When we think of Dorothy and friends from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ we think of the 1939 film, but Judy Garland and co were far from the first cast to go down the yellow brick road.
In fact the first adaptations swung into action as the books by Frank L Baum were still being published. Most of them caused the studios to go bust, all of them featured very freaky looking Scarecrows.
Check out the previous incarnations after the jump!
‘The Fairylogue and Radioplays’ was a multi-media presentation put together by the book’s author Frank L Baum. He would appear on stage himself along with live-actors, colourful slides and film. It cost so much that it folded after two months and forced Baum to sell the rights to his earlier novels.
‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ was a silent film which may have starred Bebe Daniels as Dorothy (they’re not quite sure).
‘The Patchwork Girl of Oz’ was based on another Oz book by Frank L Baum and was made by his own production company ‘The Oz Film Manufacturing Company’. It was a flop and contributed to that company folding.
‘His Majesty The Scarecrow of Oz’ was another adaptation by Baum himself. Violet McMillan played Dorothy in the Scarecrow’s origin story. It didn’t do well on first release but was re-released as ‘The New Wizard of Oz’ in 1915 and did slightly better.
‘The Magic Cloak of Oz’ is another Baum production and adapted from his Oz book ‘Queen Zixi of Ix’. It had distribution problems because of the failure of earlier films.
‘The Wizard of Oz’ was produced by Frank L’s eldest song Frank Joselyn Baum and features a young Oliver Hardy (of ‘Laurel & Hardy’ fame) as the tin-man. Dorothy is played by Dorothy Dwan. The film caused Chadwick Pictures to go bust, leading to distribution problems.
There’s no surviving pictures or footage of this sequel, though we know it featured the ‘Meglin Kiddies’ dance troupe – of which Judy Garland was once a member.
‘The Wizard of Oz’ was a short cartoon version produced by Ted Esbaugh and involving Frank Joslyn Baum. It was the first adaptation to show Kansas in black and white and Oz in colour. For some reason Dorothy keeps flashing her knickers.
Which leads us to the 1939 version
The film was MGM’s most expensive production at the time but despite being a hit with critics it was actually a flop on the first release. It only became popular with the public after being re-run on TV being from the mid 1950’s onwards.
Many adaptations followed including feature length cartoon sequels, the successful 2013 prequel ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ and ‘The Wiz’, a 1978 version starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
BTW Check out why ‘Return To Oz’ is one of the freakiest films ever made HERE