Fun Facts About The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

by Wynand Schultz

Yes, I'm talking about THE Wizard of Oz movie, the one that is still popular today, more than 70 years after it has been released.  Let's discover some facts about and around this ever delightful movie:

The lead, Judy Garland, known as Frances Ethel Gumm until around 1935, was the only lead player in the Oz movie whose costume was easy to create.  She wore one farm dress throughout, but used up eight duplicates of it during filming.  

This is Judy's first color film, and Technicolor showed that she has dimples.  In black and white photography this went unphotographed. 

For the first two weeks of shooting, Judy Garland wore a long blonde wig.  But after that it was decided to use her real hair from then on and the scenes were reshot. 

Masks weren't used on the characters' faces, as it was decided that every star be recognizable under his make-up.  This policy should explain why the Lion looks like a man wearing slight chipmunk makeup, in my opinion the only costume that doesn't quite look like what it represents.

Actor Bert Lahr, the Lion, had to take his lunches through a straw because of the stiff upper lip make-up.  His suit contained real lion skins and weighed around 50 pounds, so he had to remove it about every 20 minutes to rest.   

The Scarecrow was considered a fire hazard as his costume was stuffed with straw, and therefore a man with a fire extinguisher was always standing nearby.  The only time that he did catch fire though was when the Wicked Witch lit him on fire with her broom.  Actor Ray Bolger, the scarecrow wasn't troubled by it but it did unnerve the Wicked Witch, Margaret Hamilton.  

For the "horse of a different color", a white horse was dyed with a famous gelatine dessert.  It worked fine, excepting the horse wanted to lick it off.

40,000 poppies had to be made for the scene where Dorothy falls asleep in the field of flowers (real poppies would have wilted under hot lighting).  Ten to twenty men worked a week placing the flowers into position on the 2-acre set. 

The Wizard Of Oz was probably the first movie that had music on every foot of film, on the soundtrack. 

After a nationwide search, 120 midgets were gathered to play the Munchkins.  They took over an entire apartment house.  On set, four six foot men lifted them into place. 

The dog Toto lived with Judy Garland for two weeks before the picture started, to get accustomed to his mistress in the movie.  It is said he became so attached to Judy that when Dorothy fell into the pig pen, Toto attacked a sow to protect her and had to be rescued himself.   

The program for the movie's showing at the Grauman's Chinese Theater lists this fantastic fact: The Wardrobe Department provided Frank Morgan, the actor who plays the wizard but first the medicine show faker, with a tattered, formerly elegant overcoat for the latter scene. Morgan discovered a label inside showing the coat was made in Chicago, in 1909, for L. Frank Baum, the very author of The Wizard Of Oz. Small world!