Season 11, Episode 01
Re-Imagined Radio celebrates Women's History Month with this little known radio adaptation of the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz (1939) heard on The Lux Radio Theatre, 25 December 1950, episode #726. Judy Garland, 28, the only original cast member, recreates her starring movie role as Dorothy Gale along with a fine cast. Fine radio storytelling.
Optimized for radio broadcast.
Curated, Produced, and Hosted by John F. Barber
Sound Design, Music, and Post Production by Marc Rose of Fuse Audio Design
Promotional Graphics by Holly Slocum Design
1900 — May, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a children's fantasy novel by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919), published by George M. Hill Company. The success of the novel and the 1902 musical theatrical adaptation prompted Baum to write thirteen additional Oz books, as sequels.
1902-1903 — The Wizard of Oz, musical stage adaptation, premiered 16 June 1902, Chicago Grand Opera House, Chicago, Illinois. Toured the upper midwest United States before moving to the Majestic Theatre, on Broadway, New York, 21 January 1903. 293 performances until 3 October 1903. Tours and theatre performances continued until 1909. Released to stock theatres in 1911. Cast included Fred Stone as Scarecrow. David C. Montgomery as Tin Woodman. Stageplay by L. Frank Baum and Glen MacDonough. Directed by Julian Mitchell.
1925 — The Wizard of Oz, silent film adaptation, Chadwick Pictures, released 13 April. Starring Dorothy Dwan (Dorothy), Larry Semon (farmhand/Scarecrow), and Oliver Hardy (later of Oliver & Hardy, farmhand/Tin Woodman), Spencer Bell (Cowardly Lion), Charles Murray (Wizard), Mary Carr (Aunt Em), and Frank Alexander (Uncle Henry). Screenplay by Frank Baum, Jr. Directed by Larry Semon.
1926 — The Land of Oz, radio adaptation, broadcast on WMAQ radio, Chicago, Illinois. As part of a local program called Topsy Turvy Time. Russell Pratt, "The Topsy Turvy Time Man" was the host and read children's books to the listening audience, including books from the Oz series by L. Frank Baum. A children's radio club. 125 branch clubs across the country. A daily newspaper, The Topsy Turvy Times published daily on the back page of Chicago's Daily News. Broadcast daily, except Wednesdays and Saturdays, 5:15 PM. No episodes are known to survive.
1930s — The Wizard of Oz, radio adaptation. Radio dramatization by writer-director John Elkhorn. Music by Charles Paul and His Munchkin Music Men. Exact date9s) unknown. No recordings known to exist.
1933 — The Wizard of Oz, radio adaptation, a network series—the first ever such series—debuted 25 September. Based on the first three Oz Books. Produced at WTMJ radio in Milwaukee and broadcast on NBC affiliate stations Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, the 15-minute children’s radio program was sponsored by Jello. Nancy Kelly, 12 years old, played the leading role of "Dorothy." Other cast included Bill Adams (Scarecrow), Parker Fennelly (Tin Woodman), Jack Smart (Cowardly Lion/Uncle Henry), Ian Wolfe (The Wizard), and Junius Matthews (Toto and other characters). Ben Graver was the announcer. Directed by Donald Stauffer. Frank Novak wrote the music and conducted the four-piece band. Production supervised by Donald Stauffer who also directed the weekly The March of Time episodes. Thirteen weeks. Seventy seven episodes. Approximately nineteen hours of content. The last episode was broadcast on 23 March 1934. No recordings are known to exist. See also "At Least NBC Got It Right: The 1933-34 Oz Radio Show."
1939 — June, Fred Stone, the Scarecrow in Broadway's 1903 stage version of "The Wizard of Oz," read the book aloud on radio. This radio performance could have been a promotion for the coming MGM movie release. Ray Bolger (Scarecrow in the MGM movie) also appeared.
1939 — 15 August, The Wizard of Oz, an American musical fantasy film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Starring Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton. Screenplay by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allen Wolfe. Directed by Victor Fleming. Judy Garland, then 16 years old, starred as Dorothy Gale. The song, "Over the Rainbow," sung by Garland, won the Academy Award for Best Song. A trivia note: When the 1939 MGM movie was completed it was too long. Studio executives suggested cutting the song "Over the Rainbow." It was not cut from the film and is today part of popular culture.
1950 — 25 December (episode #726), Lux Radio Theatre offered a live performance of The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, then 28 years old. Garland was the only movie cast member to participate in this live radio performance.
Radio's Yellow Brick Road" by Jack French, information about radio adaptations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
1920-1938: Ruth Plumly Thompson: The Second Royal Historian, timeline and background information.
The 1950 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz," written by Sandy Barnett, was the only time that Judy Garland ever recreated her most famous film role as Dorothy Gale. Additonal cast included Herbert Vigran (Hickory/Tin Woodman), Hans Conried (Hunk/Scarecrow), Edwin Max (Zeke/Cowardly Lion), Ruth Perrott (Auntie Em), William Johnstone (Uncle Henry), Betty Lou Gerson (Glinda the Good Witch), Noreen Gammill (Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch), Gil Stratton, Jr. (Mayor of Munchkinland), Charles Smith (Doctor), Herbert Butterfield (Professor/The Wizard), Charles Woolf (Lawyer), Jay Novello (Guard), Marian Richman (Woman), Eddie Marr (Man), Norman Field (Voice), and David Light (Toto, Dorothy's dog). Dorothy Lovett was Libby Collins. William Keighley was the host, John Milton Kennedy the announcer, and the Music Director was Rudy Schrager. Garland sang "We're Off to See the Wizard" and "Over the Rainbow." A contract for the show, with J. Walter Thompson Company dated December 18, 1950, states Judy was paid $5,000 for her appearance.
Lux Radio Theatre was a radio anthology series broadcast weekly from 1934-1955. The series was sponsored by Lever Brothers, manufacturers of Lux Toilet Soap. Beginning in the 1920s, Lux Soap used celebrity product endorsements in magazine advertisements. In 1934, Lever Brothers agreed to sponsor an hour-long radio program that would use well-known stage and movie actors to perform the leading roles. The first episode, Seventh Heaven by Austin Strong, was broadcast 14 October 1934 from the NBC affiliate radio station WJZ in Radio City, in downtown Manhattan, New York. Subsequent episodes featured faithful adaptations from original Broadway stage performances in three to four acts with commercials between the first and second acts. At the end of the dramatic portion of the program, the star(s) returned out of character to participate in an informal, but scripted, chat with the program's host, Douglas Garrick.
Other radio variety programs
There were, at that time, several radio variety programs offering dramatic content. The Eveready Hour (musical numbers, comedy routines, and dramatic sketches), The Collier Hour (dramatized content from Collier's magazine), The Maxwell House Show Boat (variety programs), The Kraft Music Hall (leaned toward music), The Eddie Cantor Show, Fleischman Hour (starring Rudy Vallee), and The Jack Pearl Show (leaned toward comedy). The March of Time (begun in 1931) dramatized news events. 45 Minutes in Hollywood leveraged a relationship with Photoplay to dramatize excerpts from upcoming motion picture releases using anonymous radio actors and occasionally, interviews with the actual film star(s). Hotel Hollywood (first episode 5 October 1934) offered scenes from upcoming films with (sometimes) the actual stars voicing their roles.
Began in New York
But Lux Radio Theatre was unique in that it featured, in each week's dramatization, well-known stars of stage and screen acting in the leading roles. For the first two seasons, because of its New York location, Lux Radio Theatre focused on adapting theatrical performances, including well-known plays and performers popular in previous years. But, because first the NBC and then CBS radio networks carried the program across the country, the producers of Lux Radio Theatre began increasingly focusing on actors with national reputations, and this led to an increasing focus on movie actors.
Moved to Los Angeles
After two seasons, Lux Radio Theatre moved to the Music Box Theatre (now the Henry Ford Theatre), on Hollywood Boulevard, in Los Angeles, California. Several other changes were also implemented. First, audiences were encouraged to attend each live broadcast. Audiences were not a part of the New York broadcasts, so their addition at the instance of Lever Brothers offered significant promotional opportunities. Hollywood actors, with national reputations, were contracted to voice roles from their current movies. Louis Silvers, an Academy Award winning music director was hired. Cecil B. DeMille, known to even casual movie fans, was engaged as the program's new host. The first broadcast from Hollywood was 1 June 1936. From then on, every Lux Radio Theatre broadcast was like an opening night, with marquee lights, new stars, and movie fans seeking autographs.
The Wizard of Oz web poster by Holly Slocum (240 x 356)
The Wizard of Oz cover poster by Holly Slocum (820 x 360)
The Wizard of Oz landscape poster by Holly Slocum (1920 x 1080)
The Wizard of Oz square poster by Holly Slocum (2000 x 2000)
The Wizard of Oz full poster by Holly Slocum (2000 x 3000)