Facts about “The Wizard of Oz” in honor of the most beloved movie
Movie “The Wizard of Oz” had its world premiere 76 years ago on August 12, 1939, in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Two weeks later, the film was released in theaters nationwide and now, three quarters of a century, the story of Dorothy and her friends still endures today. “The Wizard of Oz” is arguably the most beloved movie of all time.
1. The studio, Metro-Goldwyn Meyer, outbid 20th Century Fox for the movie rights. Fox had wanted Shirley Temple to star.
2. Mervyn LeRoy considered having a man play Toto.
3. The cowardly lion’s costume was made of a real lion skin.
4. The snow in the poppy scene was made of asbestos.
5. Judy Garland had to wear a super-tight corset to make her figure seem younger.
6. The Tin Man’s oil was actually chocolate syrup.
7. Judy Garland’s daughter, Liza Minelli, was married to Jack Haley, Jr., the son of the actor who played the Tin Man.
8. Toto reportedly earned $125 per week of filming—but each Munchkin actor just $50.
9. The horses in the Emerald City were colored with Jell-O, which they kept trying to lick off.
10. Dorothy’s slippers in the book were silver.
11. Toto was played by a female dog named Terry.
12. Four sets of ruby slippers were used during filming.
13. Margaret Hamilton’s copper-based green makeup could not be ingested, so she survived entirely on liquids during filming.
14. Billie Burke, who played Glinda the Good Witch, was 54 during filming, while Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch, was 36.
15. Judy Garland originally wore a blonde wig and heavy makeup for filming, but producers soon opted for a more natural look.
16. “Over the Rainbow” was almost cut from the film for length reasons.
17. The actress who voiced Disney’s Snow White made a voice cameo during the Tin Man’s “If I Only Had a Heart” (She’s the one who says, ‘Wherefore art thou, Romeo?’)
18. The ruby slippers were a size 5.
19. The 1939 New York Times review of the film read, in part: “It is all so well-intentioned, so genial and so gay that any reviewer who would look down his nose at the fun-making should be spanked and sent off, supperless, to bed.”
20. Margaret Hamilton was a kindergarten teacher before becoming an actress.
21. The film was nominated for six Oscars, but lost Best Picture to Gone with the Wind.
22. The cowardly lion’s costume weighed around 100 pounds.
23. Temperatures on set often soared about 100 degrees due to the lighting needed to shoot in early Technicolor.
24. Buddy Ebsen of The Beverly Hillbillies fame was cast as the Tin Man, but he had to bow out when he developed a severe allergic reaction to his silver paint. He had originally been offered the part of the Scarecrow.
25. The tornado in the film was actually a 35-foot-long muslin stocking spun around with dust and dirt.
26. In the movie, Dorothy clicks her ruby slippers and says, “There’s no place like home.” In the book, she says to her magic silver shoes, “Take me home to Aunt Em!”
27. The white in Dorothy’s dress was actually pale pink because it showed up better as white in Technicolor.
28. The Wicked Witch’s crystal ball was used as a prop in Boris Karloff’s The Mask of Fu Manchu.
29. The Wicked Witch’s death certificate is dated May 6, 1938, the 20th anniversary of L. Frank Baum’s death.
30. Producers ended up cutting many of the Wicked Witch’s scenes because they deemed them too scary for children.
31. The ‘L’ in L. Frank Baum stands for Lyman.
32. Baum published 17 sequels to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, three of them posthumously.
33. Two decades before making it big with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum was a breeder of fancy chickens.
34. The film won Oscars for best original score and best original song.
35. Baum apparently invented the name ‘Oz’ when looking at an alphabetical filing cabinet label, ‘O-Z.’
36. The Munchkins have a collective star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
37. Garland won as Oscar Juvenile Award for her role, which she later called the Munchkin Award.
38. The Smithsonian exhibit housing Dorothy’s red slippers is so popular, the carpet in front of the slippers has been replaced numerous times due to wear and tear.
39. Judy Garland fell in love with Terry, the dog who played Toto, and wanted to adopt her, but Terry’s owner wouldn’t give her up.
40. The Munchkins were played by a troupe called the Singer Midgets, named for their manager Leo Singer. They were from Europe, and “a number of the Munchkins took advantage of the trip to immigrate and escape the Nazis,” according to the Internet Movie Database. Their voices were dubbed because many of them couldn’t speak English very well.
41. Professor Marvel never returned Dorothy’s photo of Auntie Em.
42. The fire that blazes out from Dorothy’s shoes when the Witch tries to touch them was actually apple juice spraying out of them, sped up on film.
43. The Cowardly Lion was originally going to be played by the real-life MGM lion.
44. The Scarecrow’s face prosthetics left deep groves in actor Ray Bolger’s face that reportedly took more than a year to disappear.
45. Terry the dog was scared of the steam that came out of the Tin Man’s hat.
46. In an oft-told story from the set, Judy Garland couldn’t stop giggling during the scene where Dorothy slaps the Cowardly Lion. Director Victor Fleming apparently took Garland aside and slapped her, after which she nailed the scene in one take.
47. The yellow brick road originally showed up green in Technicolor, so it had to be repainted.
48. Charley Grapewin, the actor who played Uncle Henry, began his career in the late 19th century as a circus trapeze artist, and also appeared as Grandpa Joad in 1940’s The Grapes of Wrath.
49. Disney wanted to make The Wizard of Oz, but MGM owned the rights to the book.
50. Several actors playing Winged Monkeys in the forest were injured when the wires suspending them above the sound stage snapped, sending them falling several feet.
51. Contrary to popular myth that she was dubbed, Billie Burke (Glinda the Good Witch) did her own singing for the film.
52. Glinda’s gown was actually recycled from the 1936 movie San Francisco.
53. L. Frank Baum drew inspiration for the story from his difficult childhood during a drought in South Dakota.
54. Baum strongly supported women’s suffrage.
55. MGM paid $75,000 for the film rights to Baum’s book, an astronomical amount at the time.
56. The Flying Monkeys and the Witch’s castle guards wore the same uniforms.
57. Judy Garland’s hair changes length throughout the film.
58. Humorist Ogden Nash wrote a screenplay for the film that was never used.
59. Dorothy was named after Dorothy Louise Gage, a niece of L. Frank Baum who died as a baby.
60. Director Victor Fleming was reportedly pro-Nazi and opposed America entering World War II.
61. Margaret Hamilton suffered severe burns during the scene in which she vanishes in a cloud of smoke (her skin makeup ignited).
62. Hamilton recovered, though refused to do any more scenes involving fire.
63. Besides fiction, L. Frank Baum wrote widely on various non-fiction topics, including stamp collecting and store decoration guides.
64. Production costs for the film were around $2,777,000, an incredibly high sum at the time.
65. A pair of real ruby slippers was made in 1989 to commemorate the film’s 50th anniversary. They’re reportedly worth around $3 million.
66. A guard accidentally stepped on Terry the dog during filming and broke her foot.
67. During filming, most of the actors arrived on set at 4 or 5 a.m. and finished at 7 or 8 p.m.
68. The Tin Man’s aluminum-based makeup gave actor Jack Haley a severe eye infection.
69. The actress who played Auntie Em, Clara Blandick, committed suicide in 1962 after battling debilitating arthritis and impending blindness.
70. The film has a 99 percent positive critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
71. There were two people on set whose sole job it was to dry out to the Cowardly Lion costume every night. It apparently “reeked” because Bert Lahr sweated so much in the 90- or 100-pound costume under the 100 degree lights.
72. The actor who played ther Coroner of Munchkinland was once the shortest licensed pilot during World War II.
73. The Wizard of Oz was the first MGM film to be televised on a national network.
74. An early design of Dorothy’s ruby slippers had curled-up toes.
75. The ruby slippers on display in the Smithsonian are mismatched.