Friday, May 15, 2009

No Place Like Home

It's the birthday of L. Frank Baum, born on this day in 1856. His life was a mixture of failure and temporary success, with stretches spent writing plays, newspapering, selling door to door and running a shop, until 1900 when he sat down and wrote a book for children. He was 44. The book was called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

There's an interesting story about the making of the 1939 movie. Frank Morgan, who played the Wizard, Professor Marvel and several other parts, was outfitted with a frock coat purchased from a Hollywood second hand store. During filming he noticed L. Frank Baum's name stitched onto the inside pocket. Baum appears on page 172 in A Book of Ages.

The first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Plane Crazy, premiered on this date in 1928. Five years earlier, at age 21, Walt Disney left Kansas City for Hollywood with $40 in his pocket. At 35, in the midst of the Great Depression, he would invest a million and a half dollars to make a feature length cartoon about a young woman living with seven men. Disney appears five times in A Book of Ages.

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