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    Updated on Mar 11, 2020. Posted on Feb 24, 2019

    23 Wild "Secrets" About Your Favorite Old Hollywood Movies

    The "snow" used in The Wizard of Oz was actually asbestos.

    We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the coolest and weirdest facts they know about Old Hollywood. Here are the wild results.

    1. When child actors misbehaved on sets, they were sometimes sent to "the black box" and were forced to sit on a block of ice as punishment.

    20th Century Fox, MGM

    This was definitely cruel and unusual. Shirley Temple later recalled that "so far as I can tell, the black box did no lasting damage to my psyche."

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    2. During a scene in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Bette Davis kicked Joan Crawford so hard that she needed stitches. Crawford retaliated by putting "weights in her pockets so that when Davis had to drag Crawford's near lifeless body she strained her back."

    Warner Bros. Pictures

    This iconic feud was nasty. Joan Crawford even campaigned against Bette Davis so she wouldn't receive an Oscar for the movie. Had Davis won, she would have been the first actress to win three Academy Awards.

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    3. Buster Keaton fractured his neck while performing a stunt in Sherlock Jr., but he didn't realize it until years later.

    MGM

    In the scene, a flood of water was supposed to fall on him from a water tower. The force was so strong that he broke his neck.

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    4. Gene Kelly insulted Debbie Reynolds' dancing so constantly while filming Singin' in the Rain that she once hid from everyone under a piano, crying.

    MGM

    Reynolds only had a few months to learn what Gene Kelly had been doing his whole life, yet he "came to rehearsals and criticized everything I did and never gave me a word of encouragement." She also worked so hard that her feet literally started bleeding.

    One day she had enough and hid under a piano on the studio lot, crying, and Fred Astaire found her. He started working with her on the dance routines: "I watched in awe as Fred worked on his routines to the point of frustration and anger. I realized that if it was hard for Fred Astaire, dancing was hard for everyone."

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    5. In Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, live birds were tied to Tippi Hedren and also thrown at her while filming the iconic attic scene.

    Universal Pictures

    Hedren was originally told that the birds would be fake, but there were mechanical issues, so real birds had to be swapped in. Upon visiting the set and seeing the filming circumstances, Cary Grant said to Hedren: "You’re the bravest woman I’ve ever seen."

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    6. Lilies of the Field was shot in only 14 days and had such a small budget that Sidney Poitier gave up his usual salary in order to make the film.

    United Artists

    Producer-director Ralph Nelson had to use his house as collateral in order to get the movie made, and Sidney Poitier agreed to forgo his salary in exchange for a percentage of the box office returns. Poitier ended up winning the Best Actor Oscar, becoming the first black man to do so and only the second black person to ever win (the first was Hattie McDaniel for Gone with the Wind).

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    7. Margaret Hamilton, aka the Wicked Witch, suffered second-degree burns on her face and third-degree burns on her hand when a stunt went wrong in The Wizard of Oz.

    MGM

    Apparently the trap door didn't drop fast enough while shooting a scene, and Hamilton had to spend six weeks recuperating in the hospital and at home. Before returning back to set, she said: "I won't sue, because I know how this business works, and I would never work again. I will return to work on one condition — no more fireworks!"

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    8. Lon Chaney, who played the title characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera, did his own makeup for the roles.

    Universal Pictures

    Chaney acted in more than 150 films and was also recognized as one of the best makeup artists in the business. He even wrote the entry for 'make-up' in the 1929 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

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    9. In Meet Me in St. Louis, Margaret O'Brien's mother would get her to cry on command while filming the sad scenes by telling her that her rival actor on the MGM lot was a better crier than her.

    MGM

    Vincente Minelli (Judy Garland's husband) wrote in his book that he got Margaret to cry by telling her that her dog died, but Margaret said that neither her mom nor Judy Garland would stand for that sort of thing.

    Instead, she said: "The way they got me to cry is that June Allyson and I were in competition as the best criers on the MGM lot. So when I was having trouble crying, my mother would come over to me and say, 'I'll have the makeup man put the false tears down your face, but June is such a great, great actress – she always cries real tears.' And then I started crying, because I couldn't let June win the competition."

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    10. Cleopatra was one of the most expensive movies to ever be made. It had an original budget of $5 million, but after two years the film still wasn't finished, and more money kept being put into it, totaling over $370 million by today's standards.

    20th Century Fox

    The movie almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox. Filming began in September of 1960, but "two years later the film was not yet finished, and Fox executive Darryl F. Zanuck said the cost was $35 million, though Variety later estimated that the true figure was closer to $44 million."

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    11. The Cowardly Lion costume from The Wizard of Oz was made of real lion hair.

    MGM

    12. In It's a Wonderful Life, writer-director Frank Capra helped create a new type of artificial snow because the current movie method (using Cornflakes that were painted white) was too noisy when the actors had to walk in scenes.

    Liberty Films

    This new technique made filming a lot easier for Capra, rather than having to film the picture and audio separately and dub it in later. It also earned Russell Shearman and his team a special Technical Achievement Award at the Oscars.

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    13. And in The Wizard of Oz, the "snowstorm" that took place wasn't made of snow or cornflakes either. It was asbestos.

    MGM

    And apparently this was a pretty common practice on movie sets back in the day.

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    14. Humphrey Bogart was two inches shorter than Ingrid Bergman, so he reportedly had to stand on boxes and sit on cushions to appear taller in Casablanca.

    Warner Bros. Pictures

    15. While filming Move Over Darling, James Garner picked up Doris Day from the ground and accidentally broke two of her ribs.

    20th Century Fox

    Doris Day said that James Garner was so big and strong that he "picked me up under his arm a little too enthusiastically and cracked a couple of my ribs. I made that movie mummified with adhesive tape, which made it difficult to breathe and painful to laugh." The two remained friends for years, and she even joked about the incident with him later on, saying: "Jim, if we don't speak for a while, I forgive you for breaking my ribs. Both of them. Don't give it another thought."

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    16. Hattie McDaniel was the first black person to be nominated for an Oscar, but in 1940 the hotel that hosted the awards had a strict "no blacks" policy. Gone with the Wind's producer had to call in a special favor just so McDaniel could enter the building. That night, she won the Oscar.

    youtube.com

    The 12th Academy Awards were held in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, which wasn't officially integrated until 1959. There were two Gone with the Wind tables at the ceremony that year: one in the front for the cast, featuring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, and one in the very back for Hattie McDaniel, an escort, and her assistant.

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    17. The actors who played Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz were only paid $50 a week, while Toto the dog was paid $125 per week.

    MGM

    Adjusted for inflation, the Munchkins would have made just over $900 in today's world, while Toto would have received about $2,300 per week.

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    18. In Miracle on 34th Street, actor John Payne, who played Fred Gailey, loved the movie so much that he actually wrote a sequel to the Christmas classic when he was older.

    20th Century Fox

    In Maureen O'Hara's autobiography, she said, "We talked about it for years, and he eventually even wrote a screenplay sequel. He was going to send it to me but tragically died before he could get around to it. I never saw it and have often wondered what happened to it."

    spenceralthouse

    19. In It's a Wonderful Life, the whole holiday picture was actually shot in the summer of 1946, and it occasionally got so hot that production literally had to be shut down for a few days.

    Liberty Films

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    20. Buddy Ebsen was the original Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, but the aluminum dust from the makeup nearly killed him, and he was quickly replaced by Jack Haley.

    Wikipedia / Fair Use / en.wikipedia.org / CBS

    Ebsen was ultimately hospitalized and forced out of the production, so when Jack Haley replaced him they started using a safer aluminum paste as makeup. Ebsen claimed to have breathing problems for the rest of his life because of "that damned movie."

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    21. The release of Psycho marked the first time a flushing toilet had ever been featured on screen before, and the movie censors almost didn't let it happen.

    Paramount Pictures

    Alfred Hitchcock really had to fight for the scene to be featured. He thought that it'd be imperative to the film, saying, "I thought if I could begin to unhinge audiences by showing a toilet flushing – we all suffer from peccadillos from toilet producers – they'd be so out of it by the time of the shower murder, it would be an absolute killer."

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    22. Some of the most iconic sets from King Kong were destroyed to film the burning of Atlanta scene in Gone with the Wind.

    Radio Pictures / MGM

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    23. And Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland were forced by the studio to take pep pills + sleeping pills so they could work 72 hours straight and then crash for a few hours before filming more scenes.

    MGM / CBS

    Judy revealed to biographer Paul Donnelly that the studios would give her and Mickey Rooney the pills "to keep us on our feet long after we were exhausted. Then they’d take us to the studio hospital and knock us out with sleeping pills…then after four hours they’d wake us up and give us the pep pills again so we could work 72 hours in a row. Half of the time we were hanging from the ceiling, but it was a way of life for us.”

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