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The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard as illustrated by William Wallace Denslow
||The Wonderful Wizard of
||L. Frank Baum
||Oz, the Great and Terrible
||"a very old man now" in his own words
|Date of birth
||no earlier than 1854 (when Omaha, Nebraska
||advisor and court magician to Princess
||The Wizard of Oz
||a prominent Omaha politician and his wife
||a tower in the Emerald City palace
The Wizard of Oz, known during his reign as
Oz the Great and Powerful, is the epithet of
Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel
Ambroise Diggs (English
pronunciation: /ˌɒskər ˌzɔrɵ.æstər ˌfɔːdrɪɡ ˌaɪzək ˌnɔrmən ˌhɛŋkəl
ɨˌmænjuːəl ˌæmbrɔɪz ˈdɪɡz/), a fictional character in the Land of Oz, created by American author L. Frank Baum and
further popularized by the classic 1939 movie, where
his real name is never revealed.
The Wizard is one of the characters in The Wonderful Wizard of
Oz. Unseen for most of the novel, he is the ruler of the
Land of Oz and highly
venerated by his subjects. Believing he is the only man capable of
solving their problems, Dorothy Gale and her friends travel to the
Emerald City, the
capital of Oz, to meet him. Oz is very reluctant to meet them, but
eventually they are granted an audience. Every time the Wizard
appears in a different form, once as a giant head, once as a
beautiful fairy, once as ball of fire, and once as a horrible
Eventually, it is revealed that Oz is actually none of these
things, but rather a kind, ordinary, man from Omaha,
Nebraska, who has been using a lot of elaborate magic tricks
and props to make himself seem "great and powerful." Working as a
magician for a circus, he
wrote OZ on the side of his hot air balloon for promotional
purposes. One day his balloon sailed into the Land of Oz, and found
himself worshipped as a great sorcerer. As Oz had no leadership at
the time, he became Supreme Ruler of the kingdom, and did his best
to sustain the myth.
He leaves Oz at the end of the novel, again in a hot air
balloon. After the Wizard's departure, the Scarecrow is
briefly enthroned, until the rightful hereditary ruler of Oz, Princess Ozma, is
freed from the witch Mombi at
the end of The Marvelous Land of
In a later Oz book, Oz explains that his real name is Oscar
Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs. To
shorten this name, he used only his initials (O.Z.P.I.N.H.E.A.D.),
but since they spell out the word pinhead, he shortened his name further and
called himself "Oz".
In The Marvelous Land of Oz, the Wizard is described as
having usurped the throne of King Pastoria and handed over the baby
princess to Mombi. This did not please the readers, and in Ozma of Oz, although
the character did not appear, Baum described Ozma's abduction
without including the Wizard as part of it.
The Wizard returns in the novel Dorothy and the Wizard in
Oz. With Dorothy and the boy Zeb, he falls through a crack
in the earth; in their underground journey, he acts as their guide
and protector. When
Ozma rescues them from the underground kingdoms, he recounts his
story of becoming the ruler of Oz, and Ozma explains that before
the witches usurped her grandfather's throne (an occurrence
happening long before the wizard arrived), the ruler of Oz had
always been known as Oz or (if female) Ozma. Ozma
then permits him to live in Oz permanently. He
becomes an apprentice to Glinda, the most powerful magic-worker in Oz.
Ozma decrees that, besides herself, only The Wizard and Glinda are
allowed to use magic.
In later books, he proves himself quite an inventor, providing
devices that aid in various characters’ journeys. He introduces to
Oz the use of mobile
phones in Tik-Tok of Oz. Some of his most
elaborate devices are the Ozpril and the Oztober,
balloon-powered Ozoplanes in Ozoplaning with the Wizard
of Oz, and intelligent taxis called Scalawagons in The
Scalawagons of Oz.
The Wizard has appeared in nearly every silent Oz film,
portrayed by different actors each time.
In the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, The
Wizard's character is similar to that found in the earlier books: a
bumbling "humbug." He was played by actor Frank Morgan. The same actor also played
several other roles in the movie; including Professor Marvel, the
mysterious traveling fortuneteller that Dorothy meets in Kansas, the Doorman at the Emerald City, the
Guard at the Gates to
Oz's Castle and the Coachman. His face was also presumably used as
the projected image of the Wizard. Like Dorothy, the Wizard hails
from Kansas, proudly stating that he is "an old Kansas man myself,
born and bred in the heart of the Western Wilderness." In the film,
the Wizard is seen only as a floating head and as a human, not in
any of the other shapes that he appears in in the book.
- In the 1902 musical
extravaganza, The Wizard is the usurper of the throne of King
Pastoria II, who is
returned to Oz by the same cyclone that brought Dorothy Gale. The
Wizard was portrayed by a series of "ethnic" comedians. Once
Pastoria regains his throne, anyone who sides with the Wizard,
including those seeking his aid, are considered guilty of treason and ordered
- The extended network television version of the animated feature
Journey Back to Oz (1964/1972)
contains live-action segments with Bill Cosby as The Wizard (a character
otherwise not seen in the original theatrical version) trying to
bring two children back to Kansas for Christmas.
- In the 1978 film The Wiz, the titular "Wiz" (played
Pryor) is Herman Smith, a failed politician from Atlantic City, New Jersey.
This "Wiz" is a pathetic "phony" through and through. He lives
isolated from the world in terror (fearing that people will
discover that he's a fraud). He has no friends or anyone to talk to
because he lives all alone. He does not provide the Scarecrow, Tin
Man and Lion with their brains, heart and courage. Instead, Dorothy
shows the three that they already possess the qualities they
- In author Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life
and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (a 1995 revisionist novel based on the
inhabitants of Oz) and in the 2003 Broadway musical Wicked
(based on Maguire's novel), the Wizard is a tyrannical ruler who
uses deceit and trickery to hide his own shortcomings. Unlike in
earlier works, the Wizard is clearly meant to be the villain of the
- The depictions of the character differ radically between the
novel and the musical.
- In the book, it is revealed that on Earth the Wizard was an occultist, familiar with the works of Madame Blavatsky, who entered Oz by means
of a ritual involving human sacrifice in search of the Grimmerie, a magic book
secreted in Oz by an earlier Earth-based sorceror. This version of
the Wizard works to maintain his own position and prestige,
regardless of the pain and grief it causes to others, and is not
beyond subversion or mandated murder. It is revealed that he
considers himself beyond morality, unable to be bound by a promise
and considering murder a "silly convention of a naive
- The Wizard is portrayed in a better light in the musical,
Wicked. Instead of being very amoral, he is carried away
by the belief of the people of Oz that he is "wonderful." In the
play the Wizard is also more of a figurehead controlled by Madame
Morrible and though he is responsible for some of the things that
happen in the play he is truly not made fully aware of how his
actions affect others. When he learns that Elphaba is his daughter,
he expresses visible sorrow when he learns of her (supposed) death,
agreeing with Glinda to leave Oz in his balloon.
- In both version it is revealed that the Wizard is indeed behind
some of the most horrific and disastrous events in the story, with
one of his cohorts being Madame Morrible. The Wizard is revealed
the illegitimate father of Elphaba, seducing her mother with a
magical green elixir, causing Elphaba's green tone. In the musical,
this fact is revealed to the character Glinda, who accosts the
Wizard with this information. In the novel, this fact is deduced by
the Wizard when Dorothy presents her with the bottle of the green
elixir that had found among Elphaba's personal effects. It is also
under the Wizard's direction that the Animals of Oz — most notably
the Goat teacher from Shiz University, Doctor
Dillamond (except in the novel, where he is murdered) — are
caged and placed under strict control. This cruelty causes the
final split between Elphaba and the Wizard, leading to her
transformation into the Wicked Witch of the West.
- In the original stage production, the Wizard was played by
Cabaret star Joel Grey, who also played the Wizard in
The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True, a 1995
concert staging of the 1939 film musical.
Comics' Oz comic book series, followed by Arrow Comics'
Dark Oz and The Land of Oz featured the Wizard,
affectionately known as "Oscar," particularly to Ozma, as a tall,
bald, mustachioed man, brooding, powerful, and not at all
- The 2006 comic book The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles
features a Wizard who is closer to the benevolent figure in Baum's
works. In issue #1, he saves Dorothy and Alice Liddell from a pack of Wheelers,
and later accompanies them and Jack Pumpkinhead from Chicago to Kansas.
- In the 2007 Sci
miniseries Tin Man, a character
called the "Mystic Man" (played by Richard Dreyfuss) is one of the former
rulers of Central
City, the capital of the Outer Zone (O.Z.), and
like his counterpart from the book, uses technology to make himself
seem more impressive. He is also referred to as "the wizard" and
styles himself similarly to the Wizard of Oz, but has been
relegated to the main performer of a Central City magic show
rather than the "humbug" overlord of the Emerald City. Another
character with similarities to the Wizard is D.G.'s father, Ahamo,
a fairground worker from Earth who arrived in the Outer Zone via
balloon and later gives D.G. transport in one.
- In June 2008 the Japanese videogame publisher D3 Publisher
announced Riz-Zoawd, a new videogame adaptation of The Wizard of
Oz, developed for the Nintendo DS handheld videogame console. The
game is developed by Media.Vision and shows a Japanese anime style for the graphics.
"Riz-Zoawd" is actually the anagram for "Wizard Oz". According to
Siliconera, the game has been confirmed by XSEED Games and will be
available sometime later this year.
- In the episode Into The
Mystic of the television series Sliders a powerful and wraithlike Sorcerer
turns out to be just the projection of a normal person, hidden
behind a curtain in the room, like the Wizard of Oz did in the 1939
- The Season 3 episode of serial drama Lost
entitled "The Man Behind the Curtain" is a reference to the Wizard.
His name is also mentioned in the dialogue of the show, with John Locke
comparing Ben Linus to
the Wizard and saying that he is the one orchestrating events and
is "The Man Behind the Curtain".
- In the episode "It's Christmas in Canada" of
the television series South Park, the main characters visit
the new Prime Minister of Canada, who takes the shape of a floating
head. This turns out to be a projection operated by Saddam Hussein,
who was hiding in hole in the wall.
- An entire episode of Scrubs, "My Way Home", pays homage to the Wizard of
- In 1991, wrestler Kevin Nash was given the name and gimmick of
"Oz" by Dusty Rhodes, loosely based on
the Wizard, and was billed from "The Emerald City".
- The character of The Wizard of Oz was shown in The Dark
Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, the fourth book of Stephen King's The
Dark Tower book series.
- In the Star
Trek episode "The Corbomite Maneuver," the
alien Balok initially assumes a more intimidating appearance behind
what was eventually revealed a dummy mask. The real Balok was a
dwarfish cherubic man (played by Clint Howard). In discussing the
deception, however, Balok refers to Jekyll and Hyde
instead of the Wizard of Oz.
- In the Stephen King novel Pet Sematary, a framed picture of the
Wizard is the first thing Rachel Goldman sees after her sister
Zelda dies. It is explained that Zelda enjoyed the Oz books when
she was alive, but when she contracted spinal meningitis, it gave
her a speech impediment that prevented her from pronouncing the
letter R, so she called him "Oz the Gweat and Tewwible". As a
result, Oz the Gweat and Tewwible becomes a metaphor for death, and
is used for the rest of the book.
- The film Zardoz
draws its title from the character and the book.
- The Wizard of Oz appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Two Weeks
Without Food" voiced by Breckin Meyer. After Dorothy returns
home, the Wizard returns and goes back to business as usual. When
the Cowardly Lion asks why, the Wizard recounts that he is a "very
Snow, Who's Who in Oz, Chicago, Reilly & Lee,
1954; New York, Peter Bedrick Books, 1988; pp. 238-9. ISBN
Michael O. Riley, Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank
Baum, Lawrence, KS, University Press of Kansas, 1997; p. 140.
Riley, p. 148.
Riley, pp. 145-6.
Riley, p. 146.
http://www.d3p.co.jp/riz/ Official website for