Agent: They're sort of interested in you for a part in The Wizard of Oz.
Margaret Hamilton: Oh gosh! think of that! I've loved that story from the time I was four years old, what (part) is it?
A: Well, the witch.
MH: The witch?!?
A: Yes, what else?
(Cue gales of laughter from the audience)
Margaret Brainard Hamilton (December 9, 1902 May 16, 1985) was an American film character actress best known for her portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West, based on Dorothy Gale's malevolent neighbor, Miss Almira Gulch, whom Hamilton also played, in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's classic film The Wizard of Oz.
A former schoolteacher, she worked as a character actress in films for seven yearsnote before she was offered the role that defined her public image. The Wicked Witch of the West was eventually ranked No. 4 in the American Film Institute's list of the 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time, making her the highest ranking female villain. In later years, Hamilton made frequent cameo appearances on television sitcoms and commercials. Younger viewers may associate her as Cora the grocer from the Maxwell House ads. She also gained recognition for her work as an advocate of causes designed to benefit children and animals, and retained a lifelong commitment to public education.
She appeared in:
Film and television
- The Farmer Takes a Wife
- Nothing Sacred
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- As the World Turns
- Four's a Crowd (1938)
- Babes in Arms
- The Wizard of Oz
- My Little Chickadee
- State of the Union
- The Addams Family
- 13 Ghosts
- The Daydreamer
- Brewster McCloud
- Sesame Street
- Sigmund and the Sea Monsters
- The Partridge Family
- Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
- The Paul Lynde Halloween Special
- Lou Grant
- The Night Strangler
- Actor Allusion: Also counts as a Casting Gag. Hamilton's appearance in 13 Ghosts as a Witch...This time she's a good witch, helping the household keep up with the trapped ghosts.
- Friend to All Children: In contrast to her Wicked Witch of the West character in The Wizard of Oz, her biggest fear was that she would be typecast afterwards. One of her earlier jobs was as a kindergarten teacher, and she taught Sunday school during The '50s. She loved and doted upon children throughout her life. She even appeared on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to clear up misunderstandings about The Wizard Of Oz by putting on her costume and makeup as she "transformed" into the Wicked Witch.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Margaret Hamilton plays The Wicked Witch of the West. Behind the scene, Margaret is the only one who was nice to Judy Garland. While all her other co-stars and actors ruthlessly bullied Judy because they couldnt accept a little girl being the main star.
- Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Starting in the mid-1970's, she appeared with her beloved cats in a number of PSAs for the Humane Society, with a short poignant speech about abandoned kittens and reminding us to get our companions spayed and neutered.
- Star-Making Role: As the Wicked Witch of the West. Perhaps painfully so.
- Typecasting: As a witch. In her later career, as a Cool Old Lady Granny Classic.