Rated G - Running time: 1:52 - Re-released 11/6/98

As I did with the recent re-release of Gone With The Wind, I have chosen to devote this column to trivia facts and production errors associated with The Wizard Of Oz. I have nothing to say about this film that hasn't been said before; I think everyone agrees it is a legendary film and everyone who hasn't seen it, should. Trivia facts courtesy of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), located at

The title role was written with W.C. Fields in mind. He was offered $75,000. Fields supposedly wanted $100,000, so he turned down the role.

Frank Morgan has five roles: Professor Marvel, the gatekeeper of the Emerald City, the cab driver, the Wizard's guard, and the Wizard. It is also possible that he was used for the projected image of the Wizard.

Loew's (the theatre chain that owned MGM) wanted a big star for the lead role, suggesting Shirley Temple. 20th Century Fox refused to lend her for the role, so it went to Judy Garland.

Terry (Toto) was stepped on by one of the witch's guards and had a double for two weeks.

Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion) couldn't eat without ruining his makeup. Tired of eating soup and milkshakes, he decided to eat lunch and have his makeup redone.

Ray Bolger was originally cast as the Tin Man. However, he insisted that he would rather play the Scarecrow — his childhood idol, Fred Stone, had originated that role on stage in 1902.

Buddy Ebsen had been cast as the Scarecrow, and now switched roles with Bolger. But the aluminum powder makeup for the Tin Man was toxic and Ebsen reacted allergically to it. He left the picture, but his voice can still be heard in "We're Off To See The Wizard."

Jack Haley took over the Tin Man's role, and the makeup was changed to a paste so that he did not inhale the aluminum as much. He presumed that Ebsen had been fired and did not learn the truth until later.

When filming first started, Garland wore a blonde wig and heavy makeup. When George Cukor stepped in as intermediate director, he got rid of the wig and most of the makeup, and told her to just be herself.

The length of Dorothy's hair changes throughout the film.

"Over The Rainbow" was nearly cut from the film because MGM officials thought it was inappropriate for Garland to appear on a farm tractor.

Dorothy is not muddy despite falling in the pig pen.

Morgan's Professor Marvel coat was taken from a rack of second-hand clothing purchased by the studio wardrobe department; he was astounded when, just by chance, he turned out the coat's pocket and found the name L. Frank Baum (the Oz books' author) sewn into the lining. Baum's widow and his tailor confirmed that the coat had indeed been his. Upon completion of filming, the coat was presented to Baum's widow.

The "tornado" was a 35-foot long muslin stocking, photographed with miniatures of a Kansas farm and fields.

The "flying house" was a model filmed as it was dropped from a great height onto a stage painted to look like the sky. The film was then run backwards to give the illusion of the house falling to earth.

Margaret Hamilton (The Wicked Witch of the West) was off the film for more than a month after being severely burned during her disappearance from Munchkinland. Her stand-in was also injured when a broom exploded during a stunt shot.

Dorothy loses the Tin Man's oil can when she chases after him, but it's back in her basket later.

There is a rumor that a man committed suicide on the set, and that his body can be seen on the left of the screen as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man walk down the Yellow Brick Road after their first encounter with the Wicked Witch. This is false; the object in question is a strange-looking bird.

The horses in Emerald City palace were colored with Jello crystals. The relevant scenes had to be shot quickly, before the horses started to lick it off.

A square block of wood to which the Lion's tail was attached is visible when the Scarecrow is pulling on it while climbing up a hill.

The triangle theorem which the Scarecrow recites after receiving a brain is mathematically incorrect.

Director Victor Fleming did not finish the film, being assigned to take over direction of Gone With The Wind. Fleming stayed with Oz until the color photography was completed and then handed over to King Vidor, who directed the black and white sequences.

The Oz characters played by Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Margaret Hamilton are not actually listed in the cast list at the end; only their Kansas counterparts are.

The Wizard Of Oz was nominated for 6 Academy Awards (including Best Picture), but only won two, for Best Original Score and Best Song. This is largely because of Gone With The Wind, which was produced the same year (1939). *****

Copyright 1998 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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