Before the world got its first glimpse of the Land of Oz, its creator, L. Frank Baum, was already a storyteller. First performing as an actor, he then created compelling marketing materials for his father's oil enterprise and ultimately waxed poetic to his own children at home, as well as the children of others through his wondrous retail operation on the American frontier.
Baum's life was one of contradictions: through his wife's mother, he became familiar with the cause of women's suffrage and was an ardent supporter of the effort, particularly through the newspaper he owned in South Dakota. But when that territory became a state amid ongoing conflicts with Native Americans, his words took a racist and hateful turn.
Ultimately, Baum is most remembered for his tale of Dorothy Gale and her fantastical companions as they journey to the Emerald City and meet the famed Wizard of Oz.
Baum's life is the focus of the newest installment of the PBS anthology series American Experience: American Oz, premiering Monday night at 9 p.m. on PBS stations.
Producers, writers and directors Tracy Heather Strain and Randall MacLowry join Cincinnati Edition to talk about Baum and the episode.
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