Monday, January 25, 2010
It was that very courage which led to his untimely death.
On the morning of September 22, 1951, Courageous Lion (as he was now known) was standing in line at Emerald City National Bank when a trio of flying monkeys swooped in the front door and ordered the customers to get down on the floor. While two of the monkeys held the terrified citizens at gunpoint, their leader approached the window and demanded that the tellers fill several bags with unmarked, non-sequential bills. Courageous Lion attempted to negotiate with the monkeys, suggesting that they let the customers leave and keep him as the lone hostage. The monkeys, not speaking English, chattered angrily and fired their weapons into the air. Lion took this as a "no" and, in an attempt to overpower the monkeys, was shot several times and died instantly. He was 22 years old.
In the twelve years since he'd first arrived in Oz, Courageous Lion owned and operated Lionheart Security Service, providing protection to citizens and businesses of Emerald City. His participation in the 1939 assassination of the Wicked Witch of the West had made him a local celebrity, so his untimely death caused great sadness and grief throughout the Land of Oz.
"He was wonderful," remembers Dorothy Gale. "When I first met Lion, he was afraid of his own tail. My dog Toto terrified him. But he overcame his timidity and proved to be a very brave and loyal friend. I'll miss him terribly."
Lion's friend Scarecrow, chairman of the philosophy department at Emerald City Institute of Technology, pointed out the irony of the situation.
"Prior to our appearance before the benevolent Wizard, Lion possessed a disproportionate level of trepidation, particularly for a member of the species Panthera Leo. Normally one would expect to see excessive aggression in a specimen of his size, but he was quite subdued. However, once the Wizard bestowed a medal upon him, which was actually a psychological ploy, Lion began to assert himself and displayed the characteristics and behaviors more typical of his feline heritage."
When asked to explain that again in plain English, Scarecrow replied, "Oh, right, sorry. Before we met the Wizard, Lion was a big ol' chicken. After the Wizard gave him a medal and said that it meant he was now courageous, Lion started acting brave."
Tin Man no longer lived in Oz at the time of Lion's death, and therefore could not be reached for comment. After receiving his heart, Tin moved to Los Angeles and became an adult film star. He is best known for his work in the underground cult classic Tin Man's Got a Massive Heart On.
Lion's last public appearance was as a guest on the OZTV talk show Afternoons With the Lullaby League. He told the show's host Missy Munchkinella, "Yeah, it's sad, believe me Missy, when you're born to be a sissy, without the vim and verve. But I knew that I could show my prowess, be a lion, not a mou-ess. You know, if I only had the nerve. The Wizard unlocked a certain confidence within me, and from that point on I knew that I had to remain in Oz and defend its citizens whenever I could."