Clark County Chronicles
The “Wizard of Oz” is an all-time favorite movie for many. Starring Judy Garland, the film first showed at Arkadelphia’s Royal Theatre on Sept. 21, 22 and 23, 1939. According to local newspapers of the time, the movie’s viewers would see a “marvelous Technicolor movie that surpasses anything of its kind ever performed, ever caught by the cameras of Hollywood.” And, of special interest to town citizens, a local teenager appeared in the film.
The newspaper described the event this way in 1939: “Arkadelphia is particularly interested in the Wizard of Oz picture because one of its boys appears in two of the most fascinating scenes. He is Franklin O’Baugh, one of the soldiers in the fairyland of the Lilliputians. Franklin is a member of the midget troop—the greatest number of midgets ever assembled. Now, if you follow directions you may easily spot Franklin in each of the appearances. When the little green-clad militiamen march in, the first time, in column, he is on the right end of the third rank. Later, when the soldiers are formed in front and rear ranks, Franklin is right hand man in the front row. He is nearest the audience. He is recognizable, too.”
O’Baugh was actually in Arkadelphia when the film opened here in town. He stated that the group trained for about five months for their parts in the movie. About 110 came from all over the world to be a part of the company at Hollywood. Interestingly, O’Baugh told that the voices of other people replaced those of the some of the actors seen in the film.
At the time of the release of the Wizard of Oz, O’Baugh was described as age 18, about four feet five inches tall, and weighing 60 pounds. Prior to his appearance in the “Wizard of Oz,” he toured the U.S. and Canada with a troupe, making appearances in many different venues. He also attended Arkadelphia High School.
For additional information about Clark County history, visit or contact the Clark County Historical Museum at the train depot (www.clarkcountyhistory.org or 230.1360) or the Clark County Historical Association’s Archives at the Ouachita Baptist University Library (www.obu.edu/archives or 245.5332).