It turns out that Maine has two interesting ties to the Wizard of Oz. An article in the Bangor Daily News talks about the actress who played Auntie Em, Clara Blanchard Dickey. Her father was a Maine ship captain on one of those old multi-mast schooners. Back then ships could be out to sea for up to 5 years so it was common for the captain’s wife and children to go along. Clara was born on ship while it was anchored somewhere off of either Kobe, Japan or Hong Kong. The exact location is unknown because, according to the article, the locations of ships were kept from almost everyone on board to prevent mutinies. When not on board the ship the family lived in Stockton Springs, located on Route 1 between our hotel and Acadia National Park. While Clara was still a child the family moved from Maine to Quincy, Massachusetts.
The full article is worth a read, “Auntie Em actress from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was a Maine ship captain’s daughter born at sea”
Near the end of the article it also mentions the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton. Turns out she purchased an island off of Boothbay, less than an hour from our hotel, where she and her son lived for many years. They were well known and respected for rowing their own boat back and forth between the island to the shore. I’d heard about a famous actress doing this, but never knew who it was before today. She first came to Maine as part of summer stock theater and fell in love with the area. Here’s a photo of her house taken from the Southport town dock by one of our regular guests.
Interested in learning more? Read the “Wizard of Oz ‘witch’ loved her Maine island” from the Working Waterfront Archives.
Curious about what other famous people are associated with Maine? Check out Bangor Daily News’ article from 2012 titled The famous faces of Maine. This is an interesting but incomplete list and it does not include either of the two Wizard of Oz actors.
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