As I’ve posted here previously, we know that The Wizard of Oz series of books were written by L. Frank Baum while he lived in Chicago. As legend goes, his office was directly across the street from the Art Institute and the lions served as inspiration for the Cowardly Lion.
But did you know that the very first motion picture version was also filmed here in Chicago in 1908? This version did not survive, but a subsequent version filmed in 1910 does still exist.
Selig Polyscope filmed an “unauthorized” adaptation of Baum’s story while their studios were still located at Irving Park and Western.
A lantern slide that would have been shown before a silent film in the late 10’s, early 20’s. Much like the ads (and triva bits) that appear before movies today, they were meant to keep the audience entertained before the show.
This particular one was shown in NYC theaters, which is ironic since our living spaces are significantly larger than theirs.
A tinted slide from the very first film production of The Wizard of Oz, c.1908, Selig Studios (Irving Park and Western), Chicago.
And of course, Frank L. Baum wrote the Oz series of books while living in Chicago. Rumor has it that his offices were located directly across the street from the Art Institute and the lions at the entrance were his inspiration for the Cowardly Lion…
On the set at Selig’s Studios, c.1914. Selig’s was located at Irving Park and Western. Along with the Essanay Studios, they were early motion picture pioneers, launching the likes of Gloria Swanson and Charlie Chaplin. Chicago was the first “Hollywood”.