“I Toto: The Autobiography of Terry, the Dog Who was Toto,” by Willard Carroll. Abrams. $19.95.
A stroke of luck and the world’s premier collector of “The Wizard of Oz” memorabilia combine to make this sentimental hardcover an engrossing, flavorful read for the film buff and dog lover alike.
In celebration of the upcoming 75th anniversary of the movie classic, Abrams is reissuing the 2001 96-page memoir with a redesigned cover.
During the expansion of the Ventura Freeway in the North Hollywood area, Carroll was kicking around at the dirt at the site of a former kennel (where Toto was buried) and unearthed a 9-inch square box containing a leather-bound scrapbook entitled “I Toto.” For this “Oz” historian, collector and writer, it represented an extension of the special magic this film has brought to millions.
Carroll writes, “Amazingly, what I held in my hands was the scrapbook of a movie star. But not just any movie star. It was a book of memories kept throughout a career by . . . a tiny dog.”
Reprinted in its entirety, this details the little Cairn Terrier’s harsh beginnings – she was abandoned by her owners because of housetraining issues – and her rise to stardom under the training of Carl Spitz in more than a dozen films with such stars as Shirley Temple, Judy Garland and Spencer Tracy, all written in her voice.
Accented with vibrant packaging — 100 photographs and reproductions of film stills, press clippings, lobby cards, movie posters and movie memorabilia – this celebration of life is a perfect gift for self, friend or relative.
“ ‘Wizard of Oz,’ “ writes Carroll, “is one of those rare movies that occupies space in both our conscious and unconscious. In many ways, the movie visualization of ‘Oz,’ a dream has become a sort of collective vision, an exciting, oddly soothing ‘movie dream’ tucked away securely in our own dreams.”
But make no mistake about it, Toto grasps the importance of her role. “Evidently the ‘Wizard of Oz’ is some sort of classic and Toto – that’s the character I play – is one of literature’s most famous dogs. I vowed that day that was gonna play the heck outta her, and do literature proud.”
And in the process, Carroll does literature proud as well with this nourishing portrayal of one special’s dog’s spirit and soul.