Monday, July 28, 2014


When I was a child, I would watch the 1939 classic The Wizard Of Oz around Easter every year. (I am not sure why it was always on then). I grew up with the Flying Monkeys, Munchkins, and green witches. It is hard to believe that this film is nearly 75 years old. The movie was successful when it first came out, but it has become one of the greatest movie classics of all-time. Here are fifteen interesting facts about the movie:

1. Judy Garland had a bad case of the giggles while filming the scene where she slaps the Cowardly Lion. Take after take, director Victor Fleming's patience wore thin. Taking Judy quietly to the side, and without saying a word he suddenly slapped her! She then returned to her place with the cast and did the scene in one take.

2. Judy Garland was a well-developed 16 yr. old when she was filming "The Wizard Of Oz". To disguise this fact, the costume department design a tight-fitting corset-type device to give her a more child-like figure.

3. The white blouse and blue/white checkered skirt Judy Garland's character wore in the movie wasn't white and was pink and blue. White doesn't film well. So what looked like white was actually a pale pink.

4. Margaret Hamilton received second- and third-degree burns when filming the sequence where she disappeared in a cloud of smoke after first meeting Dorothy. As she was dropping through the trap door, the timing was off and part of her costume caught fire. Her burns caused her to miss six weeks of filming.

5. When Margaret Hamilton returned to the set after recovering from her burns, she was to do the scene where she flies on the broomstick that spews smoke. She refused to do the shot, saying it was too dangerous. Stand-In Betty Danko did the shot instead, getting seriously injured in the stunt.

6. Bert Lahr's Cowardly Lion's costume weighed 90 lbs.

7. Part of Bert Lahr's make-up consisted of a brown paper bag. Not being able to eat while in make-up he had to have only soup and milkshakes for lunch and dinner when filming. This got old. One day he had enough of "liquid meals" and enraged the director by taking a full lunch, eating whatever he wanted. He then insisted all of his facial make-up be reapplied which was very time consuming. Lahr won the battle and had his make-up redone each day after eating.

8. Ray Bolger was a smoker. Twice while filming he was smoking during a break; cigarette ash fell onto some of the straw of his costume, catching him on fire!

9. Tin Man, Jack Haley had a slight problem with his stiff-limbed costume. It seems he would occasionally fall while in costume and would lay on his back like a turtle until someone could help him up!

10. When the movie script was being adapted from the book, the role of the Wizard was written with W.C. Fields in mind for the part.

11. For the shot of Dorothy's house falling out of the sky, a miniature house was positioned and dropped onto a painting of the sky that had been placed on the stage floor and filmed from above. It was then reversed to make it appear the house was falling towards the camera.

12. If you'll look closely at the wallpaper in Dorothy's bedroom wallpaper, you'll see the design is of poppies.

13. Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM is responsible for coming up with the the famous ruby red slippers. In the book, the slippers were silver.

14. Louis B. Mayer's motivation for doing"The Wizard of Oz" was to trump Walt Disney's award-winning movie "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".

15. Two white palomino ponies were painted with thicken Jell-O powder to get the beautiful effect for "The horse of a different color" shots as Dorothy and her friends are taken through the Emerald City. Shooting had to be done quickly because the horses would constantly try to lick their fur to get a sweet treat!


  1. I was around when it was only shown in a couple of the re-releases in the theaters -- that's how I first saw it. I do recall it being shown in the mid 50s on TV but I don't think it was that big of a deal - the time it was shown on TV in the late 50s was a bigger deal. The movie had become more of a classic by then but it still was nothing like what it came to be still at that point but it was getting closer and there was a lot of hype about that late 50s TV broadcast. Maybe the later 50s broadcast was a bigger deal because lots of people were getting color TVs by then (Bonanza and a few other shows were seen in color by then). I seem to recall that was part of the big thing folks were looking forward to if they had a color TV was to see the point where it turns from B&W to color on their home TVs. Seems I recall those 50s TV airings it was shown around Thanksgiving - not sure when it changed to being shown on TV around the Easter season you recall - I know I was not watching it on most broadcasts it had in the 60s (or after for that matter until decades later).

  2. I first saw the Wizard of Oz on TV around Easter in the late 60's or early 70's. It was a very big deal at our house because my father, Jim Barton, actually knew many of the Munchkins.

    During the early years of the Depression my grandparents and my father, who was a little boy, lived on the grounds of his uncle Terrell Jacobs' winter circus headquarters in Peru, Indiana. Terrell Jacobs was a world famous lion trainer known as "The Lion King".

    Many of the former Munchkins were circus performers (clowns) who used to dress my dad up as a clown and regal him with tales of working on the film. Dad used to recount these stories to us during commercial breaks or ahead of the TV broadcast of the Wizard of Oz.

    I too was terrified of the flying monkeys and my younger sister was frightened by the Wicked Witch.

    Dad had many insights about the making of the film which he shared with us every year when we would watch it around Easter time. Viewing the Wizard of Oz was an annual event which we anticipated and marked in the TV Guide to make sure that we didn't miss it.

    My father died four years ago at the age of 80. Thank you for this pleasant trip down memory lane.