FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
Well, the rest is history as they say. The film’s script, direction, production, cast, and release are all Hollywood legend. So much trivia is now known that it could easily fill a book. We have gone through some of the stories and came up with our favorite anecdotes about the making of “The Wizard of Oz” which are listed here.
The Munchkins were played by members of the “Singer Midgets,” a touring group of small actors from Europe. Several took advantage of their trip to Hollywood to immigrate and escape the Nazis. The roles of the singing Munchkins had to have the voices dubbed in because few of them spoke English, or they were unable to sing. The Munchkins on the set were paid $50 per week for a six-day week. Terry the dog (playing Toto the dog) was paid $125 per week.
Judy Garland had to wear a painful corset device around her torso to make her appear younger (she was 16) and flat-chested. It also made her eyes “bug out” slightly which the executives liked.
Many of the Wicked Witch of the West’s scenes were trimmed or deleted entirely. The actress Margaret Hamilton’s performance was believed to be too frightening for younger audiences.
The wardrobe department found a shabby looking coat at a local second-hand store which was considered perfect for the character of the Wizard. One day on the set, Frank Morgan casually turned out one of the pockets and discovered that the coat was made for Frank Baum, the author of the “The Wizard of Oz.” The coat was confirmed as genuine by Frank Baum’s widow.
The song “Over the Rainbow” was almost cut from the film. Executives felt that it made the Kansas scene too long and would be too far over the heads of the potential children’s audience. They also believed that it would be degrading to have Judy Garland singing in a barnyard.
During the scene where the song “We’re Off to See the Wizard” was performed there is a disturbance off to the side that for a long time many believed was a member of the crew or one of the Munchkins committing suicide by hanging himself. In fact it was just a large bird stretching its wings.
The horses in Emerald City that keep changing colors were actually colored with Jell-O crystals. The scene had to be shot quickly before the horses started to lick it off.
Behind the Scenes
The film had five different directors. Richard Thorpe directed for a few weeks in the beginning. He was replaced by George Cukor. Victor Fleming then took over for the majority of the film but was transferred to the set of “Gone With the Wind.” King Vidor and Mervyn LeRoy finished up.
Fourteen writers took a hand in writing the screenplay, including Ogden Nash. The early scripts contained new incidents designed to lighten up the story. The original idea was to turn it into a slapstick comedy.
Walt Disney wanted to make “The Wizard of Oz” but MGM owned the rights to the book and refused to sell them to him.