1. The Lion Costume Was Real
Something we do not know when we watch The Wizard Of Oz is that the cowardly lion costume is actually made of real lion pelts. This is a fact that in the modern day, we do not approve of. The costume for the lion also weighed over one hundred pounds because it was using real lion skin and fur.
2. Judy Garland Wore a Corset to Look More Childlike
Judy Garland was 16 years old when she filmed for The Wizard of Oz. Of course, Dorothy is a young girl in the TWOZ and so to make Judy Garland appear younger they used a corset. This was so that they could flatten her chest so that she looked less like a developed woman. They could not change the actor because Judy Garland’s voice was irreplaceable.
3. The Set Was Often 100 Degrees
Imagine having to work on set at temperatures of 100 degrees, sometimes more. It sounds pretty unbearable. But for The Wizard of oz this was the case because of the lighting. They were using technicolor which at that time required a lot more light than in modern days now that technology has progresses so far.
4. A Pair of Ruby Slippers Were Stolen in 2005
In 2005 a pair of the ruby slippers that were actually used on the set and as real costume props were stolen. It is unclear how or who, but now the remaining few ruby slippers are kept under lock and key to stop them from being stolen too.
5. The Ruby Slippers Weren’t Supposed To Be Red
They Ruby Slippers are recognisable all over the world as one of the symbols of TWOZ. But, they actually were not supposed to be ruby. In L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Dorothy’s slippers were actually silver, not red. But, to make the most of the technicolor and to make them look more of a statement on screen the producers decided to make the slippers ruby red.
6. Special Effects or Jell-O
One thing that you don’t expect to be a staple in the production of a film and in the use of special effects is Jell-O. But, for the Emerald city scene the horses had to appear different colours, bright vivid unnatural colours. And, to do this the special effects team did not just make the horses appear colourful they actually used Jell-O powder to literally turn the horses different colours.
7. Shirley Temple Was Almost Dorothy
Shirley Temple was one of the front runners to becoming Dorothy. She was one of the few main people who were to play the main character. Temple was 11 years old at the time so it would have been perfect for the portrayal of Dorothy. But, the producers only reservations were that she did not have the vocal capacities of Judy Garland.
8. The Tin Man Makeup Caused Havoc
Buddy Ebsen was going to play the character of the Tin Man, he was the front runner at the time. But, when they applied the aluminium dust to him he suffered a very serious allergic reaction which meant that he would be unable to play the part any longer. And so, Jack Haley took his place. They switched from aluminium powder to a paste. But Haley did not agree with he makeup either, it game him an eye infection. It wasn’t as serious however, and he continued the role despite this.
9. Terry (Toto) Was Paid £125 Per Week
Terry was a female Cairn Terrier who played the role of Toto. She was paid 125 pounds per week, which at the time was significant (especially for a dog and not a human actress) and it was also more than many of the actors playing the Munchkins received.
10. A Suicide
This is a very horrifying detail that not many people know about as they watch the film. However it is unsure if it is true. It has been rumoured that one of the Munchkins actually committed suicide on the set by hanging themselves. It is also rumoured that you can see shadow of the hanging in one of the scenes in the background.
11. Heavy Doll Makeup
At the start, when filming first started Judy Garland who played Dorothy was given a blonde wig and heavy makeup, kind of baby doll style. It’s hard to imagine Dorothy looking like this now. However, director George Cukor decided that this look was not right and so the heavy makeup and unnatural hair was ditched.
12. Auntie Em Committed Suicide
Clara Blandick in The Wizard of Oz played the great role of Auntie Em, who we all grew to know and love. Sadly, what many people don’t know is that in 1962 she committed suicide. Her health was failing her and she could not take it any longer. She left behind a suicide note. The first line of the note read: “I am now about to make the great adventure.”
13. The Wicked Witch’s Makeup Was Toxic
The makeup for the Wicked Witch (the green makeup) was actually toxic. The actress who played The Wicked Witch was called Margaret Hamilton and she had to go to great lengths to avoid ingesting it. In fact, she stayed on a liquid diet during filming to avoid this. The copper ingredients which turned the makeup green resided for weeks on her skin so that she looked green for weeks after filming.
14. Judy Garland Had A Slap Across the Face
While Judy Garland was filming the scene where she slaps the cowardly lion, she had a fit of uncontrollable laughter which she could not stop. So, Victor Fleming took her to one side and slapped her in the face completely out of the blue before they were about to do another take of the scene.
15. Wicked Witch Was Severely Burned
The Wicked Witch was in for a rough ride, not only on screen but also during the filming. Not only did she have to deal with toxic green makeup, she also was severely burned during filming. The scene they were filming at the time was the moment she disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
16. A Lot Of People Were Involved
After all, it’s all about magic and creatures that don’t exist. Nowadays, we have technology and we can easily apply special effects. Back then things took a lot more time and effort. The whole production of The Wizard Of Oz took five directors and fourteen writers.
17. The Green Brick Road
When production first painted the yellow brick road, it appeared on the screen somehow as green. And, the green brick road was not something that the producers wanted to stick with. So, they had to get new industrial yellow paint that actually showed on screen as the same colour it is in the tin. Thankfully, this time it did.
18. The Costume Frightened The Workers
Credit to the costume designers, they did their job well enough that the costumes actually scared people. The diners in the MGM cafeteria were actually scared by the costumes of The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion. Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley all ate their lunch in the dressing room to avoid frightening people. They would also spend their break times there too for the same reason.
19. Over The Rainbow Was Almost Cut
The song Over The Rainbow is one of the most famous and recognisable songs of all time. Even without watching The Wizard Of Oz, Over The Rainbow has become an iconic song in its own right. The producers of the film thought that it made the film too long and so they suggested it was cut. Thankfully, in the end the decision was made to keep it in.
20. Tin Man’s Chocolate Oil
When filming the movie, the Tin Man’s oil was actually made from chocolate sauce. At first, they tried real oil but it would not show up on screen enough to look substantial. So, in the end they opted for chocolate sauce because it showed up in consistency and colour.
21. 3210 costumes
We know that a LOT of effort went into the making of this film, in every aspect. Whether that is special effects or filming, or costume design – there was no area that cut corners. And, perhaps due to this fact it was one of the most successful films and still is to this very day. There were actually 3120 costumes made in total for The Wizard Of Oz.
22. Incorrect Pythagorean Theorem
Not many people will have known that in the film Pythagorean Theorem is quoted incorrectly. Unless you are a whizz at maths or you take extra notice of every detail then this probably passed you by. The Tin Man actually states Pythagorean Theorem incorrectly in the film.
23. A Recognisable Voice
Producers actually wanted to make The Wizard Of Oz even more successful than Disney’s Snow White. But the connections between the two don’t end there. The girl who speaks inside the Tin Man’s voice is actually the voice of Disney’s Snow White. We hear the voice during the song ‘If I Only Had a Heart’. The lady behind the voice is named Adriana Caselotti.
24. Asbestos Snow
When dealing with asbestos, someone has to be specially trained and equipped because it is that dangerous. However, at the time this was not yet known. And, the snow that we see on the poppy field scene is actually created using Asbestos.
25. The Wicked Witch Was Too Frightening
Back in the day of The Wizard Of Oz, people were less exposed to horror as we are now. Back then the Wicked Witch was seen as way too frightening for children, so that many of the scenes had to either be completely cut out or shortened. This was so that the film would not be considered as too frightening for children to watch.
26. Dorothy’s Dress Was Pink
When we picture Dorothy, we picture her with ruby red slippers and a blue and white gingham dress. This is because it’s what we see on screen. Yet, the blue and white dress was not actually as it appeared. In real life it was blue and pink gingham.
But, because of the technicolor in those days, true white would not show very well on the screen. There were discrepancies between what the colours in real life and how they showed up on screen. And so, to make it look white as it should be, they in fact used pink. This way, it would show up substantially white on the film.
27. It Had Great Reviews
The Wizard Of Oz when it came out was so highly anticipated and everybody was watching, so of course it got a lot of attention and reviews. The New York Times write that: “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.”
28. Several Scenes Were Cut
As in any film, several scenes from the movie have to be cut at the end of the process to shorten it to an acceptable amount of time. The original film, before it was cut was 120 minutes long. At one point the Tin Man turned into a human beehive. This was completely cut out and so nobody will ever get to see this footage sadly.
29. Dorothy’s Hair Changes
If you have really scrutinised or just paid very close attention (or watched it a thousand times) you may have noticed that Dorothy’s hair changes throughout the film. Sometimes it looks longer, sometimes it appears to be shorter in certain scenes. This is because of scenes that had to be taken again and because of changes in her look that were made throughout the film. Which, of course, affected the consistency of her appearance.
30. 124 Munchkins
There were 124 Munchkins cast for the film. As we see in the scenes, there are a lot of Munchkins in the scenes and that were necessary for the filming of The Wizard Of Oz. They are the most numerous of all the characters. The Munchkins did not have a significant part in terms of individual acting however they were crucial to the film. Today, sadly only two of the 124 Munchkins in The Wizard Of Oz are alive today.
31. The Iconic Line
It has become a famously quoted quote in the film – “Fly, my pretties, fly.” And, it’s said to have come from the Wicked Witch of the West. But, this iconic quote does not actually even exist. What she really says is ‘fly, fly, fly’. It’s unusual that a highly quoted film and one that everybody recognises is not even in the film at all – it’s been totally misquoted.
32. You Can Visit the Red Slippers
Who doesn’t want to see the most infamous ruby red slippers of all time? A pair of shoes that Judy Garland wore to create a masterpiece. You can now visit them in the Smithsonian. They are, of course, surrounded by red carpet. And, it’s had to be replaced three times already because there are that many visitors to see it that the footfall has worn the carpet.
33. The Stolen Slippers Were Found
We previously discussed how some of the ruby slippers had actually been stolen. And this was not taken lightly at all. These were precious artefacts. There was a 13 year hunt to find them and an undercover FBI mission taking place in Minneapolis. They were finally found, but the perpetrator clearly not because no arrests were made. They were asking for information on the 2005 crime. Thankfully however, the red slippers were found after all.
34. The Tinman Was Originally the Scarecrow
Imagine of the Tin Man was the Scarecrow? Well it nearly happened. Buddy Ebsen was in fact the guy who was originally cast for the role of the Scarecrow. But later on he swapped his role with Ray Bolger’s role.
35. An Activist Group Was Created
An activist group was created because of the Munchkins. Because there were so many people playing the role of the Munchkins, the gathering crowd inspired an activist group. At the time it was called the Midgets of America advocacy group but it is now known as Little People of America.
36. There Are Lots of Book/Film Differences
As with any book and film, the film can never be a true representation or replica of the book. In The Wizard of Oz, there are around 44 major differences. Although this is significant, it is certainly not unusual for this to happen.
37. Only Two Munchkins Spoke
Considering there were so many Munchkins, it is surprising to find out that actually only two of them really spoke. And, you may be questioning this because more than two munchkins speak in the film. However, professional voice actors and singers were dubbed for the rest of the time. Despite being the majority of the cast, the Munchkins were given the least acting to do.
38. MGM Paid Frank Baum $75,000
MGM really wanted the film rights to Frank Baum’s film. They were very eager to produce the film and knew how great it would be. But first, they had to pay him for the rights of the film. And so, they paid him 75,000. Which, in comparison to films in today’s world seems very insignificant. But, this was massive money back then and a tribute to just how great Baum’s novel was. And, to how much they wanted it.
39. Nominee For 6 Awards
The Wizard of Oz was a breakthrough film. For one, it’s special effects and use of colour were like none other at this point in time. And, the acting and the story line and everything about it made it an immediate hit. People had seen nothing quite like it before. So, it was nominated for 6 academy awards. But, unfortunately it did lose the Best Picture award to Gone With the Wind. However, it was still a very impressive feat.
40. The Original Film Was Viewed Once
We learned in an earlier point that the original Wizard of Oz film was 120 minutes. This was cut down because it was thought to be too long. Yet, it was actually viewed one time before, by a theatrical audience. This lucky audience were the only people that ever got to see the real uncut version of The Wizard of Oz. Now that’s certainly a claim to fame. Unfortunately it’s too late for a release of the extended version…
41. It Was All A Studio Set
The Wizard of Oz was shot solely on a studio set. Apart from one scene, which was a shot of the clouds in the sky in the opening credits. Most films use a combination of real location sets aswell as studio sets.
42. Apple Juice Fire
43. The Wicked Witch’s Death Certificate
In the movie, the Wicked Witch’s death certificate is dated May, 6 1938. This was actually the day Frank Baum died. The creator of the novel and the person whom without him, there would be no story or film.
44. The Dress is For Sale
Are there any more iconic dresses that Dorothy’s? We don’t think so. This dress would be recognised globally. But, what we didn’t realise is that you can actually get your hands on it. I mean, you’d have to have a spare $350,000-$500,00 dollars because that’s what it’s worth. But it is actually for sale. Of course, only someone with extreme wealth could buy it and so it has not yet been purchased. So, it won’t be something that’s our next fancy dress option.
45. More Than 100 Dogs Auditioned
Toto was not always Toto, there was some serious casting that occurred. The same process for the characters who are human, or even perhaps more stringent. After all, having a dog on set can throw up a series of problems if they aren’t potty trained or do not listen to any kind of instructions. So, more than 100 dogs auditioned before they finally found the perfect dog we know today as Toto.
46. The Wicked Witch Was A Kindergarten Teacher
Who’d have thought that the Wicked Witch of the West would actually be a Kindergarten teacher. Especially since she was told during filming that sometimes she was too scary. And, her scenes often had to be cut because the effect on children would be too terrifying. It makes it all the more ironic that her professional job was actually working with young children.
47. It’s the Second Wizard of Oz
Not many people know this at all. The fact that The Wizard of Oz is not the only and original Wizard of Oz to ever be made is a surprise to most people. But, in 1925 a silent film called The Wizard of Oz was created.
48. It Took 26 Weeks To Film
It was revealed that the film took 26 weeks to film. Bert Lahr who played the lion did not think that filming would last very long at all. His contract lasted five weeks and so he naturally assumed that it would only take around this amount of time to film.
49. It Cost 3 Million
It has been estimated that MGM spent around 2.77 million dollars to create the movie. MGM were totally set on making this film and making it well. The price back then equals roughly to around 50 million dollars today.
50. It Didn’t Profit For 20 Years
Nobody knows whether anyone who had created the film has foreseen that they would not make almost immediate profit. I guess, when that amount of money goes into a film you realise that it will take a while to start making profit once it has been earned back.