Login Now!

OR   Sign in with Google   Sign in with Facebook
VOICE OVER: Emily - WatchMojo WRITTEN BY: Spencer Sher
It's a timeless classic, but these are the facts about The Wizard of Oz that will ruin your childhood. For this list, we're taking a look at some upsetting, disturbing, myth-deflating facts about L. Frank Baum's famous children's novel, its iconic 1939 film adaptation and the film's stars. Our countdown includes Judy Garland was forced to lose weight, some Munchkins were out of control, The Cowardly Lion costume was a little too real, and more!

We’re here to look behind the curtain. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Facts About “The Wizard of Oz” That Will Ruin Your Childhood.

For this list, we’re taking a look at some upsetting, disturbing, myth-deflating facts about L. Frank Baum’s famous children’s novel, its iconic 1939 film adaptation and the film’s stars.

#10: Dorothy Was Named After the Author’s Niece Who Died in Infancy

As noted, “The Wizard of Oz” is an adaptation of the similarly named The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a novel from 1900, which spawned a host of sequels. Written by L. Frank Baum, it’s widely considered to be a classic of 20th century children’s literature. While writing the novel, Baum and his wife would frequently visit their infant niece, Dorothy Louise Gage. Sadly, Dorothy passed away when she was just five months old. To honor his deceased niece and ease the family’s suffering, Baum decided to name the lead character of his upcoming novel after her. The rest, as they say, is history.

#9: The Cowardly Lion Costume Was a Little Too Real

If upon viewing “The Wizard of Oz” you felt that Bert Lahr's Cowardly Lion costume looked a little too, well, legit, you’re about to find out why. It turns out that the famous costume was made from actual lion skin and fur. Donning a costume of such materials is already intense enough, but don’t forget, Lahr was dancing throughout much of the film. We don’t know about you, but dancing while wearing a dead jungle king’s skin and fur doesn’t sound like our ideal gig. Then again, we might be wrong, seeing as how the costume sold for $3 million at auction in 2014.

#8: The Snow in the Poppy Field Scene Was Actually Asbestos

One of old Hollywood’s most infamous tricks was using asbestos as a substitute for snow. The illusion was pulled in many flicks back in the day, though none as famous as “The Wizard of Oz”. The cancer-causing material was ideally suited to serve as a stand in for snow, as it was fireproof and looked just like the real thing. So where does it pop up in “Oz”? Why the poppy field scene, of course! The scene may have appeared magical, but filming it was anything but. Whether or not any of the actors suffered due to their participation in the scene remains a mystery, but let’s just say we’re happy this Hollywood trick is no longer in practice.

#7: The Original Tin Man Was Replaced Due to a Severe Allergic Reaction

Jack Haley’s road to becoming the iconic Tin Man was fraught with drama and even a life-threatening allergic reaction. However, none of it involved him. You see Buddy Ebsen and Ray Bolger were originally cast as the Scarecrow and Tin Man respectively. However, Bolger had always dreamt of playing the Scarecrow, and after much fuss, he convinced the producers to let him and Ebsen switch roles. Now the Tin Man, Ebsen went in for a costume test. Unfortunately, he had a severe allergic reaction to the characters’ aluminum makeup and was subsequently hospitalized. Upon witnessing the seriousness of his condition, it was decided that Ebsen would be replaced. Enter: Jack Haley; the man we all know today as the Tin Man.

#6: Judy Garland Was Forced to Lose Weight

As you will soon learn, Judy Garland’s time shooting “The Wizard of Oz” was anything but a trip over the rainbow. First, she endured horrific comments from MGM executives, with some, including studio head Louis B. Mayer, referring to her as a “fat little pig with pigtails.” To solve their “problem”, they put Garland on a strict diet. To help her lose weight, Meyer insisted that she was only allowed to have “chicken soup, black coffee and cigarettes.” So much for the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood; this was the Yellow Brick Road to misery. Garland wasn’t the only one on a diet during filming, as the toxicity of Margaret Hamilton's green makeup meant she could only ingest liquids.

#5: Margaret Hamilton Suffered a Horrific Injury While Filming

Speaking of the Wicked Witch of the West… Margaret Hamilton’s on set suffering was not limited to her liquid diet. During the scene in which her character disappears amidst a cloud of smoke and fire, the elevator meant to transport Hamilton below set malfunctioned, trapping the actress close to the pyrotechnics display. This caused her to suffer terrible burns on her skin and face – with the cameras continuing to roll. As such, no more takes were shot, with the director opting to go with the original rehearsal shot that didn’t involve bodily harm. Ironically enough, Hamilton’s stunt double, Betty Danko, also endured a brutal on set injury when the pipe beneath her broomstick exploded, sending her hurtling into the air and causing a "two-inch-deep wound” to her leg.

#4: Judy Garland Was Slapped by Director Victor Fleming

During the Cowardly Lion’s big entrance, Judy Garland simply could not stop laughing. The giggling was so persistent, that director Victor Fleming took drastic measures to make her stop. The renowned director, who helmed dozens of flicks, including the seminal 1939 film, “Gone with the Wind”, took Garland aside, slapped her on the cheek and quipped, “'Now go in there and work.” Afterward, Fleming apparently felt so bad that he told the crew to punch him in the face, as punishment for his boorish behavior. Instead, Garland planted a kiss on his nose. Man, Hollywood was weird back in the 30s.

#3: Judy Garland Became Addicted to "Pep Pills" During Filming

Garland’s addiction struggles with drugs and alcohol have been well-documented, and it’s no secret that her addiction to amphetamines began while she was filming “The Wizard of Oz”. Incredibly, the pills were often provided by her own mother, who felt that they would help boost her performance. Of course, it wasn’t just mommy dearest leading Garland down a dark path. The studio wanted her on amphetamines to, as noted earlier, lose weight, and also the actress later remarked that the studio would knock her and future co-star Mickey Rooney “out with sleeping pills…then after four hours they’d wake us up and give us the pep pills again so we could work 72 hours in a row.”

#2: Some Munchkins Were Out of Control

If this entry doesn’t destroy your rose-colored glasses we don’t know what will. According to Garland’s ex-husband, some of the male actors playing Munchkins would regularly show up to the set hungover and would act in a disorderly and extremely unprofessional manner, tormenting Judy Garland. Her ex-husband even claimed that on at least one occasion they tried to put their hands up her skirt. Indeed, many of the Munchkin actors would spend their post-work shifts drinking in nearby bars, only to then wind up in jail. However, because they were essential to one of the film’s most important scenes, the studio continued to bail them out. It got so bad that the studio had to assign someone just to watch over them!

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are some dishonorable mentions:

The “Horse of a Different Color” Was Achieved with Jell-O

The Ruby Slippers Were Originally Silver

Toto Made More Than the Munchkins

#1: Auntie Em Actress Clara Blandick Committed Suicide

In her post- “Wizard of Oz” life, Clara Blandick’s health eventually slowly declined. By the early ‘60s she was in her 80s and suffering from a number of ailments and chose to commit suicide rather than die a slow, painful death. On April 15th, 1962 Blandick arranged her room to reflect her personal and professional accomplishments, got dressed up in her best gown and proceeded to overdose on sleeping pills and asphyxiated herself. She left behind a note that read: “I am now about to make the great adventure. I cannot endure this agonizing pain any longer. It is all over my body. Neither can I face the impending blindness. I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”