Trivia / The Wizard of Oz

The film version:

  • Acting for Two:
    • Frank Morgan plays Professor Marvel, the Gatekeeper, the Mayor/Carriage Driver, the Guard, the voice of the disembodied Oz head, and the Wizard himself. This was done so that Morgan's screen time would balance out with the rest of the cast.
    • Since most of the other major characters have Kansas counterparts, we can also count Ray Bolger as Hunk and the Scarecrow, Bert Lahr as Zeke and the Cowardly Lion, Jack Haley as Hickory and the Tin Man, and Margaret Hamilton as Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West.
    • A few of the little people in the Munchkinland sequence appeared twice: Fern Formica and Margaret Pellegrini played Munchkin Villagers and two of the "sleepyheads," and Karl "Karchy" Kosiczky (now Karl Slover) played a Munchkin Herald and a third sleepyhead.
    • Some of the voice actors did double duty as well: Billy Bletcher as the Mayor of Oz and the Lollipop Guild member, Lorraine Bridges as an Ozmite and a Lullabye League member, and Abe Dinovitch as an apple tree and one of the Munchkins.
  • Adored by the Network: TBS frequently airs it at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter, despite it having nothing to do with any of those holidays. This is more likely because it's a very family-friendly film that can be easily viewed at the gatherings that frequently take place.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • All-Star Cast: This aspect of the film is obviously lost on modern-day audiences, but much of the cast—Judy Garland, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Jack Haley and Margaret Hamilton in particular—were some of the foremost actors of their day. This being the 30's, many of them were noted vaudeville performers.
  • Award Snub: Margaret Hamilton somehow failed to get a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Oscars, which is pretty surprising if you consider how many other scary, iconic performances have been recognized by the Academy.
  • Box Office Bomb: Yes. Budget, $2.8 million (not counting marketing costs), $4.2 million (counting them). Box office, $2,048,000 (domestic), $3,017,000 (worldwide). It couldn't make up the budget domestically and got MGM hit with a $1,145,000 loss over the film. The fact that World War II started mere days after the film hit theaters likely didn't help (WWII is partially responsible for derailing Disney's Pinocchio a few months later). Thankfully, the studio and director Victor Fleming had the distribution rights to Gone with the Wind, which Fleming also directed, to fall back on. It has since recovered.
  • The Cameo: A ghostly sartorial version. The studio wardrobe department had trouble getting just the right look for Frank Morgan's "Professor Marvel". Finally, they went to a nearby thrift shop and bought an old, shabby frock coat for him to wear. While on the set, Morgan turned out the pocket of the coat, and noticed a name tag of the previous owner: L. Frank Baum. (This was later confirmed by Baum's widow and the tailor that made the coat.) Amusingly, when Margaret Hamilton first heard about it, she initially refused to believe it, claiming it to be nothing more than an MGM-concocted rumor to drum up publicity for the movie.
  • Creator Backlash: Jack Haley (the Tin Woodman) did not view making the film as a fond experience, describing it as "awful" and "not fun at all" throughout the rest of his career.
  • Creator Killer: Director Victor Fleming suffered no ill effects when the film bombed domestically, but co-writers Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf were not so lucky, and they never had another major cinematic credit after The Wizard of Oz (Woolf's case was also due to his death 4 years after the film's theatrical release).
  • Cut Song: "The Jitterbug" and the sad reprise of "Over the Rainbow", though both are usually performed in stage adaptations of the movie. Averted with the main "Over the Rainbow" song itself, which the filmmakers almost cut out of concern that it would slow down the plot. Other cut songs includes:
    • If I Only Had a Brain (Full Version/The Scarecrow Dance)
    • If I Were A King in the Forest (Full Version)
    • The Reprise of The Witch is dead
    • Even the original recording of If I Only Had a Heart by Buddy Ebsen
  • Dawson Casting: Here it's a 16 year old Judy Garland playing an 11 year old Dorothy Gale. This is largely unnoticed unless the viewer has read the book. Shirley Temple was originally considered for the role, but the plan fell through.
    • Nowhere in either the book or the movie is Dorothy's exact age mentioned, though the book describes her as a "little girl." Some sources suggest Dorothy was meant to be twelve in the film while others assume (from the casting of Fairuza Balk in Return to Oz) that in the book she is around eight.
  • Dyeing for Your Art:
    • Judy Garland's feet hurt so much in the ruby slippers that she could only wear them for shots when they would be visible on camera (this also cut down on the wear-and-tear the slippers had to endure). When her feet weren't shown, Garland wore booties or black shoes, which can be glimpsed briefly when she and the Scarecrow are backing away from the apple trees.
    • Margaret Hamilton could not eat with the make-up on (Bert Lahr also decided to have his redone daily as he got tired of a liquid diet).
    • The Tin Woodsman costume worn by Jack Haley was so stiff that he had to lean against a board to rest.
    • The Cowardly Lion's costume was really hot due to being made of real lion skin.
    • And everyone had to suffer with really hot studio lights.
  • Executive Meddling: The movie is All Just a Dream because studio executives thought moviegoers would be "too sophisticated" to accept a real fairyland.
  • Fandom Life Cycle: A Solid 5.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Almost. Buddy Ebsen suffered a near fatal reaction to the Tin Man's aluminum make-up, and Margaret Hamilton was almost burnt alive after catching on fire.
  • Follow the Leader: The film was greenlit after the enormous success of Walt Disney's fairy-tale musical masterpiece Snow White (Walt was planning his own adaptation for what would become the Disney Animated Canon before MGM's production convinced him to drop the idea).
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Margaret Hamilton as the Witch provides a rather infamous example. She was a kindergarten teacher, and children would ask her frequently after the film why she was so mean to Dorothy, to the point Hamilton guest starred on an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to explain that the witch was only a role she played. It's also reported that Judy Garland found it difficult to actually fear her.
    • Hamilton was also devoted to animal rights. Her presence in SPCA television spots was as ubiquitous as Sarah MacLachlan's today.
    • Apparently, the reason that Dorothy hides behind the Tin Man and Scarecrow when they're ambushed by the Cowardly Lion is because she was about to start laughing.
  • Missing Trailer Scene:
    • The 1940 trailer includes footage from costume tests.
    • The trailers from 1949, 1955, and 1970 briefly show a Cut Song celebrating Dorothy's defeat of the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • The Other Marty: Jack Haley became the Tin Man after the original actor (none other than future Jed Clampett, Buddy Ebsen) was hospitalized. The Tin Man's makeup originally consisted of aluminum powder, which coated the actor's lungs and nearly suffocated him. To avoid the same near-fatal mistake, the makeup was changed to aluminum paste.
    • It goes further than that, originally Buddy Ebsen was supposed to play Scarecrow and Ray Bolger was supposed to play Tin Man. Bolger, however, longed to play the Scarecrow, as his childhood idol, Fred Stone, who had inspired him to do vaudeville in the first place, had performed the role on stage in 1902. Because of this, he was unhappy with his role as the Tin Man, reportedly claiming "I'm not a tin performer; I'm fluid", and convinced producer Mervyn LeRoy to recast him in the part he so desired. Ebsen agreed to switch roles with Bolger.
    • In addition, the Wicked Witch of the West was originally supposed to have been played by Gale Sondergaard and the character was originally supposed to be a glamorous witch inspired by the wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. However, when producer Mervyn LeRoy decided that having an attractive Wicked Witch created a plot hole, as it played against the notion that (as "Glinda, the Witch of the North" would eventually point out to Dorothy) only bad witches were ugly, the character was made into the familiar "ugly hag" and Sondergaard, looking hideous in the make-up, left the production and was replaced by Margaret Hamilton.
  • Troubled Production: Cast and director changes, budget overruns, impractical costumes and make-up (specially under heavy lighting!), Hamilton getting hospitalized when flames gave her second-to-third degree burns... basically anything and everything that could complicate the shoot happened.
  • What Could Have Been: The script originally included an end scene that was never filmed, in which Hunk (the real-world counterpart to the Scarecrow) went away to agricultural college and Dorothy promised to write to him. The implications were heavy that this would result in a romance between them, which would account for Dorothy's particular affection for the Scarecrow during her time in Oz.
    • Also, in addition to the Dawson Casting example, W.C. Fields was originally asked to play the Wizard, but he demanded a salary which MGM considered to be too exorbitant.
    • "The Jitterbug" scene and dance number, even though the finished film still has a line leading into it from the Wicked Witch ("I've sent a little insect ahead to take the fight out of them!"), and most stage productions of The Wizard of Oz include it.
    • "Over The Rainbow"note  was very nearly cut from the film because the producers thought it was disrespectful to have Judy Garland sing in a barnyard (and because it was thought that it would slow the movie down). Cutting that song would have changed her entire career.
      • Also there was originally meant to be a Dark Reprise of the song when Dorothy is trapped in the Witch's castle. As Judy Garland would have had to incorporate a lot of acting into the song, it had to be recorded live during the take. Reportedly it reduced the entire crew to tears. Here's the audio. Unlike in the above scene, however, the song was cut at this point.
    • Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as The Scarecrow, and Ray Bolger was to play the Tin Woodsman. However, Bolger convinced the studio that his style of dancing was completely wrong for that character (just try to picture the Woodsman dancing like the Scarecrow), so Ebsen agreed to switch roles with him. In an unforeseen complication, however, Ebsen had an extreme allergic reaction to the aluminum dust used in the Tin Man's makeup, and was forced to quit the film. Ebsen also noted in an interview on the Jerry Springer Show many years later that he almost had his testicles cut off by the metal suit!
    • Early on in the film's development, MGM discovered that Walt Disney was working on his own version of the Oz story at the same time. Rather than going head-to-head, both studios actually held discussions of possibly combining the two projects into a live action/animation hybrid movie, with MGM doing the live action and Disney doing the animation. Scheduling issues ultimately ended the collaboration, and Disney shortly after cancelled his own version of the film in favor of other projects so as not to compete with MGM's version.
    • Shirley Temple was wanted for the role of Dorothy and there were negotiations to loan her out from Fox. Deanna Durbin was also considered before Judy Garland was cast.
    • Gale Sondergaard was the original choice to play the Wicked Witch of the West, but she balked after learning that she'd have to wear heavy makeup and facial prosthetics in order to appear uglier.
    • MGM considered using Leo the Lion as The Cowardly Lion. An actor would have dubbed the character's lines in.
    • Noel Langley, a South African playwright, wrote a version of the script in which the Winged Monkeys are on Dorothy's side. He also invented new characters - Lizzie Smithers the soda jerk, a prince, princess and a dragon.
    • A later script has the Wicked Witch out to get the Wizard of Oz with 200 winged monkeys, 4,000 wolves and 10,000 men, because she wants the Emerald City throne for her dim-witted son Bulbo.
  • You Look Familiar: Frank Morgan plays four different roles in Oz—the doorman at the gate, the coachman who drives the Horse of a Different Color, the guard outside the Wizard's chamber, and the Wizard himself. This was done to balance out Morgan's screen time with the rest of the cast. It also unintentionally gives the viewer a clue that all is not as it seems in the vast, graceful Emerald City.

The 1982 anime film

The animated series

The musical

  • Acting for Two: As in the movie, the five people Dorothy knows and their respective Oz counterparts are played by the same people.

The 2013 pinball machine