OZ Museum

When I was a kid, the Wizard Of Oz was on TV once each year. I remember seeing the ads for it, and getting excited, and when the big day would finally arrive, I would be front and center watching it on our 12 inch black and white TV. I enjoyed the farm scenes in the beginning of the film and loved the song, Somewhere Over The Rainbow. I thought Glinda the Good Witch one of the prettiest ladies I’d ever seen, and the flying monkeys one of the most terrifying. All too soon, it would be over, and I would have to wait another year to watch it again. At some point, someone gave me a Wizard Of Oz puzzle, and I remember making it so many times that the pieces became frayed at the edges.

Judy Garland as Dorothy

Judy Garland was my favorite actress, and when someone told me that she had died when I was a baby, I was crushed. In my child’s mind, I thought as long as I could see her skipping down the yellow brick road, she must be alive somewhere.

Recently, Harland and I passed through Wamego Kansas, home of the OZ museum, chock full of all things Oz related.

Harland, a native Kansan, had been to the museum before, and although I’d heard about it, I’d never visited. For fans of the book, movie, or even just the actors, it’s a great place to visit. Here are a few highlights:

In 1900, L. Frank Baum wrote a children’s story entitled The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. It was immensely popular, and remained on the bestseller list for 2 years.

Baum went on to write 13 more books about the characters and places of Oz.

In 1910, and again in 1925, silent movies were made, based on the book. Sadly, Baum, who died in 1919, would not live to see the most famous book interpretation, the movie released in 1939.  Some interesting facts about the movie:

Shirley Temple was MGM’s first pick to play the role of Dorothy, but Temple could not get out of her contract with 20th Century Fox, and was unable to take the role. Deanna Durbin was also considered, but eventually the role was offered to Judy Garland.

WC Fields was chosen for the role of the wizard, but he turned it down.Frank Morgan went on to play the wizard.

Ray Bolger, who played the scarecrow,  was originally cast as the tinman, but was later recast as the scarecrow at his request.

Buddy Epson was cast in the role as the tin man, but had to be hospitalized 10 days into filming due to inhalation of aluminum dust contained in his makeup. He was not able to continue filming, and was replaced by Jack Haley.

Bert Lahr, who played the cowardly lion, wore a suit that weighed 90 pounds which made movement difficult. It was also unbearably hot due to lighting that caused temperatures to hover around 100 degrees on the set.

Margaret Hamilton, who played the wicked witch,  suffered burns on her hands and face during the filming of the scene where she disappears into a  ball of flame and smoke.

The song, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, was almost cut as it was considered undignified for Judy Garland to be seen singing in a barnyard.

And although the film won 3 Academy awards, and is considered today to be one of the best loved films of all time, it was initially a box office failure.

Some interesting artifacts in the museum include a scrap of fabric from the dress Garland wore during filming,

original lists of sets and scenes,

an original balance sheet,

and 1 of 4 remaining rubber monkeys used during filming. It only measures about 3 inches tall.

I enjoyed our visit to the museum, and learned some fascinating facts about one of my favorite all time films.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

———> UP NEXT: The Historic Elgin Hotel B & B in Marion Kansas. Built in 1886, it offered luxurious rooms and was the site for many elegant banquets and balls. Today it has been fully restored and reopened as a B & B.

———> AND LATER: Homemade doughnuts from a 1921 recipe.

14 comments to OZ Museum

  • I’m with you, we were thrilled each year to sit glued to those small tv’s then sing and dance for weeks after. Memories. . . (*sigh*)

  • Hello. I am Linda from Nothin But Country Living…..I found you while visiting CITR. Wizard of Qz is one of my all time favorites and I want to say “Thank You” for the history and photos you shared about it.
    Come and visit anytime…..Have a Blessed weekend!

  • I didn’t even realize there was a museum, so thank you for posting this! That would be such a fun museum to visit! I know I would enjoy it immensely. Oh boy, would I love to get a look at those old original books. I am loving that little rubber monkey! I also, loved watching The Wizard of Oz. It held my attention from beginning to end. I think I mostly remember feeling afraid…the flying monkeys, the trees that came to life, the wicked witch..oh man I was so afraid of her! I was so terrified when they had to walk down that long hall to the wizard and when he would talk…wow! Now you’ve got me wanting to watch The Wizard of Oz sooooo bad!!! I’m going to have to rent it!!

    • Suzanne

      Hi Bonnie,
      Thank you. And you’re never too old to watch this movie. I think I watched it again just a couple years ago when I was stuck at home with the flu.

  • I would love to see this museum. Thanks for the post and the information – just in case I never get there : )

  • Glyndalyn

    Enjoyed the tour. One of my favorite movies. As as small child, I was frightened of the witch and would run to Grandmother. She wore an apron that was large enough to hide under.

  • I think I left my comment in a different place.

  • I’m a native Kansan who has NEVER seen the movie. When I lived in Texas, I got so tired of hearing “Hey Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” AND (last ramble here…)I actually read all 13 books when I was in Grade School. I liked some of the later books more than the first one.

    • Suzanne

      Hi Shelljo,
      I grew up in Missouri, and when I announced I was moving to Kansas I started hearing all the jokes as well. But I didn’t mind because it is really a great story and movie. Do watch it sometime. It really is a great film and the special effects are pretty good for the time.

  • Mary

    One thing I’ll never forget is when our family finally got a color TV and I could actually see the Horse of Different Color change colors, instead of having to watch it in black and white!

  • Glenda

    What memories you have stirred up with this post. I may never make it to the museum but so glad you shared your visit with us all.

  • Becs Middleton

    I was born & raised in Kansas too. My folks farmed & ranched in SW KS (Garden City) and I lived most of my adult life in East central KS. (Johnson-Miami County area)
    There is the famous Dorothy House (Wizzard of Oz)as well as the world famous Pancake Race,every year, in Liberal KS.Lots of interesting things in KS!
    My husband & I dated back in 1983- we went separate ways, until 1996, after he had moved to NW AR. We started the long-distance dating thing too… 4 hr drive each way… we did this for 7 months until he finally caught me…. LOL! I sold the house in KS to come on down to the Ozark Mountains. That was 15 years ago next April.
    Love your blog. I do NOT miss doing farm chores in the Winter. Or bucket feeding calves at 5 AM.

    I DO miss my daddy, who passed on in 2000, but I have fond memories of the farm (that my brother still runs for us) and the sale barn, where they had the best chicken fried steak ever.

    We are off for a KS road trip this summer, to see bro & fam. in SW KS, a son & fam. in Eastern Ks, Mom & bros. in Hays & cousins in Hutch. If we time it right, we’ll bring our 53 Victoria to the car show in Salina. I just get so tired of out-running the tornadoes on the way home… LOL!

    • Suzanne

      Hi Becs,
      Sounds like you and I crossed paths. I grew up in Missouri, and now live in Kansas. Love the Ozark mountains, but you don’t get much wind down there. How were you able to adjust to that? :)

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