General information about Oz, and what this document is

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1.1. What is Oz?

Oz is the name of a fantastic country, created by L. Frank Baum in the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was first published in 1900. The book was so popular and so successful that Baum wrote thirteen more Oz novels, several short stories, and three Oz plays. He also produced some early silent Oz movies. After Baum died in 1919, his widow agreed to allow the publishers to continue the series with another writer, and still others wrote more books later on. More plays and movies (including one of the most watched and beloved films of all time), radio and television shows, toys, dolls, games, clubs, conventions, computer software, and many, many other products came along later. Today, after more than a century, the Oz phenomenon is still going strong, with new stories being written, new dramatic versions being presented, and new merchandise being manufactured all the time.

1.2. Where did the name Oz come from?

There is a story that L. Frank Baum, when asked the country's name by a child he was first telling the story to, looked to his filing cabinet in the next room, which had two drawers. One drawer was marked A-N, and one marked O-Z. So he called it Oz after the letters on the second drawer. While this story has been told many times, there seems to be little evidence that it's true. Baum himself told at least two different versions of this story (one version has three file drawers marked A-G, H-N, and O-Z). Others have speculated that it comes from the Oohs and Aahs his stories produced from readers and listeners. Still others, looking for hidden meaning in the book, claim it comes from the abbreviation for ounces, or have linked it to Uz (Job's home in the Bible, sometimes also spelled Utz), Shelly's Ozymandius, or Charles Dickens' pseudonym Boz. But L. Frank Baum's widow, Maud, once wrote to writer Jack Snow on this subject and stated that it was just a name that Frank had created out of his own mind.

1.3. How do you pronounce Oz?

The vast majority of Oz fans agree that in English, it's pronounced with a short o sound, sounding like Ahz. This is how it's pronounced in just about every movie and stage version. There are a few people, however, who like to pronounce it with a long o, sounding like Ohz. In other languages it's said slightly differently, but the idea is usually the same.

1.4. What is an Oz FAQ?

This very document you are reading is an Oz FAQ. It is not the only one, but it strives to be the most thorough. FAQ is a commonly used acronym on the Internet, and it stands for Frequently Asked Questions. A FAQ is any document that lists common questions about a particular subject and provides answers. This is so that newsgroups, bulletin boards, and other online forums where people with common interests meet won't be cluttered with the same general questions and answers. This Oz FAQ was put together to answer many common questions about the Oz books, movies, and so forth, and also to give some idea of just how extensive the entire Oz phenomenon is.

1.5. Who wrote this FAQ?

This FAQ was compiled by Eric Gjovaag, a long-time Oz fan from the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. He is the sole person responsible for all content, including errors, omissions, typos, and other goofs. All comments, corrections, additions, and other feedback should be sent to him at this e-mail address. He did have help and encouragement, however, from his wife, Laura Gjovaag; repeated proofreading and comments from Peter Hanff; and input, feedback, questions that were included in this or previous editions, or suggestions from Donna Addison, Aaron S. Adelman, Jane Albright, Melanie Allis, Dennis J. Amundson, Paul Andinach, Paul Apfelbeck, David Baker, Pete Baker, Todd Balog, Gili Bar-Hillel, Richard Beebe, William Beem, J. L. Bell, Lynn Beltz, Marc Berezin, Ruth Berman, Herm Bieber, Steve Biodrowski, Christopher Biow, Brenton Brookings, J. R. Brown, Bill Cameron, Karyl Carlson, the CBS Programming Department, Steven Chapmen, Jessica Clarke, Christina Cohen, Roxie Cooper, Gehan Cooray, Ken Cope, Joanne Cursine, Wayne Daigrepont, Cynthia Daniel, Sarah Danks, Don Davis, Jared Davis, Tom DeWitt, Joyce Dick, Chris Dulabone, Dorothy Easterday, Orville Eastland, Jill Emmert, Robert Embry, Barbara Evans, the excite.com television listings, Ray Faiola, Frank Freudberg, Antoinette Fornshell, Mick Forstag, John Foust, Jonathan Furedy, Meredith Furney, Egan Futz, Charles Galda, John Gaskey, Tammy Gibbs, Peter Glassman, Andrew N. Goldberg, MD, D. Gary Grady, Susan Hall, Dave Hardenbrook, Aljean Harmetz, Jessica Heid, John Henson, Robin Hess, Susan M. Higbee, Marie Hopkins, David Hulan, Bill Hunter, the staff at the Hussian School of Art, Scott Hutchins, Rick Ipshina, Jim Johnson, Alex Jones, Michael Jones, Tyler Jones, Rudyard Kennedy, the King County (Washington) Library System (particularly their newspaper archives at the Bellevue branch), Laura Klink, Susan LaFrance, Judy Lalouche, Katy Lau, Phil Lewin, Jonathan Llewellyn, Naomi Lorditch, Sara Lundvall, the late Rob Roy MacVeigh, Terence Martel, Cliff May, Greg McElhatton, Warren Melnick, Paul Michalak, Susan Miles, Nicholas Moore, Matthew Morgan, Michael Newman, Carrie O'Grady, John Mark Ockerbloom, Robin Olderman, Sharon Orenick, Ronald I. Orenstein, Karen Owens, Wendy Padoshek-Romano, Vincent Palmese, David Parker, Kristen Pearson, Les Pickett, Andrew Pierce, Connie Purkey, Patrick Quigley, Colin Raff, Noel Ratch, Samala Ray, Marisa Sandora, Adam Santangelo, Bobby Saverino, Joseph Schuld, The Seattle Times, Eric Shanower, Nancy C. Smith, Paul J. Smith, Yehudit Trina Spera, William Stillman, Shannon Patrick Sullivan, Thomas H. Summers, Jr., Tams-Witmark, Bill Thompson, Michael Thorpe, Usenet and the archives on Google Groups, Steve Wallach, John Wells, Jim Whitcomb, John N. White, Elaine Willingham, Chris Wisniewski, Chester Witham, W. R. Wright, Matthew Yates, Marc Younger, Julie Youngren, Andrea Yussman, Ralph Zellem, Greg Zimmerman, and Randy Zimmerman, along with a few other folks who were probably inadvertently left out (or who just never gave me a real name), for which the author profusely apologizes right now.

1.6. Why did you write this FAQ?

The honest answer? I got sick and tired of answering the question about the hanging man in The Movie. Inevitably, if I ever mentioned online (and very often in the real world as well) that I was an Oz fan, this question would pop up. There were a number of other questions that also came up quite often, and I also found that people didn't know a lot about some aspects of the Oz phenomenon. (You probably wouldn't be surprised to learn that most people think Oz is only a movie.) So I wrote this FAQ partly to educate people, and partly so I wouldn't have to write the same answers to the same questions over and over again. I also felt that the one or two other Oz FAQs out there at the time didn't quite do the job, being too narrow in scope or assuming that the reader was already familiar with many aspects of Oz.

1.7. What do I need to know to read this FAQ?

First off, the FAQ is divided into several sections in an effort to sort the questions into some sort of logical categories, and thus make them easier to find. So when looking for a particular question, you may want to check the category that sounds like it's closest to what you are looking for. Also, understand that this FAQ does not cover every single aspect of Oz, but only hits some of the highlights. A bibliography is provided at the end of the FAQ to help those who wish to pursue some of these topics in more depth, or to deal with more obscure aspects of the Oz phenomenon.

A number of acronyms and other written shortcuts are used in a probably futile effort to shorten this FAQ. They are:

  • FAQ - Frequently Asked Question (see question 1.4 above).
  • FF - The Famous Forty Oz books (see question 2.1 in the next section).
  • IWOC - The International Wizard of Oz Club (see question 17.1 for what this organization is all about).
  • MGM - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, one of the biggest of the Hollywood movie studios during the golden age of American filmmaking.
  • WWW - World Wide Web. Some Oz fans also use it to refer to the Wicked Witch of the West, but to avoid confusion, WWW won't stand for her in this FAQ.
  • TMOHH - Tooting My Own Horn Here, my way of saying that what I am about to write has something to do with one of his own Oz projects.
  • WWOOW - Wonderful Wizard of Oz Website, maintained by (TMOHH) me. It can be found at http://thewizardofoz.info. This FAQ is only one small part of this comprehensive Oz website.
  • Return to Oz. There have actually been two different productions called Return to Oz: an animated 1964 television special, and the 1985 movie from Disney, directed by Walter Murch and starring Fairuza Balk as Dorothy. Unless indicated, references to Return to Oz in this FAQ will refer to the latter production, as it is the better known and more available of the two.
  • And finally: The Movie — note the capitalization. This is a much shorter and easier way of saying "the Oscar-winning film version of The Wizard of Oz produced by MGM in 1939, starring Judy Garland as Dorothy." Given its iconic status, it should come as no surprise that The Movie comes up frequently in this FAQ, even in sections that aren't directly involved with The Movie.

1.8. Where can I read this FAQ?

There are two locations where you can find this FAQ. One is on the WWW at http://thewizardofoz.info/ozfaq.html. At that location, there is an introductory page that includes section 1, then each section after that gets its own web page. It is also available, in one massive chunk of text, using a web browser, at ftp://ftp.eskimo.com/u/t/tiktok/oz/ozfaq.txt. (If anyone wants to use anonymous FTP protocol to access this version — if anyone still uses anonymous FTP anymore — I hope this address will provide the necessary information.)

1.9. How do the text and WWW versions of this FAQ differ?

There is very little difference between the two versions. The text version is just plain text, whereas the WWW version takes advantage of the Web to add links and some graphics, and the Russian Magic Land book titles are now also written in their proper Cyrillic characters. The WWW version also allows you to click on a question at the top of a page, which will take you directly to the answer. However, the actual information presented is identical, as the author has tried to keep it all consistent. To prevent the harvesting of e-mail addresses, the WWW version now does not publish e-mail addresses. Instead, links to e-mail will now be marked "this e-mail address", and you can then click on it to open your e-mail program with the address already filled in. Since this only works on the WWW, the FTP version will still publish e-mail addresses. The WWW version also includes links from the names of books to their listings on Amazon.com, and names of people involved in making Oz movies to their entries on the Internet Movie Database (http://www.imdb.com/). Because I recently changed servers and e-mail addresses, some of the links and e-mail addresses in the FTP version are now out of date, but that is all that has changed. The web version now reflects these changes.

1.10. How is this FAQ different from the last version?

Not much this time, as I think I finally got it right! The biggest change has been a bushel of new questions (marked with an asterisk, like this: *, at the beginning in both the table of contents and the question itself). When a new question is inserted into the middle of a section, the following questions will be renumbered, but otherwise unchanged unless noted. Since it's been over three years since I wrote version 3.1 of the FAQ, there are also many updates. Those questions with an updated answer are marked with a plus sign, like this: +. Some answers have a touch-up here and there, but they contain no new information, so these are not marked. I also haven't marked a question only if a website has moved and I've changed the address. And for the first time ever, I've dropped a question, as it seems my fears of people actually thinking Cher was the daughter of Billie Burke have gone unfounded. Cher made a comment about her mother being Billie Burke in a 1999 interview in TV Guide, but it was metaphorical. Another question I had to drop was the one about other ways of getting in touch with Oz fans, since it appears that The Oz Pen Pal Association (TOPPA) has ceased operations.

1.11. How often do you update the FAQ? When will the next version be available?

It's hard to say. I do have a life outside of Oz and my computer, and my time is limited. Ultimately, I'd love to do an annual update, but lately, it's been much longer. This version has taken over three years since the last full update, and I'm having to slip in research around two jobs. In between FAQ updates, I do at least try to keep other parts of my website up to date, particularly the news (http://thewizardofoz.info/oznews.html) and events (http://thewizardofoz.info/events.html) pages. If something in the FAQ needs serious updating before the next edition of the FAQ, I will try to put it on the FAQ update page (http://thewizardofoz.info/update.html). But please understand that once I put this version of the FAQ up, I pretty much don't even think about it until I find the time to do another update.

1.12. How do I use this FAQ?

It depends. Do you have the text version (it might be a good idea to download this for your own ease of use), or are you using the WWW version? If the former, you may want to just read through it, or use a search function to find whatever words you are interested in. The complete list of questions answered in the FAQ is included at the top of the text version, so it can be used like a table of contents. With the WWW version, you can browse (the Soldier with the Green Whiskers is at the bottom of each page to take you forward or back), or find a section that looks promising, then click on the question at the top of the page to go directly to the answer. In the WWW version, only the questions for that section are listed at the top of each page.

1.13. This sounds like a lot of work! Can't I just e-mail you and ask my question?

Well, then, what would have been the point in my writing this FAQ in the first place? I wrote this document so I wouldn't have to keep answering the same questions over and over again, and so I can get on with doing other things in my life. (Believe it or not, I do have a life outside of The Wizard of Oz, WWOOW, and the WWW.) Really, it's not that tough to find your question, it will only take a little bit of time (much less time than it would take to wait for me to reply to your e-mail), and learning how to do research on your own will help you immensely throughout your life. Should you not heed this warning and send me an e-mail with a question I've already answered, I'm just going to refer you back to this FAQ anyway — or, in the case of the hanging man, I won't even do that before I hit "Delete".

1.14. Will you do my homework for me?

Admittedly, nobody has ever actually asked me this question, but it's pretty clear from the way it's phrased that this is what some people are actually asking. The answer to this unspoken question is no, because then your teacher won't know what you did, but what I did. And since I'm a teacher myself, I will not take away an opportunity for you to learn. I will be glad to help you as best I can, and I can point you to resources that might help, but the actual work needs to be your own. Please understand that my time is limited, however, and I can't drop everything for you if I don't have the time. And yes, sticking to a deadline is also part of the learning process, so don't wait until the last minute.

1.15. How accurate is this FAQ?

When writing this FAQ, I've made every attempt to be as accurate as possible, and others have checked it for errors. That doesn't mean there won't be errors, but they are very likely few and far between. Once this FAQ is released, however, things will change. These changes won't be reflected in this FAQ until a new edition is written and released. If you are reading the WWW version, updates may be available on the FAQ update page (http://thewizardofoz.info/update.html), so you should take a look there to see if there is any new information.

1.16. Why do you answer so many questions about The Movie in this FAQ? Don't you care about the books or the other movies?

I care about the books very much, which is why I am trying to be thorough and cover as many different aspects of the Oz phenomenon as I can in this FAQ. But the fact is, more people ask me many more questions about The Movie than all other aspects of Oz combined. Whether fans of the books like it or not, The Movie is what most people know about Oz, and want to ask about. Remember, it's so much more than just a movie. It's a major cultural icon and a piece of popular Americana. More people have seen The Movie than any other movie ever, so people who aren't Oz fans still know and want to ask questions about it. And I have tried to write this FAQ with everyone in mind, not just Oz fans, no matter what aspect of Oz they are fans of. However, I am getting questions about the books more frequently now, and so there are a few new questions about the books in this edition.

1.17. What are some of the most frequently asked questions you get?

I'd say roughly ninety percent of the questions I'm asked once people find WWOOW are one of these. Despite the fact that most of these have been answered in previous editions of this FAQ, these are still the big ones. (Fortunately, since I added this question to the FAQ, I'm actually being asked these questions a lot less!) So, here they are, in the order they appear in the FAQ (with one exception at the end):

And that all-time favorite:

If you are reading this on the WWW, you can click on any question above and go straight to the answer.

1.18. I think you got something wrong. How can I convince you to fix it?

By all means, if you think I've made a mistake, please let me know. I am only human, and I'm sure there are some things I've left out or goofed up. However, if you are going to report an error, please back it up. I've done a lot of research in compiling this FAQ, and I've been reading and learning about Oz for over thirty years now. I will stand behind what I say here. For example, if you think I'm wrong about the hanging man, don't just tell me that you've heard it somewhere. I've heard it, too, in many, many, many different versions. Please provide me with solid evidence, and more information. (I've actually had people tell me they knew the man who hanged himself, but wouldn't provide a name.) I know many Oz and Baum researchers, and they'd be glad to help prove or disprove any long-covered allegations.

1.19. May I link to your site?

Yes, please. I'd be happy to let you link to my site unconditionally. Please understand that I do not do formal link exchanges — in other words, I will not automatically link to your page if you link to mine. I will be glad to provide a reciprocal link on my site's links page (http://thewizardofoz.info/links.html) if your site is about or related to Oz. There is more information about linking to my site, including the HTML code to do so, on the links page.

1.20. May I use material from your FAQ for my own purposes?

This FAQ is copyrighted by me, and as a result I can say who can use the material and in what way. But I'm a generous person who feels information does no good if it's not out there educating people, and so I hereby give permission for anyone to reprint or reproduce up to five (5) questions and their answers, in whole or in part, in any way, shape, or form other than on the Internet or WWW. For instance, if you like my summing up of Baum's life (see question 6.1), and you'd like to use it in a program for a local stage production of The Wizard of Oz, be my guest. But to do this, you need to acknowledge me, Eric Gjovaag, as the author, and my website, http://thewizardofoz.info, as the source. If at all possible, I'd also like a copy of whatever the information is appearing in, but I know that may not always be possible. If you wish to use more of my FAQ than the five questions I've given permission for, please feel free to contact me. If you wish to use parts of the FAQ for online purposes, I ask that instead of copying it, you link to it instead. This is not difficult, and I can help you do so. Feel free to contact me at this e-mail address for details.

1.21. How can I help with your FAQ and website?

Well aren't you a sweetheart for asking! The FAQ and website are a labor of love, and I do it mainly for the enjoyment of doing it. However, it does cost me some money for the server space and other expenses, so if you still want to offer me something, I'm not going to say no! The best way you can help is to buy items in my website's bookshop (http://thewizardofoz.info/bookshop.html). I have an affiliation agreement with Amazon.com where they pay me a part of what people spend there if they go through my shop. This helps me to buy new Oz books! If you don't want to shop at Amazon.com, but still want to help, you can donate through my Amazon Honor page at http://www.amazon.com/paypage/P2FR79Z2PR8D2Z. You can also donate directly to this website's upkeep at http://www.dreamhost.com/donate.cgi?id=6828. Finally, if none of these ideas work for you, please feel free to pay it forward. If my efforts can inspire you to help and educate others, I'll be happy.