Segments in this Video

"The Wizard of Oz" (03:00)


First broadcast in 1956, it is still the most seen and most repeatedly viewed movie. "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was originally a children's book by L. Frank Baum published in 1900.

Inspiration and Imagination (03:24)

Baum worked as a traveling salesman to support his family during a recession. He witnessed wealth and poverty across the U.S. and saw people struggling with the past and future.

"There is No Place Like Home" (03:05)

Born in 1856, Baum grew up at Rose Lawn, his parents' farm. He had an idyllic childhood and fed his imagination reading European fairy tales.

Baum's Early Careers (03:28)

With the help of his father, Baum bred fancy show chickens on the family's stock. Americans were imagining a new way of life. He moved to New York City to study acting in 1881.

"The Maid of Arron" (05:48)

Baum's first theatrical production premiered in 1882 written under Louis F. Baum. He married Maud Gage and stopped the theater tour once she became pregnant.

Narrative Advertising (04:58)

Baum used meaningful visual symbols to help Americans cope with a quickly changing society. He began working in the family business, marketing Baum's Castorine Oil. He moved west after the deaths of his father and brother.

Railroad Town (04:20)

Baum used cyclones, a common fear at the time, as Dorothy's means of getting to the Land of Oz. He and Maud moved to Aberdeen, South Dakota a boomtown full of young capitalists. Settlers did not give considerations to Native Americans.

Baum's Bazaar Novelty Store (03:29)

Sitting Bull and a delegation of Lakota leaders visited Aberdeen. Native Americans were expected to give up land for white Americans. Baum advertised his exotic goods in an entertaining way.

Creating a Sense of Community (04:18)

Baum and other Aberdeen businessmen funded a local baseball team. In 1889, one of the worst droughts in American history devastated farmers. Baum's Bazaar closed after 15 months.

"The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer" (04:47)

Baum took over a newspaper and offered his opinions on various topics in "The Editor's Musings." He used his voice to support women's suffrage. Male voters rejected equality in 1890.

Western Dream Killed by Drought (01:59)

The opening chapter of the "The Wizard of Oz" addressed the lie railroad companies sold to homesteaders.

Ghost Dance (05:08)

White settlers mistook a Lakota regenerative religious practice for the beginning of an uprising. Sitting Bull was killed on Standing Rock reservation in 1890. Baum used his newspaper to call for ethnic cleansing before the Wounded Knee Massacre.

"Follow the Yellow Brick Road" (05:30)

Dorothy was self-reliant and illustrated the great American quest for happiness. Baum moved his family to Chicago and became a salesman. The Chicago World's Fair opened in 1893.

Wizard of Menlo Park (03:11)

Thomas Edison's tower of light featured at the Chicago World's Fair. The White City closely parallels the Emerald City from Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

Midway Plaisance (04:19)

The Chicago World's Fair featured the first Ferris Wheel. Entertainment was becoming a commodity in late 19th century America. Theosophy combined Hinduism, Buddhism, and Western science.

Good and Bad Witches (04:56)

Matilda Gage challenged Baum to publish his stories. In "Woman, Church, and State," she indicted religion for oppressing women.

"Mother Goose in Prose" (02:54)

The entertainment industry grew from a rising number of middle class children. In 1897, Baum published a book of stories to amuse children. It was a critical success, but did not provide wealth.

"The Show Window" (02:43)

At the turn of the 20th century, the U.S. economy began to rely heavily on selling consumer goods. Baum published a trade journal for merchant window displays in 1897. Matilda Gage died shortly after Baum achieved success.

'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (04:57)

Baum's collaboration with William Wallace Denslow, "Father Goose: His Book," became a bestseller. Baum began writing the story of Dorothy's challenging journey with new friends in a difficult world.

Adventure and Dreaming in the Modern World (03:57)

Critics praised Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" for not insulting children's intelligence as well as its humor and philosophy. It became the best-selling children's book in 1900.

"The Wizard of Oz" (04:40)

A musical adaptation of Baum's children's book debuted in Chicago in 1902. It was drastically different from the original story and integrated elements of vaudeville, minstrelsy, and the variety show. The show's success revealed the story's limitless potential.

"The Marvelous Land of Oz" (03:24)

Baum wrote a new book to capitalize on the success of "The Wizard of Oz." It was marketed as a sequel and introduced new characters and themes including discourse around race.

"The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays" (04:39)

Baum and Maud traveled Europe and Egypt for six months. Letters inspired him to keep expanding Oz. He created a multimedia traveling show to coincide with a new book.

"The Royal Historian of Oz" (05:30)

Baum and Maud moved to Hollywood in 1910. He wrote books and series under pseudonyms and continued expanding Oz. He joined a social group of other creative people and they decided to turn the books into movies.

MGM Prestige Film 1939 (03:14)

Baum continued writing children's books from Ozcot until his death in 1919. A new interpretation of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" began filming 20 years later. Judy Garland starred in the technicolor film.

MGM's Amazing "The Wizard of Oz" (04:33)

Maud attended the premiere of the movie that debuted across the country in 1939 as the U.S. was coming out of the Great Depression. CBS began annual broadcasts in 1959.

"The Wiz" (05:00)

A new interpretation of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" opened on Broadway in 1975 with an all-black cast and Stephanie Mills starring as Dorothy. The film version starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

Credits: American Oz (01:25)

Credits: American Oz

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American Oz

3-Year Streaming Price: $339.95



When L. Frank Baum published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, he was 44 years old and had spent much of his life in restless pursuit of his American dream. He continued to reinvent himself, reflecting a uniquely American brand of confidence, imagination and innovation. American Oz tells the remarkable story of the man behind one of the most enduring and classic American tales.

Length: 114 minutes

Item#: BVL240904

Copyright date: ©2021

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