The Wizard of Oz started as a children's book and was adapted into a movie in 1939. It is said to be one of the greatest films of all time.
1. Ruby Slippers
In the book, the shoes worn by Dorothy were actually silver, but a screenwriter for the Wizard of Oz, changed them to ruby colored to bring out the yellow brick road. At least four pairs of shoes were made for the movie, each pair made with red satin and 2300 sequins. In the scene where the Wicked Witch of the West tries to remove the shoes from the witch that Dorothy’s house has fallen on, fire shoots out from the ruby slippers. This was created by having apple juice spray, then cut and speeding up the film process.
One pair of the slippers was sold in 2000 for $666.000. Another pair was stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids Michigan. A $1.000.000 reward was posted for their return. A pair although mismatched is on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The exhibit is so popular that the rug in front of it has had to be replaced a few times due to wear and tear. The last pair was bought by some wealthy people to be shown at the future Academy Museum of Motion Picture in Los Angeles which is set to open in 2019. Two of the people known to be involved in the deal are Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg. It is estimated that between 2 and 3 million dollars were spent on the shoes. Lastly a pair of real ruby slippers were made in 1989 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the movie at a cost of 3 million dollars.
2. The Munchkins & Toto
There were 124 people playing the parts of the Munchkins. They ranged in height from 2’3 to 4’8. The actor who played the coroner of Munchkin land was the shortest licensed pilot during WWII. Many of them were part of a singing troupe that immigrated to the United States to escape the Nazis. They have a collective star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
There were rumors of a Munchkin community suicide during the filming and that he could be seen hanging in the background, but that was proven to be false. To make the wood scene more natural, the Los Angeles Zoo lent MGM studios some birds and the shadow seen in the background is actually a crane spreading his wings. There is only one surviving member of the Wizard of Oz cast: Jerry Maren, now 97 was a Munchkin that was part of the threesome known as the Lollipop Guild. He was the one who handed Dorothy the lollipop.
The Munchkins made between $50 and 100 a week which was good money at that time. But not as good as Toto. The dog made $125 a week.
Toto was played by a female dog named Jerry. She made over 15 movies during her life. It took 12 takes to get her to run along with her colleagues on the yellow brick road. She was also afraid of the steam that came out of the Tinman's hat. She was hurt when a Winkie, one of the witch’s guards stepped on and broke her paw. Judy Garland loved Toto and wanted to keep her but her owner Carl Spritz declined, wanting to train her for more movies.
3. The Wicked Witch of the West
Margaret Hamilton, best known as The Wicked Witch was a kindergarten teacher before she took the role. Many scenes she created were taken out for fear they would be too scary for children. Hamilton wore green makeup that had a copper base and it ignited in her fiery exit where she vanishes in a cloud of smoke. She received second degree burns to her face and third degree burns to one of her hands. After six weeks of recuperation she returned but refused to do anymore fire scenes. The makeup also could not be ingested so Hamilton could only have liquids during filming. It also caused her to have greenish tint for weeks after shooting finished.
When the Wicked Witch is proclaimed dead by the coroner of Munchkin land the date on the death certificate is May 6, 1938, the 20 year anniversary of the death of L. Frank Baun. Margaret Hamilton requested newspapers to write “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”, a song from the movie when she died and when she died in 1985 many papers did.
The Crystal Ball she used was the same one used by Boris Karloff in “The Mask of Fu Manchu”. It sold in 2001 for $129,000.