This morning, I felt the need to write something about Love. The Goodness of Love. The Importance of the Heart.
But then, I saw today is Jack Haley’s birthday. John Joseph Haley, Jr., born on this day in 1897. And, I love Jack Haley. He was a vaudeville, Broadway, and film actor throughout the first part of the 20th century. But most of us know him for his role as the Tin Man, in the Wizard of Oz.
The Wizard of Oz. Oh, the fond memories and feelings I have for that movie. It meant so much to me when I was a kid. It was an entire night of entertainment, with bowls of fresh-popped popcorn, and a rare bottle of cold Coca-Cola. I can still see us piled in the “TV area” at our home on East Bruce Avenue, in Dayton. All of us, captivated by the magic of OZ.
It first aired on TV in 1956. Then, it went to a yearly event, with several different networks “hosting” it throughout the years.
It was a yearly event with the showing in January. Then, in 1968, it moved to March or April. I can only think it had something to do with Tornado Season in the Middle US and the Midwest.
But the show was the thing. It didn’t matter the time of year for this Annual Celebration of the Emerald. We all wanted to be swept away to the Yellow Brick Road.
The Tin Man was my favorite. Every time. I loved the way he moved. I loved his little oil can, and how he always started to rust whenever he cried, or when it rained. And I loved the echo sound his body made, when someone knocked on his chest.
Jack Haley almost wasn’t the guy. They cast Buddy Ebsen for the role of the Tin Man. But there was a problem. He suffered an almost fatal allergic reaction to the silver dusty makeup. Ebsen inhaled some of that “aluminum” dust and it went straight into his lungs. So, Buddy was a no-go.
Nonetheless, the makeup people made a paste for their new guy, our Jack Haley. That didn’t go so great either. It got in his eyes, causing a bad infection, and Haley needed surgery, as a result. His vision recovered. So back to work, he went, as the Tin Man.
Oh, I could go on about The Wizard of Oz. But Jack Haley seemed like a pretty good “Hollywood” guy. He met his wife, Florence in 1921. He said they became “inseparable.” And it must have been true. They stayed married until his death in 1979.
I will forever be grateful to Jack Haley for creating that magic in my life. Happy Birthday Jack Haley. Yes, I am grateful to him and to all the people who had a part in that wonderful and iconic film. There is so much meaning, and story, and life, in that movie. They just don’t make them like that anymore. Not hardly.
It strikes me funny now, that I woke up wanting to write about “Love” in our world. We can never love too much, because love is limitless. It opens doors. Love draws others to us. It builds. It grows. Love never pulls things apart or shuts life away. It is not selfish. It is not unkind.
The character that Haley played, the Tin Man, thought he couldn’t love because he didn’t have a heart. Of course, we know that is nonsense. All of us, the whole world round, are capable of love.
When we start realizing this, about all people, everywhere, our world will have made great strides. That all people can love. I would argue that most people DO love. Sometimes, just like the Tin Man, we need to be reminded of this — that all people have a heart in their chests. We just need a little Wizard Wisdom to see it.
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
― William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel
“Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it.”
― Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember