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'Wizard of Oz' events and trivia

If it seems like everything Wizard of Oz is popping up locally, on TV and even for Fashion Week, you're not imagining things. The 70th anniversary of the beloved film with Dorothy, Toto and the gang is coming up, so let the joyous news be spread! Here are local events that Ozmaniacs might be interested in, as well as trivia so you'll sound like a real whiz.

Oz originals, with Florida connections

Munchkin Karl Slover, 90, was a longtime resident of Tampa but now lives in Georgia. He was the trumpeter who leads the mayor to Dorothy; a soldier; one of the babies who popped out of the eggs; and a woman (there was a shortage of female midgets on the set). He was 21 at the time.

The most famous Munchkin, Meinhardt Raabe, 93, lives near Jacksonville. He's one of the few people still alive who had a speaking part (everybody now!):

As coroner, I must aver

I thoroughly examined her

And she's not only merely dead

She's really, most sincerely dead!

Designer ruby slippers

You bet some witches will try to get their mitts on these babies: A bunch of designers — including Manolo Blahnik — re-imagined the ruby slippers into funky styles. Think Dorothy hitting the clubs. They're on display for Fashion Week in New York.

Still not as valuable as the real thing. There are thought to be seven pairs of ruby slippers made for the movie, but nobody knows where two pairs are. Each shoe was covered with red satin and 2,300 sequins, and they are valued at about $1.5-million per pair.

Be an Oz whiz

Tastes like …

• Jell-O crystals were used to color the horses in the Emerald City palace. The scenes had to be shot quickly, before the horses started to lick off the Jell-O.

• That "fire" spewing out of the ruby slippers when the witch tries to get them off is really dark apple juice. The film was sped up to make it look like fire.

• Because oil wouldn't photograph well, the Tin Man is lubricated with chocolate syrup instead.

We love winged monkeys!

So this is why the head winged monkey is named Nikko: It's the name of the Japanese town where you'll find the famous shrine to the Hear No Evil/See No Evil/Speak No Evil monkeys. (Nikko was played by Pat Walshe, who died in 1991 at age 91.)

And Toto, too!

The little cairn terrier named Terry was stepped on by one of the witch's guards and had a double for two weeks.

-- Information from,, Times files and Times wires was used in this report. Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this report.

Fast facts

Coming in October: The live stage version
of The Wizard of Oz plays Morsani Hall at TBPAC from Oct. 14-19. The traveling tour promises cool special effects — even flying monkeys! — and a dazzling art deco Oz.
Tickets are $38.50, but go to
for special promotions; (813) 229-7827.

'Wizard of Oz' events and trivia 09/11/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 13, 2008 11:46am]
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