The Wizard of Oz took the world by storm with its release in 1939 with sweetheart, Judy Garland as Dorothy and her friends, Scarecrow, the Tin-man and the cowardly Lion – who taught us life lessons about courage, acceptance of others and most importantly, that there’s no place like home. The fantasy classic was uplifting and warm, but behind the scenes is rumoured to have some dark memories.
Jack Haley was never supposed to be casted for the role of the Tin Man. Originally the role was assigned to, Buddy Ebsen, but was re-casted after he fell seriously ill from the aluminium dust in his make-up. Not to mention, his outfit was made entirely of metal which prevented him from being able sit down or rest while filming.
Bert Lahr, who played the cowardly lion wore an outfit that weighed near 40kg – Why so heavy you ask? Because his costume was made from real Lion hide, which meant he received little to no ventilation. This caused Lahr to sweat heavily while filming and required two assistants to dry out the costume each night.
It’s no secret that Judy Garland was mistreated during production, just read one of the many biographies. Garland was slapped by director Viktor Fleming after she wouldn’t stop giggling during a scene, he took her around the corner, slapped her across the face and told her “Go in there and work” to which she performed the scene perfectly.
It is also believed that Garland was molested by the Munchkins, according to her ex-husband, Sid Luft. The Wizard of Oz Munchkins were played by older men and were accused of putting their hands up young Garland’s dress on set.
This is by far the most discussed off-screen rumour to date. During the scene where Dorothy, The Tin Man and Scarecrow are skipping on the yellow brick road to see the Wonderful Wizard of Oz – In the background, a shadow swinging from one of the trees is believed to be a Munchkin actor that killed himself on set. According to Snopes, the mystery shadow is in fact an exotic bird they borrowed from Los Angeles Zoo to make the set more realistic.
Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my… There’s so much more. To find out more about what happened behind the scenes click here.