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“Oz”: 10 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About the Book and Author! (Photos)

Will you be taking your family to see Oz the Great and Powerful this weekend? You’ll be in good company.

In fact, since you’ll probably be spending a lot of time in the ticket line, you can entertain your kids by filling them in on some interesting trivia about the original book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and its author, L. Frank Baum.

For example, did you know that L. Frank wrote 14 Oz books in all? Or that he tried his hand at everything from newspaper editing to chicken farming before finally finding success as a fantasy author? Would you ever have suspected that Dorothy may have been based on a women’s rights activist?

You’ll also be standing in line next year for yet another Oz movie – this one based on a sequel written by Baum’s great-grandson, Roger Baum. He recently gave an interview to The Hollywood Reporter in which he discusses his famous relative and the legacy he’s carrying on.

“I’d always love to see Oz continue in different ways,” he says. “I think [the Broadway hit] Wicked is a great example of something that is so successful.”

He hasn’t seen the new Disney film yet, but he says, “[I]t looks like an exciting movie.”

Here are some more fascinating facts about the book you know and love! And for more from Roger Baum, read the entire interview here.

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  • image-3088 1 of 11
    image-3088
  • So what does the L stand for? 2 of 11
    So what does the L stand for?
    Lyman Frank Baum was born on May 15, 1856, in Chittenango, New York. He hated his first name, however, and preferred to go by "Frank."
    Source: Online Literature.
  • Baum wasn’t always successful 3 of 11
    Baum wasn't always successful
    Before gaining fame as an author, L. Frank Baum had trouble holding down a steady job. He tried raising poultry, selling fireworks, editing a newspaper, running a store and acting in local theater, but none of these ventures panned out. According to Roger Baum, Frank's mother-in-law used to nag him about being a "no-good bum." However, she did encourage him to write down the fanciful stories he told to his sons.
    Source: Online Literature.
  • Dorothy the Suffragette? 4 of 11
    Dorothy the Suffragette?
    That disapproving mother-in-law, Matilda Joslyn Gage (seen here), also happened to be a leader in the early women's rights movement. Roger Baum thinks this may have inspired his great-grandfather to create his famous heroine. He says, "When you stop to think about it, Dorothy's a woman leader. She's a leader of her own little crew there. So maybe it rubbed off way back then with that connection in the family."
    Source: The Hollywood Reporter.
  • Would we still love The Wizard of AN? 5 of 11
    Would we still love The Wizard of AN?
    The name "Oz" conjures up magic for us now, but it actually has very humble beginnings. "Great-grandad used to tell these stories to the kids...and the word 'Oz' came from the bottom file cabinet, O-Z, in his den," explains Roger Baum.
    Source: The Hollywood Reporter.
  • Dorothy didn’t always wear ruby slippers 6 of 11
    Dorothy didn't always wear ruby slippers
    In Baum's original story, Dorothy's magical shoes are silver! But because the movie was filmed in Technicolor, the studio wanted to use a color that would stand out against the Yellow Brick Road. Some film experts have speculated that the red shoes were a symbol of socialism, but Roger Baum insists that's not so. "[O]nce in a while somebody will put a little bit of politics in Oz, and there's none whatsoever," he says.
    Source: The Hollywood Reporter.
  • That witch was REALLY wicked! 7 of 11
    That witch was REALLY wicked!
    The film showed just a glimpse of how bad the Wicked Witch of the West truly was. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, she unleashes not only her famous Flying Monkeys on Dorothy and her friends, but packs of wolves, crows and bees as well.
    Source: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • There’s a Witch for every point on the compass 8 of 11
    There's a Witch for every point on the compass
    Everyone knows the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, of course. And the Wicked Witch of the East meets her end under Dorothy's house before we even get a chance to know her. But Baum's book also includes the Good Witch of the North, who meets Dorothy in the Land of the Munchkins and gives her the magic silver shoes.
    Source: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • Baum meets St. Nick 9 of 11
    Baum meets St. Nick
    In addition to his 14 Oz books, Frank wrote a number of other fantasy tales, including The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. The tale traces the origins of young Claus from his discovery in the Forest of Burzee to his old age, when the forest spirits decide to give him the power to stay immortal.
    Source: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.
  • You can write an Oz book! 10 of 11
    You can write an Oz book!
    In fact, anyone can. The book is in the public domain, so it's not protected by copyright laws. One writer, Ruth Plumly Thompson, churned out 19 Oz sequels in the 1920's and '30s.
    Source: The Hollywood Reporter.
  • A Glee-ful animated version is in the works 11 of 11
    A Glee-ful animated version is in the works
    Roger Baum has carried on his great-grandfather's legacy by writing 16 Oz books of his own. One of them, Dorothy of Oz, is being made into an animated feature to be released next year. It stars Glee's Lea Michele as Dorothy and Bernadette Peters as Glinda. (Can't wait!)
    Source: The Hollywood Reporter.

[Photos: via Wikimedia Commons, Amazon, PacificCoastNews]

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