The classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” is a beloved classic that generations of viewers have seen. This 1939 MGM musical fantasy film stars Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, and Jack Haley. But many don’t know about its dark side. Let’s look at some intriguing facts about the film that have been overlooked for years.
Judy Garland’s iconic portrayal of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz came with a bittersweet backstory. She initially competed for the role alongside Shirley Temple. Still, she ultimately won out after her rival backed away due to doubts she could not deliver perfection, which left Judy shouldering an immense burden that unfortunately caused much personal suffering and eventually dented her career prospects.
When Judy was cast as the iconic Shirley Temple, she faced intense pressure from directors to look and act like her counterpart. Despite only being 16 at the start of filming, they required her to have a youthful appearance. This transformation came with an immense sacrifice. To uphold standards of what they considered ‘proper,’ Judith endured dramatic restrictions on food intake and introduced smoking into her routine to contend with hunger pains. Additionally, she was forced to wear teeth caps for aesthetic perfectionism. At the same time, extra measures inside her nose further enhanced the similarity between herself & young Shirley! Ultimately it took determination and resilience from our starlet Judy Garland who delivered an extraordinary performance against all odds.
Judy Garland, who served as a beacon of light for generations to come, was put through numerous travesties during the production of The Wizard Of Oz. Directors didn’t want her face in close-up shots, and she was prescribed dangerous amphetamines to stay skinny and barbiturates after long workdays, which led her down an unfortunate path of addiction. Tragically this habit caused Judy’s death by overdose at just 47 years old – leaving behind those that loved her most – husband and children alike.
Tin Man has gone down in history books as one of the most disastrous costume decisions ever. The original actor, Buddy Ebsen, was hospitalized after applying aluminum-based makeup to his skin every day. When he refused for medical reasons to continue work on set, Tin’s director insisted–until finally firing him and replacing him with Jack Haley out of contractual obligation. Unfortunately, this doesn’t begin to describe it!
Soon after the lead actor was replaced, a makeup artist abruptly left the set and was replaced with an inexperienced one. The new makeup artist decided to use aluminum paste instead of powder and created a disaster in production by giving Jake Haley an eye infection. But makeup wasn’t the only issue with the tin man costume. The costume was made entirely of metal, making resting or using the restroom almost impossible.
The Cowardly Lion
Bert Lahr’s legacy as the Cowardly Lion in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ will forever be remembered. But what few may know is that he had to endure grueling conditions while performing this role – sweating under his 80-90 pound, real lion hide costume and subsisting on a meager diet due to hours spent reapplying heavy makeup after every meal. Not one for suffering in silence, Mr. Lahr demanded an improved workflow that allowed him lunch breaks between long periods of applying makeup!
Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow of “The Wizard of Oz,” could be said to have been a true martyr for his craft. His makeup was so extreme that it left deep scars on his face after he removed it each day, taking an entire year just for them all to disappear finally. It wasn’t only this traumatic cosmetic journey either. Every fiber of Ray’s costume was made with real straw meant he had no chance of hearing himself speak or anyone else around him. All in all, quite literally an unbearable burden put upon one man, but what would cinema classics be without these selfless souls?
The Wicked Witch
Margaret Hamilton’s immortalized performance of the Wicked Witch in The Wizard Of Oz film had an unforeseen consequence – burns! During a scene requiring her to appear to disappear in smoke, the trapdoor design not only failed to open on cue but caused her broom and hat to catch fire. As a result, she suffered from nasty facial and hand burns that took weeks for their green hue (due to toxic makeup) to fade off after filming ended.
Despite her leading role, the Wicked Witch of the West encountered mistreatment on set. Her dressing room was cramped and dreary compared to Glinda’s lavishly decorated one, which she would often sneak off to enjoy during downtime.
The actors of ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ endured so much to bring this classic film to life. The costumes, makeup, and production issues they experienced remind us of how far we have come with modern movie-making technology and safety regulations. Their stories are a testament to the power of perseverance and commitment in creating great works of art. We are forever indebted to the brave actors of Oz who put their lives on the line and left an everlasting impact on cinema!
The Dark History Behind ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ collective.world