Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Un-Curious Cottabus

Well, boys and girls, this round of Oz Connection proved either incredibly boring or so stymied you that you didn't even hazard a guess. I will thank Scott O. for his entry connecting Groucho to Mervyn LeRoy through the film At the Circus (1939), the only answer or guess that was posted. Shall we abandon the silly game in the future or shall the next list of names include the likes of Mickey Carroll, Pink Floyd, and Kristin Chenoweth?

OK, enough grumping from me . . . So what are the Baum or Oz connections for Groucho Marx, John Keats, and Farrah Fawcett-Majors?

Let's begin with Groucho Marx. I am sure there are many ways one could make Oz connections for Groucho via his many films and TV shows, but there is one very strong Oz Connection. In 1960 Groucho was to have starred in an NBC television special of L. Frank Baum's The Magical Monarch of Mo. The teleplay was written specifically for Groucho by novelist and historian Gore Vidal (a long time lover of Oz and Baum himself).


Vidal subtitled the Mo teleplay as "A Fairy Tale for Adults." Alas, the show was never produced, though publicity art and Vidal's script both survive. I assumed Groucho would be pretty easy.

I knew romantic poet John Keats would be a lot harder. The clue is in the name Keats. The poet's great great grandniece was named Emma Keats Speed. In 1896 Miss Speed married a man named Henry Aylett Sampson. He was sports editor for The New York Times, and himself a great great grandson of Patrick Henry. Anyway, Emma Speed Sampson became a writer of children's books, including the continuation of L. Frank Baum's Mary Louise series after Baum's death. The Mary Louise books were all published under Baum's pseudonym, Edith Van Dyne.

I threw in Farrah Fawcett-Majors as a random name. I had no special plan for how to connect her to Oz. Here are a few that come to mind:  The red swimsuit she wore in her best-selling poster from 1976 is now at the Smithsonian near a pair of famous red shoes; she also did a voice in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (1998), which was written by Oz collector Willard Carroll; but I'm going to play connect the Oz connections and mention that Farrah also played Mary Ann Pringle in the film version of Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge (1970). As you may have heard, Gore Vidal is a Baum enthusiast who published several important essays on Oz in addition to his many novels and histories. He also wrote the teleplay of Baum's Magical Monarch of Mo back in 1960.

4 comments:

British Fan Of Oz said...

I read but didn't have a clue! I'm terrible at these but I never ever would got that.

Scott Olsen said...

I've never heard of the Groucho Marx/Mo project, and I consider myself fairly well versed on the Marx Bros. and Oz.

It shows there is always something to learn.

Hungry Tiger Talk said...

The Groucho/Vidal MO project was mentioned in BUGLES I believe, and possibly in THE OZ SCRAPBOOK. I have never heard why it fell apart or exactly how far it got - but that little NBC publicity sketch indicates it got pretty far before someone pulled the plug. I'll try and blog about the Vidal's script in the coming weeks.

Bill Campbell said...

I'm afraid I was a little too distracted this past week to get any guesses in - but I don't think I'd have had anything for Farrah or Keats anyway!

I imagine there could be quite a few for Groucho, considering Hollywood and the time period - but I didn't know (or else completely forgot) about the Magical Monarch idea!