Most everyone is familiar with the term “six degrees of separation,” the notion that any two people can be connected to one another (or Kevin Bacon) in no more than six steps. So we decided to put the theory to the test. But instead of using a person, we’re using Martha’s Vineyard. And why be limited to just connecting to people? We want to see how many steps it takes to connect the Vineyard to just about anyone or anything you can think of: like “The Wizard of Oz.”
Here’s how it works:
In the late 1930s, “The Wizard of Oz” was filmed in Hollywood.
Hundreds of little people from across the country were recruited to play Munchkins in the classic film. After the filming, many of these folks stayed on to live in the Hollywood area. In 1937, Jed Buell took advantage of this demographic anomaly and produced a feature-length western cast entirely with little people, called “Terror of Tiny Town.” While the film initially had moderate box office success, today it’s generally regarded as one of the worse worst films ever made.
In the late 1970s, longtime Vineyard resident and connoisseur of the arcane Jib Ellis purchased what was believed to be one of the last remaining prints of “Terror.” Jib relates the whole episode in his book, “Jib’s Hat,” which is available at various outlets on the Island.
So that’s how we get from Martha’s Vineyard to “The Wizard of Oz” in three steps. But it’s not the only way.
The lyrics to “Over the Rainbow,” the film’s signature song, were written by longtime Vineyard summer resident E.Y. “Yip” Harburg. In fact, Yip wrote the lyrics to all the songs in the movie. Yip was passionate about the Vineyard, and was a member of the No-Mac Committee, the group organized to fight the building of a McDonald’s restaurant on the Island in 1978.
If you have any interesting Vineyard connections you’d like us to explore or you’d like to share with us, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.