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Children's book writer Frank Baum created the popular Wizard of Oz series. Ruth Plumly Thompson continued to write the series after his death.
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The first movie versions of his Oz tales were made as short films.
In declining health, Baum underwent gall bladder surgery in 1918. He spent the last year of his life confined in bed, never fully recovering from the operation. Just days before his birthday, Frank Baum died on May 6, 1919, at his home in Hollywood, California. Glinda of Oz was the last title he wrote for the Oz series.
While the nation mourned this great storyteller, Baum's characters lived on. Several other authors, including Ruth Plumly Thompson, were hired to continue to create new Oz adventures. Twenty years after his death, a new film version of his classic tale appeared on the big screen. The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger and Frank Morgan, debuted in 1939. The Wizard of Oz went on to become one of the most watched movies in cinematic history.
Baum's stories continue to fascinate and enchant to this day. Writer Gregory Maguire has written several books exploring the lives of some of Baum's most famous characters. His 1995 book, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, was used as the basis for the popular Broadway musical Wicked. On the big screen, James Franco played the magician who ends up as the Wizard of Oz in 2013's Oz the Great and Powerful. His character must tangle with forces of good and evil, which are manifested in the film by Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz.
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