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Wizard of Oz (character)

Oscar Diggs/The Wizard of Oz
Oz character
Oscar Diggs aka the Wizard--illustration by William Wallace Denslow (1900)
First appearance The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Species Human
Gender Male
Occupation Advisor and court magician to Princess Ozma
Title The Wizard of Oz/ Humbug/ Oz the Great & Powerful
Family A prominent Omaha politician and his wife (parents)
Nationality American turned Ozian

Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs[1] (also known as the Wizard of Oz and, during his reign, as the Oz, the Great and Powerful) is a fictional character in the Land of Oz created by American author L. Frank Baum.[2]

The character was further popularized by MGM's classic 1939 musical movie, which his full name is not mentioned.

Unlike Walt Disney's live action CGI, fantasy film Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), the Emerald City and Yellow Brick Road did not exist prior to Oscar's arrival in Baum's classic children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).


  • The Classic Oz Books 1
  • Film adaptations 2
    • Silent films (1908–25) 2.1
    • The Wizard of Oz (1939) 2.2
    • Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) 2.3
    • Once Upon a Time (2014) 2.4
  • Adaptations 3
  • Cultural reference 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

The Classic Oz Books

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Wizard is the reclusive yet dominant ruler of the undiscovered Land of Oz. As the most mysterious, wisest, and powerful figure in all the land, he is worshipped and feared by the majority of the Ozians. Despite the novel being named after him, he does not make an actual appearance until halfway through Baum's story. Believing him to be a great force who can cure the root of their problems and fulfill their incompleteness, the book's protagonist Dorothy Gale and her pet dog Toto, want to be sent back home to Kansas after being brought to the land by a cyclone. The Scarecrow needs a brain, the Tin Woodman desires a heart, and the Cowardly Lion seeks courage. Together they travel to the Emerald City, where the Wizard resides to ask him for his help. When the group of companions arrive after having many adventures, Oz is very reluctant to meet them, as he has never allowed anyone an audience in all the decades he has ruled. However, when he learns that Dorothy has killed the Wicked Witch of the East, and even wears her charmed Silver Shoes, he becomes intrigued by the girl's story and agrees to speak to her and her company. However, he will only see them individually, one at a time, on separate days. In each of these occasions, the Wizard appears to be a talented shapeshifter, taking on several intimidating forms. Upon entering his royal chambers, the Wizard appears to Dorothy as a giant green head, floating above an imperial throne: the Scarecrow sees Oz as a lovely echantress baring wings: the Tin Woodman believes Oz to be a huge beast with horns: and finally, the Cowardly Lion views Oz as a levitating ball of fire. Despite these different imbodiemnts, the Wizard promises to grant their request, only on the condition that they prove themselves worthy of his assistance first, by successfully eliminating the Wicked Witch of the West who controls Oz's western quadrant called Winkie Country.

Dorothy and her friends face many obstacles on their mission, but eventually complete the task of defeating the Wicked Witch and setting the native Winkies free from her bondage. When they return to the Emerald City, they are nearly devastated to discover that Oz is actually none of the things they saw, but rather a mortal humbug and conman from Omaha, Nebraska. He confesses and explains in this confrontation that he has been using a lot of elaborate tricks and props to create illusions to make himself seem genuinely "great and powerful."

Working as a phony magician for a traveling Circus Company, he wrote OZ (the initials of his first two forenames, Oscar being his first, and Zoroaster being the first of his seven middle names) on the side of his hot air balloon for promotional purposes. One day while in his balloon, a storm approached and the strong winds whisked him far away. The balloon safely sailed into the realm of Oz, where he found himself hailed as a great sorcerer before introducing himself as a "Wizard". Since the recent fall of Oz's mortal king Pastoria, and the mysterious disappearance of his infant daughter, the Princess Ozma, the Ozians had no current leadership. That's when they asked the Wizard to take the throne. Oscar immediately accepted this offer, and once he was established as the official ruler, he ordered to have the Emerald City built and the famous Yellow Brick Road constructed in his honor.

Towards the end of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Oscar leaves Oz the exact same way he came, in his hot air balloon. After the Wizard's departure, the Scarecrow is briefly enthroned, until Princess Ozma is finally found by Glinda and freed from the Wicked Witch Mombi at the end of The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904).

In The Marvelous Land of Oz, it is suggested and hinted that it might have been the Wizard who overthrew Pastoria and handed over the baby princess to the old witch Mombi in order to take the throne for himself. In Ozma of Oz (1907), although the character did not appear, Baum described Ozma's abduction without directly including the Wizard as part of it.[3] The Wizard returns in the novel Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908). When Dorothy Gale and her cousin Zeb Hugson, fall through a crack in the earth after an earthquake; they encounter the Wizard who also fell when the earth opened up. Throughout the story, the Wizard acts as their guide and protector. Oz explains that his real name is Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs. To shorten this name, he used only his initials (O.Z.P.I.N.H.E.A.D.), but since they spell out the word pinhead, he shortened his name further and called himself "Oz".[4] When Ozma rescues them from the underground kingdoms, he recounts his story of becoming the ruler of Oz, and Ozma explains that before the witches usurped her grandfather's throne (an occurrence happening long before the wizard arrived), the ruler of Oz had always been known as Oz or (if female) Ozma.[5] Ozma then permits him to live in Oz permanently and reside in the Emerald City's royal palace.[6] He becomes an apprentice to Glinda (the most powerful magic-worker in Oz). Ozma decrees that, besides herself, only the Wizard and Glinda are allowed to use magic unless the other magic users have permits. Glinda eventually teaches the Wizard how to make real magic so that he is no longer a humbug, but a real, certified magician.

In later books, he proves himself quite an inventor, providing devices that aid in various characters’ journeys. He introduces to Oz the use of mobile phones in Tik-Tok of Oz. Some of his most elaborate devices are the Ozpril and the Oztober, balloon-powered Ozoplanes in Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, and intelligent taxis called Scalawagons in The Scalawagons of Oz.

Film adaptations

Silent films (1908–25)

The Wizard has appeared in nearly every silent Oz film, portrayed by different actors each time.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

In fortune-teller who Dorothy meets in Kansas with a horse named Sylvester), the Doorman at the Emerald City, the Guard at the Gates to the Wizard's Castle, and the Coachman whose transport is drawn by "The Horse of a Different Color". His face was also presumably used as the projected image of the Wizard. Like Dorothy, the Wizard himself hails from Kansas, proudly stating that he is "an old Kansas man myself, born and bred in the heart of the Western Wilderness." In the film, the Wizard is seen only as a floating head and as a human, not in any of the other shapes that he appears in the book.

Screenwriters Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf created Professor Marvel for the Kansas sepia tone sequences. The Wizard's hot air balloon in the movie has the name Omaha on it, reflecting that the Wizard originated from Omaha, Nebraska, just as in the book.

Professor Marvel and the farmworker Zeke (Lion's alter ego) are the only men wearing hats when Dorothy wakes up from being unconscious because Hickory (Tin Woodman's alter ego) and Hunk (Scarecrow's alter ego) lost their hats with Uncle Henry as they struggled to pry open the cellar when the tornado approached the farm.

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Oz the Great and Powerful serves as an unofficial prequel to the Oz series. The film centers on Oscar Diggs (portrayed by James Franco), and follows his journey from small-time magician to the ruler of the Land of Oz. In it, he is portrayed as an overly flirtatious and overconfident con artist and stage magician who upon meeting Theodora (the future Wicked Witch of the West), and inadvertently sparking her obsession with him, is keen on fulfilling his role as the legendary Wizard destined to restore order to Oz (primarily due to the promise of the Oz Treasury). However, throughout his journey and seeing the impact of his actions both good and bad, he comes to realize how much the people of Oz need him and devises a way to use his skill in illusions to free them. He also forms a makeshift "family" in the form of himself, Glinda the Good Witch, Finley (a winged monkey he rescued from a lion), and the China Girl (a living china doll and the sole survivor of an attack on China Town whose legs he repaired with glue).

Once Upon a Time (2014)

Once Upon a Time character
First appearance "New York City Serenade" (3.12)
Last appearance "Kansas" (3.20)
Created by Edward Kitsis
Portrayed by Christopher Gorham
Aliases The Wizard of Oz
Oz the Great and Terrible
Flying Monkey
Occupation Circus huckster (formerly)
Furniture shop owner (formerly)

The Wizard of Oz appears in the Once Upon a Time episodes "New York City Serenade", "A Curious Thing" and "Kansas" portrayed by Christopher Gorham. Originally, Walsh is from Kansas, but finds himself in the land of Oz. Giving himself the name "Oz the Great and Terrible", he masquerades as an all-knowing wizard. This hoax upsets Glinda the Witch of the South, as she knows he only gives false hope to those who seek out his help. From behind a curtain, Walsh projects an shadow image and speaks with a booming voice to anyone who approaches his palace to seek an audience with him. He also asks for genuine magical items in exchange for help which he uses to further his deception. A woman named Zelena wants his help in finding her birth family, so he gifts a pair of silver heels to take her anywhere she desires. Zelena leaves for the Enchanted Forest to seek out family and returns asking to go to the past so she can change her own fate of being abandoned by her mother. The wizard states that even with the most powerful magic, this is not possible. Angrily, she rips off the curtain and discovers his true persona is nothing but a simple man who likes orchestrating a false image to put on a good show. Deciding to make use of him, she turns Walsh into a flying monkey as her loyal pet. Sometime later, his transformation into a flying monkey alerts Glinda, to Zelena's presence. Glinda thanks Zelena for exposing him and believes time as her pet is fitting punishment for his trickery. Zelena is welcomed into Glinda's sisterhood of witches as the Witch of the West, but is "defeated" by a young girl named Dorothy Gale. Rather than become the new Witch of the West, Dorothy only wishes to go home; a desire Glinda grants by taking her back to see the Wizard, who is presumed to have reverted to his old form since Zelena's magic has been undone. From behind the green curtain, Zelena impersonates the Wizard's voice and gives Dorothy the silver slippers to send her home.

Walsh meets Emma Swan and they begin dating. Over the course of eight months, he gets to know her as well as her son, Henry. Walsh has dishonest motives in getting close to Emma, but the nature of it is not known. During one romantic evening dinner, Walsh surprises Emma by hiding a ring on the platter of an ice cream sundae and then proposes to her. She reacts in shock by walking out of the restaurant and stating that marriage is too soon for them. Walsh agrees to be patient, as she is the one he wants to spend his life with, and promises to give her all the time to think it over. The next day, he receives a text from Henry asking him to come over to the apartment to have dinner with Emma. Walsh promptly shows up, to which Emma leads him onto the rooftop where she rejects his marriage proposal. Emma reluctantly explains the necessity for herself to go home and leave him behind because "a ghost" from her past has showed up. Walsh does his best to convince her that the life she has now is worth staying for, but Emma cannot, though she wishes it could be so. Unable to sway her otherwise, Walsh's demeanor changes and he expresses knowledge of the potion Emma previously drank, which is what restored her past memories. After throwing aside a table, he charges at her, but she dodges, sending him hurling down the roof. He soars up in the form of Flying Monkey to attack her, though Emma violently shoves him away with a metal pipe. Physically wounded, he falls from the building, nearly hitting the ground, before disappearing in a puff of smoke.


  • In the 1902 musical extravaganza, The Wizard is the usurper of the throne of King Pastoria II, who is returned to Oz by the same cyclone that brought Dorothy Gale. The Wizard was portrayed by a series of "ethnic" comedians. Once Pastoria regains his throne, anyone who sides with the Wizard (including those seeking his aid) are considered guilty of treason and ordered beheaded.
  • The extended network television version of the animated feature Journey Back to Oz (1964/1972) contains live-action segments with Bill Cosby as The Wizard (a character otherwise not seen in the original theatrical version) trying to bring two children back to Kansas for Christmas.
  • In the 1978 film The Wiz, the titular "Wiz" (played by Richard Pryor) is Herman Smith, a failed politician from Atlantic City, New Jersey. This "Wiz" is a pathetic "phony" through and through. He lives isolated from the world in terror (fearing that people will discover that he's a fraud). He has no friends or anyone to talk to because he lives all alone. He does not provide the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion with their brains, heart and courage. Instead, Dorothy shows the three that they already possess the qualities they seek.
  • In the 1980 Thanksgiving special Dorothy in the Land of Oz, the Wizard is voiced by Sid Caesar.
  • In author Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (a 1995 revisionist novel based on the inhabitants of Oz) and in the 2003 Broadway musical Wicked (based on Maguire's novel), the Wizard is a dictator who uses deceit and trickery to hide his own shortcomings. It also revealed, in both the book and musical, that the Wizard is in fact Elphaba's biological father. Unlike in earlier works, the Wizard is the villain of the story. The depictions of the character differ radically between the novel and the musical. In the book, it is revealed that on Earth the Wizard was an occultist, familiar with the works of Madame Blavatsky, who entered Oz by means of a ritual involving human sacrifice in search of the Grimmerie, a magic book secreted in Oz by an earlier Earth-based sorcerer. This version of the Wizard works to maintain his own position and prestige, regardless of the pain and grief it causes to others, and is not beyond subversion or mandated murder. It is revealed that he considers himself beyond morality, unable to be bound by a promise and considering murder a "silly convention of a naive civilization." The Wizard is portrayed in a better light in the musical, Wicked. Instead of being very amoral, he is carried away by the belief of the people of Oz that he is "wonderful." In the play the Wizard is also more of a figurehead controlled by Madame Morrible and though he is responsible for some of the things that happen in the play he is truly not made fully aware of how his actions affect others. When he learns that Elphaba is his daughter, he expresses visible sorrow when he learns of her (supposed) death, agreeing with Glinda to leave Oz in his balloon. In both versions it is revealed that the Wizard is indeed behind some of the most horrific and disastrous events in the story, with one of his cohorts being Madame Morrible. The Wizard is revealed the illegitimate father of Elphaba, seducing her mother with a magical green elixir, causing Elphaba's green tone. In the musical, this fact is revealed to the character Glinda, who accosts the Wizard with this information. In the novel, this fact is deduced by the Wizard when Dorothy presents her with the bottle of the green elixir that had found among Elphaba's personal effects. It is also under the Wizard's direction that the Animals of Oz — most notably the Goat teacher from Shiz University, Doctor Dillamond (except in the novel, where he is murdered) — are caged and placed under strict control. This cruelty causes the final split between Elphaba and the Wizard, leading to her transformation into the Wicked Witch of the West. In the original stage production, the Wizard was played by Cabaret star Joel Grey, who performed that same role in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True, a 1995 television concert stage production of the 1939 musical film which was a benefit for the Children's Defense Fund.
  • Caliber Comics' Oz comic book series, followed by Arrow Comics' Dark Oz and The Land of Oz featured the Wizard, affectionately known as "Oscar," particularly to Ozma, as a tall, bald, mustachioed man, brooding, powerful, and not at all bumbling.
  • The Wizard is featured in the 1990 The Wizard of Oz animated series voiced by Alan Oppenheimer. When the Wicked Witch of the West is resurrected, she casts a spell that gets the Wizard's balloon caught in the wind causing Dorothy and her friends to embark on a quest to save the Wizard and defeat the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • In the Canadian stage musical The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Wizard is the alter-ego of L. Frank Baum himself, who serves as a narrator. The role was played by the show's director and librettist, Joe Cascone.
  • In animated series The Oz Kids (1996), He has a son named Frank. And shows him the outside around the world. He is voiced by Steve Stoliar
  • In the 2007 Sci Fi television miniseries Tin Man, a character called the "Mystic Man" (played by Richard Dreyfuss) is one of the former rulers of Central City, the capital of the Outer Zone (O.Z.), and like his counterpart from the book, uses technology to make himself seem more impressive. He is also referred to as "the wizard" and styles himself similarly to the Wizard of Oz, but has been relegated to the main performer of a Central City magic show rather than the "humbug" overlord of the Emerald City. Another character with similarities to the Wizard is D.G.'s father, Ahamo (Omaha backwards), a fairground worker from Earth who arrived in the Outer Zone via balloon and later gives D.G. transport in one.
  • In the VeggieTales episode The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's, the Wizard is portrayed by Archibald Asparagus as the "Wonderful Land of Ha's" amusement park owner who later reveals himself as a promotional showman to Darby (Junior Asparagus).
  • In the Supernatural season 10 episode There's No Place Like Home, Charlie Bradbury reveals she made a deal with the Wizard to split herself into her good and dark sides in order to win a rebellion to free Oz from evil. After the war was won, the Wizard and Dorothy became the new leaders of Oz. However, unknown to everyone, the Wizard is actually evil and power hungry, having been created by a man named Clive Dylan being split into his good and dark halves like Charlie. In order to stop the Wizard and save Charlie, Clive shoots himself fatally which also affects the Wizard who is forced to travel to Earth to save Clive and thus himself. While he's there, he tries to kill Sam Winchester, forcing Charlie to kill Clive and thus the Wizard to save him. With the Wizard dead, Oz is truly free of evil control and Sam is able to reverse his spell on Charlie.

Cultural reference

  • In the Sliders episode "Into The Mystic", a powerful and wraithlike Sorcerer turns out to be just the projection of a normal person, hidden behind a curtain in the room, like the Wizard of Oz did in the 1939 movie.
  • The Season 3 episode of the serial drama Lost entitled "The Man Behind the Curtain" is a reference to the Wizard. His name is also mentioned in the dialogue of the show, with John Locke comparing Ben Linus to the Wizard and saying that he is the one orchestrating events and is "The Man Behind the Curtain".
  • In the episode "It's Christmas in Canada" of the television series South Park, the main characters visit the new Prime Minister of Canada, who takes the shape of a floating head. This turns out to be a projection operated by Saddam Hussein, who was hiding in hole in the wall.
  • In 1991, wrestler Kevin Nash was given the name and gimmick of "Oz" by Dusty Rhodes, loosely based on the Wizard, and was billed from "The Emerald City".
  • In the Stephen King novel Pet Sematary, a framed picture of the Wizard is the first thing Rachel Goldman sees after her sister Zelda dies. It is explained that Zelda enjoyed the Oz books when she was alive, but when she contracted spinal meningitis, it gave her a speech impediment that prevented her from pronouncing the letter R, so she called him "Oz the Gweat and Tewwible". As a result, Oz the Gweat and Tewwible becomes a metaphor for death, and is used for the rest of the book.
  • The film Zardoz draws its title from the character and the book.
  • The television show Futurama aired Anthology of Interest II which parodied the 1939 movie version of the story where Professor Hubert Farnsworth played the wizard and appearing as a giant-headed version of himself standing behind a curtain.
  • The Wizard of Oz appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Two Weeks Without Food" voiced by Breckin Meyer. After Dorothy returns home, the Wizard of Oz returns and goes back to business as usual. When the Cowardly Lion asks why, the Wizard recounts that he is a "very bad wizard." He states "case in point" as he forcefully takes back Scarecrow's brain, has Tin Man compacted into a square and eats his heart, and has the Cowardly Lion made into a lion-skinned rug. With the Cowardly Lion a rug, the Tin Man his stool, and Scarecrow's remains made into a wall decoration, the Wizard is seen with them in his room as he quotes "It's good to be the Wizard." When one of his royal guards tells the Wizard that Glinda the Good Witch is here, the Wizard quotes "Bring me my rape shoes."
  • The Wizard of Oz is the titular subject of the Spock's Beard song, "The Man Behind the Curtain" from their 2010 album, X.
  • The character Professor Ozpin in the web series RWBY is named after the Wizard of Oz.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Jack Snow, Who's Who in Oz, Chicago, Reilly & Lee, 1954; New York, Peter Bedrick Books, 1988; pp. 238-9. ISBN 0-87226-188-3
  3. ^ Michael O. Riley, Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum, Lawrence, KS, University Press of Kansas, 1997; p. 140. ISBN 0-7006-0832-X.
  4. ^ Riley, p. 148.
  5. ^ Riley, pp. 145-6.
  6. ^ Riley, p. 146.
  7. ^ Official website for Riz-Zoawd.

External links

  • More information on The Wizard
Preceded by
Monarch of Oz Succeeded by
The Scarecrow
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