Sunday, December 31, 2023

Dorothy's Christmas Wish

Anna Laughlin as Dorothy Gale with a Dorothy Doll

Happy New Year from!

In December 1902, actress Anna Laughlin was back in Chicago, playing Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. She had created the part six months earlier in the world premiere, played to sold-out houses all summer, toured the eastern United States and Canada during the fall, and the show was now back in Chicago, playing to sold-out houses for the holidays. She had just turned 19 in October.

Anticipating the show's big move to Broadway a few weeks hence, Anna Laughlin wrote a short note for the holidays, expressing her Christmas wish. You can read her handwritten letter below, or scroll down a bit further and read a transcript:

A Christmas wish written by Anna Laughlin, the original Dorothy Gale.

I don't know of anything that would please me better than to wake up on Christmas morning and find that for a gift — dear old Santa had been kind enough to give me a small place in the hearts of the American public, their admiration and appreciation. I want that which is nearer and dearer to the heart of every American actress than diamonds, seal skins etc. and that is success.

If for my Christmas presents I might have success, my health and strength, and the power to make my dear mother happy, [I] would be satisfied.

The other girls may have their diamonds and beautiful gifts. But if my wish were granted I think I would be the happier.

Anna Laughlin

Anna Laughlin's Christmas wish was printed in the January 1903 issue of Vanity Fair. She would indeed find her success. The Wizard of Oz triumphed on Broadway, and after the initial run, Anna Laughlin toured the country as Dorothy well into 1905.

She went on to star in The Land of Nod and The Top o' th' World, had a solid career in vaudeville, and eventually starred in several early motion pictures. But nothing did more to make her dream a reality than creating the part of Dorothy Gale. America fell in love with little Dorothy, and many a Dorothy got her name from the little heroine that flew from Kansas to Oz, including Fred Stone's daughter, actress and dancer Dorothy Stone, and lyricist/librettist Dorothy Fields.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Miss Laughlin!

Anna Laughlin as Dorothy Gale in 1902 Chicago Production.

Copyright © 2023 David Maxine. All rights reserved.