Everything that could have gone wrong during the making of this movie DID go wrong.
The face mask that Ray Bolger wore for his Scarecrow costume was made of rubber, and it was so heavy and tight that it nearly suffocated him several times.
The studio executives at MGM treated Judy Garland so terribly that they often referred to her as “a fat little pig with pigtails.”
In fact, Louis B. Meyer apparently had Judy Garland on a strict diet of “black coffee, chicken soup, and 80 cigarettes a day,” along with diet pills to reduce her appetite.
The male actors who played Munchkins would often torment Judy Garland on set, and some allegedly sexually assaulted her by putting their hands under her dress.
In fact, a lot of the Munchkin actors were so bad that an MGM employee was literally assigned to watch over them, and several of the actors ended up getting arrested between shoots.
Margaret Hamilton suffered such severe burns on her face and hand after a stunt went wrong that it looked “as though someone had taken the top of her hand and peeled it like an orange.”
And the green makeup that was used for the Wicked Witch of the West’s costume was so toxic that Margaret Hamilton was put on a strict liquid diet to avoid accidentally getting the paint in her mouth.
Although the studio used toxic paint on its actors, they decided to go for a safer route when it came to painting the colorful horses in Emerald City. For that effect, they used Jell-O powder.
Betty Danko, Margaret Hamilton’s stunt double, spent 11 days in the hospital after a pipe in the character’s broomstick exploded.
Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as the Tin Man, but the aluminum dust in his makeup was so toxic that it “nearly choked him to death,” so he was replaced by Jack Haley.
…And Terry, the dog who played Toto, was paid nearly three times as much as the Munchkins. She made $125 per week.
According to Judy Garland’s biographer, her mother was actually the one who introduced her to pep pills as a way to help her “give an energetic performance,” especially while shooting this movie.
One of the Munchkin actors got stuck in a toilet for 45 minutes on set, so MGM had to hire attendants to help the little people on and off toilets throughout the rest of production.
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