the artistic stereotype of being touchy and tempermental.

The two men became partners and put together a book of Baum's verse and Denslow's pictures entitled FATHER GOOSE: HIS BOOK which appeared in 1899 and within two years sold almost 60,000 copies. Baum had bits and pieces of another story in his head which he sometimes shared with his children and their friends and decided now was the time to put it down on paper and publish it. (Legend has it that the name "OZ" came from Baum looking at one of his filing cabinet drawers which was labelled "O-Z".) Denslow claimed that he was also involved in the development of the story and after the informal partnership later fell apart, he went on to chronicle alternative adventures.

The book underwent a number of title changes from THE EMERALD CITY to FROM KANSAS TO FAIRYLAND to THE FAIRYLAND OF OZ until it was eventually published in September 1900 as THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ. Of the two hundred and two reviews Baum kept in his scrapbook, only two were unfavorable. However, Baum produced four other children's books that year and as a result the sales for WIZARD were barely 20,000.

By 1902, the publisher went bankrupt and Baum signed on with Bobbs-Merril which issued several new Baum books including LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF SANTA CLAUS and eventually a new edition of WIZARD entitled THE NEW WIZARD OF OZ so that it could obtain a copyright for the work since there was some difficulty about the original 1900 copyright. That new edition officially ended the collaboration of Baum and Denslow.

It is generally reported that what broke up the team was the stage production. In 1901, Baum joined with composer Paul Tietjens to devise a musical stage production based on THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ. Denslow also felt the material had stage possibilities and became involved, fully expecting that he would receive a large portion of the profits even though he was only contributing costume designs. The play had little to do with the book, concentrating primarily on the comedy team of the Scarecrow and the Tin Man. (The Cowardly Lion was not involved at all.) The Wizard's army was played by chorus girls in tights. Dorothy is accompanied to Oz not by her dog but by her cow, Imogene, and Dorothy is now a young lady rather than a child so that there can be some romantic involvement. There is even a waitress from Topeka called Tryxie Tryfle whom the Wizard lured into his balloon before the cyclone blew them to Oz. Certainly, it was a different interpretation to say the least.

It was also a spectacular hit, running fourteen weeks in Chicago and then moving to Broadway where it opened on January 20, 1903 and ran for 293 performances. It was one of the greatest successes on Broadway up to that time and the show toured the country for the next decade. Baum, who had always had a love for the theater, was already thinking about another Oz book that he might also convert into a stage musical. However, the fighting between Baum and Denslow increased in intensity as Denslow felt he was not receiving the credit nor the money he deserved.

Each man went his separate way and began to independently develop further adventures for the Oz characters. Understandably, there was a deep bitterness and a very real competition between the two creators.

Denslow released a small booklet of his drawings for WIZARD with a new story written by Thomas Russell to fit the pictures. From December 1904 to March 1905, Denslow produced his comic page for Sunday newspaper editions entitled "Denslow's SCARECROW AND TIN MAN." The feature apparently appeared in only a very few newspapers and Denslow concentrated on the Scarecrow and the Tin Man because of their popularity on the stage. (Baum's next book was originally going to be titled THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF THE SCARECROW AND THE TIN WOODMAN for the same reason. In fact, it was dedicated to Fred Stone and David Montgomery, the actors who had achieved much fame playing those two roles in the stage play.) Denslow's Sunday comic page has little in common with the comics of today. It was a full page, primarily a text story with a series of illustrations scattered throughout and Denslow's famous "seahorse" signature.

At about the same time, Baum also invaded the comic page. His second Oz book was finally entitled THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ and was published by a new company, Reilly and Britton, in July 1904. Dorothy does not appear in the story (although she would in some of the later books). Instead, the book is filled with some new creations by Baum, including Mr. H.M. Woogle-Bug, T.E.

H.M. ("Highly Magnified") Woogle Bug, T. E. ("Thoroughly Educated") gained his great education at a schoolhouse and gained his great size when he escaped after the teacher had projected his magnified image on a screen for the education of the students.

Baum was apparently very excited about the character. Baum wrote another musical stage extravaganza called THE WOGGLE BUG which opened at the Garrick Theater in Chicago on June 18, 1905. This time the shapely girl army in tights belonged to Glinda and the comedy pairing of the Scarecrow and the Tin Man was replaced by a similar team of Jack Pumpkinhead and the Woggle Bug. The plot was generally the same as Baum's book, MARVELOUS LAND, but unlike the previous stage play, this production was not successful and was branded merely a lifeless copy of THE WIZARD OF OZ. When the production closed less than a month later on July 12, the cast had not been paid in some time and the electric lights used in the show had been repossessed.

About a month after THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ was released, Baum brought Oz to the comic page. The Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, The Woggle Bug and other characters came to the United States in *** VISITORS FROM THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ. The Sunday page ran reportedly from August 1904 to February 1905 and was illustrated by Walt McDougall, who was well known at the time for his political cartooning. Running at almost the exact same time as Denslow's comic page, there were some similarities but also some significant differences. It was similar in the fact that it was primarily a text story with accompanying appropriate illustrations. It was different because Baum did try to use dialog balloons and because of the popular "What did the Woggle Bug say?" contest.

Each episode in 1904 had a problem that was solved by the Woggle Bug and ended with the question "What did the Woggle Bug Say?" Readers could win prizes for getting the correct answer. In fact, it became a national catch phrase. An ad in the September 1904 issue of The Publisher's Weekly states: "What did the Woggle Bug say? Thousands of children are guessing, thousands are wearing Woggle Bug buttons, 3,000,000 newspapers are asking the question every day... THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ... will be the most extensively advertised book ever put on the American market because of the Children's Guessing Contest, conducted by a syndicate of newspapers extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific." The ad continued that there was already free distribution of 500,000 Woggle Bug buttons.

The contest certainly was popular. So much so that by the end of 1904, a rival paper that was not publishing the series did print an ad for Hamm's Beer featuring the Woggle Bug. The smiling bug, with four overflowing mugs of beer in each of his arm like extensions, was accompanied by the ad copy: "The Woggle Bug SAID Drink Hamm's Beer." Doubtless, many considered that the correct answer to whatever question the Woggle Bug ventured to ask.

Baum's publisher, Reilly and Britton, released sheet music for a song entitled "What Did the Woggle Bug Say?" The music was by Paul Tietjens, the composer of the music for the WIZARD OF OZ stage play, and the lyrics were by Baum himself. Baum also wrote THE WOGGLE BUG BOOK, which was published in 1905 before the disastrous stage play. The book features the Woggle Bug's adventures in the United States after he had become separated from the other "*** Visitors." There were also postcards, a Parker Brothers' Woggle Bug game and other giveaways.

The episodes from the comic page were later collected by Reilly and Lee Co. and heavily rewritten (though still officially credited to Baum) into book form and published in 1960 as THE VISITORS FROM OZ with illustrations by *** Martin.

There may be several reasons why the strip ended. Certainly one of them was that Baum was entering one of the most prolific writing periods of his life. He was churning out many books, most under pseudonyms because he did not want his name on display too frequently so that he could sell more books. While he is remembered for his OZ books which he began to turn out at the rate of one a year, Baum was actively involved in many other projects. Besides his other books under names like "Edith Van Dyne" and "Schuyler Staunton," Baum developed a multimedia production featuring him on stage, along with silent movie scenes and colored slides, telling stories of Oz. In 1911, Baum and his wife moved to Hollywood, California and by 1913 had formed the Oz Film Compnay which made several silent films before Baum's death on May 6, 1919.

In WHO'S WHO IN OZ, author Jack Snow claims that Baum was responsible for the creation of 220 characters. However, Ruth Plumly Thompson is credited with 320 characters who populated Oz. After Baum's death, Thompson was hired by the publishers to continue the series and she ended up writing more books than Baum.

Despite Baum's death, the popularity of Oz continued to grow. One silent film had comedian Oliver Hardy as the Tin Woodman in 1925. The first animated cartoon version was produced and directed by Ted Eshbaugh in 1931. The storyline for the seven minute cartoon was Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man all go to meet the Wizard who does magical tricks involving hens laying eggs containing strange creatures. The cartoon included music by Carl Stalling!

There was a radio show in the Thirties sponsored by Jell-O. Then there was the MGM movie with Judy Garland (although Shirley Temple had been the first choice). It is now also know that the part of the Wizard was turned down by actors like Ed Wynn and Wallace Beery before going to Frank Morgan and that Buddy Ebsen was the first Tin Woodman but had an almost fatal allergic reaction to the makeup.

In the mid-Fifties, Walt Disney purchased the theatrical rights to the thirteen Baum Oz books (MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ to GLINDA OF OZ) and planned to make a live action movie called THE RAINBOW ROAD TO OZ featuring the Mouseketeers. Disney even had plans to include a glimpse of Oz inside the Big Rock Candy Mountain ride for Disneyland in 1955. That attraction was never built.

In 1960, Shirley Temple appeared as Tip and Ozma in a television adaptation of THE LAND OF OZ. Filmation produced a full length animated feature in the mid-Seventies which featured Judy Garland's daughter, Liza Minnellli doing the voice of Dorothy and good old Margaret Hamilton not as the witch but as the voice of Aunt Em! One of the most underappreciated versions was the 1985 Disney live action version entitled RETURN TO OZ which launched the career of Fairuza Balk (recently seen in THE WATER BOY) and was severely criticized for its "dark" vision of Oz.

In 1987, a national survey was conducted. One of the questions was "What is the first thing you think of when I say 'Kansas'?" One person in six answered "Dorothy", "Wizard of Oz" or "Yellow Brick Road." Another four percent said "tornadoes." It is obvious inhabitants and visitors are just as alive today in the hearts and minds of millions of people as when they were first created.