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Every Dorothy (Almost) & What She Represents

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    Illustrated by Isabella DiMarzio.

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    Ever since L. Frank Baum first published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, it has been hailed as an original American fairy tale.

    It's easy to see why: It's a hero's journey and a coming-of-age story with timeless themes. Dorothy Gale learns the value of courage, kindness, self-reliance, and imagination, but the plot is so wild and characters so strange that it doesn't seem like a moral tale. No wonder generations of writers, filmmakers, musicians, and TV producers have returned to Oz over and over.

    Emerald City, the latest Wizard of Oz adaptation, which premieres on NBC this month, promises a brand-new Dorothy. She's all grown up and Latina (played by True Detective's Adria Arjona) — and if the show knows what's good for it, she'll have some of that spunk that has kept fans coming back for more.

    As we look back at some of the many Dorothys of the past 117 years, that vivacity stands out as the one characteristic necessary to make the character faithful to the original. Each of these girls (and a couple of men, too), has something relevant to her/his time. Place her in Kansas, Harlem, or a maximum-security prison, and you can mold her story into something new and still completely recognizable.

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  2. Photo: Courtesy of HarperCollins.

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