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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)

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 Ozma of Oz; Glinda Balium and Barney's Great Consolated Shows (former)
First Appearance The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz (also simply The Wizard) was a humbug magician who ruled the Land of Oz for a time, and later became one of its beloved citizens. He lives in the Emerald City. He now works as an adviser and court magician for Princess Ozma.

Character Introduction

Oscar Diggs, aka The Wizard of Oz, or just 'Oz', is a fictional character created by L. Frank Baum, author and creator of the Oz legacy. Out of the fourteen original Oz novels written by Baum himself the Wizard is not the main character despite the book being named after him, the Wizard is first introduced halfway through the first story The Wonderful Wizard Oz, as an oversized giant green head levitating upon a jeweled emerald throne as he speaks with the stories child protagonist Dororthy Gale of Kansas.
Oz the great
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Baum Description

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.


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

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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
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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, p

lanned 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!
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Book appearances

 *The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (first appearance)


  • 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]

In Movies and Television

The 1939 movie

20121220 Oz.Curtain

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. His face was also presumably used as the projected image of the Wizard.

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.
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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.
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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.
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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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