The Wizard of Oz is one of the most iconic movies in Hollywood history. The movie made Judy Garland a movie star while simultaneously destroying her life. The Wizard of Oz brought our imagination to life through the magical world of Oz. Unfortunately, the set wasn’t such a happy place for cast members. Despite being one of the first films MGM shot in color, there was a lot of darkness going on behind the scenes.
The actors had many wardrobe malfunctions, which led to hospitalizations and life-long injuries. Judy Garland suffered a lot of abuse, which led her on a dangerous path. Check out which character had to be recast just 9 days before shooting because his makeup nearly killed him. Plus, you will never guess what those munchkins were up to during filming! Check out these crazy secrets behind the making of The Wizard of Oz.
“Over the Rainbow” is one of the most iconic songs of all time. Despite everyone knowing the song now, it almost didn’t exist as we know it. Originally, The Wizard of Oz was two hours long! Producers needed to cut out at least 20 minutes to keep it at a normal length. Initially, producers cut “Over the Rainbow.”
Their logic was to cut the black and white scenes. They thought that younger viewers might not understand the message of the song. Obviously, they turned out to be very wrong. The producers ultimately kept the version of Dorothy singing in Kansas. Instead, they took out the reprised version when Dorothy was held Captive by the Wicked Witch of the West.
It’s sad but true. Victor Fleming slapped his actress, Judy Garland, on set. Apparently, the director was having a little bit of trouble shooting the scene where Dorothy slaps the Cowardly Lion. She found it funny and couldn’t stop laughing. She was just a teenager who was suddenly in this huge production.
Physical violence is highly inappropriate and should never be a solution, especially since the actress was a child. She was only 16 at the time of the shooting. Pandro S. Berman, who was a producer for the movie, stated that once Judy started laughing, Fleming took her aside and slapped her in the face, before telling her to get back to work. That’s definitely one way to get a young actress to stop smiling.
Richard Thrope was the original director of The Wizard of Oz and wanted it to look completely different. In his version, Dorothy looked more like the character did in the book. She had cute blonde hair with a full face of doll makeup. That’s definitely not how Dorothy was portrayed in the film.
If you ask me, Judy Garland made The Wizard of Oz, the iconic movie that it is today. However, she wasn’t cast to play Dorothy at first. Richard Thorpe was really hoping to get Shirley Temple to play the lead. He also wanted Buddy Ebsen as the Tin Man and managed to cast him before getting fired two weeks later. Unfortunately, Ebsen couldn’t play the role… but we’ll get to that later.
Judy Garland did a wonderful job portraying Dorothy. Although the audience loved watching her on-screen, she wasn’t the studio’s first choice. Executives really thought that Shirley Temple would be perfect for the part of Dorothy because she was a better age and already a huge star. Unfortunately, producers thought that Shirley temple might not have a good enough singing voice to play Dorothy.
At the time of the movie, Temple was in a contract with 20th Century Fox, not MGM studios. MGM was going to trade Clark Gable and Jean Harlow for Shirley Temple. Unfortunately, the idea was quickly shot down when Harlow suddenly passed away at 26 years old. Reportedly, her untimely death was due to toxic hair dye that caused her kidneys to fail.
After Thorpe got fired, a temporary director named George Cukor was brought in. He wasn’t planning on staying for the whole movie since he was hoping to get a job directing, Gone with the Wind. That directing job ended up going to Victor Fleming, who subsequently ended up directing The Wizard of Oz.
However, Georges Cukor’s time on set wasn’t wasted. He was the one who took away the blonde wig and gave Dorothy her signature look. He thought that a natural look would be a really cool contract to the fantastical and imaginary nature of Oz.
George Cukor went on to direct movies such as My Fair Lady (1964), and the original version of A Star is Born (1954).
Buddy Ebsen was cast as the funny, quirky tin man by the original director, Richard Thorpe. Sadly, his time on set was short-lived. Just nine days after filming started, Ebsen was poisoned in a freak accident. The silver makeup used for his costume contained aluminum dust. Unfortunately, breathing in the toxins that were all over his face proved to almost be fatal.
His lung fails, and the actor was hospitalized. After two weeks in the hospital, Ebsen needed to stay in bed for six weeks and recover at home. The Tin man needed to be recast, and Ebsen was ultimately replaced by Jack Haley. Thankfully, Haley did not suffer from the same condition. To avoid the situation from happening again, the makeup artists used the aluminum paste instead of aluminum powder…
Although he wasn’t poisoned like Buddy Ebsen, playing the Tin Man wasn’t a walk in the park for Jack Haley either. Even after the makeup team switched from aluminum powder to aluminum paint, Haley still managed to contract an eye infection.
As you can imagine, the Tin Man costume is incredibly stiff and uncomfortable. Jack Haley wasn’t able to take a break while filming because he couldn’t even sit down wearing that costume. If for whatever reason, Haley decided to lie on the floor, he couldn’t get up by himself. Therefore, he was forced to stand up the entire time he was in costume.
Even though the Tin Man was a highly significant character in the Wizard of Oz, that wasn’t his original name. In the book, he is called The Tin Woodman.
The Cowardly Lion’s Costume is a classic. The detail is intended to resemble what a lion would look like if it was part human. Bert Lahr’s costume that was used for the filming of The Wizard of Oz was made using some of real lion pelts. The costume ended up weighing almost 50 pounds! Still, it was probably more comfortable than the Tin Man.
During the filming of the movie, it was speculated that MGM wanted to use their famous lion Jackie (the lion from their logo) to play the role of the Cowardly Lion. The studio ultimately decided to go with a human being. Bert Lahr portrays the role beautifully, making the character humorous and relatable. The epic character wouldn’t be the same if a real lion was used.
The iconic ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz were kept safe in a museum in Minnesota but were stolen in 2005. 13 years later, in 2018, the slippers were finally located by law authorities. A state attorney in North Dakota stated, “we reached the first goal, the recovery, and it’s a great day. But we’re not done. Police are still working to determine who the thief is.”
Judy Garland wore six different pairs of slippers during the filming of The Wizard of Oz. Fans can view them in different places such as the National Museum of American History, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts, and Oz Park in Chicago. All the other pairs are owned by private collectors.
Toto, the dog, was performed by Terry, a female Cairn terrier who impressively played in 16 films. During the filming of The Wizard of Oz, Terry was working on Bright Eyes (1934), starring the one and only Shirley Temple. Can you believe a dog got paid more than actual human actors that played the munchkins? What does a dog do with all that money anyway?
Toto earned $125 a week. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but its equivalent to about $1,700 today. I hope Toto doesn’t spend it all in one place. The munchkins made approximately $50-$100 a week. I mean, it was a good amount of money in 1939 but come on, being paid less than a dog?
The Wicked Witch was portrayed as a frightening, repulsive, green character. She was the villain in the film and didn’t have many redeeming qualities. However, the witch wasn’t supposed to be so ugly and terrifying. Originally, the witch was supposed to be beautiful and sexy.
The beautiful look didn’t fit in with people’s natural narrative, where wicked witches are supposed to be ugly. The producers thought changing the look would contrast better with the good witch. Gale Sondergaard was not happy with the new look. She was cast to play the Wicked Witch, but after seeing the makeup, she ran out of there. Margret Hamilton famously took the role instead.
Do you remember the Wicked Witch saying “Fly my pretties, fly”? Well, she never said that (at this point in the movie). What she actually said was “fly, fly, fly”! I love finding new Mandela effects. How do you remember it?
Margaret Hamilton did such an outstanding job playing the Wicked Witch that they gave the character her own Broadway musical show, Wicked. Hamilton did a great job being terrifying, but she scared a bunch of children thinking they are about to watch a family film.
Some studio executives were actually really worried that Hamilton’s performance may be too scary for little kids. Luckily, they kept the actress’s brilliant performance but cut down her screen time. Of course, this little tweak didn’t change the significance of the character.
The green face paint used on The Wicked Witch of the West was so toxic that Hamilton couldn’t eat once it was applied. She had to be on a liquid diet and use only straws during the day.
Margaret Hamilton got seriously injured during filming. She got so badly burned that her dress, hat, and broom all caught on fire. Unfortunately, she got severe burns on her face and hands and needed to recover for six weeks before she was able to continue filming.
The injury happened during the scene where the Wicked Witch leaves Munchkinland in a puff of flames. The set had a trapped door, and the actress was supposed to drop down safely before the flames got anywhere near her. The door malfunctioned and didn’t open on time. On the bright side, the flames came out right on-queue.
The green makeup Hamilton had to wear for the role, stayed of her body for weeks after shooting. Thanks to the copper ingredients it contained, it was nearly impossible to get it off.
You were probably just as shocked as I was in 2007 when it was revealed that young actors were given drugs to keep up with their stressful filming schedule. Unfortunately, this wasn’t uncommon in the ‘30s, and Judy Garland was no exception. Not only was she getting slapped and yelled at by her director, but people on set fed her drugs.
The 16-year-old actress was given barbiturates and amphetamines to keep her awake, focused, and skinny on set. The drugs may have seemed to be helping during the filming process, but it wasn’t worth it. The experience left Garland an addict. It’s strange how this movie made Judy Garland’s career while subsequently ruining her life. The actress died at age 47 from a drug overdose.
Garland’s third husband, Sid Luft, revealed some information in his memoir titled Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland. He claimed that Judy was molested repeatedly by the munchkins on set. He went on to say that “they made her life miserable by putting their hands under her dress.” To put this into perspective, Garland was sixteen, and the munchkins were played by 40-year-old pervy men.
Many rumors were circulating about the munchkins that might back up these allegations. The Munchkins behaved out of control on set. There are also several reports claiming that, during filming, the actors were involved with prostitution and gambling. Yikes! I will never look at those munchkins the same way again!
Anytime you turn a book into a movie, little things are guaranteed to change. However, nobody expected that The Wizard of Oz would sway so far away from the novel. For example: In the original text, Glinda is the Good Witch of the South, not the North. Also, Oz is a real place in the book while in the movie, it was just a dream.
One of the most iconic props of The Wizard of Oz is Dorothy’s red slippers. In the book, Dorothy’s slippers were silver. Louis B. Mayer, the head of the studio, thought it would be fun to use a brighter color. That way, MGM would be able to test out their new Technicolor technology. Since it was hard to shoot in color at the time, Dorothy’s blue dress was actually light pink.
All the actors wanted to do was play their characters without being exiled from the cast. This wasn’t easy for Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, and Jack Haley. In the 1930s, movies in color were a brand new technology, and there was nothing close to CGI.
Therefore, the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Tin Man were all frightening in real life. They were considered so terrifying in full costume that they weren’t even allowed to eat at the lunchroom in MGM studios. That’s right. They had to eat alone so that MGM workers won’t get scared. I mean, this is a bit ridiculous if you ask me, they are clearly wearing costumes. Plus, everyone there is working at MGM studio… I think it’s safe to assume that the “monsters” are actors.
The Wizard of Oz movie basically portrays Dorothy as a damsel in distress. She is lost in confused in the imaginary land of Oz. However, that is far from the character in the novel. In the book, Dorothy is a really strong female character, and Oz is very real.
Dorothy’s character does most of the saving in the book, but the film shows the opposite. The author, L. Frank Baum, admitted that Dorothy doesn’t need anyone to rescue her. Her character supposed to come across as a powerful role model for young women all over the world. Unfortunately, they changed that part too.
Did you know that after Judy Garland landed the role of Dorothy, she was immediately ordered to lose 12 pounds? Ouch!
At the time, shooting a Technicolor movie involved a ridiculous amount of lighting, making the set 100 degrees! The lighting was so bright that if you can see shiny surfaces reflect if you watch the movie again. You can really notice it in the glass or in the Emerald City floor.
Several inconsistencies are noticeable in the movie. First of all, Dorothy’s hair clearly changes lengths. It’s also confusing that a witch who will die from water, lives in a castle surrounded by a ditch full of buckets of water! Also, tin got a spear from the munchkins that just disappeared.
Fun fact: Judy Garland’s daughter married Jack Haley (the Tin Man)’s son.
Frank Morgan is famous for playing both the wizard and Professor Marvel. The costume designers were looking for a perfect coat for Frank Morgan. They looked everywhere for something stylish yet heavily worn. They even checked out some thrift shops until they could find the right one.
Luckily, they finally found a perfect coat. When Morgan saw the coat on set, he found a tag stitched to the inside. Ironically, it said, “L. Frank Baum.” The coat belonged to the author of the book, and it was tailored to fit him. What are the chances? It’s kind of scary. After the movie was filmed, the producers decided to give the coat to Baum’s widow as a gift.
There are a lot of conspiracy theories about the Wizard of OZ. However, the most popular one is that a munchkin committed suicide on the movie set. Sorry to disappoint, but this conspiracy theory is false. People claim that you can see a munchkin or a crew member hung and swinging behind the trees.
However, what you think you see swinging is actually just a bird flying. MGM rented about 400 birds to use in a few projects. Some of the birds escaped and flew to the set of The Wizard of Oz. The bird is a crane that stretched its wings, and that’s what you see in the background. I know you were hoping it was a hanging munchkin.
The Wizard of Oz director, Victor Fleming, did more than just slap his actresses on set. He was directing Gone with the Wind at the same time. He was a famous director in Hollywood, but some rumors were going around that Fleming was a Nazi sympathizer.
Anne Revere was an actress at the time who claimed Fleming was “violently pro-Nazi.” She worked with him when he directed The Yearling. Revere went on and said that Fleming hated the British and that he was against the United States entering World War II. Revere only knew him on a professional level, but it’s clear that he isn’t a nice guy. It’s important to note that Fleming shot down these allegations multiple times.
Throughout the ‘30s, Shirley Temple was a huge movie star! Everyone loved her adorable curls and sweet voice, and she quickly became America’s sweetheart. If a book was turning into a movie, chances were that Shirley Temple was starring in it. There was The Little Princess, Heidi, and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, just to name a few.
Audiences loved the talented girl so much that she was used for advertisements and commercials. Her popularity and charm make her a classic well-known actress almost 100 years later. Magazines loved publishing pictures of the young actress, and in a few of the photos, you can see that Temple was a fan of L. Frank Baum. Well, at least she was a fan of his book The Wizard of Oz.
Legendary producer and lyricist, Arthur Freed, did not receive credit for his work on The Wizard of Oz. However, MGM recognized his efforts and promoted him to the head of his unit at the studio. He finally earned his first credit in the Broadway musical, Babes in Arms, featuring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.
Louis B Mayer really wanted Shirley Temple to play the part of Dorothy. Freed, on the other hand, thought that Judy Garland would be a better fit. In Temple’s autobiography, it is written that when she was 12, Freed exposed himself to her while trying to convince her to join MGM Studios. “Being innocent of male anatomy, she responded by giggling, and he threw her out of his office.”
Judy Garland ultimately won the role even though she may have been the second choice. Unfortunately, she may have been better off without it. In addition to forcing her to take drugs, Garland was forced to wear a corset since her 16-year-old body was starting to develop. They were so strict with her weight that she was told to lose 12 pounds as soon as she landed the role.
The Wizard of Oz was definitely Judy Garland’s big break. After the film, she became a movie star, but at what cost? Was it worth it? She was already self-conscious about her body like many teenagers, but the frequent comments about her appearance took a toll on her self-esteem. The drugs clearly didn’t help the situation. To make matters worse, there were also claims of sexual assault.
The Wizard of Oz scene, where Dorothy is dropped with Toto and the Cowardly Lion in the Poppy fields, is the most controversial in the movie and the book. One way to look at it is from the perspective that it is a dream within a dream (since Dorothy is already in a dream-like state, thanks to the tornado). She got a concussion, but the poppies were poisonous, they literally would have died if they stayed in the fields.
As we know, Garland was already being poisoned by drugs; she was constantly in a “dream-like” state on the movie set. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the only one. Other cast members were being poisoned on set as well. The world of Oz was not the magical land we see on TV.
Even if you never watched the movie, you are probably familiar with Dorothy’s classic gingham dress/jumper. Well, it had a secret pocket! A handkerchief was hidden inside so that Garland could pull it out and wipe away the Cowardly Lion’s tears when the time came.
One of Dorothy’s legendary dresses was auctioned off a few years ago in 2012. Someone bought it for half a million dollars! After spending all that money jumper, at least it has a secret pocket.
Fun fact: Dorothy’s iconic blue dress wasn’t really blue. They used light pink instead of blue because the new technology, Technicolor, can capture it better. We have come a long way since, but Technicolor was very innovative at the time.
If you are familiar with The Wizard of Oz, you can probably easily recognize Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch. Before taking on this controversial part, Hamilton had a sweet and friendly persona. She was a character actress and an innocent schoolteacher. The Wicked Witch was the role that made her a star. She made the character epic, and on the list of Best Movie Villains, she was ranked number 4.
Although she famously portrayed an evil character, she is very different from the Wicked Witch. Hamilton has been a strong activist for animal and children welfare. She was also a huge supporter of public education, which is probably why she decided to be a teacher. Hamilton admitted that she was worried that she might scare little kids by portraying the witch.
As we previously mentioned, the Land of Oz wasn’t as magical as it is portrayed on screen. It was actually a dangerous place for many of the actors. Unfortunately, humans weren’t the only ones getting hurt. Dorothy’s famous side-kick Toto was adorable, yet small and vulnerable.
When one of the witch’s guards accidentally stepped on him, he left Toto with a broken paw. The dog’s real name was Terry and was the star of 15 more movies after The Wizard of Oz.
One of the most legendary trails in TV history is the Yellow Brick Road. It is a significant part of the enchanted fantasy of World of Oz. However, there was a little problem with how it came out on Technicolor. MGM had to use industrial-grade paint to color the road because it had greenish tint on camera.
Because of the tint, the road didn’t appear yellow when shot in full color. Although they made a lot of changes when turning the book into a movie, they kept the road yellow as it was in the original 1900 novel.
Did you know that The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland was the 10th adaptation of the book! It was previously made as a silent film, and today there are over 50 adaptations of the memorable story. However, the 1939 film is the most memorable.
In the movie, Ray Bolger memorably portrayed the role of the airhead Scarecrow. It was arguably the most notable character he played throughout his career. Unfortunately, he also left with long term effects, thanks to his appearance in the movie.
They specifically designed the mask for the actor, yet it left marks on his face. The marks were still visible a year after the movie stopped filming. His face was permanently lined from the makeup! It’s safe to say nobody left this movie set unharmed.
Fun fact: Disney originally wanted to make The Wizard of Oz, but MGM already owned the rights to the book. The studio paid $75,000 for the movie rights to Baum’s novel. This was a tremendous amount of money at the time.
After Buddy Ebsen almost died from the toxic costume paint, Jack Haley was hired by MGM to portray the Tin Man. Since the Ebsen situation just happened, makeup artists switched from powder to aluminum paint. This avoided the side effects that Ebsen encountered because he didn’t breathe the powder into his lungs. Unfortunately, he still developed a very serious eye infection. It was so severe that the actor needed surgery. The situation put production on hold for 4 days.
Did you know that the Tin Man cried chocolate syrup? The tin man was supposed to cry machine oil. Unfortunately, that didn’t come out well on camera, so the producers used some chocolate syrup as his machine oil tears.
Since he was the Tin Woodsman, Haley also got the role of Hickory, Aunt Em’s farmworker.
In addition to being an actor Bert Lahr, who played The Cowardly Lion, was also a comedian. He brought comic relief into The Wizard of Oz through his lovable sensitive character. He played the part so perfectly, but he also had some wardrobe malfunctions. Poor Lahr was tormented on set by his costume.
The costume may have seemed pretty cool, but hot Technicolor lights brought the set up to 100 degrees. Imagine being under a costume made out of real lion fur. It was unbearable, but the actor pushed through. The actor was warned that he might be typecast if he took on the role, his response was “Yeah, but how many parts are there for lions?” MGM also used the actor to play Zeke, a Kansas farmworker.
Hot air balloons are featured in both Kansas and Oz. When she is in Oz, the balloon would have carried Dorothy home, but she would have had to abandon Toto, her faithful dog and loyal sidekick who chased a cat. As happy endings go, Dorothy followed her heart and realized that she already had what she needed to get home.
She simply needed to say “there is no place like home” while clicking her shoes together. The beautiful ending shows that she had the power to get home all along. Luckily, the friends she met along the way helped her come to that realization. Surprisingly, the classic film was a box office fail since it competed with Gone with the Wind. However, it still won two Oscars.
Throughout the years, many biographers called Judy Garland a “lost little girl.” She was made up to be a completely different person than the innocent child she once was. Sadly, she also lost her father in 1935, and she was left alone with her mother. Garland expressed, “My father’s death was the most terrible thing that happened to me in my life.”
The actress was seeking a father figure in most of her relationships. She said, “I was always lonesome. The only time I felt accepted or wanted was when I was on stage performing. I guess the stage was my only friend, the only place where I could feel comfortable. It was the only place where I felt equal and safe.”
Today, the abuse Garland suffered onset is well known. Unfortunately, it gets looked over a lot because that’s how things were done in the 1930s. This was the sad reality of how young actresses were treated, and although it was common, it certainly wasn’t right. Garland suffered physical, emotional, psychological, and even sexual abuse on the movie set.
Garland revealed another disturbing story. The actress claimed that she was groped by Louis B. Mayer when she was in his office, he said it made her sing from the heart. She was just a teenager who didn’t realize she could just say no. His word was “law.” She was working crazy hours and was forced to take adrenaline shots. Judy was living in constant fear that her contract would be torn up.
As the star of the movie, Judy Garland was a very important part of the production for The Wizard of Oz. Louis B Mayer sent personal spies to watch her, which is really creepy and stalkerish if you ask me. She needed to control her appetite and only ate chicken soup, coffee, and 80 cigarettes. If she was caught eating anything else, the actress would get punished.
The consequences were worse if she was caught with an ice cream sundae. The doctor kept prescribing her with diet pills, so there was no winning for Garland. The control damaged her already low self-esteem. She already thought she was over-weight, calling herself “a fat little pig in pigtails.” This just made her psychologic issues even worse.
The Wizard of Oz is a childhood staple for most kids. Although it was filmed in the 30s, it’s classic that has appeared on multiple “best movie” lists. It was called “a delightful piece of wonder-working” by Frank Nugget.
John C. Flinn said: “some of the scenic passages are so beautiful in design and composition and composition as to stir audiences by their sheer unfoldment.” He continued stating that Judy Garland is an “appealing figure.” A lot has been said about this legendary movie.
Unfortunately, the movie was released at the end of The Great Depression and ended up flopping at the box office. The Wizard of Oz barely made back the $2.8 million budget. Even Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 99% positive critical rating.
Judy Garland was a huge part of why The Wizard of Oz was so successful. The role definitely put her on the map, and she became well-known in the entertainment industry. In 1939, the actress won an Academy Award (juvenile award). The award was for both of her movies, The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms which were released in the same year.
From that point on, Garland could have easily become a “bankable” star. Sadly, she struggled with depression and had a continuous drug problem that stemmed from filming the movie. After attempting suicide for the second time, the actress made a hilarious appearance on the Bing Crosby Show. He introduced her saying, “We got a friend here, she’s had a little trouble recently. You probably heard about it – Everything is fine now, she just needs our love. She needs our support. She’s here – let’s give it to her, okay? Here’s Judy.
Although Judy Garland sang Over The Rainbow, she wanted to forget all about it. Her life just wasn’t as magical as it seemed. Garland said: “We cast away priceless time in dreams, born of imagination, fed upon illusion, and put to death by reality.”
With all the hardships she had encountered throughout her life, Judy Garland is legendary and will live on in our hearts forever. In 1997, she won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement, even though she wasn’t alive to accept it. The abuse she suffered led her to a drug problem, and the actress ended up tragically passing away from an overdose at age 47. You can find some of her recordings in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Judy Garland has a daughter, Liza Minnelli. She clearly inherited her mother’s talent for singing and became famous in her own right. In 1984, Liza was reminiscing about her mother in a New York Times article. She remembered the first time the two of them performed together on stage. Liza expressed that at that moment, they went from loving each other to competing with one another.
“I think that what Mama was sating was, you’re everything I wanted you to be. You’re a force to be dealt with, and I created it, and now I’ve come up against it,” Liza said to the New York Times. What’s very ironic is that Liza Minelli used to be married to Jack Haley Jr., his dad played the Tin Man!
The actress who played Auntie Em in the Wizard of Oz is no one other than Clara Blandick. Her role wasn’t a big one, but definitely a significant one. She represented home and happiness in the movie, especially for Dorothy. Unfortunately, in real life, the actress wasn’t exactly filled with happiness the way her character seemed to.
In the 1950s, Blandick’s health began to decline. She started losing her eyesight and had severe arthritis, which led to her unhappiness. Her depression worsened, and on April 15th, 1962, Clara came home from church and decided to rearrange her room. This may seem like a strange thing for an eighty-five-year-old to be doing, but sadly, there was a reason.
When eighty-five-year-old Clara rearranged her room, she made sure that all her important papers were organized. She then fixed up her hair and put on an elegant and beautiful royal blue gown. That night, the actress took sleeping pills, laid down on the couch, and wrapped herself with a gold blanket. She then put a plastic bag over her head.
Depression wasn’t as excepted and spoken about back then. However, Clara did leave a note which read, “I am about to make the great adventure. I cannot endure this agonizing pain any longer. It is all over my body. Neither can I face impending blindness. I pray, Lord, my soul, to take. Amen.” Sadly, that was the last night of her life.
There is a famous scene in the Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy falls asleep in the “Poppy Field.” As you may have noticed, fake snow was used during that scene. Well, this snow was made out of 100% industrial-grade chrysotile asbestos. At the time, people were well aware of the health hazards asbestos can cause, and they were completely ignored. They used asbestos anyways.
In the very early 1900s, the dangers of asbestos were discovered. The Wizard of Oz was shot in 1939. Luckily, there was no definitive evidence to say that any of the actors suffered harm due to the substance. However, with all the injuries and freak accidents that happened on set, it wouldn’t surprise me if the asbestos did have an effect.
Back in 1975, Margaret Hamilton appeared on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. At the time, she was extremely well known as the Wicked Witch of the West. It was almost forty years after the original movie was filmed, and the actress explained how she decided that she wanted to play the Wicked Witch.
Margaret expressed how the character of the witch was a sad and lonely woman who never got anything she wanted. She then put on the original Wicked Witch costume so that she can show kids that it’s just clothes and makeup and that witches aren’t real. That way, the children wouldn’t be afraid of her or her character. Margaret’s portrayal of the witch was the basis of the successful future Broadway musical, “Wicked.”
As we mentioned, Margaret sustained pretty bad injuries on her face and hand while shooting the scene where the witch is leaving Munchkinland. When she returned, Margaret understandably refused to film any more scenes that involved fire. Betty Danko was an actress who worked as her stunt double for these scenes.
Unfortunately, Betty also got badly burned while filming the Surrender Dorothy scene. The actress was sitting on a smoking pipe that was made to look like the witch’s broomstick. Things didn’t really go as planned when the pipe exploded. Betty spent two weeks in the hospital and has permanent scars on her legs. Thankfully, Betty is a pretty determined woman, and this injury didn’t stop her from doing future stunt work.
Wicked is an extremely well-known Broadway show was is based on the 1995 novel called Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The story gives a whole new perspective to The Wizard of Oz. Instead of seeing what’s going on at Oz from Dorothy’s perspective, we see it through the eyes of the Wicked Witch. More specifically, the story is of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West and Galinda, the Good Witch.
The witches start off as friends, although they have two completely different personalities. They ultimately end up fighting over the same love interest. The play portrays Oz as a corrupt government controlled by Oz. Eventually, Elphaba has a fall from grace. Ever since the musical premiered back in 2003, it has continued to be extremely popular and a major success.
Most of the Munchkins in the Land of Oz are portrayed by the “Singer Midgets.” Many people think the name comes from their musical talents. However, that wasn’t the case. The name was actually chosen because their manager’s name was Leo Singer. The Singer Midgets came from Europe.
These little actors were extremely lucky to have work, but that wasn’t all. They used this trip as a way to escape the Nazis who, at the time, were working on taking over Europe. Many professional singers dubbed most of their roles because the Singer Midgets couldn’t speak English very well. Throughout the entire film, you can only hear two midgets speaking. You can see these actors in the scene where Dorothy climbs into the carriage, and the Munchkins give her flowers.
One of the most famous scenes of the Wizard of Oz is the “Surrender Dorothy” scene. In this part of the movie, the Wicked Witch flies her broomstick through the sky and writes Dorothy the message. We didn’t have the same technology as we do today, so the producers had to get creative. The scene was filmed using a tank of water and a model of the witch.
To make it look like she was writing in the sky, they attached the model to a hypodermic needle and filled the syringe with milk. The needle was put into the tank with the words ‘Surrender Dorothy’ written in reverse. There was a loose sequel to the movie called “Surrender Dorothy,” directed by Drew Barrymore in 2010.
Throughout the film, there are numerous animals that weren’t included in the original book. There is one scene where you can see horses in Emerald City; Jell-O crystals were placed all over the horse’s bodies so that they can get their color. The horses loved licking off the sugar, so the scenes had to be shot quickly. Another important none is that a Cairn terrier named Terry played Toto. The dog reportedly made more money than the munchkins.
Like many of the other animals in the Wizard of Oz, the winged monkeys are just humans in costumes. What’s interesting, however, is that one of the main monkeys is called Nikko. Nikko is the name of a Japanese town famous for featuring a shrine with the origin of the Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil monkeys.
Some of the animals from the original novel didn’t appear in the film. Apparently, MGM thought that some of the scenes in the book were too gory for the movie. In the original story, there were many more animals, both real and imaginary. These animals included Kalidahs (tiger-bear hybrids), bumblebees, wolves, and wildcats.
The scenes featuring these animals were pretty gory. At one point, the Tin Man even uses an ax to kill forty wolves and a wildcat. Well, I guess it was a good idea to cut that scene out of a children’s movie. The Wizard of Oz has a dark and chilling undertone; adding these types of scenes would have exacerbated that which was not the intention of the director.
One of the world’s oldest terrier breeds is the Cairn Terrier, which originated in Scotland. The name Cairn literally means, a pile of stones made by humans. You can find many of these in Scotland, which is where the name Cairn Terrier. What’s interesting about this specific dog breed is that they are usually left pawed. Although this type of dog appeared in the media throughout the years, the most famous was Toto.
The same breed was featured on I Love Lucy! Little Ricky’s dog fried is a Cairn. More recently, a Crain Terrier named Mr. Needles appeared on The George Lopez Show. Judy Garland fell complete in love with Terry (Toto) during filming. She wanted to adopt her so badly, but the owner didn’t allow it.
The special effects in the Wizard of Oz don’t seem that extraordinary if you compare it to the technology we have today. However, back in 1939, this was considered quite impressive. While filming the scenes with the winged monkeys, they used piano wires to keep them in the air. Unfortunately, this didn’t always go as planned, and many actors got hurt during the haunted forest scene when some of the wires snapped.
Remember the scene when the Wicked Witch tries to remove the ruby slippers and fire springs up around her hands? Well, it was just apple juice that was squirted out of the shoes, and then the film was sped up. A lot of special effects were involved in the tornado scene. For Dorothy’s house, a miniature house was dropped onto a sky painting. When they reversed the footage, it looks like the house was falling towards the camera. To give the illusion that there was a real tornado during the scene, they used a 35-foot-long muslin stocking. The people working on the set took the stocking, added dust, and spun it through mini-farm fields.
If you pay close attention to the song “We’re off to see the Wizard,” you can actually see shadow reflections of the camera equipment on the grass. The Wizard of Oz was one of the very first non-animated movies to use Technicolor, so things didn’t always go smoothly. First of all, early Technicolor needed an insane amount of lighting. This meant extreme heat! The set of the movie could reach up to 100 degrees.
A few tweaks were necessary to make sure the set and costumes got all the colors right. For example, Judy Garland’s dress was actually pink since it was easier to film and came out better on camera. Another example is the Yellow Brick Road. The road actually appeared looking green after the Technicolor process, so it had to be redone.
During its time, The Wizard of Oz was a massive hit and is still considered a classic today. The movie was nominated for various Oscar awards, including Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography, Best Picture, Best Production Design, and won Best Original Music Score. The movie gained even more recognition and importance in 1989 when the iconic film was marked for its contribution to history.
The United States Library of Congress recognized the Wizard of Oz as being “culturally significant” to the United States of America. The movie also made its way to the National Film Registry. The movie was acknowledged yet again in 2007 when it was chosen to be on the list of Unesco’s Memory of the World Register (an international list of the essential “memories”).
When you take the Pink Floyd album, The Dark Side of the Moon, and combine it with the Wizard of Oz, it’s referred to as The Dark Side of the Rainbow. Basically, the movie and the album are completely in sync. It feels like they were created to respond to one another- which they aren’t. However, the result of the music video like effect is commonly known as The Dark Side of the Rainbow.
The origin of the connection between the Pink Floyd album and the movie was derived from a 1995 message board of Pink Floyd fans. Ever since it spread into mainstream notoriety. Members of Pink Floyd even commented on the interesting manifestation. David Gilmour, who was the guitar player and singer of the band, said that it’s a coincidence, but he even tried it for himself. The drummer, Nick Mason, joked about the theory and said that the album wasn’t based on the Wizard of Oz but on The Sound of Music.
In the original novel of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s shoes on not red, but a magical pair of silver slippers. Once the movie was being made, Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM, decided to change them to ruby slippers. An early design of the shoes showed the slippers with curled-up toes. Judy Garland wore the slippers in size five, and four different pairs were used throughout filming. The shoes ended up being displayed in museums, and one pair was stolen from the museum of Minnesota back in 2005. They were insured for $1 million.
In 1989, a pair of ruby slippers with real rubies were made for the 50th anniversary of the movie. The value of the shoes was over $3 million. Another pair of shoes are on display at the Smithsonian. That pair, however, is mismatched from two different sets. Still, it is the most popular, and the carpet around them has to be replaced constantly because of wear and tear.
In 1900, L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Twenty years prior, he was working as a specialty chicken breeder. Apparently, Frank’s inspiration came from his tough childhood growing up in a South Dakota drought. He named the main character Dorothy for a sentimental reason. Unfortunately, his baby niece passed away when she was just an infant. Her name was Dorothy Louise Gage.
While looking at his filing cabinets that were organized from A-N and O-Z, Frank came up with the name Oz. Frank wrote other works throughout his lifetime. He even wrote a non-fiction book about stamp-collecting. Frank was a huge supporter of the women’s suffrage movement, which says a lot about the type of person he was. Frank even published 17 sequels to Oz.
“Over the Rainbow” is the song most commonly associated with the Wizard of Oz. However, it was almost cut from the original movie. MGM studios felt like it stretched out the Kansas segment, making it too long. The studio also thought that the children watching the film wouldn’t understand the intention of the song.
As you can see from the film, Dorothy sings the song in the Kansas barnyard. Apparently, the studio felt like the location was “degrading.” Instead, they decided to shoot another version where Dorothy was trapped in the Witch’s castle while dreaming about Kansas. The crew became very emotional while filming this scene because the song was so melancholy. In the end, the first version made the cut for the movie.
Ever since the Wizard of Oz was released, the song “Over the Rainbow” was used numerous times in the media and pop culture throughout the years. One example is in the movie, Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez. The story depicted the life of Selena Quintanilla.
In the film, there is a scene where Selena is a little girl, singing at one of her dad’s restaurants. Of course, the song she sang was “Over the Rainbow,” which also depicted the melancholy meaning of the story, which ends in her tragic death. At the age of 23, Selena was shot by the manager of her fan club, who was filled with jealousy and rage. This is just one of the many instances where “Over the Rainbow” was used as a reference.
Liza Minnelli is obviously the most famous of Judy Garland’s children, but she wasn’t her only child. With her third husband, Sidney Luft, Judy had two more kids, a daughter named Lorna Luft and a son named Joey Luft. Lorna takes after her mother and is also a singer. She released a number of albums over the years.
Ironically, she was once featured on the stage version of The Wizard of Oz in England. She played the Wicked Witch of the West. Her brother Joey, on the other hand, stayed out of the spotlight and the entertainment industry as a whole. The only times he really showed up on TV was when was he was discussing his mother.
Frank Morgan was the actor who portrayed the Wizard and played five other characters throughout the movie. He was the Kansan professor who seemed to tell the future, he was also the driver in Emerald City who rode the Horse-of-a-Different Color, he was also the doorkeeper at the Wizard’s palace, and the doorkeeper there.
It can be assumed that this was done to save time and money on casting. However, apparently, the director intended for it to be true to the real nature of the Wizard of Oz. The Wizard is both mysterious and powerful, meaning he can technically be other characters. Morgan appearing as other characters are a little Easter eggs in the movie.
Frank Morgan was under contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer (MGM). Apparently, the production company was so impressed with Frank that they gave him a lifetime contract! He played various characters in many different films that range from comedies to dramas. One of the strangest roles he played was back in 1945. He played himself in a film where he is attempting to make his own movie.
The movie was known to be the most bizarre that MGM has ever produced. Apparently, Frank Morgan had a problem with alcohol. This was alleged by his Wicked Witch co-star, Margaret Hamilton. In 1949, Morgan died of a heart attack. Sadly, he never got to see the TV release of the movie, which was ultimately what brought the cast fame.
Glinda, the Good Witch, was played by Billie Burke. Billie was a professional actress in the industry and worked in movies since silent films. She even worked on an earlier movie with Judy Garland called Everybody Sing. Billie played Judy’s characters mother!
Billie was fifty-four years old during the filming of the Wizard of Oz. This was eighteen years older than Margaret Hamilton, who her “sister,” the Wicked Witch of the West. Billie continued to act late into her life. Her last movie was filmed and 1960. Sadly, Billie died in 1970 at the age of eighty-five. Although she has had an impressive and successful career, her most iconic role was when she portrayed Glinda, The Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz.
Ray Bolger started his acting career in the theater Vaudeville circuit. It was his dancing that ultimately got him noticed. He snagged a few roles on Broadway before he eventually signed with MGM. During the filming of the Wizard of Oz, the prosthetics for the scarecrow makeup was so powerful that it left line marks on his face. These lines were so intense that it took over a year for some of them to disappear.
After the Wizard of Oz, Ray Bulger continued acting in MGM films, and a few were with the Wizard, Frank Morgan. In 1985, he co-starred with Liza Minnelli (Judy Garland’s daughter) in the movie, That’s Dancing. He continued to dance and act until he passed away in 1987 at age eighty-three.
Believe it or not, Judy Garland wasn’t the first choice to play Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Garland was seventeen at the time of filming, but the production team wanted eleven-year-old Shirley Temple. Shirley was actually a big fan of the book, and her mom really wanted her to get the role in The Wizard of Oz. Temple was signed for Fox at the time.
Apparently, Fox ensured Shirley’s mother that they owned the rights to the Wizard of Oz. In the end, MGM outbid 20th Century Fox. Judy was then cast, and she was demanded to lose twelve pounds to lose her womanly figure. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only thing that the Studio made their young actress do.
The studio forced Garland to lose twelve pounds so that she would appear looking like a younger girl on screen. Taking away her womanly figure wasn’t the only way the studio had on Judy Garland’s appearance. For a time, they gave her blonde hair and intense “baby doll makeup.” Thankfully, that didn’t work, and the character ended up with the classic look that we see in the film today.
MGM studios also made Judy wear an extremely tight and painful corset-type device that thinned her stomach and flattened her bust areas in order to make the actress appear to be a pre-adolescent girl. Today we know that this type of treatment can lead to all kinds of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Unfortunately, in 1939, putting this kind of pressure on young girls was acceptable.
The most popular and iconic version of The Wizard of Oz isn’t the first rendition. Believe it or not, the 1939th film was the 10th adaptation of the book! Each movie tells a different story, but all based on the same book. A 1908 version of the film featured The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays. The film showcased Romola Remus, a famous silent film actress.
Then there was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1910. The movie was just fifteen minutes long and based on the 1902 stage musical. The Patchwork Girl of Oz was made in 1914 By The Oz Film Manufacturing Company, L. Frank Baum’s motion picture company. The story follows Ojo, Unc Nunkle, and Patchwork Girl. Much different than the beloved characters that we are used to.
There were many more renditions of this classic tale. Another 1914 adaptation is called, His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. Then there is the story called The Magic Cloak of Oz, which followed another different character named Fluff. Unfortunately, Fluff was the most unhappy person in all of Oz.
In 1925, Larry Semon collaborated with L. Frank Baum to make Wizard of Oz. Still, this wasn’t the cherished version that audiences have been watching for generations. In 1932, there was an animated version of the story. L. Frank Baum was only paid $75,000 for the rights to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Six years later, in 1939, the legendary version of The Wizard of Oz was finally released.
A little known fact about The Wizard of Oz is that it was actually a flop at the box office. It’s important to keep in mind that it was competing with Gone with the Wind (which was a huge success). Plus, it was released at the end of The Great Depression. Surprisingly, The Wizard of Oz was barely able to make back the $2.8 million budget that it cost to make the film.
However, the movie was still acknowledged and won two Oscars for Best Score and Best Original Song. Strangely, it didn’t become such a massive hit until 1956 when the television version was released. It took almost twenty years after the movie came first came out but, The Wizard of Oz was the first MGM movie to be shown on a national network.
Terry is the famous Cairn Terrier who played the part of Toto. However, Toto wasn’t her only role. She was pretty well-known and was featured in ten other films. Her owner Carl Spitz was also her trainer and trained her during the Great Depression. Another one of her films was Bright Eyes, starring Shirley Temple. Terry, the dog, also appeared in Tortilla Flat; in that movie, he reunited with Victor Fleming, the director of The Wizard of Oz and Frank Morgan, the Wizard.
Terry had a daughter named Rommy. She followed her mother’s footsteps and was also a famous movie, pooch. Of course, she wasn’t as famous as Toto. Sadly, Terry died at age eleven, and her owner, Carl, buried her on his property. Unfortunately, when the Ventura Highway was built in the 1950s, the grave was destroyed. In 2011 a memorial was built in her honor at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
The actor who played Aunt Em’s husband, Uncle Henry, was Charley Grapewin. His career in the entertainment industry started off as a circus trapeze artist. It wasn’t until later when he made his way to Vaudeville, which led to Broadway. From there, he started in silent films before, ultimately acting in sound films.
In the 1940 version of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, he played Grandpa Joad, who was an essential character. In his long and extensive career, Grapewin appeared in over a hundred films. Still, his most notable role is Uncle Henry. In 1956, Charley died at the age of eighty-six. This was the same year that the television version of The Wizard of Oz came out.
Ogden Nash was a well-recognized writer and poet. He was also a comedian who liked to make pun like rhymes in his writing. He was also the one to write the original script for the Wizard of Oz. Unfortunately, his screenplay never got to see the light of day.
The screenplay writers, Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf were used instead. Even though they didn’t use his script, Ogden is still remembered for his writing. In 2002, they even made a postage stamp named after him. Sadly, he passed away in 1971. He died at the age of sixty-eight after getting a bacterial infection that worsened his Crohn’s disease.
Meinhardt Raabe was the actor who portrayed the Coroner of Munchkinland. Raabe was just three feet and six inches tall. His role in The Wizard of Oz was very memorable, despite lasting only thirteen seconds. Another interesting fact about the actor is that during World War II, he was the shortest licensed pilot.
The actor also had a Master’s Degree in business administration. He also found love and married a cigarette girl that was the same height as him. The two stayed together until she passed away in a car accident in 1997. Raabe lived a long life and didn’t pass away until 2010. He was one of the last surviving munchkin actors and died at age ninety-four.
One of the most famous scenes in The Wizard of Oz was the Tin Man’s musical number, “If I Only Had a Heart.” During this scene, you can hear a female voice saying, “Wherefore art thou, Romeo” if you listen closely. The voice happens to be Adriana Caselotti, the same woman who played Snow White two years before.
Adriana was named a Disney Legend back in 1994. During the Snow White Grotto opening at Disneyland in the early 90s, Adriana sang “I’m Wishing” at seventy-five years old. It’s nice to see that she stays true to her voice role, years after the release of the movie. Adriana lived on for five more years. She passed away in 1997 at the age of eighty.
Mary Ann Summers is wonderfully portrayed by Dawn Wells. What you may not know, however, is that her character was created based on Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Think about it, Marry Ann was from Winfield, Kansas, and born on a farm… sounds familiar? The character even wore her hair in pigtails on Gilligan’s Island and wore a gingham dress like Dorothy.
At seventy-eight years old, Mary Ann Summers is still acting, and so is her co-star Ginger (Tina Louise). They are actually the only two surviving cast members from Gilligan’s Island. Mary Ann reprised her famous role in a web series titled, She’s Still on the Freakin’ Island. If you were a fan of the show, you should definitely check that out!
Mervyn Leroy began his career as a gag writer. He was also an actor in Cecil B. DeMille’s silent film, the Ten Commandments. Leroy was so inspired by his director Cecil B. DeMille. After watching the way he worked, Leroy decided that he wants to be a director too. He then followed his dreams and started to pursue directing.
Eventually, Mervyn Leroy went on to direct many successful movies. MGM chose him as the head of production, which means he was the one who chose to make The Wizard of Oz in the first place. In addition, Leroy discovered a bunch of Hollywood icons, such as Loretta Young, Robert Mitchum, Clark Gabe, and Lana Turner. If you never heard of them, they were a big deal back in the day.
The Director behind the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz is Victor Fleming. The same year that The Wizard of Oz was released, Fleming worked on the tremendously popular film, Gone with the Wind. The two movies ended up competing in the box office, and initially, Gone with the Wind was more successful. He made many other movies throughout his career, but these two were his most memorable.
There have been speculations for years about the Fleming bring pro-Nazi but, there are many people who deny these accusations. It also doesn’t make sense if you think about it. Louis B. Mayer, who was the head of MGM, was Jewish. I don’t think a Nazi supporter would be working so closely with a Jew.
As we mentioned, L. Frank Baum named Dorothy Gale after his baby niece, who died at infancy. Maud Gage Baum (L. Frank Baum’s wife)’s brother and sister in law had a baby girl back in 1898. The baby girl’s name was Dorothy Louis Gage. Sadly, she passed away at five months old, and her mom was obviously a complete wreck. During that time, Baum was just completing his novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As a nod to his grieving sister-in-law and wife, Baum named the main character Dorothy.
Baby Dorothy was buried at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Blooming, Illinois, in real life. Unfortunately, with time, her grave was forgotten. In 1996 Mickey Carrol came across the abandoned grave. Carrol was one of the last munchkins alive, and after he found out about the grave, he chose to replace her headstone. In 1997, the new stone was placed. The cemetery also gave the Dorothy L. Gage Memorial Garden to the children’s section of the cemetery.
One of the creepiest scenes in The Wizard of Oz is with the winged monkeys and the Wicked Witch. In the movie, one of the main winged money’s name is Nikko. We previously mentioned that apparently, he is named after a town in Japan. This Japanese town also happens to be where the original shrine of the “Hear No Evil/See No Evil/Speak No Evil” money’s is.
The shrine is called the Tōshō-gū shrine. Apparently, the monkeys are the macaques’ monkeys, which are native in the area. These monkeys even have names! The first monkey covering his eyes in named Mizaru. Next is Kikazaru, the monkey covering his ears. And last but not least is Iwazaru, who is covering his mouth. I love these monkeys! They signify good thoughts, good speech, and good actions. Very inspiring.