August 1, 1900

The book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum was copyright registered—because, because, because, because, because.

Baum also had careers as a newspaper writer/editor/publisher, 

playwright and theater producer. He wrote 14 novels in the “Oz” series, plus more than 40 other novels.

After his many attempts to adapt his works to the stage and screen, “The Wizard of Oz” made the big screen in 1939—20 years after his death. Baum may or may not have approved; the movie was substantially different from his original book in several ways.

  • The movie version makes a theatric spectacle of the Wizard as a giant, menacing head lurking above pillars of flame (before he is revealed as a man operating a machine behind a curtain). But in the book, the Wizard meets each of the four main characters separately to create a feeling of power in their minds.
  • In the movie version, Dorothy’s iconic slippers are ruby red in order to maximize the then-wonder of Technicolor. In the book, her slippers are silver and said to shine brighter than the moon.
  • The book version describes an actual place called Oz, not an imaginary world in a dream. Dorothy stays there for months at a time in the book version.
  • In the movie, Dorothy’s farm life is not always pleasant. Her dog, Toto, bites a neighbor, Miss Gulch (who in Dorothy’s dream is the Wicked Witch). The neighbor threatens to have the dog destroyed, and Dorothy eventually runs away with Toto. In the book, Dorothy has a peaceful existence living with her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em before the tornado takes her away.

After the 1937 Walt Disney movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”—the first full-length animated feature—was a major hit with kids, MGM wanted “Oz” in movie theaters as quickly as possible.