Posts Tagged ‘the wizard of oz’

Toto finds a home at Hollywood Forever

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

 

 

 

 By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Today fans of Toto and the Wizard of Oz gathered at Hollywood Forever Cemetery for the unveiling and dedication of the Toto Memorial. Cloudy skys turned to sun, however there were no rainbows but only smiling faces and many, many Cairn Terriers to celebrate the day.

 

Those who had part in the ceremony included Chanell O’Farrill who welcomed everyone on behave of Hollywood Forever; members of the Toto Memorial Committee, J. P. Myers, Steve Goldstein; Mark Dodge from FixNation, and Robert Baum, the great-grandson of The Wizard of Oz creator, L. Frank Baum. After the crowd sang a chorus of “Over the Rainbow,” the unveiling went off with smoothly. Many thanks go to all who participated today and Tyler Cassity, owner of Hollywood Forever who donated the land the memorial stands on. Enjoy the following photos from todays festivities.

 

 

 

Fans and several Cairn Terriers begin to gather for todays ceremony

 

 

 

These Cairns had front row seats for the unveiling

 

 

 

Claire and Robert Baum, great-grandson of author L. Frank Baum

 

 

 

Robert Baum speaks to the crowd before the unveiling

 

 

 

Waiting for the unveiling

 

 

 

 The unveiling of the Toto Memorial. From left, Robert Baum, J.P. Myers, Steve Goldstein, Mark Dodge, Tyler Cassity

 

 

 

Welcome home Toto.

(Toto sculpted by Roman Gal and the base was designed by Arsen Oganesyan)

 

 

 

Above and below, the inscriptions on either side of the memorial

 

 

 

 

 

Toto (1933-1945)

 

 

 

The Cairn Terrier Club of Southern California

 

 

 

J.P. Myers and Steve Goldstein, the brains behind the Toto Memorial Marker. Congratulations gentlemen on a job well done.

 

 

 

Olivia Francis with Toto

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Toto the Story of a Dog

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

 

 

 

Fans of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz will celebrate the dedication of a full size bronze memorial sculpture of Toto, Dorothy’s beloved dog on Saturday, June 18 at 11 a.m. at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd. To commemorate the event, following is a biography of Toto.

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

The most indulged of all the spoiled lovelies of Hollywood during the Golden Age were the canine actors who worked in films. They had their own hotel—The Hollywood Dog Training School—where at one time, seventy-five of the best known dogs of the screen lived in tranquil comfort.

 

The school was set on a pleasant ten-acre site, covered with oaks and willows, near Laurel Canyon Boulevard five miles north of Hollywood. Three hundred feet back from the road stood a cream colored frame house and back of it were two kennels, each 150 feet long. It featured southern exposure, long runs to each kennel, a large grass playground, showers in each section, and several porcelain bathtubs with hot and cold water, an electric drier and a special kitchen where, every day, a tempting cauldron full of vegetable and beef bone soup was cooked for dinners of the distinguished boarders.

 

 

 Carl Spitz with dogs from his training school

 

The dogs, like all other actors, employed a manager—the amiable Carl Spitz—who drove as hard a bargain for his clients as any other agent in Hollywood. The German-born Spitz first took up the work of schooling dogs in Heidelberg where his father and grandfather were dog trainers. Spitz trained dogs for military and police service in World War days. He saw Red Cross dogs search for dying men in no man’s land—and he devoted his life to educating man’s best friend.

 

Leaving Germany, Spitz arrived in New York in 1926, moved briefly to Chicago and soon found himself in Los Angeles, where, the following year he opened his first dog training school at 12239 Ventura Boulevard. Sometime around 1935 he moved the facilities one mile north to a ten-acre spot at 12350 Riverside Drive, where he remained for almost twenty years. “This is a school, where dogs go to classes just like children,” Spitz said. “We have grammar school, high school and college.

 

 

 Above is the location of Carl Spitz’s first dog training school at 12239 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA

 

 

 Advertisement for Spitz’s school at his new location on Riverside Drive

 

 

At first his services were for the public but soon the movies came calling. The transition to sound films required Spitz to drop his verbal commands and develop a series of soundless visual hand signals.

 

His first sound film was Big Boy (1930) starring Al Jolson in which he trained two Great Danes. This one was followed by the John Barrymore classic, Moby Dick (1930). It was too expensive for studios to create their own specially trained dogs so Spitz suddenly found himself in big demand.

 

Canine stars soon began to emerge such as Prince Carl, the Great Dane appearing in Wuthering Heights (1939). The first big dog star to appear from Spitz’s stable was Buck the Saint Bernard who co-starred with Clark Gable and Loretta Young in Call of the Wild (1935). Others included Musty (Swiss Family Robinson), Mr. Binkie (The Lights that Failed) and Promise (The Biscuit Eater). However, probably the best known dog star to emerge from the Spitz kennel that is known today is arguably Toto from The Wizard of Oz (1939).

 

 

Clark Gable with Buck in Call of the Wild (1935)

 

Toto, a purebred Cairn Terrier, was born in 1933 in Alta Dena, California. She soon was taken in by a married couple without children in nearby Pasadena—they named her Terry. It soon became apparent that Terry had a problem with wetting the rug, and her new owners had very little patience with her. It wasn’t long before they sought the services of Carl Spitz’s dog training school in the nearby San Fernando Valley. Spitz put her through the usual training and in a few weeks she was no longer watering the carpet.

 

However, by the time her training was completed, Terry’s owners were late on the kennel board. Spitz attempted to contact them but their telephone had been disconnected. With nothing else to do, Carl’s wife suggested that they keep her.

 

Terry sort of became the family pet until one day Clark Gable and Hedda Hopper stopped by the kennel for some publicity on Gable’s new film, Call of the Wild. One of Carl’s dogs, Buck the St. Bernard, had a large role in the film and Hedda wanted some photos of him with Gable. That day Terry made himself known to the Hollywood people and Carl took note and the next day took her to Fox Studios to audition for a part in the new Shirley Temple film, Bright Eyes (1934).

 

 

Jane Withers and Shirley Temple with Terry in Bright Eyes (1934) 

 

Spitz put her through her paces—playing dead, leaping over a leash, barking on command—for the executives and was then presented to Shirley for the final say. Terry was placed next to a Pomeranian named Ching-Ching, who wasn’t part of the film but was Shirley’s own dog. Terry stood there for a moment, while Ching-Ching looked at her. Finally Terry rolled over, was sniffed and both dogs began running around Shirley’s dressing room. At last, Shirley picked up Terry and handed her to Spitz, grabbed her dog and skipped to the door. “She’s hired,” Shirley giggled as she left the room. Bright Eyes, which co-starred Jane Withers, would be Terry’s first film.

 

That same year Terry made another film, Ready for Love (1934) at Paramount. Next she appeared in The Dark Angel (1935) with Fredric March and Merle Oberon. Other films followed including Fury (1936) with Spencer Tracy; The Buccaneer (1938) for director Cecil B. DeMille and an uncredited part in Stablemates (1938) with Wallace Beery and Mickey Rooney.

 

 

Franciska Gaal with Terry in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Buccaneer (1938)

 

One day it was announced that MGM was going to produce L. Frank Baum’s children classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” Spitz knew that Terry was a mirror-image for Dorothy’s dog, Toto based on sketches throughout the book. So he began teaching her all the tricks from the book, and sure enough, in two months, he received a call from MGM for an audition.

 

Spitz and Terry met with the producer, Mervyn LeRoy who had been inspecting an average of 100 dogs daily for the past week. “Here’s your dog, all up in the part,” Spitz said to LeRoy when he submitted Terry for scrutiny. Terry could already fight, chase a witch, sit up, speak, catch an apple thrown from a tree, and took an immediate liking to Judy Garland. Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley and the rest of the cast were accepted on first acquaintance with the dog. On November 1, 1938, Terry won the role of Toto without a test.

 

 

 Judy Garland singing “Over the Rainbow” to Toto in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

 

Terry received a weekly salary of $125, which was more than the studio paid the Munchkins. Before filming began, Terry spent two weeks living with Judy Garland, who fell in love with her and tried to buy her from Spitz. Of course he refused. Judy’s daughter, Lorna Luft, once said that her mother told them that the dog had the worst breath in the world. “It all made us laugh,” Luft said, “because the dog was constantly put in her face [with its] silly panting, and she did everything but wince because poor little Toto needed an Altoid.”

 

Terry did everything required of her, although she hesitated at being put in a basket and standing in front of the giant wind fans, simulating a tornado. One day they were filming on the Witches Castle set with dozens of costumed “Winkies” when one of them stepped on Terry’s paw. When she squealed everyone came running including Judy who called the front office and told them that Terry needed a rest. Until Terry returned a few days later, they utilized a stand-in for her.

 

The remainder of filming went smoothly for Terry and even though she appeared in approximately fifteen films, The Wizard of Oz was ultimately her best known. When the film was released, Terry appeared along with the cast at the premiere held at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. She became so famous that her paw print brought top prices among autograph seekers. Soon she began making public appearances and became so popular, that Spitz officially changed her name to Toto.

 

 

Terry, now billed as Toto with Virginia Weidler in Bad Little Angel (1939) 

 

That year was a busy one for Toto. Besides The Wizard of Oz, Toto also made a cameo appearance in MGM’s The Women (1939) starring Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford and had a larger role in Bad Little Angel with Virginia Weidler. The next few years had her appearing in Calling Philo Vance (1940), Twin Beds (1942), and Tortilla Flat (1942), again with Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr and John Garfield. Her final film was George Washington Slept Here (1942) starring Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan. That year Toto retired to Spitz’s huge facility on Riverside Drive until she died sometime in 1944. Even though several of Spitz’s dogs were interred at the Camarillo Pet Cemetery in Ventura, he chose to bury Toto on the school property.

 

Carl Spitz continued to train dogs. In 1938, he wrote a handbook, “Training your Dog,” which contained a foreword by Clark Gable. As far back as 1930 Spitz tried to get the Army to let him train dogs for war use. But nothing came of it. Finally in the summer of 1941 they took him up, in a limited way. Spitz agreed to furnish the Army fifty trained sentry dogs—at no cost. He delivered six, had twelve more under training, and already spent $1500 of his own money in the process.

 

 

 

Spitz trained the first platoon of war dogs installed in the continental United States just prior to World War II. He was an expert advisor to the War Department in Washington DC and helped formulate the now famous K-9 Corps for both the US Army and Marine Corps. He became prominent nationally as a dog obedience judge at dog shows. Carl Spitz died on September 15, 1976 and is buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale.

 

 

 Aerial view of the site of Spitz’s Hollywood Dog Training School on Riverside Drive. Toto was buried somewhere on this site.

 

Around 1958, the Ventura Freeway was being built through the San Fernando Valley and the route went through Spitz’s school, forcing him to relocate. Today the Hollywood Dog Training School is still in existence at 10805 Van Owen Street.

 

Sadly, not only did the freeway erase the school, but it also obliterated Toto’s grave.

 

It’s appropriate that Toto’s Memorial Marker is being installed at Hollywood Forever Cemetery this Saturday, June 18 at 11 a.m. Many of the people that worked with Toto are interred there including Victor Fleming, Harold Rosson (The Wizard of Oz, Tortilla Flat); Cecil B DeMille, Maude Fealy (The Buccaneer); Erville Anderson, Carl Stockdale, Franz Waxman (Fury); Arthur C. Miller (Bright Eyes); Sidney Franklin, Gregg Toldand (The Dark Angel); Ann Sheridan (George Washington Slept Here). She is in good company.

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Toto Memorial Marker Dedication

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

HOLLYWOOD EVENTS

Toto memorial marker dedication

 

 

 

TODAY

Saturday, June 18, 2011

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, CA, 90038

 

Fans of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz will celebrate the dedication of a full size bronze memorial sculpture of Toto, Dorothy’s beloved dog. The Cairn Terrier’s original grave marker was destroyed in 1958 to make way for a Los Angeles freeway. Attendees are encouraged to bring their pets.

 

More on the life of Toto at a future date on Hollywoodland

 

Link to Donate to the Endowment Fund for care of the monument and the cemetery using FundRazr (PayPal) CLICK HERE

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Meinhardt Raabe Obituary

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

OBITUARY

Meinhardt Raabe, famous Munchkin, Is dead at 94

 

 

  

By Margalit Fox
New York Times
April 10, 2010

As coroner, I must aver
I thoroughly examined her.
And she’s not only merely dead,
She’s really most sincerely dead.

 

When Meinhardt Raabe, an unknown 23-year-old from Wisconsin, sang those lines in his first and only Hollywood feature film, he little suspected that they would shape the course of his life for the next seven decades.

 

The lines, of course, belong to the Munchkin coroner in the classic 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz.” Mr. Raabe’s brief appearance in the film — about 13 seconds of uncredited screen time — made him an internationally recognized pop-cultural figure, if not precisely a household name.

 

Mr. Raabe, who was also a wartime aviator and the first Little Oscar, the mascot of the Oscar Mayer meat company, died Friday in Orange Park, Fla., at 94. Bob Rigel, president of the Penney Retirement Community in Penney Farms, Fla., where Mr. Raabe had lived since 1986, said that the cause had not been officially determined but that it was presumed to be a heart attack.

 

At his death, Mr. Raabe was one of a handful of surviving Munchkins from the film.

 

Click her to continue reading the New York Times obituary for Meinhardt Raabe

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The Real Wizard of Oz

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

BOOKS

The Real Wizard of Oz

The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum

by Rebecca Loncraine

 

The Real Wizard of Oz

 

When The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written at the turn of the century, it quickly became an icon of American culture. The public and the media were entranced by myths surrounding Baum’s creation. What was the entomology of Oz? What was the meaning of the yellow brick road? Was the Cowardly Lion the leader of the Populist party? Baum himself became a figure of interest: Was he haunted by his world into the characters of his story?

 

America was itself living i a time of fantasy. With one foot in the more primitive 1800’s — with mysticism and tall tales consuming muchof the population, and the other engrossed in modernization. Baum, spent his early adulthood in the Wild West playing real Cowboys and Indians, fighting for woman’s rights, attending the World’s Fair in Chicago, and getting involved in the first motion pictures.

 

Ultimately, Baum used his adventures and imagination to create a world that blurred his own sense of reality and fantasy. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz became a force of nature and he was caught up in its power. He understood the magnitude of his fairytale had and began to create a myth around it. He utilized the growing power of media and pop culture to make it bigger and more profitable. He even wrote the first Broadway play to reflect the story of Dorothy and Toto. Later, his estate supported the Judy Garland movei whose iconic ruby slippers are one of the most popular museum items in the world. Even today, modern productions and spin offs are incredibly popular and profitable. The interest in Baum’s world seems endless.

 

From the Great Plains to Hollywood, Baum’s life had more twists and turns than a cyclone. His writing has touched readers the world over. The story continues to excite and intrigue even more than 70 yeasrs after the classic MGM film first premiered. The Real Wizard of Oz is the first biography of the man behind it all.

 

Click here to purchase The Real Wizard of Oz at Amazon

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‘Wizard of Oz’ is 70

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

FILM HISTORY

70 years later, we still feel the echoes of ‘Oz’

 

 

‘The Wizard of Oz’ has influenced everything from ‘Star Wars’ to ‘Lost’

 

By Troy Brownfield
Newsarama
MSNBC
Aug 24, 2009
 

Ruby slippers. If I only had a brain. We’re not in Kansas, anymore. I’ll get you, My Pretty, and your little dog, too. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. That’s just the tip of a pop-culture iceberg, a towering mountain of nostalgia and influence that rises above most movie fare in a time when the majority of entertainment seems fairly disposable.

 

On Aug. 25, 1939, “The Wizard of Oz” was released into theatres nationwide and began its not-so-classic journey toward classic status.

 

Now, 70 years later, the echoes of Oz continue to reach into all corners of filmmaking and pop culture in general, from the iconic “Star Wars” characters Chewie and C-3PO to frequent references on ABC’s “Lost,” from adaptations for upcoming graphic novels to mysterious ties to Pink Floyd.

 

Click here to continue reading

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Trouble in Oz…

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Trouble in ‘Oz’: the Munchkins’ dirty secret

 

 

Betty Ann Bruno, 77, left, Priscilla Clark, 79, and Ardith Todd, 78 were Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz.

 

Snubbed at a Hollywood event, women hold own reunion to share memories of film shoot.

 

By Stephen Cox
Los Angeles Times
December 2, 2008

 

If you thought you knew everything there was to know about the iconic film classic The Wizard of Oz, then here’s a twister for you.

 

Everyone knows about the Munchkins, portrayed by 124 pituitary midgets in the 1939 motion picture starring Judy Garland. These days, the word “Munchkin” — now included in some dictionaries — is synonymous with small. Credited in the film as the Singer Midgets, the diminutive cast was comprised of little people from all over the United States, with the core group being part of the famous troupe of performing midgets managed by Leo Singer.   (Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)

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