Wizard of Oz - Thursday, January 7, 2016

Our exploration of the Omrod Giant World of Miniatures continues today with a classic.  The Wizard of Oz.  If you have never heard of either the collection of books or any of the movies adapting them, it is time for you to hire a pop culture consultant, because they quite simply do not get any more famous than this one.  The original book was written by L. Frank Baum, who also wrote over fifty other novels, two hundred poems, dozens of short stories, and a handful of movie scripts.  But his legacy is the series of children's books dedicated to Oz.  What Lewis Carroll, the subject of yesterday's blog, did for England in 1865, L. Frank Baum did thirty-five years later for the United States.  He created a beloved fairy tale that has never been out of circulation ever since.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of Dorothy and her journey to Oz, it is time to change that. Grab the book, see the movie, do whatever it takes.  Just don't ask why Dorothy wants to return to Kansas and the fate promised to sweet Toto by the mean old Miss Gulch (played to effective creepiness by Margaret Hamilton, who also played the Wicked Witch of the West).  The scene depicted in the diorama included in today's blog has Dorothy and her friends the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion hanging out in front of the Emerald City.  Nice. Now, some important trivia (kind of an oxymoron there, but we'll take it):  The Emerald City was inspired by Baum's 1893 visit to the Chicago Exposition, the most famous World's Fair to ever occur on American soil.  Baum was an ardent feminist in the era before women were given the right to vote (his death in 1919 meant he missed the day of complete suffrage by one year).  He once played host to Susan B. Anthony when she was traveling for the cause.  And the names of Dorothy's Kansas associates who would become the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion in Oz were, in order, Hunk, Zeke and Hickory.
QUESTION:  After the success of The Wizard of Oz, this canine star's name was officially changed to Toto.  What was her name prior to that?
A)  Terry
B)  Fido
C)  Poochie
D)  Blackie

ROLL!  The year was 1895, and a very important patent was awarded to the Scottish-born inventor William Kennedy Dickson while he was employed by the great innovator Thomas Edison for the motion picture film.  Dickson came up with the celluloid film that would rule the film industry for decades, and also came up with the width of it - 35mm - the same width used today (unless digital projection is used).  One could say that without Dickson and his innovation, we would not have modern cinema as we know it.  Thanks, Mr. Dickson!  I think.

HOLY ALFRED!  The actor Alan Napier was born today in 1903.  If you are unfamiliar with his name, we certainly hope you will recognize his most famous character:  Bruce Wayne's butler in the highly popular 1960's television series of Batman.  His film career in the 1930's through the 1950's was prolific, and he was in far too many movies to list here, but his most-lasting fame comes from playing this one iconic character.  Thank you, Alan!

QUOTE:  "What is Batman?" - Alan Napier

ANSWER:  A)  Terry.  She even "wrote" her own autobiography called I, Toto: The Autobiography of Terry, The Dog Who Was Toto.  It is available on Amazon and other sellers of books.