Edgar Allan Woolf

Edgar Allan Woolf (25 April 1881 – 9 December 1943) was a lyricist, playwright, and screenwriter. He is best known as the co-author of the script for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.

Edgar Allan Woolf
Born25 April 1881
Died9 December 1943 (aged 62)
Cause of deathbasal skull fracture
NationalityUnited States
  • Lyricist
  • screenwriter
  • playwright

Early years and educationEdit

Woolf was the son of Albert E. Woolf, a feather works employee,[1] a manufacturer of disinfectant[2] and an inventor of electrical devices, and Rosamond Wimpfheimer Woolf.[3] Woolf attended City College of New York and Columbia University, graduating from the latter with an A.B. in 1901. He wrote the annual Varsity Show, The Mischief Maker, in his senior year.[4]

Actor and playwrightEdit

Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf, ca 1940

Woolf joined the Murray Hill Stock Company as an actor, and played in New York City with it for several years, but soon was writing sketches and plays for vaudeville star Pat Rooney (1880-1962) and Mrs. Patrick Campbell. One of the better-known plays Woolf wrote for Pat Rooney was "Wings of Smoke." He also wrote, in collaboration with Jerome Kern, the comic opera, "Head over Heels," in which Mitzi Hajos starred. Woolf was a prolific writer and produced many sketches for vaudeville.

Woolf wrote the book for Mam'zelle Champagne, a musical revue, which opened June 25, 1906. On opening night at the outdoor Madison Square Garden Roof Theatre, millionaire playboy Harry K. Thaw shot and killed architect Stanford White. The otherwise undistinguished musical's run continued for some 60 performances[5] largely on the publicity from this incident.


Woolf wrote the words to You're So Cute, Soldier Boy for Henry W. Savage's comedic musical Toot Toot.[6]


Woolf moved to Los Angeles in the early 1930s to write screenplays for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He and frequent collaborator Florence Ryerson revised Noel Langley's screenplay for The Wizard of Oz (1939), which in turn was based on L. Frank Baum's children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.[7][8] Both Woolf and Ryerson created the Wizard's counterpart, Professor Marvel.

Personal lifeEdit

Woolf was described by Samuel Marx, MGM's story editor during the 1930s, as a "wild, red-haired homosexual." He loved to cook and would spend hours cooking for his Saturday night dinner parties, where he entertained directors and writers.[9]


At his Beverly Hills home, 911 North Beverly Drive, Woolf's three servants found him lying at the bottom of a flight of steps that led to the kitchen. Woolf had a blind dog that he took for a daily walk, and the police believed he had tripped over the dog's leash, fracturing his skull. Woolf was taken to St. John's Santa Monica Hospital at 2 pm and died two hours later.[10] The coroner's autopsy revealed the cause of death to be a basal skull fracture.[11]


  1. ^ 1880 US Federal Census
  2. ^ 1900 US Federal Census
  3. ^ 1910 US Federal Census
  4. ^ Edgar Allan Woolf. New York Times. December 10, 1943
  5. ^ Mantle and Sherwood, The Best Plays of 1899-1909, pp. 515-516.
  6. ^ OCLC 81692532
  7. ^ Coan, Stephen (22 December 2011). "KZN's very own screen wizard". The Witness. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  8. ^ Edgar Allan Woolf entry at Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ Harmetz, Aljean. The Making of the Wizard of Oz. Hyperion. New York 1998 p 46
  10. ^ Edgar Allan Woolf Dies in Fall at Home. Los Angeles Times. Dec 10, 1943 Page A1
  11. ^ Los Angeles County Coroner's Register. p 122, file no. 10592, December 9, 1943

External linksEdit