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Oz on Film, Part Two: Travels Through Fairyland

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At the age of eight, Romola Remus had achieved the dream of many a little girl before and millions more since: to be Dorothy Gale.

As one of the stars of L. Frank Baum's The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays, and raking in the astronomical sum of five dollars a day during filming, her duties included touring with the show. In one of the presentation’s many eye-popping special effects, she would step right out of the screen to greet the audience with Baum and some of the other cast members.

These included Frank Burns as the Scarecrow, George E. Wilson as the Tin Woodman, Joseph Schrode as the Cowardly Lion, Sam “Smiling” Jones as the Wizard, Evelyn Judson as Glinda, Maud Harrington (or possibly Delilah Leitzell) as Princess Ozma, Will Morrison as Tip, Bronson Ward, Jr. as Jack Pumpkinhead, Josephine Brewster as Mombi, Wallace Illington as Tik-Tok, Burns Wantling as the Hungry Tiger, Clarence Nearing as Prince Evring of Ev, and Paul de Dupont as the Nome King.

(As for the two Ozmas, it is possible that one was in the film and the other toured with the show, but I am just guessing. In any case, it is Harrington’s name in the film’s credits)

“There was an orchestra and we stood offstage, singing occasionally,” the grown-up Romola Dunlap would later relate to Oz fans. “I remember that after the film, I would come onstage to take a bow and then go to the back of the theater and sell the Oz books.” Indeed, part of the purpose of the tour was to promote the as-yet unreleased The Road to Oz.

Meanwhile, fans who had read the first Oz books were enthralled all over again, both by Baum's impeccable storytelling (delivered from offstage) and by the special effects in the filmed sequences. These were created by the Selig Polyscope Company of Chicago and included the flying Gump, Tip transforming before everyone's eyes into Ozma, and Dorothy and Billina at sea in the chicken coop.

The latter was achieved by filming Romola and a real chicken in a coop on a tiltable platform, with stagehands pulling on ropes to rock them from side to side and presumably throwing water on them as well. This film was combined with footage of roiling waters, resulting in what was by all accounts a very convincing scene.

The sequences from the Oz books were directed by Francis Boggs, while the John Dough and the Cherub scenes, starring Joseph Schrode as John with Grace Elder as Chick the Cherub, were directed by Otis Turner. Fritz Schultz and the Chicago Costuming Company created the costumes, the set designer was E. Pollack, and the Nome King himself, Paul de Dupont, provided some of the special effects.

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