Wonderful Wizard of OZ

It wasn’t plain sailing for the cast of that famous film.  They didn’t escape their own personal problems.

Judy Garland – Dorothy Gale

She was plagued by financial instability, often owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. She married five times, with her first four marriages ending in divorce. She also had a long battle with drugs and alcohol, which ultimately led to her death from a barbiturate overdose at the age of 47.   (Wikipedia)

Buddy Ebsen – Scarecrow Hunk

Buddy Ebsen/Beverly Hillbillies – Jerry Springer (May 20, 1993)

Doctors determined that Ebsen was suffering a reaction to the aluminum dust used in the Tin Man makeup; he was forced to leave the production for health reasons.  At the time of his death, in 2003, at the age of 95, he was the last surviving main cast member of The Wizard of Oz.[ (Wikipedia)

And there’s more…

  • FOUR months after the movie was released Frank Morgan, who played THE WIZARD, was involved in a serious car accident.
  • His chauffeur/house servant was killed in the December 1939 smash in New Mexico and Frank’s wife Alma was injured. Frank and his son George escaped unharmed.
  • Frank landed the part of Buffalo Bill Cody in 1950 film Annie Get Your Gun but died in his sleep of a heart attack after shooting the opening scene.
  • JACK HALEY was brought in as the TIN MAN after first choice Buddy Ebsen suffered a severe allergic reaction to the silver make-up.
  • Just nine days into filming, Buddy was carried off the set in critical condition.  It emerged the make-up was made from aluminium powder, which had coated his lungs.
  • Oddly, Buddy was originally offered the role of the Scarecrow, but actor Ray Bolger, who was to play the Tin Man, persuaded him to swap.The powder make-up was changed to a paste but Jack still suffered a severe eye infection.
  • DOROTHY’s dog TOTO was played by six-year-old Cairn Terrier Terry, who despite her name was female.  And not even the poor mutt could escape filming unscathed – Terry broke a paw when one of the Wicked Witch’s guards stepped on it.  A stand-in pooch had to be used for two weeks. On the bright side though, she earned £84 a week for the flick, while the munchkins picked up less than half of that at just £34, according to actor Jerry Maren who played one of the little people.  Afterwards, Terry’s name was changed to Toto in real life and she died in 1944.
  • FILMING a particularly dramatic scene led to Margaret Hamilton, who played the WICKED WITCH of the West and East, being badly burned.  She was asked to fall down a trap door which would then produce a burst of flames.  Margaret was so badly injured she had to take time off filming.  Once recovered, she said: “I will return to work on one condition – no more fire work!”
  • While Margaret was off, her stand-in tried to perform the same scene – and was also hurt.
  • SEVERAL actors playing the flying WINGED MONKEYS – who were led by head monkey Nikko – were injured when the piano wires they were suspended from snapped during filming. Wearing monkey suits and uniforms that matched those worn by the Witch’s castle guards, the actors fell several feet to the ground. However, there were nets and mattresses in place to break their fall. The occasional falling monkey was more of an annoyance to director Victor Fleming, who had to wait for the character to be hoisted up again before the scene was reshot.
  • CLARA BLANDICK, who played Dorothy’s AUNTIE EM, managed to postpone the curse and carried on making movies until the 1950s.  But after suffering bad health for years, tragedy struck. On April 15, 1962, at the age of 81, she wrote a note saying she was about to take “the greatest adventure” of her life.  She took an overdose of sleeping pills and put a plastic bag over her head.
  • Clara’s on-screen husband Charley Grapewin, who played loveable UNCLE HENRY, was hit by the film’s curse the year it was first screened on TV.  Charley died in February 1956 – meaning he never got to see the film’s broadcast later that year.

ACCORDING to urban myth, the body of a MUNCHKIN can be seen hanging from a tree beside the famous brick road – but it is actually a large bird.

And while the munchkins did not suffer any bad luck on set, the cast of more than 100 little people certainly brought havoc to The Wizard Of Oz.

Reports emerged of drunken and debauched nights, as well as rumours of them engaging in prostitution and pimping to enhance their wages.

Judy Garland said later: “They were drunks, they got smashed every night.  The police used to scoop them up in butterfly nets.”Bert Lahr, who played the Cowardly Lion, added:

“Assistants were ordered to watch the midgets, who brandished knives and conceived passions for normal-sized cast members.”

Source: the Sun – “Don’t follow the Yellow Brick Road”

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About DJ Images

David Juster - Professional Photographer Specialist in all aspects of Display, Exhibitions, Conferences, PR, Award Ceremonies and Studio.

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