For Oz Freaks Only: On the Son of Baum

A few words on the legacy of Frank Joslyn Baum (1883-1958), sometimes billed as “L. Frank Baum, Jr” or “Col. Frank Baum”. The son of the famous author of The Wizard of Oz, Baum Jr is known for his various attempts to keeps his father’s name and imaginative universe alive after his passing in 1919.

Frank J. was educated at Ethical Culture and military schools as a boy (polar opposites, I know!), and wound up becoming a lawyer. He also served in the army in the Phillipines (1904), during the post Spanish-American War occupation and pseudo-war, as well as in World War One, where he attained the rank of Lt. Colonel. Shades of the Royal Army of Oz! He also dabbled in publishing and advertising.

But Baum was also intimately involved in his dad’s work. He had been the projectionist on The Fairylogue and Radio Plays (1908), which we wrote about here, and was the business director of the ill-fated Oz Film Manufacturing Company in 1914, which released the famous silent Oz films of that period, also mentionered here. Later, the company was renamed Dramatic Feature Films. Frank J. may have penned the scenarios for a couple of the studio’s 1915 releases, The Gray Nun of Belgium, and Pies and Poetry. He is credited as one of the writers on Larry Semon’s unloved 1925 version of The Wizard of Oz. In correspondence he referenced having written a radio script called Tweety in Oz in 1931, though that script has never beeen found. He is also credited on the 1933 Wizard of Oz animated short. This was followed by a story called “Jimmy Bulber in Oz” (1934) and the book length Rosine and The Laughing Dragon of Oz (1936), named after his recently deceased second wife. At around this time, he also sold the rights of his father’s most famous book, resulting in the famous 1939 film.

Baum was also co-founder and first President of The International Wizard of Oz Club, established in 1957. At the time of his death in 1958, he was working on a largely discredited biography of his father that was published as To Please a Child in 1962.