"I AM OZ!!! The Great and Terrible, who are you and why do you seek me? "
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
"The Great Oz has spoken! "
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Wizard of Oz (character)
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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 Land of Oz
First Appearance The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Oscar Diggs, (aka the Wizard of Oz, Wizard, Oz) 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 novel when he meets the child protagonist and heroine of the story 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 Gale 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.

Baum's Description

"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 Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

Oscar of Oz. Illustration by W.W.Denslow 1900.

The iconic character of the Wizard can appear to be a rather controversial one. At times the Wizard seems charming, genuine and caring, yet 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.


The Wizard. By artist Robert Ingpen.

Although once a con-man and liar who was feared by all in Oz, underneath it all Oscar is very human and kind with a naturally majestic and inventive persona. 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

" I thought Oz was a great green Head," said Dorothy. "And I thought Oz was a lovely Fairy," said the Scarecrow. "And I thought Oz was a monstrous Beast," said the Tin Woodman. "And I thought Oz was a big ball of fire," exclaimed the Lion. "No, you are all wrong," said the little old man meekly. "I have been making believe." "MAKING BELIEVE!" cried Dorothy. "Are you not a real Wizard? "
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Oz el terrible

The Discovery of Oz the Great and Terrible Illustration by W. W. Denslow 1900.

  • In Baum's original 1900 novel, Oz not only appears as a gigantic green head levitating above a jeweled throne, but also as several other mystical beings as well. In the book, Oz only allows Dorothy and her friends to speak with him one at a time and each on separate days. Oz meets with Dorothy first and appears to the girl and her dog as a green head. To the Scarecrow, Oz appears as an elegant enchantress with wings and dressed in fine robes. To the Tin Woodman, Oz takes the shape of a frightening beast with horns. And to the the Cowardly Lion, Oz has no physical form at all, but is a fierce ball of flaming fire brightly burning in mid air. Despite his different appearances Oz tells Dorothy and her three friends all the same thing: if they want their wishes granted they must first 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.

The Discovery of Oz the Great and Terrible! By artist Charles Santore.

  • 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.
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Oscar of Oz!

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. 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, were easily impressed and 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."

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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


​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 movie)


Frank Morgan 1939.

In the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, the Wizard's character is similar to that the one 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.

It is unclarified if the Gatekeeper of Oz, the  Guard and the Coachman are the same character as the Wizard of Oz himself, dressed differently because he finds more safe to do everything in his house without trusting in anybody to do "his" work, but not wanting the people of Oz (and Dorothy) to know how he really looks like.

Emerald City 

"If it's alive, kill it. If it's dead, burry it."
  —The Wizard to Eammon

Born as Frank Morgan, The Wizard is a ruler of Oz, seated in the Emerald City. He uses mechanical flying monkeys to gather footage and information.

Having noticed 'The First True Sign', that is Dorothy's arrival in a tornado, he dispatches Eammon to find whatever tore through the sky and get rid of it.

According to Glinda's words, he saved Oz when magic could not. He also sealed the Sacred Temple of the Cardinal Witches and banned magic in Oz.

The Wiz: 1975-2015


Andre' De Shields


Andre De Shields 1975

André De Shields portrayed the role of the Wizard in The Wiz, the hit 1975 musical. In this version Oz was a unsuccessful salesman who sold rarely anything. One day while traveling in his hot air balloon a storm came up and blew him away to Oz where he landed in the middle of a ladies social.

The 1978 

What do you sniveling deadbeats want ?

film role was later given to comedian Richard Pryor. In this version his name was "Herman Smith" who was a 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

Herman Smith from Atlantic City

and he eventually landed in Oz. The Ozians had never seen a hot air balloon like his before so they made him the wizard where he lived in isolation for many decades.

Screenshot 2015-11-17-18-40-12-1
In The Wiz Live! The Wizard is portrayed by Actress Queen Latifah . Before she was the Wizard she was an assistant to a

Y'all Got It

mean magician. So she decided to pull a prank to get back at him but she was caught in a terrible storm and landed in Oz. Realizing this was her big chance she put on the magicians clothing and was proclaimed the Wiz. This was the first time a female portrayed the Wizard in a offical Oz production.

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 Kansas.


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

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

"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 Wiz Live !


  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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