48days until
Oz-Stravaganza! ’14

Special Guests for 2014 Oz-Stravaganza!


Bob & Clare Baum
BOB and CLARE BAUM have been participating in Oz Fests and conventions for some 22 years. They were Elementary School teachers who team taught for 33 years. Upon retiring Bob and Clare have not only done extensive research on Bob’s great grandfather but also developed a play “Frank and Maud” which they perform both at Oz events and many public schools. Their performance takes the viewers “behind the curtain” to shows how Frank used his imagination to come up with the ideas and characters for this magical Land and even how the very name, Oz itself, came to be. Throughout the show they share many family stories and explore the influence that Maud’s Suffragette mother, Matilda Joslyn Gage had on Oz.
    There family had parts in the TV movie “Dreamer of Oz” starring the late John Ritter and Annette O’toole. Bob was also a technical assistant and supplied most of the books used on the set. Bob has always enjoyed helping writers and researchers interested in L. Frank Baum’s Oz. He is a past Board Member of the International Wizard of Oz Club and often writes for the clubs publication, The Baum Bugle. Bob and Clare love to talk about Oz to all event goers.

Roger & Charlene Baum
Roger Stanton Baum is a best-selling children's book author and the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, creator of the original Oz book series. He has appeared as a guest on Today on NBC as well as Showbiz Today on CNN. Roger has followed in the hallowed footsteps of his ancestor by creating fourteen books to date about the magical Land of Oz. One of his titles, “Lion of Oz and The Badge of Courage,” was made into an animated movie by Sony Wonder featuring the voices of Tim Curry, Dom DeLuise, Jason Priestly and Lynn Redgrave. Another title, “Dorothy of Oz,” is scheduled to be released by Summertime Entertainment as a 3D animated musical, featuring the voices of Lea Michele, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, Jim Belushi, Megan Hilty, Hugh Dancy, Oliver Platt, Patrick Stewart and Bernadette Peters. 
    Roger continues to speak at schools to encourage children, of all ages, the young at heart, to use their imagination and think outside the box. Roger and his wife along with their three Cairn Terriers reside in Las Vegas, Nevada.

John Fricke
John Fricke is the author of three books about the history of The Wizard of Oz and three books about Judy Garland. The latest of these, Judy/A Legendary Film Career, was published in 2011 by Running Press. The beautiful hardcover volume included over 500 illustrations in its 352 pages and a detailed history of all of Judy’s film appearances—including, of course, The Wizard of Oz. Additionally, John is the recipient of two television Emmy Awards as co-producer and co-writer of the American Masters and Biography documentaries about Garland. He received a Grammy Award nomination for his liner notes for the EMI compact disc release, Judy Garland/25th Anniversary Retrospective. Last summer, he was co-curator and consultant (respectively) for the Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Paley Center during New York City’s “Summer of Judy.” Their four-week celebration featured John as emcee and host for screenings of thirty-two full-length movie programs, as well as excerpts from—or complete versions of—almost forty TV appearances, all centered on the talents of the “world’s greatest entertainer,” from her screen debut at age seven until her final concerts forty years later. John can be heard on the commentary tracks of such Garland film dvds as The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, Easter Parade, For Me and My Gal, The Pirate, Babes in Arms, and Girl Crazy. He wrote the deluxe booklets that accompany the Blu-ray Oz and A Star is Born dvds, as well as the Mickey Rooney/Judy dvd box set. Among his many compact disc booklets, John has written and compiled all eight of the acclaimed Savoy Jazz releases of “rare recordings from The Judy Garland Show.” He assisted in producing (and did an essay for the booklet accompanying) the acclaimed 2011 FirstHand Records release, Judy Garland/The London Studio Recordings 1957-1964.

Ryan Jay
Ryan Jay is a popular TV and radio film critic, appearing weekly on on NBC-TV in Milwaukee, WI and nationally syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks on FM stations across America. He is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association which annually awards excellence in film at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. 
    Most passionate about movies and pop culture, Ryan has cultivated a career celeb
rating entertainment and sharing his unique perspective with audiences. Often on the red carpet at movie premieres and events, he has interviewed many of Hollywood’s A-list celebrities; most notably, working with the cast and filmmakers of Disney’s Oz the Great and P
owerful during its press week for the world premiere. This was a both a professional and personal highlight for him, a self-proclaimed “diehard, lifelong Oz fan” and collector. 
    Ryan can be found every other week in the pages of Us Weekly magazine as Fashion Police. Prior to his career as an entertainment journalist, he worked as a television producer of major pop culture programming for networks such as Bravo, Showtime, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, TLC, and even The Jerry Springer Show. 
    For more info, including his movie reviews, visit his website, www.RyanJayReviews.com.

Paul Miles Schneider 
He was born in New York City and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. At various times he has been an actor, writer, composer, singer, and arranger. As a child, Paul had a special relationship with Margaret Hamilton, MGM’s Wicked Witch of the West. She became his official pen pal when he was in second grade as part of a school assignment. The two corresponded with postcards, letters, and photographs throughout the year. 
    In 2010, Paul relocated to the Midwest from Los Angeles, where he spent a decade producing and designing DVD/Blu-ray menus and interactive content for Hollywood films and television shows. 
    “Silver Shoes,” a modern, Oz-themed, action-adventure story for young adults, is his first novel. It was selected as a 2010 Kansas Notable Book by the Kansas Center for the Book and the State Library of Kansas. A sequel, “The Powder of Life,” was released in 2012, and a combined edition of both books, entitled “The Complete, Incomplete Adventures of Donald Gardner and the Silver Shoes,” was released in 2013. His latest book, “More Than Tongue Can Tell,” co-authored with 1940s film star Andrea King, was published in 2014.

Myrna Swensen, “Munchkin by Marriage”

As a teenager, Myrna Clifton was scheduled to appear in MGM’s Wizard of Oz, as were her parents. The girl’s emergency appendectomy sidelined the family trip to Culver City, California; by the time they were ready to travel, the film was too far into production for them to be cast. Several years later, however (and still in her native Texas), Myrna caught the appreciative eye–and heart–of movie “Munchkin soldier,” Clarence Swensen. Their subsequent love affair resulted in a 63-year marriage, three daughters, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren. Since Clarence’s passing in 2009, Myrna has continued to appear at nationwide Oz festivals, where the Swensens were much-admired, much-loved regulars for two decades.

Christianna Rickard

Christianna is an author and popular public speaker. Her family background is also impressive. She is a tenth-generation descendent of John Winthrop, the man who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony -- and her relatives include Henry Baldwin, who was a Supreme Court judge and signer of the Constitution, as well as other assorted admirals and legislators.
    Then there is the show business side of her family. She was particularly close to her uncle, the great Ray Bolger, who was a Broadway star best known for his role of the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Her father was a screenwriting partner with the director Robert Altman, her mother was a triple threat on the Broadway stage, another uncle was a celebrated poet who accompanied Robert Frost to Russia, her aunt was the first female to produce a hit show on Broadway -- and her cousin was the courageous actor and activist Christopher Reeve.
    After graduating from the University of Houston with a major in Humanities, Ms. Rickard decided to focus on all things spiritual. She is well versed in the philosophies and practices of numerous traditions. After attaining her Spiritual Director’s license from the Catholic church, she worked for several years at the Houston Jung Center for Psychotherapy and the Expressive Arts. Ms. Rickard’s eclectic education gives her tools for dealing gracefully with challenges of many kinds. She is the author and editor of assorted articles and has written a memoir for every decade of her life. As she says, “When life is chaotic or difficult, writing has always been a source of healing and growth for me.”
    Most recently, Ms. Rickard has written a book about her uncle titled Remembering Oz: My Journey with the Scarecrow. World-renowned author and scholar Jean Houston says this of the book, “Remembering Oz is not only a warm remembrance and tribute to the author’s uncle – it is also a testament to the powers of Oz that lie within us all. Rickard offers spiritual gifts of extraordinary richness and psychological depth. This is a book to treasure and return to again and again.”
    A kind humanitarian and skillful communicator, Rickard also provides her services to those in need, such as to the Chinese family who escaped with only their lives from the political tyranny of China. Thanks to her determined intervention, the family was able to acquire political asylum in the United States.
    Finally, Ms. Rickard is a proud cancer survivor with a complex, polished set of skills for managing both illness and the medical system. As she says, “I have seen the tombstone with my name on it – and now I know the importance of leading a courageous life.” This is a woman who practices what she preaches.

Jonathan Shirshekan 
He is one of the foremost “Wizard of Oz” and Judy Garland collectors, researchers and preservationists. His fascination with Judy Garland began after watching The Wizard of Oz as a young child. This fascination developed into a passion for collecting and conserving historical pieces that document Garland’s extensive career. In 2009, Jonathan co-authored, with John Fricke, “The Wizard of Oz: An Illustrated Companion to the Timeless Movie Classic.” He has subsequently contributed materials and research to numerous projects on the topic of Judy Garland. In 2009, he graduated from Webster University and most recently finished his second year at the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia. This is Jonathan’s third year at the festival and first year to display pieces from his collection.