Jack Pumpkinhead

Jack Pumpkinhead

Jack Pumpkinhead is a fictional character from the Oz book series by L. Frank Baum. He first appeared in The Marvelous Land of Oz. Jack's tall figure is made from tree limbs and jointed with wooden pegs. He has a jack o'lantern for a head which is where he gets his name.

Jack was made by a little boy named Tip (Princess Ozma in the form of a boy) to scare his guardian, an old witch named Mombi. From Mombi's chest he took some old clothes for Jack; purple trousers, a red shirt, a pink vest with white polka dots, and stockings, to which he added a pair of his shoes. However, instead of being frightened, when Mombi saw Jack she almost smashed him to pieces, but then she decided to test her new Powder of Life on him. The powder worked and Jack came to life.

Jack is not known for his intelligence which seems to depend on the quality and number of the seeds in his pumpkin-head at that time. However he does manages to come up with random bits of wisdom and common sense often, For example, after bringing Jack to life, Mombi has the following exchange with him:

Even Mombi was not without a curious interest in the man her magic had brought to life; for, after staring at him intently, she presently asked:

"What do you know?"

"Well, that is hard to tell," replied Jack. "For although I feel that I know a tremendous lot, I am not yet aware how much there is in the world to find out about. It will take me a little time to discover whether I am very wise or very foolish."''

In The Road to Oz, Jack has settled in a large pumpkin-shaped house near the Tin Woodman's castle in Winkie Country. Jack spends much of his time growing pumpkins to replace his old heads, which eventually spoil and need to be replaced. Apparently, Princess Ozma carves new heads for Jack when necessary. The old heads are buried in a graveyard on his property. It should also be noted that Jack calls Ozma his mother. In The Emerald City of Oz it is revealed that Jack designed a five story, jewel-encrusted, corn-shaped mansion for the Scarecrow.

Jack had to wait until the 23rd Oz book to get a book named after himself along with the starring role. Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz was written by Ruth Plumly Thompson, the writer who continued the Oz books after the death of L. Frank Baum. In the book, Peter, (the little boy baseball pitcher from Philadelphia) while reminiscing about his previous visit to Oz, suddenly finds himself landing right into Jack Pumpkinhead's front yard in the Winkie Country. Peter and Jack set off together for the Emerald City, but take a wrong turn, ending up traveling through the Quadling Country.

Portrayals

Jack Pumpkinhead was first portrayed on stage by Hal Godfrey in the 1905 stage play, The Woggle-Bug by Baum and Frederic Chapin. The play failed in Minneapolis and was never revived or recast. Bronson Ward, Jr. played the role in the 1908 film, The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays. Although photographs suggest something more realistic than the makeup worn by Godfrey was used for the film, the popular character makes no appearances in the productions of The Oz Film Manufacturing Company.

George Wadsworth plays "Jack the Pumpkinhead" in Barry Mahon's The Wonderful Land of Oz (1969).

Without a first name, Jack appears, voiced by Paul Lynde, in the animated movie sequel Journey Back to Oz (which had a different outcome for the character).

Carl Beck played Jack Pumpkinhead in the original production of The Marvelous Land of Oz by Thomas W. Olson, Gary Briggle, and Richard Dworsky. The Minneapolis production was presented on television and home video.

Stewart Larange, an exceptionally thin actor, played the role in the live-action movie Return to Oz (1985), with an animatronic face controlled by Brian Henson, who also provided his voice.

Viktor Sukhorukov provided the voice of Jack Pumpkinhead in the 2000 Russian adaptation of The Marvelous Land of Oz, Adventures in the Emerald City: Princess Ozma.

Jack was one of the Freedom Fighters in the comic book Oz. He was killed during the company-wide crossover, Daemonstorm after having been possessed by one of the demons.

Jack also appears in the comic book The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles.

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