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Norman Taurog

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Norman Taurog (23 February 1899 – 7 April 1981) was a Hollywood director of the Golden Age, and the first director to work of the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz.

Taurog was chosen because he had a reputation for guiding younger performers, like Jackie Cooper and Deanna Durbin. Taurog had directed his nephew Cooper in a film called Skippy (1931), which won Taurog an Academy Award. (He was 32 years old, still the youngest man to win for Best Director.) He was nominated for another Oscar for Boys Town (1938).

Taurog directed more than 170 movies from 1920 to 1968, work that ranged from Huckleberry Finn (1931) to nine of Elvis Presley's films, including Blue Hawaii (1961). He signed a long-term contract with MGM on 13 May 1938. On 16 July of that summer, Taurog was announced as the director of the Oz film. Taurog worked on the project during the complex and involved costume and makeup tests of that summer, and was paid for three days of directorial work, likely for early test footage in July and August. Taurog was replaced by Richard Thorpe in the first week of September in that year. Taurog was moved to another MGM project, a new version of the Huckleberry Finn story.

Taurog had other professional experience with the cast members of the Oz film. He had previously directed Margaret Hamilton in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938). He later directed Frank Morgan in Broadway Melody of 1940. He directed Clara Blandick in three films between 1931 and 1948, and Judy Garland in four pictures between 1940 and 1948.

At the start of his career in the silent era, Taurog had also written many of the films he directed. For a time, Taurog's wife Susan was the secretary of Louis B. Mayer.


  • John Fricke, Jay Scarfone, William Stillman. The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History. Warner Books, 1989.

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