Wizard of Oz (character): Wikis


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Oscar Diggs
The Wizard of Oz
Oz character
Wizard of Oz.png
The Wizard as illustrated by William Wallace Denslow (1900)
First appearance The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Created by L. Frank Baum
Nickname(s) Oz, the Great and Terrible
Aliases Crinklink
Species human
Gender male
Age "a very old man now" in his own words
Date of birth no earlier than 1854 (when Omaha, Nebraska was founded)
Specialty technological "magic"
Occupation advisor and court magician to Princess Ozma
Title The Wizard of Oz
Family a prominent Omaha politician and his wife (parents)
Spouse(s) none
Address a tower in the Emerald City palace
Religion Methodist
Nationality American

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[1] and further popularized by the classic 1939 movie, where his real name is never revealed.


The classic books

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 monster.

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 Oz.

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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4] Ozma then permits him to live in Oz permanently.[5] 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.

Silent film

The Wizard has appeared in nearly every silent Oz film, portrayed by different actors each time.

The 1939 movie

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 beheaded.
  • 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 by Richard 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 seek.
  • 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 story.
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 civilization."
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.
  • Caliber 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 bumbling.
  • 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 Fi television 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.[6] 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.

Cultural reference

  • 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 movie.
  • 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 Oz.
  • 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 bad wizard".

See also


  1. ^ Jack Snow, Who's Who in Oz, Chicago, Reilly & Lee, 1954; New York, Peter Bedrick Books, 1988; pp. 238-9. ISBN 0-87226-188-3
  2. ^ Michael O. Riley, Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum, Lawrence, KS, University Press of Kansas, 1997; p. 140. ISBN 0-7006-0832-X
  3. ^ Riley, p. 148.
  4. ^ Riley, pp. 145-6.
  5. ^ Riley, p. 146.
  6. ^ http://www.d3p.co.jp/riz/ Official website for Riz-Zoawd

External links

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