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Wizard (Oz)


Wizard (Oz)

Oscar Diggs/The Wizard of Oz
Oz character
William Wallace Denslow (1900)
First appearance

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Species Human
Gender Male
Occupation Advisor and court magician to Princess Ozma
Title The Wizard of Oz
Family A prominent Omaha politician and his wife (parents)
Nationality American

Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs (also known as the Wizard of Oz), and during his reign, as the Great and Powerful Oz, is a fictional character in the Land of Oz created by American author L. Frank Baum.[1]

The character was further popularized by the classic 1939 movie, wherein his full name is not mentioned.

Oz 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 each is granted an audience, one by one. In each of these occasions, the Wizard appears in a different form, once as a giant head, once as a beautiful fairy, once as a ball of fire, and once as a horrible monster. When, at last, he grants an audience to all of them at once, he seems to be a disembodied voice.

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 (the initials of his first two forenames, Oscar being his first, and Zoroaster being the first of his seven middle names) on the side of his hot air balloon for promotional purposes. One day his balloon sailed into the Land of Oz, and he 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 Princess Ozma (the rightful hereditary ruler of Oz) is freed from the witch Mombi at the end of The Marvelous Land of 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. 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".[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 unless the other magic users have permits.

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.

Film adaptations

Silent films (1908–25)

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

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

In 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 who also played several other roles in the movie including Professor Marvel (the mysterious traveling fortune-teller that Dorothy meets in Kansas with a horse named Sylvester), the Doorman at the Emerald City, the Guard at the Gates to the Wizard's Castle, and the Coachman whose transport is drawn by "The Horse of a Different Color". His face was also presumably used as the projected image of the Wizard. Like Dorothy, the Wizard himself 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 the book.

The Wizard's hot air balloon in the movie has the name Omaha on it, reflecting that the Wizard originated from Omaha, Nebraska, just as in the book.

Professor Marvel and the farmworker Zeke (Lion's alter ego) are the only men wearing hats when Dorothy wakes up from being unconscious because Hickory (Tin Man's alter ego) and Hunk (Scarecrow's alter ego) lost their hats with Uncle Henry as they struggled to pry open the cellar when the tornado approached the farm.

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Oz the Great and Powerful serves as a spiritual prequel to the Oz series. The film centers on Oscar Diggs (portrayed by James Franco), and follows his journey from small-time magician to the ruler of the Land of Oz. In it, he is portrayed as an overly flirtatious and overconfident con artist and stage magician who upon meeting Theodora (the future Wicked Witch of the West), and inadvertently sparking her obsession with him, is keen on fulfilling his role as the legendary Wizard destined to restore order to Oz (primarily due to the promise of the Oz Treasury). However, throughout his journey, and seeing the impact of his actions, both good and bad, he comes to realize how much the people of Oz need him and devises a way to use his skill in illusions to free them. He also forms a makeshift "family" in the form of himself, Glinda, Finley (a winged monkey he rescued), and the China Girl (a living china doll, the sole survivor of an attack on China Town whose legs he repaired).


  • 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.
  • The Wizard of Oz appears in Off to See the Wizard voiced by Daws Butler. He serves as the host of the show where he presents the movie of the episode.
  • 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. It also revealed, in both the book and musical, that the Wizard is in fact Elphaba's biological father. Unlike in earlier works, the Wizard is 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 sorcerer. 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 versions 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 Wizard is featured in the 1990 The Wizard of Oz animated series voiced by Alan Oppenheimer. When the Wicked Witch of the West is resurrected, she casts a spell that gets the Wizard's balloon caught in the wind causing Dorothy and her friends to embark on a quest to save the Wizard and defeat the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • In the Canadian stage musical The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Wizard is the alter-ego of L. Frank Baum himself, who serves as a narrator. The role was played by the show's director and librettist, Joe Cascone.
  • 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 the VeggieTales episode The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's, the Wizard is portrayed by Archibald Asparagus as the "Wonderful Land of Ha's" amusement park owner who later reveals himself as a promotional showman to Darby (Junior Asparagus).
  • In June 2008 the Japanese video game publisher D3 Publisher announced The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road, a new video game adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, developed for the Nintendo DS handheld video game console.[6] The game was developed by Media.Vision and shows a Japanese anime style for the graphics. "Riz-Zoawd" (the games name in Japan) is actually the anagram for "Wizard Oz". The game was published in Japan in late 2008 and North America in 2009 by Xseed Games.
  • In the 2011 direct-to-DVD animated film Tom and Jerry and the Wizard of Oz, the Wizard is voiced by Joe Alaskey. This adaptation is a midquel/parallel of the classic 1939 film featuring Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse with Droopy.

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.
  • 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".
  • 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 television show Futurama aired Anthology of Interest II which parodied the 1939 movie version of the story where Professor Hubert Farnsworth played the wizard and appearing as a giant-headed version of himself standing behind a curtain.
  • The Wizard of Oz appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Two Weeks Without Food" voiced by Breckin Meyer. After Dorothy returns home, the Wizard of Oz returns and goes back to business as usual. When the Cowardly Lion asks why, the Wizard recounts that he is a "very bad wizard." He states "case in point" as he forcefully takes back Scarecrow's brain, has Tin Man compacted into a square and eats his heart, and has the Cowardly Lion made into a lion-skinned rug. With the Cowardly Lion a rug, the Tin Man his stool, and Scarecrow's remains made into a wall decoration, the Wizard is seen with them in his room as he quotes "It's good to be the Wizard." When one of his royal guards tells the Wizard that Glinda the Good Witch is here, the Wizard quotes "Bring me my rape shoes."
  • The Wizard of Oz is the titular subject of the Spock's Beard song, "The Man Behind the Curtain" from their 2010 album, X.
  • The character Professor Ozpin in the web series RWBY is named after the Wizard of Oz.

See also

Children's literature portal


External links

  • More information on The Wizard
Preceded by
Monarch of Oz Succeeded by
The Scarecrow
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