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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

More Caroline Siedle

This drawing doesn't strictly have anything to do with Oz, but it is another example of a costume design by Caroline Siedle. I'm a bit fascinated by Siedle, who was one of the earliest credited female costume designers on Broadway.

As I've posted previously, she designed costumes for the 1903 Broadway Wizard of Oz (at right is a Cook costume for a chorus member). She was only about 40 years old when she died of pneumonia in 1907. But she had been involved in a large number of productions, both on Broadway and at the Metropolitan Opera where her husband was a well known prop master and technical director.

This particular costume design is labeled American Heiresses, and features a buxom blonde in a striking outfit. The combination of eagle head dress, striped bodice and star-spangled skirt are quite patriotic - and the moneybags are a nice touch! Traces of glitter remain throughout the drawing, adding sparkle to the puffed sleeves, the stars of the skirt, the armbands and bodice. At the upper right, a small partial sketch shows an alternate skirt design - blue, in a tutu style revealing quite a bit of leg.

Unfortunately there are no other markings on the board to identify what production this was designed for. But, in 1905 there was a musical comedy titled Miss Dolly Dollars, with a score by Victor Herbert and costumes by Siedle. There was even a number titled An American Heiress - so that could be a possibility!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fun with Father Goose

In 1900, W. W. Denslow created two Father Goose comic pages. Father Goose, His Book had been a huge hit the year before, and Denslow owned a joint copyright on the characters, together with L. Frank Baum. In some opinions, the success of the book was largely dependent on the artwork; it was certainly a uniquely produced book.

This is the second comic page, from June, presenting Father Goose at the Seashore. The verse is written by Paul West, who would co-author The Pearl and the Pumpkin together with Denslow a few years later. This image has had some quick digital touch-up, as the original is rather rough around the edges!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stone and Montgomery

The New York Public Library has added some more images to its digital archive site - I've mentioned it before on my blog, it's a fun source for a variety of things. Since I last checked in, there are a few new photos featuring Fred Stone and David Montgomery from the 1903 Broadway Wizard of Oz. On the left is Fred Stone as the Scarecrow, in his third act disguise of an old suit of white clothes and top hat.

This white costume was useful in pulling off the effect of the Scarecrow being dismantled and reassembled, as seen in the poster on the right - it stood out nicely against a black backdrop. This is a traditional bit of stage magic, but very effective! Stone would stand in the dark guard box covered in black fabric - as arms, legs, etc were put in place, portions of the fabric would be removed to reveal the matching limb. I'm sure it was a third act highlight for audiences at the show.
These three photos of Montgomery as the Tin Woodman are quite fun. The first appears to be from the 1902 Chicago run of the show, while the other two are from New York. The central photo was the source for the well known show poster, featuring the Tin Man oiling himself. It also appears to be the basis for Ike Morgan's watercolor of the character.

I'll finish off with two additional shots of the Scarecrow - both showing Fred Stone at his ragamuffin best!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Groucho in Mo

In October 1960, NBC television tried to promote interest and find a sponsor for a version of L. Frank Baum's The Magical Monarch of Mo, starring Groucho Marx. Groucho had scored a success earlier in the year with a TV version of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado, and the network felt the time was right for an hour long fantasy story that could possibly develop into a weekly series. With the long running series of Marx Brothers comedies, and Groucho's previous run as the host of You Bet Your Life, the project must have looked like a sure-fire hit.

This is a promotional pamphlet created to try and sell the idea to potential sponsors. For $200,000 you could be the single sponsor of the hour long show! A number of interesting points are brought up; the success of The Wizard of Oz, which had then been shown twice on television, and the high ratings for other TV fantasy productions such as Peter Pan, Cinderella, Babes in Toyland and Pinocchio. Groucho's Q-rating (a scale measuring a performer's popularity) was high, with 93% audience familiarity.

Shirley Temple's Storybook specials are referenced several times, not surprisingly as they were produced by Henry Jaffe Enterprises - the same production team proposing Mo. The script for the initial show was co-written by Frank Gabrielson, who had adapted The Marvelous Land of Oz for Shirley Temple earlier that season. According to the promotional booklet:
 "Integrated into the Gabrielson - (Robert) Dwan script will be elements from MAGICAL MONARCH OF MO teleplays that have been written by Gore Vidal and Joseph Schrank for subsequent use, should this property evolve into a series."
Clearly plans were being made for a ongoing project! (As it happens, David Maxine has a copy of the Gore Vidal script, which apparently reads as a one time story rather than a series). And what would this show be like?
"Enacting the dual role of THE MAGICAL MONARCH OF MO and a modern, henpecked husband with three unmarried daughters and a mischief-minded nine-year-old son, Groucho will be transported from today's world and its problems into the mythical paradise created by Baum."
"...This is a magical land into which Groucho and his family enter when the realities of his frustrating daily existence drive him to seek refuge in fantasy .... "
"Groucho's land of Mo reflects the limitations of the real-life character he portrays. As its Monarch, he transforms Mo into his own private Utopia, complete with cigar trees, money weeds and beautiful blondes, but is unable to dispense with his "family," which accompanies him to his new realm in the slightly more palatable guise of his Queen, three unwed princesses and a brash juvenile court magician."

Hmmm..... it never happened.