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History with Phil: Some more tidbits from 'The Wizard of Oz"

History with Phil: Some more tidbits from 'The Wizard of Oz"

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Phil Connelly

Phil Connelly

Dorothy’s slippers were originally silver in Frank Baum’s book. But MGM head Louis B. Mayer wanted to tout the newly developed Technicolor so he had them changed to ruby red.

Terry, the little Cairn terrier that played Toto, earned $125 a week, which was more than double the $50 each actor who portrayed a munchkin was paid.

Speaking of the Munchkins, most of the “Little People” were part of a European troupe from Germany and could not speak English. The voices heard in the movie were dubbed later.

The movie’s most famous song “Over The Rainbow” was nearly left on the editing room floor because producers thought it went on for too long.

One of the film’s most beautiful scenes is that of the poppy field. Alas, they were not really poppies. It took 22 people to make the 40,000 flowers by hand. Also, instead of using synthetic flakes during the snow scene, asbestos was used (of course, we now know it can cause deadly lung diseases).

Actress Margaret Hamilton was badly burned during the scene in which the Wicked Witch made her exit from Munchkinland. Her hat, broom and dress caught on fire and severely burned her face and hand. Production had to stop for six weeks so she could recuperate.

Buddy Epsen, who would later gain fame in both the Beverly Hillbillies and Barnaby Jones, was originally cast as the Tin Man. However, he had to give up this role after experiencing a severe allergic reaction to the aluminum dust used as makeup for the Tin Man.

Like Epsen, Hamilton had a negative reaction to makeup, this time from the green face paint. After it had been applied, she could only subsist on a liquid diet during filming. In addition, her face stayed green for weeks after shooting had concluded due to the copper-based makeup.

Even after enduring weeks of green makeup, many of Hamilton’s scenes as the Wicked Witch were cut because they were deemed too scary for children.

The actor who play the Wizard also played four other characters in the movie (the studio wanted to get its money’s worth). Frank Morgan also portrayed a guard and a doorkeeper at the palace, the professor, and the cabbie driving the Horse-of-a-Different-Color.

The famous tornado which started the whole epic story was not easy to create back in 1939 (no CGI then). After an expensive failed attempt, producers decided on spinning a 35-foot long woman’s stocking to mimic a tornado. Dust, dirt and wind were added to make the stocking look like it was a real rotating tornado.

“Follow the Green Brick Road” doesn't really grab you, does it? Due to the shade of yellow, the brick road actually came out looking green on film. The road had to be repainted with a yellow industrial paint so it would show up properly.

"The Wizard of Oz" break-out role for Judy Garland almost didn’t happen. The studio wanted to find a younger Dorothy (Garland was 17) and initially wanted to cast Shirley Temple.

As frequently happens, the most famous line from the movie has been misquoted for years. “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” is actually not what was said. The correct quote is “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

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