I have been a huge fan of “The Wizard of Oz” all my life.
As a tail end member of the Baby Boomers, I was lucky enough to have experienced seeing the movie when it was on TV only once a year as a very special event. My memory of hearing the announcer say, “The following program is in living color, the first portion is in black and white…” still gives me goosebumps.
Those deliriously anticipated annual telecasts in the 1960’s led me to discovering the Oz books by L. Frank Baum at my local Library. The illustrations of W.W. Denslow inspired me to become an illustrator myself.
For me, this is the one that started it all. My first grade teacher had this on the bookshelf library behind her desk. We were allowed to check books out and I checked this one out every week until she said I couldn’t check it out anymore. What made it special to me was that it had photographs from the movie on the end pages inside the front and back covers. I spent a long time searching for this after I got older (notice I didn’t say “grew up”) and finally I found it at an antique store in Minaqua, Wisconsin. Extremely underpriced, I held it together as I purchased it, not wanting the shop keeper to suspect it was worth more. What made it even more valuable was that it had the dust jacket.
So back to first grade…
After experiencing this book and the W.W. Denslow illustrations that inspired me so much, I discovered the other Oz books at the West Dundee library on Main Street. The library had been someones home but now it housed the thousands of books. With its rickety stairs and squeaky floorboards and the wonderful SMELL of books, its sense memory is with me forever.
I began to check these out one at a time.
Such happy memories.
The Oz books that library had were the ones below. I remember being at someones house, a friend of the family and up in one of the kids bedrooms on the dresser was this complete series. Why I didn’t ask for these for Christmas I don’t know. I wish I had though. Through the years, I was gifted a couple of these editions and then I bought paperback versions.
Visit my Illustration Page to see Oz drawings and others in my portfolio.
Autographs and Signatures
When I was in High School, I wrote letters to Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger and Jack Haley. I included a photo I wanted them to sign, a self addressed stamped envelope, and a fan letter. I put all this into a big manila envelope that I illustrated with images of them in their characters, hoping to give my letter an edge in getting their attention. It worked! Ms. Hamilton surprised me with extra photos “in case you didn’t have these.” What a great thing to do and how delighted I was, just thrilled when I got it in the mail.
For Ray Bolger, I not only drew on the envelope, but I included a full color portrait of him as the Scarecrow inside. I also included, a photo to sign and fan letter. Mr. Bolger replied and included an extra photo too! In his letter to me, he told me that he loved the portrait and that he was going to have it framed and put in his office. Incredible.
Jack Haley… sadly, shortly after I sent the letter, he died.
HOWEVER, just today, August 14, 2017 my friend Christopher White sent me a signed check of Jack Haley’s. I couldn’t believe it! He had an extra one in his collection and knowing I collected Oz, he sent it to me!!!
Judy Garlands autograph
Here is Judy’s authentic autograph on a piece of sheet music. I asked him how much he paid for it and he said that it wasn’t that much. Click the image to see it up close.