The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
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The real wizard of Oz: L. Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum was published in 1900 with illustrations by W.W. Denslow. Baum had seen little luck on the stage, managing a dry goods store and running a newspaper. He had hits with his versions of the Mother Goose tales, but they were nothing compared to the success of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” his “modernized fairy tale.” (Library of Congress)
Ozma of Oz
Like many writers today, Baum saw that the world he’d created could become a series. He swiftly published a number of Oz books, including “The Marvelous Land of Oz” (1904), “Ozma of Oz” (1907), “Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz” (1908), and “The Road to Oz” (1909). (Buyenlarge / Getty Images)
L. Frank Baum
In 1910, 53-year-old Baum told the L.A. Times, “The equability of the climate to a man who has passed the youthful stage, is one to be considered, and I have, after much thought, decided that I shall spend my declining years in Los Angeles.” (Library of Congress / Penguin Group USA)
In Hollywood, Baum purchased a plot of land at the corner of today’s Cherokee Avenue and Yucca Street and built a four-bedroom house, naming it Ozcot. There he finished the next Oz book, “The Emerald City of Oz” (1910), and became intrigued by the latest storytelling innovation, silent film. (Hungry Tiger Press)
His Majesty the Scarecrow of Oz
Baum soon founded the Oz Film Manufacturing Co. He wrote and produced a number of very early cinematic interpretations of his famous Oz story, directing one: 1914’s “His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz.” (Screenshot of “His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz” / )
Tik-Tok of Oz
Baum died May 16, 1919, at home in Hollywood, just shy of his 63rd birthday. By that time he had published five more Oz books: “The Patchwork Girl,” “Tik-Tok of Oz,” “The Scarecrow of Oz,” “Rinkitink in Oz,” and “The Lost Princess of Oz.” The story of Oz was carried on by other authorized authors and, of course, filmmakers.  (Buyenlarge / Getty Images)
Jack Haley, Judy Garland, Ray Bolger and Burt Lahr in “The Wizard of Oz.”
Jack Haley, Judy Garland, Ray Bolger and Burt Lahr in “The Wizard of Oz.”  ()
First edition Oz set
These days, first editions of Baum¿s Oz books are hard to find and quite valuable. This 14-book set, for sale by Heritage Book Shop in Beverly Hills, is listed at $37,500 (Heritage Book Shop via AbeBooks)
Signed Wizard of Oz
In 2002, a first edition of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” signed by Baum was estimated to be worth $60,000 to $80,000 -- and then sold for $152,500 in an auction at Christie’s. It was inscribed by Baum to a family friend’s daughter with a poem: “When in this book you take a look / My little sweetheart Beth / Just think I write the whole of it / And yet am yours ‘til death.” (Christie’s)
Oz: The Great and Powerful
Disney releases “Oz: The Great and Powerful” starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz, and directed by Sam Raimi. The 3-D film owes a debt to Baum’s imagination, but is designed as a prequel to the 1939 film rather than a return to the original books.  (Disney Enterprises / Disney Enterprises)