Skip To Content
  • WTF badge

17 Disturbing Facts About "The Wizard Of Oz" That'll Change How You See The Movie

There were sooo many injuries on set...

We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their favorite shocking facts about The Wizard of Oz. Here are the truly wild results.

Note: This article includes stories about suicide and assault.

1. The green makeup used for Margaret Hamilton's costume was so toxic that she was on a strict liquid diet while filming.

MGM

Jack Young, one of the movie's makeup artists, revealed that the green paint that was used to cover Hamilton's body was actually toxic because it had copper in it: "Every night when I was taking off the Witch's makeup, I would make sure that her face was thoroughly clean. Spotlessly clean. Because you don't take chances with green."

annakopsky

2. MGM hired attendants to help the little people on and off studio toilets because one of the Munchkin actors got stuck in a toilet for 45 minutes.

MGM, Wikipedia / Creative Commons / en.wikipedia.org

Billy Curtis, one of the Munchkin actors, remembered the event, saying, "They had to clean him off like he was a baby." Margaret Pellegrini, one of the last surviving Munchkin actors, said, "It was the first time I'd ever had anybody help me go to the bathroom. But the costumes were so unhandy."

annakopsky

3. Clara Blandick, who played Auntie Em, committed suicide at the age of 85.

MGM

She did her hair and makeup one final time, put on her nicest outfit, and took an overdose of sleeping pills. She then tied a bag over her head and left a note that said, "I am now about to make the great adventure... I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen."

—Hav Adajet, Facebook

4. Margaret Hamilton, aka the Wicked Witch of the West, suffered second-degree burns on her face and third-degree burns on her hand after a stunt went wrong.

MGM

There was a trap door on set that didn't open fast enough, so Hamilton got caught in the flames. She spent six weeks recuperating in the hospital and at home. The only reason she didn't sue the studio was because "I know how this business works, and I would never work again. I will return to work on one condition — no more fireworks!"

victoriaannb2

5. The Cowardly Lion costume was made of real lion hair.

MGM

6. The male actors who played Munchkins would often torment Judy on set, and some allegedly sexually assaulted her by putting their hands under her dress.

MGM

In the memoir Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland, Judy's ex-husband revealed that a lot of the older male Munchkin actors were "naughty." Apparently they spent most of their time after work at bars and "were disorderly as hell, yelling and screaming." Luft recalled one event in particular, saying, "The next day, on the set, hungover, they would make Judy's life miserable by putting their hands under her dress."

spenceralthouse

7. In fact, a lot of the Munchkin actors were so bad that an MGM employee was literally assigned to watch over them, and a lot of the actors ended up getting arrested between shoots.

MGM, youtube.com

Sid Luft also wrote in his memoir that the older male Munchkin actors "thought they could get away with anything because they were so small." The studio hired an assistant director and a lieutenant to keep an eye on everyone, but "many of them would wind up in jail and have to be bailed out." Luft said, "you couldn't lock them up for long because they were needed on the set."

kaylayandoli

8. Buddy Ebsen was the original Tin Man, 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, who's famous for playing Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, was ultimately hospitalized and forced out of the movie's production. 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."

horsebeast

9. Figuring out how to color the horses in Emerald City was an extremely difficult task, and the studio ultimately decided to paint them with Jell-O powder.

MGM

The studio rightfully ruled that it would be unacceptable to use real paint on the horses. They tried using food coloring, "but the colors were not subtle enough." Ultimately, they sponged colorful Jell-O powders onto the horses: "a decision complicated by the fact that the horses invariably managed to lick off most of the Jell-O between shots."

austinallie

10. The actors who played Munchkins were only paid $50 a week...

MGM

Adjusted for inflation, that's just over $900 in today's world.

colleend9

11. ...And Terry, the dog who played Toto, was paid nearly three times as much as the Munchkins. She made $125 per week.

MGM

That would equate to almost $2,300 per week in 2019.

colleend9

12. The "snowstorm" that took place in the poppy field scene was actually asbestos falling on the actors.

MGM

This was a very common practice on movie sets back in the day, as asbestos was fireproof (unlike cotton, which was previously used) and looked close enough to the real thing.

miker4524

13. Betty Danko, the Wicked Witch's stunt double, spent 11 days in the hospital after a pipe in the character's broomstick exploded.

Hal Roach Studios / Wikipedia/ Public Domain / en.wikipedia.org

There's a moment in the movie where smoke comes out of the Wicked Witches' broomstick. To make this happen, a pipe was attached to the bicycle seat saddle on the broomstick, but during one of the practice runs the pipe exploded: "I felt as though my scalp was coming off. The explosion blew me off the broomstick." Among other injuries, there was a "two-inch-deep wound that nearly circled Danko's leg, which was full of bits of her costume."

sarahwainschel

14. Shirley Temple was originally promised the role of Dorothy, but the deal ultimately fell through and went to Judy Garland.

youtube.com / MGM

Temple was signed to 20th Century Fox, and for years she was expected to star in some type of Oz film series. The movie rights were fought over between several studios, but MGM ultimately got the rights. There was a lot of drama about casting over the next few years, and the part ultimately went to Judy Garland.

Soon after, the press stated that Temple not being cast as Dorothy was “the greatest disappointment of her brief and eminently griefless career.” A few decades after that, Shirley Temple commented on the fact that Judy Garland had been picked for the movie and graciously said, “Sometimes the gods know best.”

taraderington

15. According to Judy Garland's biographer, her mother was actually the one who introduced her to pep pills while filming Oz as a way to help her "give an energetic performance."

Wikipedia / Public Domain / en.wikipedia.org, MGM

Throughout the next few years, MGM started prescribing her even more pills to "control both her weight and her energy levels."

Judy told biographer Paul Donnelly that they'd give her and Mickey Rooney, whom she made several pictures with, the pills "to keep us on our feet long after we were exhausted... then 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.”

dellarock

16. The studio executives at MGM treated Judy Garland so terribly that they often referred to her as "a fat little pig with pigtails."

MGM / Wikipedia / Public Domain / en.wikipedia.org

Sid Luft, Judy's third husband, wrote in his memoir that Judy, "unlike other actresses, could not successfully camouflage extra weight, especially because she was dancing and singing in revealing costumes. Just 4 feet 11.5 inches, she could be underweight and still appear heavy or out of proportion on screen.”

andreaa43

17. And the head of the studio forced Judy on a strict diet of "chicken soup, black coffee, and cigarettes, along with pills to reduce her appetite."

MGM

BuzzFeed Daily

Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

Newsletter signup form