The Wizard of Oz refers to a series of books written by American author L. Frank Baum, the first of which, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was published in 1900. Baum wrote thirteen sequels to the original novel, and a total of forty books written by a variety of authors belong in the series' canon. None of the sequels, however, have reached the heights of popularity achieved by the first book, which has been adapted for the stage and screen on multiple occasions.
“The Wizard of Oz is still one of my favorite movies.
It was the first movie I ever saw."”
It has been stated that the popular 1939 MGM musical The Wizard of Oz was Jim Henson's favorite film, and the Muppets have made numerous references to it over the years. While most of these references have been based on the film, the Muppets' 2005 adaptation, The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, was based more on the original novel, as indicated by such inclusions as the Kalidahs, and the silver slippers as opposed to the ruby ones that Judy Garland so famously wore in the film.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz tells the story of a Kansas farmgirl named Dorothy Gale who is being raised by her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry when a tornado sweeps through their home and airlifts it, with Dorothy and her dog Toto inside, to the Land of Oz. When the house lands in Munchkinland, it crushes the Wicked Witch of the East and liberates the Munchkins she had enslaved. With guidance from the Tattypoo, the Good Witch of the North, Dorothy travels down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City where she hopes the Wizard will be able to send her back home. Along the way, she befriends the Scarecrow, the Tin Thing, and the Cowardly Lion, destroys the Wicked Witch of the East's surviving sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, exposes the Wizard as a fraud, and meets Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, who shows her how to return home.
- In the 1970 special Hey Cinderella!, The Fairy Godmother offers to equip Cinderella with special shoes which can take her and her dog back home to Kansas.
- Although it predates The Muppet Show, Elton John sings his hit "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" in episode 214, an allusion to the road that leads to Oz.
- The Muppets Go to the Movies features Miss Piggy as Dorothy, Foo-Foo as Toto, Scooter as the Scarecrow, Gonzo as the Tin Woodman, and Fozzie Bear as the Cowardly Lion in a medley of songs from the MGM film, including "Over the Rainbow," "If I Only Had a Brain," and "We're Off to See the Wizard." Janice introduces the sketch, calling The Wizard of Oz her "favorite flick of all time...fer sure!" This sketch inspired the painted cover of Look-in Junior TV Times No. 29 in July of 1981.
- The Muppet Show episode 307 takes a break from its freaky tone (courtesy of Alice Cooper) when Robin the Frog sings "Over the Rainbow" by a pond.
- In episode 506, Fozzie dresses as the Tin Woodman when he mistakes the Muppets' presentation of Alice in Wonderland for The Wizard of Oz. Amid the chaos in the finale, the cast eventually breaks out into "We're Off to See the Wizard," with Rizzo the Rat as the Wizard.
- Episode 510 features a twist on The Pied Piper of Hamelin, in which the Pied Piper (Jean-Pierre Rampal) leads an infestation of children out of a rat village, all to the tune of "Ease on Down the Road" from The Wiz, a 1970s retelling of the Oz tale.
- The Fall 1983 issue of Muppet Magazine features a comic spoof called "The Wizard of Foz."
- During a 1984 appearance on The Merv Griffin Show, Animal is asked if he's seen The Wizard of Oz. Animal reacts to several named characters, but says he didn't see it. Kermit assures Merv Griffin otherwise.
- Kermit dressed as the Tin Woodman in a comic from the Fall 1986 issue of Muppet Magazine, "Little Swamp of Horrors."
- The Siskel and Ebert Muppets tell a series of movie-related jokes in the Summer 1988 issue of Muppet Magazine, including: "What is Gonzo's favorite movie? The Wizard of Odd."
- A lost carrier pigeon from Neat Stuff To Know & To Do thinks one way of getting back home is to follow the yellow-brick road.
- In the introductory video to The Muppet CD-ROM: Muppets Inside, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew says, "I can't come back! I don't know how it works!" quoting the Wizard in the film.
- Kermit appeared in the 1996 TV special Smithsonian Fantastic Journey commenting on the museum's exhibit for Dorothy's slippers worn by Judy Garland. Against "We're Off to See the Wizard" as a backdrop, he paraphrases a line from the movie, "There's no place like home, Auntie Em." 17 years later, Miss Piggy posed with the slippers on the occasion of a collection gifted to the Smithsonian by the Henson family.
- In 1996, two pages from the book Look and Find Muppets featured Oz in a "Where's Waldo?"-type setting.
- In Muppets Tonight episode 103, Billy Crystal is trying to get Clifford to tell him what's wrong and asks, "we're not in Kansas anymore?"
- In Muppets from Space, as Rizzo the Rat is in the wind tunnel, he cries out, "Auntie Em! Auntie Em! It's a twister!"
- Kermit's Swamp Years makes several references to The Wizard of Oz. Mary cites the film as her inspiration for studying science. Krassman also references the film when he says to Mary, "I'll get those frogs. And their little dog, too [laughs]." And again when he says of Mary, "If she only had a brain."
- Dr. Teeth gifts the Tin Woodman his heart in a brief cameo appearance from Muppet King Arthur #3.
- At a press conference for The Muppets, Kermit cites The Wizard of Oz as one of the first movies he ever saw that inspired him. "Sort of set me down a yellow brick road, so to speak," he says.
- In 2018, Kermit was cast as the Wizard in the Pasadena Playhouse production The Wonderful Winter of Oz, alongside Marissa Jaret Winokur as Glinda.
- The Muppet Babies episode "By the Book" adapted the story with the spoof characters Pigorothy, Rowlf-Rowlf, Kermit the Scarefrog, Fozzie the Cowardly Comic, and Gonzo the Tin Weirdo.
- When Baby Piggy defeats the dragon at the end of Donkey Kong in "It's Only Pretendo", he melts while quoting the Wicked Witch, "what a world!"
- A photo storybook Muppet Babies: Classic Children's Tales with photo puppet versions of the Muppet Babies, featured Baby Piggy as Dorothy, Baby Kermit as the Scarecrow, Baby Gonzo as the Tin Woodman, and Baby Fozzie as the Cowardly Lion. The photo was also used in a calendar released the same year.
- Muppet Babies Live! featured two songs from The Wiz: "Ease on Down the Road" and "I'm a Mean Ole Lion".
- Episodes and Inserts
- Oscar the Grouch tells his niece Irvine the story of "The Wizard of Blahs" in Episode 2254. It follows the adventures of a little Grouch girl named Dirtothy who travels to the land of Blahs which is made entirely out of trash.
- In a sketch from Episode 2396, Elmo talks about exploring and states that you can explore the jungle "with lions and tigers and bears". And then, caught up in the reference, he yells "oh my!" too loudly.
- Gordon dances a duck dance in Episode 3137 in exchange for a hat formerly owned by Dorothy's Aunt Em.
- Grundgetta and some grouches sing about her Grouch beauty salon in Episode 3695. The song parodies "The Merry Old Land of Oz".
- Upon finally being transported to Hooper's Store in Episode 3830, Telly Monster exclaims, "there's no place like home!"
- In Episode 3853, Elmo tells Maria that the zoo also has "Tigers and monkeys and bears." Maria replies, "Oh my!"
- When Big Bird transports to a fairytale land for the Journey to Ernie segment of The Street We Live On, he says, "I have a feeling we're not on Sesame Street anymore."
- In Episode 4100, Elmo tells Maria and Luis that Oscar's "What Happens Next?" show has "science, music, and worms," referencing the cadence of "lions and tigers and bears". Maria replies, "Oh my!"
- When Gordon, Maria and Alan "wake up" from having been turned into kids again by the Fairy Godperson in Episode 4119, they feel as though they've just been a part of a dream. They look at each other and each say some part of "and you were there, and you, and [you]," paraphrasing the famous ending of the 1939 film when Dorothy wakes up and recognizes her friends from both worlds.
- Grover announces we'll be seeing some wild animals in Episode 4603, but doesn't notice the lion, tiger, and bear behind him.
- One segment features Mr. Snuffleupagus jumping so high on a trampoline that he lands on the roof of 123 Sesame Street. When Big Bird asks where he went, Count von Count replies, "I think, somewhere over the rainbow."
- In a "Letter of the Day" sketch, Cookie Monster brings in a lion, tiger and bear to keep him from eating the letter E cookie.
- In an installment of Bert's "Pigeon Patterns" game on Play with Me Sesame, Bert must follow the pattern based on their raincoats. When the rain clears, the pigeons all fly over the rainbow and Bert yells to them "Say 'Hi' to Dorothy for me!"
- In Cookie's Crumby Pictures, Cookie Monster plays Dorothy who meets Glindagestion, the Good Witch of the Lower Intestine, a flying monkey, and the Cookie Tin Man.
- In Follow That Bird, Sid Sleaze talks in his sleep, repeating "There's no place like home" and then talking to Toto.
- A lyric from a song in Big Bird in Japan recites, "We're off to Kyoto, like Dorothy and Toto," referencing Oz’s main character and her dog.
- A 1988 "Stars of the Past" poster is hung on a dressing room wall in the Shalom Sesame episode "Sing Around the Seasons." Among the stars visible are Judy Garland, Ray Bolger and Jack Haley in a still from the 1939 movie.
- Upon accidentally revealing that he was in disguise throughout Sesame Street Stays Up Late, Telly tries to cover up his predicament by yelling "pay no attention to that beard stuck to that suitcase!", inspired by the "man behind the curtain" line in the classic 1939 film.
- Rosie O'Donnell appeared in the 1994 special Stars and Street Forever! as the Good Hope Fairy, who was stylized after Glinda from the 1939 film.
- When Big Bird realizes that he's become separated from Maria in Big Bird Gets Lost, he exclaims, "I have a feeling I'm not in cans anymore!" (meaning the trash cans section of the department store he's in). This is a take on the famous line from the MGM film when Dorothy mentions to Toto that they're "not in Kansas anymore."
- The cover of Sesame Street Storybook Fun features Ernie as the Scarecrow, Prairie Dawn as Dorothy, and Bert as the Tin Woodman.
- Zoe appears dressed as Dorothy in the coloring book and in the theatrical short A Brief History of Motion Pictures.
- Also in A Brief History of Motion Pictures, someone is heard yelling "Auntie Em!" when a Muppet tornado destroys the set.
- Upon his arrival in Grouchland (in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland), Elmo references Dorothy's line to Toto when they arrive in Oz, "Elmo doesn't think he's on Sesame Street anymore." Adding to the reference, Grouchland's Grouch Mayor — with his fobwatch, top hat, and green, high-collared coat — dresses similarly to the Mayor of Munchkinland from the MGM movie.
- In a Q&A at MuppetFest, Elmo explains that his pet goldfish Dorothy is named as such because he loves The Wizard of Oz.
- As Abby Cadabby searched for her wand in Abby in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cookie Cat tells her to follow the Yellow Brick Road, before he realizes that's actually a different story.
- The film is referenced heavily by one of the Super Foods (the bread) in the resource video, Food for Thought. As she launches into her song about a rainbow of foods (which spoofs "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"), she exclaims, "Hold onto your ruby slippers, 'cause we're not in Kansas anymore!" She also claims to have learned the song from "Judy Garlic" (a pun on Judy Garland, who portrayed Dorothy in the 1939 film).
- Elmo quotes "There's no place like home" and clicks his heels together in a March 2017 Vanity Fair video.
- In one "Land of Gorch" sketch, King Ploobis and Scred "hit the sauce" and visit the Mighty Favog. Scred, drunk, states that he and his little dog Toto want to go back to Kansas. The Mighty Favog, fed up with them, sends a giant bolt of thunder and remarks, "The Mighty Oz has spoken."
- In the Jim Henson's Bedtime Stories short story "The Ant Farm," one of the ants is named Ant E.M. The story was reprinted in the book Off to Storyland.
- Performer Frank Oz shares in his name a likeness to the title of L. Frank Baum's Oz stories, jokes from which have been made over the years. One notable example occurs during dialogue between the Wizard and Kermit (as the Scarecrow) when they meet in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz.
- John Alexander played the Cowardly Lion and a Wheeler in Return to Oz (1985)
- Ashanti reprised her role of Dorothy in the City Center's production of The Wiz (2009)
- Robbie Barnett played a Wheeler in Return to Oz (1985)
- Sean Barrett voiced Tik-Tok in Return to Oz (1985)
- Frances Bergen played Glinda the Good in the Shirley Temple Storybook episode "The Land of Oz" (1960)
- Ailsa Berk played a Wheeler in Return to Oz (1985)
- Milton Berle voiced the Cowardly Lion in Journey Back to Oz (1974)
- Mel Blanc voiced Sawhorse and the Book in the Shirley Temple Storybook episode "The Land of Oz" (1960) and voiced the Crow in Journey Back to Oz (1974)
- Zach Braff voiced Finley and played Frank in Oz the Great and Powerful (2012)
- Denise Bryer voiced Billina in Return to Oz (1985)
- Bill Cobbs played the Master Tinker in Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
- Common played the Bouncer in The Wiz Live (2015)
- Lyle Conway voiced the Gump in Return to Oz (1985)
- Peter Elliott played a Wheeler in Return to Oz (1985)
- Faz Fazakas played the Tin Woodman in Bil Baird's off-Broadway marionette production (1968)
- Olga Felgemacher played Dorothy in Bil Baird's off-Broadway marionette production (1971)
- Lorne Greene played the title character in the English dub in the anime adaptation, The Wizard of Oz (1982)
- David Alan Grier played the Cowardly Lion in The Wiz Live (2015)
- Joel Grey played the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True (TV, 1995)
- Margaret Hamilton played Miss Gulch/the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film, and voiced Auntie Em in Journey Back to Oz (1974)
- Cheryl Hardwick played keyboards in the original Broadway production of The Wiz (1975)
- Brian Henson voiced Jack Pumpkinhead in Return to Oz (1985)
- Geoffrey Holder directed and costume designed the original Broadway production of The Wiz (1975)
- Lena Horne played Glinda in The Wiz (1978)
- James Monroe Iglehart played the Cowardly Lion in the City Center production of The Wiz (2009)
- Michael Jackson played the Scarecrow in The Wiz (1978)
- Mila Kunis played Theodora, aka the Wicked Witch of the West in Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
- Nathan Lane played the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True (1995)
- Queen Latifah played The Wiz in The Wiz Live (2015)
- Paul Lynde voiced Pumpkinhead in Journey Back to Oz (1974)
- Pons Maar played the lead Wheeler and Nome messenger in Return to Oz (1985)
- Noel MacNeal puppeteered the giant head of The Wiz in The Wiz Live (2015)
- Jean Marsh played Mombi/Nurse Wilson in Return to Oz (1985)
- Paul McGinnis puppeteered the giant head of The Wiz in The Wiz Live (2015)
- Ethel Merman voiced Mombi in Journey Back to Oz (1974)
- Liza Minnelli voiced Dorothy in Journey Back to Oz (1974)
- Ne-Yo played the Tin Man in The Wiz Live! (2015)
- Jerry Nelson played Toto and the Wizard in Bil Baird's off-Broadway marionette production (1968)
- Fred Nihda built the Tin Man costume for the original Broadway production of The Wiz (1975)
- Richard Pryor played The Wiz in The Wiz (1978)
- Tim Rose puppeteered Tik-Tok in Return to Oz (1985)
- Diana Ross played Dorothy Gale in The Wiz (1978)
- Deep Roy played the Tin Man in in Return to Oz (1985)
- Colin Skeaping played a Wheeler in Return to Oz (1985)
- Michael Sundin played Tik-Tok (body performer) in Return to Oz (1985)
- Clarice Taylor played Addaperle in the original Broadway production of The Wiz (1975)
- Jonathan Taylor Thomas voiced Scarecrow Jr. in The Oz Kids (1996)
- Luther Vandross wrote the song "Everybody Rejoice" for The Wiz (1975)
- Frank Welker voiced Toto and Winged Monkeys in The Wizard of Oz (1990 animated series)
- Mak Wilson puppeteered Billina in Return to Oz (1985)
- Jonathan Winters played Lord Nikidik in the Shirley Temple Storybook episode "The Land of Oz" (1960)
- Exclusive sneak peeks of Oz the Great and Powerful were shown inside the Muppet*Vision 3-D theater
- ↑ Jim Henson's Fantastic World
- ↑ Daughter Lisa Henson shares his passion, and was one of the fans interviewed for Because of the Wonderful Things It Does: The Legacy of Oz, a special feature on an October 2005 DVD release of the movie.
- ↑ "Watching this exciting, magical movie led Jimmy to dream of one day creating his own fantasy adventures that would keep audiences -- and himself -- enthralled." —Jim Henson: Puppeteer and Filmmaker by James Robert Parish, 2006
- ↑ Henson recalls that his favorite movie was probably The Wizard of Oz. His parents told him that the MGM lion scared him as a child. —Meet Jim Henson by Louise Gikow, 1993
- ↑ Get a Sneak Peek at ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ at Disney California Adventure Park During ‘Limited Time Magic’ - DisneyParks Blog