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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 my land, everyone must pay for everything he gets. If you wish me to use my magical powers to send you home again you must do something for me first. Help me and I will help you." "What must I do, Wizard?", asked the girl timidly. "Kill the Wicked Witch of the West!," answered Oz."
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
"The Great Oz has spoken! "
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Wizard of Oz (character)
IMG 20150202 104604
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, Deadly Desert, Pastoria, Mombi, Princess Ozma, Yellow Brick Road, Emerald City, Royal Palace of Oz, Glinda, Good Witch of the North, Munchkins, Winkies, Wicked Witch of the West, Winged Monkeys, 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, Fairies, Tik-Tok, Button Bright, 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, he's Wonderful, I'm Wonderful this corn-fed Hick, who said It might be Keen to build a town of all green and a Wonderful road of yellow bricks! "
Wicked The Musical.
IMG 20140518 211513

The Discovery of Oz the Great & Terrible by Charles Santore.

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

Oscar Diggs, (aka the Wizard of Oz, or just Wizard or simply Oz for short) is a fictional character invented by L. Frank Baum, author and creator of the Oz legacy. Oscar 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 his title of position as the self proclaimed "Wizard", Oscar is not the focal point character. He is not brought into the plot until halfway through the tale when he meets and speaks with the child protagonist and heroine of the novel named Dorothy Gale.

Oscar of Oz

"The only one who might know would be the Great and Wonderful Wizard of Oz himself. Oz is very good, but very mysterious. He lives in the Emerald City and that's a long journey from here, did you bring your Broomstick? "
Glinda the Good (1939)

When a little farm girl named Dorothy and her pet dog Toto are swept away by a Kansas cyclone and unexpectedly transported to the magical Land of Oz, she is desperate to find a way home again. The only one powerful enough to truly help Dorothy is the mysterious and reclusive dominant ruler of Oz known as the great Wizard. The girl and her dog are then forced to embark on a remarkable journey filled with many adventures as they travel throughout Oz to seek him. However, no one knows that this Wizard has a shocking secret to protect! And to do so he will send Dorothy to prove herself worthy of his assistance; to successfully eliminate Oz's most dreaded baddie--the Wicked Witch of the West, or die trying.

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

Baum's Description

"He's the man he's the only one who can give your wish right to ya, he'll send you back through time by runnin magic through ya, all of the super power's his, so listen and I'll tell you where he is--he's the Wiz and he lives in Oz!"
―The Wiz (1978)
Oz the great

Oz speaks to Dorothy by W. W. Denslow 1900.

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

The iconic character of the Wizard can appear to be a rather 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, Oscar 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 innocence and adorable humor. He is described as being completely bald and always appears clean shaven in the face.

Although once a con-man and lair who was feared by all in Oz, underneath it all Oscar is very human and kind. Before coming to the magical Land of Oz in his hot air balloon, he lived in a Circus Carnival and traveled all around the countries 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 of sorts, providing devices that aid in the various characters’ fantastical journeys. He also introduces to the Ozians the use and value of money and in Baum's eighth Oz book titled Tik-Tok of Oz, published in 1914, the use of Mobile Phones.

Some of Oscar's most elaborate devices are life size realistic Marionette dolls of beautiful women dressed elegantly in fancy dresses. Or even life size replicas of fierce and ferocious beast, levitating fire balls that hang from fireproof strings and most notably the giant green Marionette head that is held by invisible wires over an emerald studded throne within the Royal Palace of Oz. Oscar is a very clever and intelligent man. Being a certified artistic master of illlusions, because of his long experience in the craft there is almost nothing he cannot do. When he arrived in Oz he used his incredible skill in magic to fool literally thousands of people and also the witches who lived and ruled in various parts of Oz, making them think he too was very powerful, almost omnipotent, thus protecting themselves from any threat. The Magician eventually also became a master of real magic, when he finally returned to Oz and went to live in the Emerald City permanently under the reign of Princess Ozma. Glinda the Good Witch of the South, then took him under her wing to teach him real magic, so he could finally cast spells that were not of false or phony magic.

  • Princess Ozma, Dorothy Gale and many others in Oz saw that Oscar wasn't such a bad man after all, just a very bad Wizard with good intentions despite all the corruption and confusion he caused while being in charge.

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, but also as several other magical beings as well. In the book, Oz only allows Dorothy and her friends to speak with him one at a time on separate days. Oz meets with Dorothy first and appears to the girl and her dog as a big green head. But to the Scarecrow, Oz appears as a beautiful fairy Princess dressed in elegant robes. To the Tin Woodman, Oz takes the shape of a great giant beast with horns. And to the the Cowardly Lion, Oz has no physical form at all, but is a fierce ball of flaming fire burning in mid air. Despite his different forms Oz tells Dorothy and her three friends all the same thing if they want their wishes granted; to kill the Wicked Witch of the West. In the 1939 movie however, the Wizard speaks to Dorothy and her friends all at once, on the same day and tells them to bring back the Broomstick of the Wicked Witch.
  • In some versions the Wizard demands Dorothy and her friends to bring back the Wicked Witches one working magic eye instead of her broomstick.
  • In the 1900 book, 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 20140928 091042

Oscar of Oz!

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)

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."

"The Cowardly Lion thought it might be as well to frighten the Wizard, so he gave a large, loud roar, which was so fierce and dreadful that Toto jumped away from him in alarm and bumped into a little green screen that stood in a corner. As it fell with a crash they looked that way, and the next moment all of them were filled with wonder. For they saw, standing in just the spot the screen had hidden, a little old man, with a bald head and a wrinkled face, who seemed to be as much surprised as they were. The Tin Woodman, raising his axe, rushed toward the little man and cried out, "Who are you?" "I am Oz, the Great and Terrible," said the little man, in a trembling voice. "But don't strike me--please don't--and I'll do anything you want me to." Our friends looked at him in surprise and dismay. "I thought Oz was a great green Head," said Dorothy. "And I thought Oz was a lovely Lady," said the Scarecrow. "And I thought Oz was a terrible Beast," said the Tin Woodman. "And I thought Oz was a Ball of Fire," exclaimed the Lion. "No, you are all wrong," said the little man meekly. "I have been making believe." "Making believe!" cried Dorothy. "Are you not a Great Wizard...? "
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
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"Making Believe?" Cried Dorothy.

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 Oz: 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.


"You're a very bad man!"1939.

The Wiz: 1974-78

Andre De Shields portrayed the role of the Wizard in The Wiz, the hit 1974 musical. In this version Oz was a unsuccessful salesman who sold rarely anything. One day while traveling in his hot air ballon a storm came up and blew him away to Oz where he landed in the middle of a ladies social.

"What's in it for me? How about your pretty Silver Slippers? NO? YOU DARE SAY NO TO THE GREAT WIZARD OF OZ???!!! "
The Wiz (1978)

The film role was later given to comedian Richard Pryor for the 1978 Motown movie. In this version his name was "Herman Smith" who was a dog catcher and politician with a bad reputation. To advertise himself he got into a hot air balloon so people could see him in the sky and want to vote for him, but a storm came and blew him into the clouds and he eventually landed in Oz. The Ozians had never seen a hot air balloon before so they made him the wizard where he lived in isolation for many decades.

The Wicked Years: 1995--2011

In Gregory Maguire's best selling mature Oz novel titled Wicked, published in 1995, the Wizard is undeniably a very cold blooded man, with a selfish spirit and a superficial personality. He has no regard for human feelings and comes off as very sociopathic if simply not just a flat out sociopath. He finds that the Ozians are a very gullible folk compared to people from our world and he uses that to manipulate them in every way he can.

When he first arrived in Oz before Elphaba Thropp was born, he came to the land via hot-air balloon just as the Wizard did in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. And he made a living as a con man and a hustler who happened onto a world where he could literally make himself into a king overnight.

After the Wizard used his fake illusions and false magic to overthrow King Pastoria, the Wizard had him assassinated. He then kidnapped Pastoria's baby daughter, the Princess Ozma and gave her to a Witch from Oz's northern Gillikin Country named Mombi (spelled La Mombey in Wicked) to keep and hide away forever and transform her to a kitchen boy she would later call "Tip" and use as her personal servant. Since there was no Heir to the throne of Oz, the Wizard proclaimed himself as the new official ruler and made everyone call him Wizard instead of King. Shortly after he ordered construction on the Emerald City and the yellow brick road to began. When his city and road were both eventually finished, the Wizard took up residents in the Royal Palace in the middle the city and slowly brainwashed many of his subjects. He ruled over the Emerald City while secretly requiring people with true magic talent such as Glinda, Elphaba, Madame Morrible and La Mombey to cast all sorts of spells for him.

It is revealed that the Wizard is indeed behind some of the most horrific and disastrous events in the story, with one of his accomplices being Madame Morrible. Glinda and Elphaba met the Wizard of Oz when they were still students at Oz's Shiz University. But when they spoke to him they both realized that the Wizard wasn't so Wonderful after all.

  • It is hinted several times that the Wizard was Elphaba's true father.

Wicked Musical

In the successful Broadway Musical Wicked, Joel Grey was the first actor cast to portray the Wizard. In the stage production, Oz is still a dishonest and selfish man, very power-hunrgy and disillusion. But is portrayed as being much more humorous, human and compassionate compared to his monstrous book counterpart.

Tinman: Syfy Miniseries

In the 2007 made for TV Tinman, miniseries, the story takes place roughly around a hundred years after The Wonderful Wizard of Oz took place. All the characters from the first story are now long dead and the adventures revolve around D.G. who is the great granddaughter of Dorothy Gale aka the First Slipper. Oz is know called the "Outer Zone", the Emerald City is now called "Central City" and the new Wizard is referred to as "The Mystic Man". He is a drugged-up, wannabe, copycat of the Wizard who once ruled the city a century ago, yet he is still popularized, praised and viewed as mystic to those who go to see him for wise and intelligent answers.

Later he is drugged by the new, beautiful Witch of the West named Azkadelia so he won't be of resistance to her.

Dorothy and the Witches of Oz: 2012

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 2013

" Kansas is full of good men. I don't want to be a good man. I want to be a great one... "
―Oscar Oz Diggs (2013)

Oscar Oz Diggs aka the Wizard of Oz.

Main Article: Oscar Diggs

In Walt Disney's 2013 film Oz the Great and Powerful, the Wizard in this version is the main protagonist which delves into his backstory. He is portrayed by actor James Franco and is modeled closely afte the 1939 MGM Musical's version of the Wizard portrayed by the late Frank Morgan. His full name however, comes directly from the Oz books by L. Frank Baum.

Oscar is potrayed as a struggling Circus Magician in early 1900's Kansas, as well as a womanising conman who seduces the girls in his act using cheap music boxes and hastily crafted lies. After a particularly bad show, he encounters Annie, (hinted to be Dorothy Gale's mother) who is his childhood friend and the only woman he seems to truly love and respect. He encourages her to accept the proposal of "John Gale" and admits his desire to achieve greatness rather than being just another good man from Kansas. He is later forced to flee in a hot air baloon after being chased by the circus strongman, whose wife and or girlfriend he'd previously seduced. He is subsequently swept up in a cyclone and brought to the magical Land of Oz, where he encounters the naive Good Witch Theodora who believes he has been sent by fate to fulfill Oz's long awaited prophecy. (Oz the Great and Powerful)

Once Upon a Time 2014

Main Article: Walsh

In the ABC show Once Upon A Time, the Wizard appears as a man named Walsh, who has been transformed by the Wicked Witch of the West into a Flying Monkey for his dishonest ways 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")

Barnyard Studio's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

In Barnyard Studios The Wonderful Wizard of Oz independent film, The Wizard is played be Actor Kurt Rose.




  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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