Here’s a look back at “Wizard of Oz” adaptations over the years
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The classic tale has had serious staying power — but did you know that it started as a book? Other fun facts, in our journey back in time below.
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”
The 1900 children’s novel by Lyman Frank Baum was almost never made: A reluctant publisher by the name of George M. Hill thought the story wouldn’t be a success and only agreed to publish it once he found a theater that would turn it into a play, further publicizing it.
“The Wizard of Oz” (1925)
Before the 1939 mega-hit, there was this little-known 1925 adaptation, which starred a young Oliver Hardy and didn’t have much in common with the original story.
“The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
The classic film, which made sweeping changes to the original Baum book, wasn’t a huge success at the box office, despite it being MGM’s most expensive film made at the time. The Library of Congress has said that it’s the most-watched film ever.
“Journey back to Oz”
This animated sequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” based loosely on Baum’s second “Oz” book, began production in the ’60s but wasn’t released until 1974 because the film went broke. Liza Minelli, the daughter of Judy Garland, made her debut as Dorothy, and Milton Berle and Mickey Rooney also starred. In 1976, it became a TV series with Bill Cosby as the Wizard.
The play that re-imagined the pigtailed heroine and co. in an urban context won seven Tony awards after it premiered in 1975. In 1978, it became a film, with Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow and Richard Pryor as the Wizard.
“Tim Burton’s Lost In Oz”
The 2000 TV pilot never made it to air.
This prequel to the classic tale — who really is the bad witch, after all? — has been a hit ever since it premiered on Broadway in 2003. It scooped up three Tonys and has had a rotating cast of famous faces, including Kristin Chenowith and Joey MacIntyre.
“The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz”
Ashanti lent her talents to the 2005 ABC musical that debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival. Kermit played the Scarecrow, Gonzo played a “Tin Thing,” Fozzie Bear played the Cowardly Lion and Miss Piggy played Glinda the Good Witch. The Munchkins were portrayed by Rizzo the Rat and his compatriots.
The 2007 Sci-Fi three-part miniseries starred a pre-“New Girl” Zooey Deschanel, Richard Dreyfuss and Alan Cumming. Deschanel played a jaded waitress, DG, who headed to Outer Zone (Oz, get it?) to find her birth parents.
“Oz the Great and Powerful”
The new telling finds shady circus magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) landing in Oz and meeting three witches who doubt he’s what the magical land has been waiting for.