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Wizard of Oz (character)

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"I AM OZ!!! The Great and Terrible, who are you and why do you seek me? "
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
"Well," said the Head, "I will give you my answer. You have no right to expect me to send you back to Kansas unless you do something for me in return. In this country everyone must pay for everything he gets. If you wish me to use my magic power to send you home again you must do something for me first. Help me and I will help you." "What must I do?" asked the girl. "Kill the Wicked Witch of the West," answered Oz."
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
"The Great Oz has spoken! "
―The Wizard (1939)
Wizard of Oz (character)

Oz, the Great and Terrible

Title Wizard of Oz
Species human(wizard)
Residence Emerald City, Land of Oz
Occupation Glinda's Apprentice
Court Magician
King of Oz (former)
Counsellor of the Princess Ozma

Ventriloquist (Former)
Magician (Former)

Affiliation L. Frank Baum, Lurline, Land of Oz, Pastoria, Mombi, Princess Ozma, Yellow Brick Road, Emerald City, Glinda, Good Witch of the North, Winkies, Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy Gale, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion, Guardian of the Gates, Soldier with the Green Whiskers, Jellia Jamb, Patchwork Girl, Betsy Bobbin, Trot, Cap'n Bill, Shaggy Man, Santa Claus, Tik-Tok, Polychrome, Sawhorse, Braided Man, Jack Pumpkinhead, Ojo, Zeb Hugson, Eureka, Oz the Great and Powerful
First Appearance The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

"They called me Wonderful, they called me Wonderful, so I'll be Wonderful if you insist. And guess who's Wonderful, I'm Wonderful, Wonderful this corn-fed Hick, who said It might be Keen to build a city of green and a Wonderful road of yellow Bricks! "
Wicked The Musical.

Oscar of Oz...

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! "
―The Wizard (1939)

Oscar Diggs, aka The Wizard of Oz, or just the 'Wizard' or simply even 'Oz' for short, is a fictional character invented by L. Frank Baum, author and creator of the Oz legacy. Oz is first introduced in Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz published in 1900. However, despite the book being named after him, the Wizard is not the main character. Oz is not brought into the story until halfway through the plot when he speaks with the child protagonist Dorothy Gale. Dorothy has embarked on a very long journey as she tries to find a way for her and her pet dog named Toto, to return home again to Kansas after being swept away to the magical Land of Oz via cyclone. Thus, believing the Wizard to be the only figure within all the land powerful enough to grant her wish as he is the lands dominating ruler, Dorothy must prove herself worthy first.

The Wizard himself does not make a physical appearance until towards the end of the book after Dorothy has had several adventures throughout all of Oz and has interacted with, befriended and defeated several other characters during her unexpected arrival and extended stay.

*Oz the Great & Terrible/Powerful*

"Bring me the Broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West, and I shall grant your requests, now go! "
―The Wizard (1939)
IMG 20140630 134552

Oscar the Wizard 1900.

Oz also was a self proclaimed Wizard/King for a very long time before being discovered as a mere phony and Humbug who used to be a Circus Magician, Illusionist and skilled Ventriloquist long before coming to Oz by fate via hot-air balloon. When he arrived to Oz, he came in such an unexpected way that it made history. He also came in a way very similar to the way Dorothy Gale did, being brought by a strong wind-storm. Yet after he arrived within Oz, he stayed mysterious and mostly reclusive for many decades while ruling in the Emerald City which was originally built in his honor, rarely accepting requests by his people and subjects to see him, if ever. After he left the land of Oz to take Dorothy Gale home, he was magically brought back to Oz from our world on several occasions. Thus he decided to live there permintally and live an honest existence. Oz resides within the Emerald City with many other familiar characters from Baum's Oz stories who chose to live there as well under the rule of it's child Queen and rightful ruler, the lovely Princess Ozma of Oz.

  • Later when he resigned from his position as 'Wizard', he became a Royal-Adviser and court Magician for the once long lost Ozma who is the very same Princess the Wizard gave to a Wicked Witch named Mombi to hide away.

As Ozma was the Royal daughter of Oz's original mortal King the Wizard overthrew named Pastoria.

I AM OZ!!!

In the original book, Oz is a shape shifter and appears to take on several diverse images and transform his look whenever he pleases to do so. He first appears to be an oversized giant green head that is levitating upon it's imperial jeweled emerald throne in the Royal Palace of Oz in the city. Oz speaks first with Dorothy Gale of Kansas and negotiates a deal to grant her wish if she does a favor for him in return to prove herself worthy enough to deserve Oz to use his magic powers on her. Oz only will give Dorothy what she desperately desires if the task is rightfully done, thus pleasing him afterward. The outcome is to destroy the Wicked Witch of the West and kill her.

Oz the great

Baum's Description

"What is he like?" asked Dorothy. That is hard to tell," said the man thoughtfully. "You see, Oz is a Great Wizard, and can take on any form he wishes. So that some say he looks like a bird; and some say he looks like an elephant; and some say he looks like a cat. To others he appears as a beautiful fairy, or a brownie, or in any other form that pleases him. But who the real Oz is, when he is in his own form, no living person can tell."
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

The iconic character of the Wizard can appear to be a controversial one. At times the Wizard seems genuine and caring, at others Oz's true intentions can seem rather questionable to the point of looking quite Sociopathic. Overall, Oz is a cornfed, dried-up, old man who remains a fun loving country boy at heart. His wrinkled face is cheerful and his eyes glimmer with innocent and adorable humor. Although once a con-man and lair who was feared by all in Oz, he is actually very human and kind. Before coming to the land of Oz in his hot air balloon, he lived in a Circus Carnival and traveled all around the country in America duping people left and right and practicing the magic tricks that made him a great Magician. In his later years, he was known as a greatly gifted illusionist and also a skilled Ventriloquist, able to imitate any bird, beast or human (male or female). In Baum's later Oz books, he proves himself quite a creative 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 life size Marionette dolls of beautiful woman dressed elegantly, fierce and ferocious beast, fire balls and most notably the giant green Marionette head that is held by strings over an emerald Throne within the Emerald City. The Wizard of Oz, is a very clever and intelligent and certified artist who also is a master of magical illlusions, because of his long experience in the crafts at the circus fair in Omaha. When he arrived in Oz he used his incredible skill in magical illusions to fool the people of the land of Oz and also the witches of Oz making them think he was too powerful, almost omnipotent, thus protecting themselves from any threat. The Magician is also a master of magic, when he went to live in the Emerald City, Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, eventually came to teach him real magic, so he could finally cast spells that were not of false or phony magic. (The Emerald City of Oz). Today he is one of the greatest wizards of Oz and is loved by all who know him.

Oz the Great Shapeshifter!

  • In Baum's original story of 1900, Oz not only appears as a giant green head levitating above a jeweled imperial Throne in the book, but also as a beautiful fairy Princess, a great giant Beast and a fierce ball of flaming fire.
IMG 20140828 204424

Oz 1939

"After Dorothy spoke to Oz, the very next morning the soldier with the green whiskers came to the Scarecrow and said: "Come with me, for Oz has sent for you." So the Scarecrow followed him and was admitted into the great Throne Room, where he saw, sitting in the emerald throne, a most lovely Lady. She was dressed in green silk gauze and wore upon her flowing green locks a crown of jewels. Growing from her shoulders were wings, gorgeous in color and so light that they fluttered if the slightest breath of air reached them. When the Scarecrow had bowed, as prettily as his straw stuffing would let him, before this beautiful creature, she looked upon him sweetly, and said: "I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Who are you, and why do you seek me?" Now the Scarecrow, who had expected to see the great Head Dorothy had told him of, was much astonished; but he answered her bravely. "I am only a Scarecrow, stuffed with straw. Therefore I have no brains, and I come to you praying that you will put brains in my head instead of straw, so that I may become as much a man as any other in your dominions." "Why should I do this for you?" asked the Lady". "Because you are wise and powerful, and no one else can help me," answered the Scarecrow. "I never grant favors without some return," said Oz; "but this much I will promise. If you will kill for me the Wicked Witch of the West, I will bestow upon you a great many brains, and such good brains that you will be the wisest man in all the Land of Oz." "I thought you asked Dorothy to kill the Witch," said the Scarecrow, in surprise. "So I did. I don't care who kills her. But until she is dead I will not grant your wish. Now go, and do not seek me again until you have earned the brains you so greatly desire." The Scarecrow went sorrowfully back to his friends and told them what Oz had said; and Dorothy was surprised to find that the Great Wizard was not a Head, as she had seen him, but a lovely Lady. "All the same," said the Scarecrow, "she needs a heart as much as the Tin Woodman." On the next morning the soldier with the green whiskers came to the Tin Woodman and said: "Oz has sent for you. Follow me." So the Tin Woodman followed him and came to the great Throne Room. He did not know whether he would find Oz a lovely Lady or a Head, but he hoped it would be the lovely Lady. "For," he said to himself, "if it is the head, I am sure I shall not be given a heart, since a head has no heart of its own and therefore cannot feel for me. But if it is the lovely Lady I shall beg hard for a heart, for all ladies are themselves said to be kindly hearted. But when the Woodman entered the great Throne Room he saw neither the Head nor the Lady, for Oz had taken the shape of a most terrible Beast. It was nearly as big as an elephant, and the green throne seemed hardly strong enough to hold its weight. The Beast had a head like that of a rhinoceros, only there were five eyes in its face. There were five long arms growing out of its body, and it also had five long, slim legs. Thick, woolly hair covered every part of it, and a more dreadful-looking monster could not be imagined. It was fortunate the Tin Woodman had no heart at that moment, for it would have beat loud and fast from terror. But being only tin, the Woodman was not at all afraid, although he was much disappointed. "I am Oz, the Great and Terrible," spoke the Beast, in a voice that was one great roar. "Who are you, and why do you seek me?" "I am a Woodman, and made of tin. Therefore I have no heart, and cannot love. I pray you to give me a heart that I may be as other men are." "Why should I do this?" demanded the Beast. "Because I ask it, and you alone can grant my request," answered the Woodman. Oz gave a low growl at this, but said, gruffly: "If you indeed desire a heart, you must earn it." "How?" asked the Woodman. "Help Dorothy to kill the Wicked Witch of the West," replied the Beast. "When the Witch is dead, come to me, and I will then give you the biggest and kindest and most loving heart in all the Land of Oz." So the Tin Woodman was forced to return sorrowfully to his friends and tell them of the terrible Beast he had seen. They all wondered greatly at the many forms the Great Wizard could take upon himself, and the Lion said: "If he is a Beast when I go to see him, I shall roar my loudest, and so frighten him that he will grant all I ask. And if he is the lovely Lady, I shall pretend to spring upon her, and so compel her to do my bidding. And if he is the great Head, he will be at my mercy; for I will roll this head all about the room until he promises to give us what we desire. So be of good cheer, my friends, for all will yet be well." The next morning the soldier with the green whiskers led the Lion to the great Throne Room and bade him enter the presence of Oz. The Lion at once passed through the door, and glancing around saw, to his surprise, that before the throne was a Ball of Fire, so fierce and glowing he could scarcely bear to gaze upon it. His first thought was that Oz had by accident caught on fire and was burning up; but when he tried to go nearer, the heat was so intense that it singed his whiskers, and he crept back tremblingly to a spot nearer the door. Then a low, quiet voice came from the Ball of Fire, and these were the words it spoke: "I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Who are you, and why do you seek me?" And the Lion answered, "I am a Cowardly Lion, afraid of everything! I came to you to beg that you give me courage, so that in reality I may become the King of Beasts, as men call me." "Why should I give you courage?" demanded Oz. "Because of all Wizards you are the greatest, and alone have power to grant my request," answered the Lion. The Ball of Fire burned fiercely for a time, and the voice said, "Bring me proof that the Wicked Witch is dead, and that moment I will give you courage. But as long as the Witch lives, you must remain a coward." The Lion was angry at this speech, but could say nothing in reply, and while he stood silently gazing at the Ball of Fire it became so furiously hot that he turned tail and rushed from the room. He was glad to find his friends waiting for him, and told them of his terrible interview with the Wizard. "
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
  • Oz would later explain to Dorothy and her friends that these illusions were possible by dummies and other special effect props.

Oz History: How Oscar Became A Wizard...

" Oh no my dear, I am a very good man, just a very bad Wizard..."
―The Wizard (1939)

Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs was born in Omaha, the son of a politician.

IMG 20140630 134640

The Wizard gets blown away to Oz. 1900

He went to work as a ventriloquist for Bailum & Barney's Great Consolidated Shows, going up in a hot air balloon to draw crowds to the circus, using only his first two initials (since the rest spell "pinhead"). One day his ropes got twisted and the balloon escaped. Two days later it settled in the Land of Oz. The people, seeing that this man had descended from the clouds, greeted him as a wizard. (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz)

Wizard of Oz

When the Wizard arrived in Oz, he became power hungry and stole the throne from the rightful king, Pastoria, and hid away the king's only daughter Ozma with the old witch Mombi, whom he visited three times prior, so there would be no heir to the throne. (The Marvelous Land of Oz) He then set the people to work, building the Emerald City and the Royal Palace of Oz. He announced himself ruler of the entire Land of Oz, uniting the Munchkins, Gillikins, Quadlings, and Winkies. He lived in fear of the four witches who ruled each quadrant of Oz, so he shut himself away and depended upon his reputation as a powerful wizard to protect him. He was highly venerated by his subjects and known as "The Great Oz" or "Oz the Terrible". It was commonly thought that he was all-powerful, although all acknowledged that he was reclusive and never seen, even by the servants who waited upon him.

Believing him to be the only one capable of solving their problems, Dorothy Gale and her friends traveled to the Emerald City to ask for his help. The Wizard was very reluctant to meet them, but eventually they were each granted an audience, one at a time. The Wizard appeared to Dorothy as a giant head, to the Scarecrow as a beautiful fairy, to the Tin Woodman as a terrible beast, and to the Cowardly Lion as ball of fire. The Wizard promised to grant each of their requests if they killed the Wicked Witch of the West.

When they succeeded in this task, they returned to the Emerald City to collect their rewards. There, they discovered that Oz was a humbug who had used a lot of elaborate magic tricks and props to make himself seem "great and powerful." Pressed by Dorothy's companions, the humbug Wizard gave them each what they wanted. The Wizard, tired of being a humbug and having to hide away from his subjects, planned to grant Dorothy's request by escaping Oz with her in a hot air balloon. He appointed the Scarecrow to rule in his absence, but when the time came the Wizard and his balloon floated away, accidently leaving Dorothy behind. (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) He returned to the circus, but during another ascension came down in a crack in the earth caused by an earthquake. He eventually landed in the Land of the Mangaboos where he was reunited with Dorothy Gale and met her cousin, Zeb Hugson. After demonstrating his power by producing Nine Tiny Piglets, the Wizard was challenged by Gwig, the local sorcerer, and Oz sliced the Mangaboo in half. The Mangaboos forced the companions to leave their country, so the travelers journeyed through the Valley of Voe, the Land of Naught, and a den of Dragonettes before reaching a dead end. From there, Dorothy signalled Ozma, who transported the entire party to the Emerald City. The Wizard took up residence in his old rooms behind the Throne Room, and Ozma invited the little old man to remain in Oz permanently. (Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz) When Glinda learned that the Wizard was to become a permanent resident of the Emerald City, she began to teach him magic so that he would not remain a humbug. (The Emerald City of Oz)

Ozma decrees that, besides herself, only The Wizard and Glinda are allowed to use magic unless if the other magic users have a permit.


The Wizard in his Hot Air Ballon!

Book appearances


  • How the Wizard Came to Oz
  • How the Wizard Saved Oz

​The Wicked Years


The Wizard's part in the kidnapping of Ozma in The Marvelous Land of Oz did not please the readers, and in Ozma of Oz, although the character did not appear, Baum described Ozma's abduction without including the Wizard as part of it.[1]

In Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, When Ozma rescued the adventurers from the underground kingdoms, the Wizard recounted his story of becoming the ruler of Oz, and Ozma explained that before the witches usurped her grandfather's throne (an occurance happening long before the wizard arrived), the ruler of Oz had always been known as Oz or (if female) Ozma.[2] Ozma decreed that, besides herself, only The 

Wizard and Glinda are allowed to use magic.

In Magic Land, the Wizard in named James Goodwin. In this version, he hails from Kansas like Ellie (Dorothy), not Omaha. He is seen briefly in Kansas at the end of the first book. In the second book, the heroes attempt to recruit him to help the Magic Land, but he states he had enough of magic. He never appears later.

In The Great Wishy Woz he is the title character.

L. Frank Baum may have based the character of the Wizard on Harry Keller. Bald and clean-shaven, Keller was "America's leading magician when Baum's book was written" and, in the judgement of one writer, "almost certainly the inspiration" for Baum's character.[3]

The Wizard of 1939

20121220 Oz.Curtain

The man behind the curtain! 1939

In the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, The Wizard's character is similar to that found in the earlier books: a bumbling "humbug." He was played by actor Frank Morgan. The same actor also played several other roles in the movie; including Professor Marvel, the mysterious traveling fortune teller that Dorothy meets in Kansas, the Guard at the Emerald City, the Guard at the Gates to Oz's Castle and the Coachman whose carriage is pulled by a "Horse of a Different Color". His face was also presumably used as the projected image of the Wizard.


"Your a very bad man!"- Judy Garland as Dorothy 1939.

The Wiz

Andre De Shields portrayed the role of the Wizard in The Wiz. In the musical he was a salesman whosold rarely anythings, then one day he heard a voice say he would be someone, so one day he climbed in a hot air balloon where he would perform what he called a miracle but before he could a storm came up and blew him away to Oz where he landed in the middle of a ladies social. The film role was later given to comedian Richard Pryor. In there his name was Herman Smith who was a politician. To advertise himself he got into a hot air ballon to fly over the beach, but a storm came and blew him into the clouds and landed in Oz. Sense they've never seen a hot air balloon likes his they made him the wizard.


In the 2003 musical Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, Joel Grey was cast as the Wizard known as Ozness, Great and Terrible and Wizardship.

Tin Man miniseries

In the 2007 miniseries Tin Man, the Wizard is referred to as The Mystic Man, and is a drugged-up, yet popularized, mystic to whom many go to see for answers. He is being drugged by Azkadelia so he won't be of resistance to her.

Dorothy and the Witches of Oz

Wizard Witches of Oz

The Wizard speaks to Dorothy as seen in Dorothy and the Witches of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz appears in Dorothy and the Witches of Oz played by Christopher Lloyd. The Wizard of Oz was a clever and inventive man during Dorothy's time in Oz. He tried and failed to find a way to defeat the superior forces of the Wicked Witch of the West, so he surrendered to them; but he tricked them, giving them a false key. The real one, he gave to Dorothy and sent back to Kansas with her, where she lost her memories. (Dorothy and the Witches of Oz)

Oz: The Great and Powerful


Oscar Diggs, or The Wizard of Oz.

Main Article: Oscar Diggs

The Wizard of Oz is the main protagonist of this film, which delves into his backstory. He is portrayed by James Franco.


Oscar Diggs is a circus magician who frequently uses music boxes to impress various women. The one woman he seems to care about is Annie, who he left behind to join the circus; she visits to tell him that John Gale asked to marry her.

He escaped in his balloon from a strong-man who was out to get him. A cyclone caught his balloon and took him to Oz, where he met Theodora the Good. She informs him of a prophecy that he's the savior and that he's destined to become King of Oz and that he must defeat the Wicked Witch.

Evanora sends him on a quest to defeat the Witch, and along the way he meets a China Girl, who joins him and his Winged Monkey servant, Finley. Finally they meet Glinda, who tells them the truth about the Wicked Witch. With the help of his new friends, Oz must find a way to defeat the Wicked Witches. (Oz the Great and Powerful)

Once Upon a Time


Walsh, in human form.

Main Article: Walsh

The Wizard appears as a man named Walsh, who has been transformed by the Wicked Witch of the West into a Flying Monkey and is forced to do her bidding. He nearly married the show's protagonist, Emma, before being found out as a servant of the Witch. (Once Upon a Time: "New York City Serenade", "It's Not Easy Being Green")


In author Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (a revisionist novel based on the inhabitants of Oz) and in the Broadway musical Wicked (based on Maguire's novel), The Wizard is a tyrannical ruler who uses deceit and trickery to hide his own shortcomings. Unlike in earlier works, the Wizard is clearly meant to be the villain of the story.

Maguire presents the Wizard as a con-man and a hustler who happened onto a world where he could literally make himself into a king overnight. Pretending to have vast powers and all-encompassing knowledge, he rules over the Emerald City, while secretly requiring people with true magic talent such as Glinda and Elphaba to cast spells for him.

During the course of Maguire's novel and the subsequent Broadway production, 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 to be 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. It is also under the Wizard's direction that the Animals of Oz — most notably the Goat teacher from Shiz University, Doctor Dillamond — 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.

No more than a con man with knowledge of how to work with human emotion and beliefs, 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.

In the original stage production, the Wizard was played by Cabaret star Joel Grey. Here, he is not so much villainous as misguided, carried away by the image he created for himself, he claims to have kept up his deception because it was what the people of Oz, whom he views like his children, wanted. He is more sympathetic in this version, being manipulated into villainy by Madame Morrible and becoming stricken with grief upon learning of Elphaba's supposed demise.




  1. 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
  2. Riley, pp. 145–46.
  3. Jim Steinmeyer, Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear, Foreword by Teller, New York, Carroll & Graf, 2004 edition; p. 167.

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