An Interview with Walter Krueger: The World’s Biggest Oz Memorabilia Collector!

I’m delighted to have first-class Ozian, Walter Krueger as my guest today. We met earlier this year at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois. I was feeling a little nervous to get up and give a speech when I spotted his sequined red shoes and knew instantly that I had an advocate in the audience.

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Walter Krueger and Friends

“The Wizard Of Oz to me, is this magical story that has life lessons woven in its narrative, the story carries lessons of believing in ourselves and helps us define who really is good and wicked that we encounter on our journey to our hearts desires. It also connects with its audience  because I think almost everyone feels some sort of insufficiency of a quality within ourselves whether it be that we feel that we’re not smart enough, or can be loved or just don’t have enough nerve or bravery.”

You have a passion for The Wizard of Oz.  Where did that come from? 
My passion for Oz started at a very young age as with many of its fans, I was only three years old and given a coloring book by my grandmother. The coloring book was based on L Frank Baum’s original text from “ The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz “Reading and coloring in that book cemented me as what I call a life long “ Ozian” ( Oz Fan ) 

Why do you think The Wizard of Oz has such an enduring appeal.
The Wizard Of Oz to me, is this magical story that has life lessons woven in its narrative, the story carries lessons of believing in ourselves and helps us define who really is good and wicked that we encounter on our journey to our hearts desires. It also connects with its audience  because I think almost everyone feels some sort of insufficiency of a quality within ourselves whether it be that we feel that we’re not smart enough, or can be loved or just don’t have enough nerve or bravery. But the story teaches us that we DO possess these qualities all along and we can be knowledgeable and lovable and have bravery, it just sometimes takes a good friend to bring it out of us and in the end home is alway inside of us and can be found with those that we love and love us in return.  The stories greatest message is it’s not always about the journey, it’s who we meet along the way.  

My favorite line would have to be the line the Wizard tells the Tin Man upon awarding him his clockwork heart and that is “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others” 


Favorite character? Favorite line from the movie?
    My favorite character would have to be the Wicked Witch or Dorothy, I can never just choose one. The dynamic between Dorothy and the Wicked Witch are what pilots the story and gives us this real wanting need to see Dorothy conquer her bully and She still gets a really nice pair shoes out of it, what’s not to love?  My favorite line would have to be the line the Wizard tells the Tin Man upon awarding him his clockwork heart and that is “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others” 

You have the largest collection of Oz memorabilia in the world.  What are some of your favorite objects.  

 My favorite items are the items that actually held a place in the historic making of this epic story and film, I love the original costumes and props used in the MGM classic. I have a Emerald City Guards coat & pants that are from the film, those are definitely at the top of that list! I also love the vintage original items from 1900 – 1939 that came out to promote the Oz books initial release in the 1900’s & 1920’s. I also am a big fan of the original 1939 promotional items such as the dolls, toys and various items to promote the MGM films release. 

Ruby slippers!  Why are they so magical?
    I believe the Ruby Slippers are so magical because they are a sign of protection on a journey into our dreams, almost like a relic item that has captivated audiences because it’s a symbol that any dream you dare to dream really can come true, if only you believe and work hard to get there. Also everyone knows a pair of nice heels that sparkle insanely will turn heads and stop traffic undoubtably. 

Also everyone knows a pair of nice heels that sparkle insanely will turn heads and stop traffic undoubtably.” 

The Wiz, Wicked, etc. etc. etc. There have been so many remakes and spin-offs and backstories, etc written about the world of Oz.  Do you have a favorite (and no, you do not have to say Finding Dorothy 🙂 
 I have traveled down all the different yellow brick roads of Oz and the various incarnations and each one is a different take on the story and a new view to the characters we love and know. It so hard to say if I love one more then another, I love all of the various stories and views it brings to the love of Oz we all have grown up with and helps keeps the legacy going, so I celebrate all of them highly with praise and welcome more to come!   

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Have you seen the movie Judy? What did you think?

Yes! I did see it! I have to say that having been very familiar with Judy’s struggles and stories, I feel the film was able to convey on a level that registers now a days with movie goers and having a span of two hours to be able to tell such a story about the life of a legend. I feel they were able to capture two things very well about Judy and that is, she loved her children very much and wanted to provide for them. And Judy also just wanted to be loved and accepted.  As many die hard Garland experts and fans will say the “facts“ in the film should be taken lightly because as I said they had to crunch a lot about her life into a small time span in an effective way, so liberties were taken to advance the story. But overall I did enjoy it and feel the film is now a gateway for new Judy fans to go and seek out more info and fall down the proverbial Judy rabbit hole on YouTube and discover the countless writings about her. 

Bio
  Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago his entire life, Walter Krueger has dreamed of Oz since he was three years old! Finding his passion in early age through the pages of a  Wizard Of Oz coloring book given to him by his grandmother. Walter’s life pursuit would turn that single coloring book into over 10,000 pieces Of Wizard Of Oz memorabilia housed in his Chicagoland home! Walter finds joy in collecting and informing other Oz  collectors and Oz fans alike about the history and making of the classic tale. In Walter‘s free time he runs social media’s largest Wizard Of Oz collectors fan group appropriately tilted “Wizard Of Oz Collectors United”. Walter’s Group founded ten years ago, is now home to 8000 members worldwide all fans of the beloved story, looking to connect and share their passion with one another! His ambitions with his Oz collection are to one day open an Oz museum and share his knowledge and passion with those that also dare to dream over the rainbow. Walter can also be found portraying the Wicked Witch of the West for North Carolina’s Land Of Oz theme park, in addition to being the parks resident Oz/Baum historian. 

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