16 Shocking Wizard Of Oz Movie Facts

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Everything that could have gone wrong during the making of this movie DID go wrong.

We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the wildest movie facts they know, and a bunch of them were about The Wizard of Oz. Here are the truly shocking results.

Note: Submissions include topics of sexual assault.

1.

The face mask that Ray Bolger wore for his Scarecrow costume was made of rubber, and it was so heavy and tight that it nearly suffocated him several times.


MGM

Suggested by george45

Bolger opened up about the difficulties of the costume, saying “I had a rubber mask. It sort of closed the pores in my face, and when the lights got real hot and ate up all the oxygen I couldn’t breathe.” In fact, the costumes were so unbearable for all three men on set that Judy Garland remembered how “each one was making bets as to which makeup was the most difficult all the way through the picture.”

2.

The studio executives at MGM treated Judy Garland so terribly that they often referred to her as “a fat little pig with pigtails.”


CBS / youtube.com

Suggested by andreaa43

The physical and verbal abuse that Garland went through on and off set was absolutely wild. Louis B. Meyer, the co-founder of MGM, often referred to Judy Garland as “my little hunchback.” Her weight was consistently monitored too.

3.

In fact, Louis B. Meyer apparently had Judy Garland on a strict diet of “black coffee, chicken soup, and 80 cigarettes a day,” along with diet pills to reduce her appetite.


MGM

Suggested by andreaa43

Louis B. Meyer hired people to constantly watch over Judy Garland to make sure she was following her diet. If he ever found out that she ventured from what he wanted (like when he’d catch her sneaking in a milkshake), he’d give her “diet pills to speed her up and reduce her appetite.”

Sidney Luft, Judy’s ex-husband, wrote in his memoir that Garland, “unlike other actresses, could not successfully camouflage extra weight, especially because she was dancing and singing in revealing costumes. Just 4 feet 11.5 inches, she could be underweight and still appear heavy or out of proportion on screen.”

4.

The male actors who played Munchkins would often torment Judy Garland on set, and some allegedly sexually assaulted her by putting their hands under her dress.


MGM

Suggested by spenceralthouse

In the memoir Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland, Sidney Luft revealed that a lot of the older male Munchkin actors were “naughty.” Apparently, they spent most of their time after work at bars and “were disorderly as hell, yelling and screaming.” Luft recalled one event in particular, claiming, “The next day, on the set, hungover, they would make Judy’s life miserable by putting their hands under her dress…The men were 40 or more years old.”


5.

In fact, a lot of the Munchkin actors were so bad that an MGM employee was literally assigned to watch over them, and several of the actors ended up getting arrested between shoots.


MGM, youtube.com

Suggested by pipermurreyj

Sidney Luft also wrote in his memoir that the older male Munchkin actors apparently “thought they could get away with anything because they were so small.” The studio hired an assistant director and a lieutenant to keep an eye on everyone, but “many of them would wind up in jail and have to be bailed out.” However, they were immediately bailed out so production wouldn’t be stalled: “You couldn’t lock them up for long because they were needed on the set.”


6.

Margaret Hamilton suffered such severe burns on her face and hand after a stunt went wrong that it looked “as though someone had taken the top of her hand and peeled it like an orange.”


CBS / youtube.com / MGM

Suggested by victoriaannb2

This particular incident occurred when the Wicked Witch of the West was supposed to make her dramatic, fiery exit from Munchkinland. There was a trap door on set that didn’t open fast enough, so Hamilton got caught in the flames. Seconds after the mishap, she looked down at her hand and saw the damage: “From the wrist to the fingernails, there was no skin on the hand. It was as though someone had taken the top of her hand and peeled it like an orange.”

She spent six weeks recuperating in the hospital and at home. This was back in the 1930s, so the only reason Hamilton returned to the production and didn’t sue MGM’s entire studio after the incident was because she knew it would ruin her acting career: “I know how this business works, and I would never work again. I will return to work on one condition — no more fireworks!”

7.

And the green makeup that was used for the Wicked Witch of the West’s costume was so toxic that Margaret Hamilton was put on a strict liquid diet to avoid accidentally getting the paint in her mouth.


MGM

Suggested by s470

Jack Young, one of the film’s makeup artists, revealed that the green makeup contained copper oxide, which made it toxic. The toxicity of her makeup actually prevented Hamilton from getting faster medical attention during the fiery stunt gone wrong: “It would have been another matter if she had not been wearing green makeup: makeup man Jack Young would have gently blotted off the greasepaint, and Dr. Jones, the MGM doctor, would have covered the burns with salve. But green makeup was toxic.”

In that time, the two makeup colors that studios had to be careful of were gold (because it was a concealer and closed the pores) and green (because of the copper). Young was always extra careful when taking off Hamilton’s makeup “because you don’t take chances with green.” They ended up using alcohol to remove it, and it was such a painful process for Hamilton that “I stood it as long as I could. And then I said, ‘I’m going to have to scream.'”

8.

Although the studio used toxic paint on its actors, they decided to go for a safer route when it came to painting the colorful horses in Emerald City. For that effect, they used Jell-O powder.


MGM

Suggested by austinallie

The studio rightfully ruled that it would be unacceptable to use real paint on the horses during the Emerald City scene. They tried several different alternatives, including food coloring, but “the colors were not subtle enough.” Ultimately, they sponged colorful Jell-O powders onto the horses to get the right color and effect. They had to work fast between each take, though, because “the horses invariably managed to lick off most of the Jell-O between shots.”

9.

The Cowardly Lion costume was made of real lion skin and hair, and it weighed over 90 pounds.


MGM

Suggested by pipermurreyj

And if you’re curious, one of the costumes for the Cowardly Lion sold for over $3 million at a New York auction a few years ago.

10.

Betty Danko, Margaret Hamilton’s stunt double, spent 11 days in the hospital after a pipe in the character’s broomstick exploded.


Hal Roach Studios / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) / Everett Collection / MGM

Suggested by georgie45

There’s a skywriting sequence in the movie when smoke is supposed to come out of the Wicked Witch of the West’s broomstick. To make this happen, a pipe was attached to the bicycle seat saddle on the broomstick. However, during one of the test runs, the pipe exploded.

According to Danko, it “felt as though my scalp was coming off. The explosion blew me off the broomstick.” Among other injuries, there was a “two-inch-deep wound that nearly circled Danko’s leg, which was full of bits of her costume.” Danko made only $35 for completing the broomstick stunt and $790 for everything else she did in the movie.

11.

Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as the Tin Man, but the aluminum dust in his makeup was so toxic that it “nearly choked him to death,” so he was replaced by Jack Haley.


Wikipedia / Fair Use / MGM / en.wikipedia.org / CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images

Suggested by horsebeast

Ebsen was hospitalized and forced out of The Wizard of Oz‘s production because of the costuming and makeup. When Jack Haley replaced him, the studio started using a safer aluminum paste as makeup. Ebsen claimed to have breathing problems for the rest of his life because of “that damned movie.”

12.

The actors who played Munchkins were only paid $50 a week…


MGM

Suggested by colleend9

Adjusted for inflation, that’s $898 by 2021’s standards.


13.

…And Terry, the dog who played Toto, was paid nearly three times as much as the Munchkins. She made $125 per week.


MGM

Suggested by colleend9

That equals $2,246 per week in the year 2021…or a yearly salary of $116,792.

14.

According to Judy Garland’s biographer, her mother was actually the one who introduced her to pep pills as a way to help her “give an energetic performance,” especially while shooting this movie.


MGM

Suggested by dellarock

Throughout the next few years, MGM started prescribing Garland even more pills to “control both her weight and her energy levels.”

Garland told biographer Paul Donnelly that they’d give her and Mickey Rooney, with whom she made several movies, the pills to “keep us on our feet long after we were exhausted…then knock us out with sleeping pills…then after four hours they’d wake us up and give us the pep pills again so we could work 72 hours in a row. Half of the time we were hanging from the ceiling, but it was a way of life for us.”

15.

One of the Munchkin actors got stuck in a toilet for 45 minutes on set, so MGM had to hire attendants to help the little people on and off toilets throughout the rest of production.


MGM

Suggested by kaylayandoli

Billy Curtis, one of the Munchkin actors, remembered the event, saying, “They had to clean him off like he was a baby.” In regards to having bathroom attendants, Margaret Pellegrini, one of the last surviving Munchkin actors, added that it was “the first time I’d ever had anybody help me go to the bathroom. But the costumes were so unhandy.”

16.

And the “snowstorm” that took place in the poppy field scene was actually asbestos — which is highly toxic — falling on the actors.


MGM

Suggested by miker4524

This was a realllllly common practice on movie sets back in the day. Movie studios used asbestos because it was fireproof, unlike cotton, which they previously used. Studios also tried using cornflakes that were painted white to look like snow, but this method was too noisy because of the crunching sound it made whenever actors walked during scenes.

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