General information about Oz, and what this document is

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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.

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. In Hebrew, "Oz" can mean refuge or asylum, or wood or tree (and the German word for tree is Baum). 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.

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.

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.

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 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, Dave Blank, Brenton Brookings, J. R. Brown, Bill Cameron, Karyl Carlson, Angelica Carpenter, the CBS Programming Department, Steven Chapmen, Jessica Clarke, Christina Cohen, Roxie Cooper, Gehan Cooray, Ken Cope, Warren Crandall, Joanne Cursine, Wayne Daigrepont, Cynthia Daniel, Sarah Danks, Don Davis, Jared Davis, Nathan DeHoff, Tom DeWitt, Patrick T. Dempsey, Joyce Dick, Chris Dulabone, Ray Dunakin, Dorothy Easterday, Orville Eastland, Jill Emmert, Robert Embry, Barbara Evans, the television listings, Ray Faiola, Frank Freudberg, Antoinette Fornshell, Mick Forstag, John Foust, Jonathan Furedy, Meredith Furney, Egan Futz, Charles Galda, Johanna Garwood, John Gaskey, Urainia K. "Raini K" Gerhardt, Joel Gerlach, Tammy Gibbs, Josh Gillis, Peter Glassman, Andrew N. Goldberg, MD, D. Gary Grady, Vanessa Greeley, 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, Mike Kelly, Rudyard Kennedy, the King County (Washington) Library System (particularly their newspaper archives at the Bellevue branch), Laura Klink, Roland Krohn, Susan LaFrance, Andy Lahr (no relation), Judy Lalouche, Katy Lau, Phil Lewin, Jonathan Llewellyn, Louis-David Lontz, Naomi Lorditch, Sara Lundvall, the late Rob Roy MacVeigh, Terence Martel, Cliff May, Greg McElhatton, Sandy McGeever, Jim Meadows, 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, Steve Price, Connie Purkey, Patrick Quigley, Colin Raff, Noel Ratch, Samala Ray, Christiana Rickard, Marisa Sandora, Adam Santangelo, Heather Sarver, Bobby Saverino, Joseph Schuld, The Seattle Times, Eric Shanower, Neil M. Sheldon, Stan Sieler, Nancy C. Smith, Paul Smith, Paul J. Smith (so far as I know, those two are not the same guy), Yehudit Trina Spera, William Stillman, Ginny Stubbs, Shannon Patrick Sullivan, Thomas H. Summers, Jr., David Tai, Tams-Witmark, Bill Thompson, Michael Thorpe, Fred Trust, the Turner cable channels (TBS, TCM, TNT, and Cartoon Network) and their websites, Usenet and the archives on Google Groups, Steve Wallach, John Wells, Jim Whitcomb, John N. White, Elaine Willingham, Chris Wisniewski, Chester Witham, Lorella Woods, 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 name), for which the author profusely apologizes right now.

Now that this FAQ has been transferred to a wiki, it's entirely possible that lots of other people are going to jump in and make even more changes. This is to be expected. I intend to give final approval to all changes, so it's still my responsibility, but I'm open to whatever others want to add or alter.

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 cover the topic thoroughly enough, being too narrow in scope or assuming that the reader was already familiar with many aspects of Oz.

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 the question What is an Oz FAQ? above).
  • FF - The Famous Forty Oz books (see the question What are the "official" Oz books?).
  • IWOC - The International Wizard of Oz Club (see the question Is there any sort of Oz fan club? 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 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 readily 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.

How is this FAQ different from previous versions?

Well, it's a wiki now, that's a pretty big change right there. As a result, it's a lot easier to update, and I won't necessarily be the only one doing it as well. Since this should result in a more fluid and dynamic document, I've decided to abandon the idea of version numbers. I've also updated a lot of questions (the wiki version went up in 2010, the last HTML version went up in 2005, so there were a lot to update!), added a few more, and deleted a few that were no longer relevant. You can always click on "recent changes" in the Navigation box, in the upper left corner of every page, just under the picture of the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman in the website logo, to see what's happened lately.

How do I use this FAQ?

It's pretty straightforward: Go to the main page of the FAQ. Find a section that looks interesting, or might have the question you want answered. Click, and take a look. If you see your question at the top of the page, click on it, read, and be enlightened. If you don't see your question, or are just curious, you can always browse, or even click on "Random page" over in the navigation box on the left. Or you can try a keyword search in the box below that.

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 set this up 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".

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, planning ahead, allocating your time, and sticking to a deadline are also part of the learning process, so plan ahead and don't wait until the last minute.

How accurate is this FAQ?

When writing the many different previous versions 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 are no errors, but they are very likely few and far between. As with all documents of this type, take it with a grain of salt. One of my goals with the new wiki version of the FAQ is to (eventually) cite references to some answers. I do plan on previewing changes and alterations submitted by others, so this wiki shouldn't have the problems seen by some other wikis that anyone can change.

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. Besides, I don't want to give away too much information from the books, so that those who haven't read them yet won't be spoiled.

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:

And that all-time favorite:

If any of these are one of the questions you want the answer to, you can click on any question above and go straight there.

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, or just haven't updated yet. 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 nearly fifty 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 then 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. You can also ask to be a contributor to the wiki, and make your own changes. But understand that I have the final say on any changes to the wiki, and I may reject your contributions, or even revoke your right to edit the wiki, if you take advantage of the privilege.

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 ( 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.

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 for people to read and learn from, 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 the question Who was L. Frank Baum?), 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,, 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 for details.

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 ( I have affiliation agreements with and some other companies 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! You can also donate directly to this website's upkeep at Finally, if none of these ideas work for you, please feel free to pay it forward. One way to do that is by donating Oz books to a local school or public library. If my efforts can inspire you to help and educate others, I'll be happy.