Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oz in Boston?

Here's another interesting little group of Oz stage photos, once again from the New York Public Library. These are all labeled Boston in the photographers stamp, and it's possible that they may be from the Castle Square Theater production of the show, which debuted in that city in 1911.

Here we have Dorothy, and the Cowardly Lion (who was played by Arthur Hill, the man who created the role in the original Chicago and Broadway productions). A song was added for this production, called "Fraidy Cat" and sung by Dorothy in the third act. Maybe these photos relate to that song? In the library files these are all archived with Babes in Toyland, so it's really anyone's guess.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Anna Fitzhugh

While exploring the New York Public Library's archive of digital images the other day, I pulled up a group of vintage studio portraits from Babes in Toyland, the Broadway extravaganza that followed The Wizard of Oz in 1903. I was pleasantly surprised to find several photos from The Wizard erroneously filed with the later show.

Most of the misfiled photos feature Anna Fitzhugh, who was a member of the Wizard chorus. According to my February 1903 program from the show, she portrayed a Munchkin Youth, a Snow Boy, a Pierrot Boy, and a Cook . She may well have played other parts in other performances, as I've also seen a photo of her in a Poppy costume - of course, she couldn't be a Poppy and a Snow Boy at the same time! The photos I'm showing include her as a Snow Boy, a Pierrot Boy, and possibly a Munchkin Youth. With the exception of the Snow Boy picture, the photos were all taken in Chicago so they may date from the 1902 version of the show.

After leaving the show, Anna Fitzhugh starred with her own company in Baroness Fiddlesticks, which was not a success. This was followed by a role in Sergeant Brue which was moderately successful . By 1906 she had tried vaudeville, travelled to Europe (where she studied music), and married in Ontario. After returning to the USA she pursued a career in opera, using the name Anna Fitziu, and made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1916. She returned to Chicago and worked with the Chicago Opera, and took up teaching. She died in 1967.

It's amazing how much you can find out about a relatively obscure chorus girl on the internet!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Armageddon

Armageddon, by Stanley Waterloo, is another Rand McNally title with a W. W. Denslow cover. This book's cover is very simple, and at first glance doesn't really make me think of Denslow, other than the lettering which is in his typical style. This was published in 1898, the last year that Denslow designed Rand McNally covers.

But, this is another title with a poster designed by Denslow, viewable at the New York Public Library website. When compared with the poster, it becomes clear that this is indeed a Denslow design. The same cloud profiles are used as the cover motif, and the setting sun on the poster is the main element on the spine of the book.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Update

Last summer, I mentioned that an upcoming project for me was to produce a stained glass window based on the 1930's Oz mural painted by John R. Neill for Marie and Elgood Lufkin. In a nutshell, it hasn't happened yet! Between moving our studio this spring, and playing catch up since then, the time just hasn't been available. But, I do hope to get started and produce something within the next year.

Whether the actual painting still survives is something I've been unable to find out. I did contact the Lufkin family, but they were unable to help. Marie Lufkin had 3 children by an earlier marriage, and that particular branch of the family seems to have slipped off the radar.

The best image of this painting is a nearly finished sketch featured on the cover of Oz-Story #6, published by Hungry Tiger Press. It was also featured in the article on Neill's work published in the Summer 2006 issue of Illustration magazine, but the picture is a bit murkier and not as crisp as the Hungry Tiger printing. This original sketch is still in the collection of the Neill family. Aleph-Bet Books is offering a set of additional sketches for the painting, but none are as finished as this particular piece. In the final painting, Glinda's head was turned to 3/4 view, and her face was a portrait of Marie Lufkin. The only photo of the finished mural that I know of is a not very good black & white picture in the Spring 1965 Baum Bugle.

Currently the window only exists as an unfinished cartoon that I have been working on, for building the final piece. But with any luck, some progress will be made before long. The intention is to place the final window into a window seat in the converted attic of our house.