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Off to see the wonderful Wizard of Oz – in Irvine

December 27, 2012
  • The yellow-brick road leads to the Emerald City in the 1i939 film "The Wizard of Oz."
The yellow-brick road leads to the Emerald City in the 1i939 film "The… (Turner Entertainment /…)

What's the South Winkie Get Together? It's an informal conference and lunch for the local branch of the International Wizard of Oz Club. On Jan. 12, they'll be meeting in Irvine to celebrate all aspects of L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and the books that followed.

The International Wizard of Oz Club was founded in 1957 by a 13-year-old who loved the Wizard of Oz. For a $1 annual membership, he distributed a newsletter called the Baum Bugle. The organization became more formal as it got older — it's now an official nonprofit — but it is chiefly a place for fans to share their enthusiasm.

At the Irvine meeting, Baum's great-grandson, Robert Baum, will appear. He performs as his great-grandfather -- there is a family resemblance -- and has become a regular at Oz events, including the dedication of a Toto memorial at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

During his lifetime, L. Frank Baum published more than a dozen Oz books, and three more appeared after his death in 1919. Baum was an unlucky businessman who had a gift for writing stories for children; Oz was such a hit that he was able to dedicate himself to writing full-time.

In 1910, Baum moved to Hollywood, then a small community scattered between orange groves. He named his house there Ozcot and was known to write on its enclosed porch.

Those who attend the South Winkie Get Together can participate in an Oz memorabilia show-and-tell. There will also be vendors on hand, Robert Baum, and Kirk Kushin, author of the graphic novel OZopolis. Tickets are $25 and include lunch.

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