Dorothy Gale

Dorothy Gale
Dorothy Gale
Oz character
Dorothy Gale with silver shoes.jpg
Dorothy with the silver shoes (illustration by W. W. Denslow)
First appearance The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Last appearance The Wizard of Oz (musical) (2011) Main Character
Created by L. Frank Baum
Species Human
Gender Female
Occupation Adventurer, Royal princess, Government Liaison and Farm Girl
Family Aunt Em, Uncle Henry
Relatives Zeb of Hugson's ranch (second cousin), Uncle Bill Hugson (uncle), Mrs. Hugson (aunt, Em's sister), un-named Australians (related through Henry), Susan (indirect descendant), Em (niece of Susan), Dori (niece of Susan)
Nationality American

Dorothy Gale is the protagonist of many of the Oz novels by American author L. Frank Baum, and the best friend of Oz's ruler Princess Ozma. Dorothy first appears in Baum's classic children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and reappears in most of its sequels. She also is the main character in various adaptations, notably the classic 1939 movie adaptation of the book, The Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy's adventures continue. In later books, Oz steadily becomes more familiar to her than her homeland of Kansas.[1] Indeed, Dorothy eventually goes to live in an apartment in the Emerald City Palace, but only once her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry have settled in a farmhouse on the outskirts of the Emerald City, unable to pay the mortgage on their house in Kansas.



An influence on the creation of Dorothy appears to be the Alice books of Lewis Carroll. Although he found their plots incoherent, Baum identified their source of popularity as Alice herself, a child with whom the child readers could identify; this influenced his choice of a protagonist.[2]

The name of the character possibly comes from Baum's own niece, Dorothy Louise Gage, who died in infancy. Baum's wife was deeply attached to the little girl and deeply grieved by her death, so there is speculation that he inserted her into his story as a memoriam. Elements of her character are possibly derived from Matilda Joslyn Gage, Dorothy's grandmother. Dorothy Gage is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois.[3]

The fictional Dorothy's last name is never mentioned in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or The Marvelous Land of Oz, the first two Oz books. Not until the third book, Ozma of Oz (1907), is it revealed. Dorothy's last name of Gale comes from Baum's script for the 1902 Broadway stage version of The Wizard of Oz.

Book series

Dorothy, as depicted by John R. Neill, is usually cited by fans of the book series as the way they see the character.

In the Oz books, Dorothy is an orphan raised by her aunt and uncle in the bleak landscape of a Kansas farm. It is never clarified in the books whether Aunt Em or Uncle Henry is Dorothy's blood relative. Uncle Henry makes reference to Dorothy's mother in The Emerald City of Oz, possibly an indication that Henry is Dorothy's blood relative. (It is also possible that "Aunt" and "Uncle" are affectionate terms of a foster family and that Dorothy is not related to either of them, although Zeb in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz claims to be Dorothy's second cousin, related through Aunt Em. No mention is made of what happened to Dorothy's real parents, other than a passing reference to her mother being dead.) She has a little black dog named Toto. Dorothy and Toto are swept away by a tornado to the Land of Oz and, much like Alice of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, they enter a lively alternative world filled with talking creatures. In many of the Oz books, Dorothy is the main hero of the stories. She is often seen with her best friend and the ruler of Oz, Princess Ozma. Dorothy's surname, Gale, is first mentioned in Ozma of Oz. It appeared previously in the 1902 play, where it was merely the setup for a joke, the punchline being "that accounts for your breezy manner." Her blue and white gingham dress is well-appreciated by the Munchkins because blue is their favorite color and white is worn only by good witches and sorceresses, which indicates to them that Dorothy is a good witch.

Dorothy is a forthright and take-charge character, exhibiting no fear when she slaps the Cowardly Lion, and organizing the Winkies' rescue mission of her friends who have been dismembered by the Winged Monkeys, and more than willing to brazenly talk back to Princess Langwidere's threat to take her head for her collection--"Well, I b'lieve you won't." (Following Anna Laughlin's portrayal of the character in the popular 1903 Broadway version of The Wizard of Oz, Baum began to indicate that Dorothy speaks in childish contractions with Ozma of Oz, and continued to do so throughout the series). This aspect of her character was somewhat lessened with the companionship of Ozma, in whom Baum placed the greater level of wisdom and dignity. Yet even this is complicated by her associations with her cousin, Zeb of Hugson's Ranch, a rugged, manly boy who does not take well to Oz and cannot think of anything much more interesting than defeating the Munchkins' wrestling champion, which he proves unable to do.

In The Emerald City of Oz, Dorothy takes her Aunt and Uncle with her to Oz to stay when their farm is finally foreclosed on. While there Ozma tells the shocked adults that Dorothy is considered a princess of Oz and Ozma's life-long companion. The two are seen wandering the palace garden, holding hands and sharing kisses.

Dorothy has several other pets, including her white/pink/purple kitten, Eureka. Popular in crossword puzzles is Dorothy's cow, Imogene, from the 1902 stage version, and implicitly, though unnamed, in the 1910 film. Eric Shanower's novel, The Giant Garden of Oz, features a cow named Imogene, but she is of Ozite origin, but otherwise Imogene appears strictly in adaptations.

In the sixth Oz book by Baum, The Emerald City of Oz (1910), when Uncle Henry and Aunt Em are unable to pay the mortgage on the new farmhouse built at the end of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy brings them to live in Oz; the bulk of their appearance in the book dealing with her and her aunt and uncle is their tour of Oz, showing them the marvelous, Utopian land in which they have escaped the troubles of Kansas.[4]

Dorothy is a standard character, having at least a cameo role in thirteen of the fourteen Oz books written by L. Frank Baum (while she did not appear at all in The Marvelous Land of Oz, she is mentioned several times in that story) and is at least a frequent figure in the nineteen that followed by author Ruth Plumly Thompson, getting at least a cameo in all her books except Captain Salt in Oz (in which neither Oz nor any of its inhabitants appear, though they are mentioned). Major subsequent appearances by Dorothy in the "Famous Forty" are in The Lost Princess of Oz, Glinda of Oz, The Royal Book of Oz, Grampa in Oz, The Lost King of Oz, The Wishing Horse of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, and The Magical Mimics in Oz. Most of the other books focus on different child protagonists, some Ozite, some from other Nonestican realms, and some from the United States, and as such, her appearances in the main series become more and more limited as it progresses. In Jack Snow's The Magical Mimics in Oz (1946), Ozma places Dorothy on the throne of Oz while she is away visiting Queen Lurline's fairy band, demonstrating that she is Ozma's second-in-command.

The magic of Oz keeps Dorothy young. In The Lost King of Oz (1925), a Wish Way carries Dorothy to a film set in Hollywood, California. She begins to age very rapidly to her late 20s, making up for at least some of the years that have already passed. The Wish Way carries her back to Oz and restores her to her younger self, but she learns then that it would be unwise for her ever to return to the outside world. Baum never states Dorothy's age, but he does state in The Lost Princess of Oz that she is a year younger than Betsy Bobbin and a year older than Trot, whose age was specified as 10 in Ruth Plumly Thompson's The Giant Horse of Oz, a book full of controversial changes. This would make Dorothy eleven years old when she stopped aging. Her actual age would, of course, be much older.

As such, a cottage industry of Oz books by mostly amateur authors and small publishing houses have been made in which Princess Dorothy of Oz lives on even to our present day.

Thompson's Oz books have shown a certain intolerance in Dorothy. In The Cowardly Lion of Oz, circus clown Notta Bit More arrives in the Emerald City "disguised" as a traditional witch, and Dorothy immediately starts dumping bucket after bucket of water on him without provocation (although she reacted this way on the assumption that the "witch" Notta appeared to be was an evil witch like her old enemy, the Wicked Witch of the West). In The Wishing Horse of Oz, she participates in some unsavory comments about the dark coloration Gloma and her subjects take on as a disguise, making them somewhat resemble black people. This behavior is not characteristic of Dorothy in Baum's Oz books. In The Patchwork Girl of Oz, she pushes and slaps through crowds of the black Tottenhots to rescue the Scarecrow, whom they are tossing around, but this is more an example of the character's gumption than any sort of prejudice, as she is otherwise kind and polite to the Tottenhots, and accepting that their ways are different from those who dwell in the Emerald City.

The authorized sequels of Sherwood Smith, The Emerald Wand of Oz and Trouble Under Oz, center on children Dori and Em, who live with their Aunt Susan. All three are indirect descendants of Dorothy, though their specific relationship to her has not been revealed.

1908, 1910, and 1914 film adaptations

In 1908 L. Frank Baum adapted his early Oz novels as The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays, with Romola Remus as Dorothy. This was followed by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a motion picture short that Otis Turner, one of the directors of Fairylogue, made without Baum as part of a contract fulfillment. In this film, Dorothy was played by Bebe Daniels. It was followed by two sequels (the same year), Dorothy and the Scarecrow in Oz and The Land of Oz, both of which included Dorothy, but whether Daniels participated is unknown. Baum subsequently loosely adapted The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into a 1914 motion picture directed by J. Farrell MacDonald titled His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz with Violet MacMillan as Dorothy.

Dorothy does not appear in The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914), although some film books claim that Mildred Harris, who had yet to sign her contract with The Oz Film Manufacturing Company, played the role. The character, is, in fact, eliminated from the film version, although she has a fairly large role in the novel.

The 1925 movie

Dorothy Dwan portrayed Dorothy in the 1925 film Wizard of Oz. In this film, Aunt Em (Mary Carr) informs her on her eighteenth birthday that she was left on their doorstep and is really a princess of Oz destined to marry Prince Kynd (Bryant Washburn), who has currently lost the throne to Prime Minister Kruel (Josef Swickard), in a storyline similar to that of His Majesty the Scarecrow of Oz, only with Dorothy as the love interest. In the end, the story proves to be the dream of a little girl who has fallen asleep listening to the story of Kynd and Kruel, said to be the story of "The Wizard of Oz."

1939 film adaptation

Judy Garland from the trailer for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.

In the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was played by Judy Garland. Garland received an Academy Juvenile Award for her performance. She was sixteen years old when she performed the role, with a brace on her chest to make her look more youthful. In contrast to Baum's novel, Dorothy is more of a damsel in distress figure. Since fantasy films generally were unsuccessful in that time, MGM portrayed Oz as a head-trauma-induced delirium, instead of a real place. It is not actually confirmed that Oz is merely Dorothy's dream; it is only implied, since she awakens in bed at the end, with Aunt Em telling her she had a dream, although Dorothy insists the experience was real.

Recent works

The novel is adapted in the Turkish film Ayşecik ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde, in which Dorothy is the recurring character Ayşecik portrayed by seventeen-year-old child star Zeynep Değirmencioğlu.

Darlene Gillespie played her in a 1957 pilot segment for the proposed Walt Disney production, Rainbow Road to Oz.

For the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz, Dorothy (originated in The Wiz by Stephanie Mills) is reimagined as a young African-American girl, though most of her other characteristics, as well as the general plot of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, remain intact. The story was altered for the 1978 Motown/Universal film adaptation of The Wiz, in which Dorothy (portrayed by Diana Ross) is a shy 24-year-old schoolteacher who has never traveled far beyond the neighborhood she grew up in. This Dorothy's adventures in Oz force her to mature, as is the case for most versions of the Wizard of Oz story, although in this case, Dorothy is made to overcome a case of arrested development.

Philip José Farmer's 1982 science-fiction novel A Barnstormer in Oz tells the story of hotshot aviator Henry "Hank" Stover — who is not at all surprised one beautiful spring day in 1923 when he flies his Curtiss Jenny biplane through a strange green cloud and finds himself in a land populated by small people where animals talk and magic works. Hank knows right away that he is in Oz because his mother, Dorothy Gale-Stover, had been there back in 1890 and later told him (and L. Frank Baum) of her experiences. Farmer's premise is that Dorothy only visited Oz once and told her story to a journalist called Frank Baum. This journalist would later create a series of books from Dorothy's only adventure in Oz. Like many Oz novels for adults, Farmer's Oz is a darker, more threatening place and in this case it is on the brink of both a civil war and an invasion by the United States Army.

In 1982, a Japanese animated version depicted a blonde Dorothy in red shoes voiced by Aileen Quinn. The film was made by Toho with a script co-written by Yoshimitsu Banno, with music co-written by Joe Hisaishi and lyrics co-written by Sammy Cahn.

In 1985, Walter Murch directed the movie Return to Oz distributed by Walt Disney Pictures starring Fairuza Balk as Dorothy. The plot was a combination of Ozma of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz. The film was not a wide success on its original release, although it has attained cult classic status.

In the 1986 Japanese animated-version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz no Mahōtsukai), Dorothy is depicted with reddish-brown hair, much like the movie, but does not have pig-tails. Her blue and white farm dress slightly differs from how it was described in the books (in fact, it looks quite Alice in Wonderland-esque), but her anime design makes her appear young. She wears white "magic shoes".

Geoff Ryman's evocation of Dorothy's childhood in Kansas is the central thread of his 1992 novel Was. His Dorothy (her surname spelled Gael) is given into the care of her aunt and uncle, Henry and Emma Gulch in Zeandale, Manhattan in 1875. Years of deprivation and abuse at their hands turn her into a disturbed young adult, retreating into a fantasy of her own past: the land of "Was". She encounters — and subsequently inspires — L. Frank Baum in a Kansas schoolroom. Alongside this theme are scenes from the infamous life of Judy Garland before, during and after her portrayal of the character in the 1939 movie, and the story of a homosexual man's investigation of the life of the "real" Dorothy as he combats AIDS.

In the video for Blues Traveler's 1994 hit song "Run-Around", Dorothy is featured as an attractive young adult woman, trying to get into a club where the band is performing. She is portrayed by actress Diana Marquis.

While not exactly a villain, Dorothy is not the hero in Gregory Maguire's revisionist 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. She is only involved in the drama towards the end of the novel. Although she is well-meaning, her innocence and unyielding desire to return back home to Kansas result in much trouble for the main character of the book, the Wicked Witch named Elphaba, whom she melts by accident while trying to put out a fire.

In both Baum's original book and Maguire's revision, Dorothy spends her first night in Oz at the house of a munchkin farmer named Boq. In the latter, it is revealed that the two discussed the etymology of Dorothy's name. Boq finds it interesting that Dorothy's name is the reverse of her land's "King" Theodore — which means "gift of the gods" — and that Dorothy means "goddess of gifts."

While Dorothy is present in the popular Broadway musical Wicked (based on Maguire's book), she is never actually seen; when the main characters interact with her, they speak in the direction of the wings or into a trapdoor, as if she is sitting offstage and out of the view of the audience. Her crying is briefly heard in one scene. Her name is never mentioned; she is only referred to as "that farm girl". Dorothy does appear on the stage during a pivotal scene, but the audience sees only her silhouette.

Dorothy features somewhat more prominently in Son of a Witch, Maguire's 2005 sequel to Wicked. In that novel, Elphaba's son Liir is briefly infatuated with Dorothy, and joins her party on their return to the Emerald City. Maguire portrays Dorothy as good-natured, practical, single-minded, and slightly boring.

The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True (1995) starred Jewel as Dorothy and Nathan Lane as the Cowardly Lion. This was a benefit performance for the Children's Defense Fund.

A little known re-telling of The Wizard of Oz made for British channel Five starred Denise van Outen as Dorothy and featured a cameo appearance by Zöe Salmon of Blue Peter fame.

Todd McFarlane re imagined the story in the "Twisted Land of Oz" in which none of the characters are innocent. Dorothy is a straight A student, but naive socially, and is sexually tortured by two little sadomasochistic monsters.

Ashanti as Dorothy Gale in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz.

In the 2005 made-for-television movie The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Dorothy was portrayed as a gifted teenage singer (played by Ashanti) who wanted nothing more than to get out of Kansas and sing with the Muppets Star Hunt tour.

In the VeggieTales 2007 episode The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's, Dorothy was replaced by Darby (Junior Asparagus) with a pet pig (usually referred to as a dog) named "Tutu".

An adult Dorothy, along with Alice from Lewis Carroll's (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) and J. M. Barrie's Wendy Darling (from Peter Pan), is a featured character in the 2006 sexually explicit graphic novel Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie, set in 1913.

Dorothy, Alice, Wendy, Susan Pevensie (from The Chronicles of Narnia), and Pollyanna also feature in the comic The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles, set in 2005. Unlike the other characters, Dorothy is based on her movie counterpart, who stopped believing in Oz, as Susan, Alice, and Wendy stopped believing in their fairylands in both book and film versions.

In the 2007 Sci Fi Channel miniseries Tin Man, a Dorothy Gale-type character (called "D.G.") was played by Zooey Deschanel, while Dorothy Gale herself (a separate character) makes a brief appearance, played by Grace Wheeler. D.G. travels to the land of "The Outer Zone" (or "O.Z." for short), where she finds out that she and her sister Azkadellia are descendants of Dorothy Gale through their mother Queen Lavender Eyes. Ahamo, DG's father, tells DG that Dorothy Gale is her "greatest great grandmother." Dorothy Gale is legendary, and known as the first 'Slipper' (a title rather than an object) to slip to the Outer Zone. In the third episode of the miniseries, DG meets the original Dorothy Gale in a netherworld located within Gale's crypt which is reminiscent of Gale's farm as depicted in the 1939 film.

In 2010, Andrew Lloyd Webber's searched for a girl to play the title character for his new production of The Wizard of Oz. His talent-search show Over the Rainbow discovered 19-year-old Danielle Hope who is currently playing the role in the 2011 West End production.

The upcoming animated film Dorothy of Oz stars Lea Michele as the voice Dorothy Gale, who travels back to Oz to face more adventures and adversity with her friends.


See also


  1. ^ Jack Zipes, When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition, p 159 ISBN 0-415-92151-1
  2. ^ Baum, L. Frank; Hearn, Michael Patrick. The Annotated Wizard of Oz. p. 38. ISBN 0-517-500868. Archived from the original on 2006-05-24. "The secret of Alice's success lay in the fact that she was a real child, and any normal child could sympathize with her all through her adventures. The story may often bewilder the little one--for it is bound to bewilder us, having neither plot nor motive in its relation--but Alice is doing something every moment, and doing something strange and marvelous, too; so the child follows her with rapturous delight." 
  3. ^ Internet Movie Database, "The Wizard of Oz" (1939): Trivia.
  4. ^ Jack Zipes, When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition, p 178-9 ISBN 0-415-92151-1

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