From asbestos snow to horses painted with Jell-O – here are 21 facts you never knew about the 1939 classic movie The Wizard Of Oz...
1. At age 16, Judy Garland had to wear a corset during filming to make her figure appear more childlike, since Dorothy was supposed to be about 12 years old.
2. Many of the Wicked Witches’ scenes (played by Margaret Hamilton) were cut, for fear they’d be too frightening for the audience.
3. Ray Bolger, who played the Scarecrow, was left with deep lines on his face for more than a year thanks to the primitive prosthetic rubber mask he had to wear as part of his costume.
4. The movie’s best-loved song Over The Rainbow was nearly cut to shorten the Kansas sequence.
7. Jack Haley’s (who played the Tin Man) costume was so stiff that, if he wanted to take a rest, he had to lean against a board. But, he was lucky to have escaped the fate of his predecessor, Buddy Ebsen, who was originally penned to play the Tin Man. His silver make-up was made up of aluminium dust. This substance caused an allergic reaction, leaving Ebsen short of breath, suffering from cramps and eventually hospitalised and unable to continue filming.
5. The snow that falls on Dorothy and friends as they run through the poppy meadow was made up of 100 per cent chrysotile asbestos fibres.
6. Bert Lahr’s Lion costume was made up of real lion skin and fur, and weighed a crippling 6.5st.
8. An early costume test for Dorothy had Judy Garland wearing a tousled blonde wig and heavy make-up.
9. Dorothy’s ruby slippers were originally silver (as in the original book by L Frank Baum) – but it was decided that coloured slippers would show up better in Technicolor.
10. Apart from the clouds shown in the movie’s credits, the entire film was shot indoors.
11. In Premiere magazine’s poll to find the 100 Greatest Movie Quotes, the Wizard Of Oz quotes, ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain’ came in at number 24 – and ‘I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!’ was number 99.
12. During the forest scene, several actors playing the flying monkeys were injured when the piano wire that was suspending them from the ceiling snapped.
13. The ‘horse of a different colour’ (which was played by more than one animal) was coloured with Jell-O – the scenes had to be shot quickly, as the horses were trying to lick it off!
14. Ray Bolder, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley – who played the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man respectively – had to eat their meals in their dressing rooms, as their costumes alarmed their fellow diners.
15. Industrial paint purchased from a local hardware store was used to paint the Yellow Brick Road.
16. Due to its heavy presence on TV schedules, the movie is thought to be one of the most-watched films in the Western world.
17. While filming the scene where Dorothy slaps the Lion, Judy Garland couldn’t stop giggling. So director Victor Fleming took her to one side, and slapped her. She returned to successfully complete the take – although, if you watch that scene, you can see that she suppresses a smile as the Lion asks her, ‘Is my nose bleeding?’
18. Dorothy’s dog Toto was played by a Cairn terrier called Terry.
19. There’s a rumour that, in the background of one scene, a Munchkin who committed suicide can be seen hanging from a tree. In fact, it’s a bird – a wild crane – that was used in the forest scene (…or is it?).
20. Dark Side Of The Rainbow is the name given to the phenomenon whereby, when started at the same time as the MGM lion’s third roar at the beginning of the film, Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side Of The Moon eerily synchs up with events in the movie…
For example, when Dorothy is balancing on the fence of the pig sty the lyric Balanced on the biggest wave is sung. During The Great Gig In The Sky, the tornado is shown at the same time the words I’m not frightened of dying are sung, the drums start as the wind picks up and the music calms down as Dorothy is knocked unconscious by her window. Heartbeat comes on as Dorothy listens to the Tin Man’s heart, and Brain Damage plays as the Scarecrow sings If I Only Had A Brain.
21. Most actors on the five-month shoot worked six days a week, arrives at the studio at four in the morning and worked until eight at night.