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Top 10 Wizard of Oz Movie Trivia

VO: Rebecca Brayton
This fantasy adventure series was penned by author Frank L. Baum and became a phenomenon with 1939's classic "The Wizard of Oz." Based on Baum's book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", it introduced audiences to color, dazzling special effects, timeless musical scores and a compelling narrative. While you may be a fan of film, there is a lot you probably don't know! Join as we explore ten pieces of interesting trivia about the iconic 1939 film adaptation of ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

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Top 10 Wizard of Oz Movie Trivia

We’re off to see the Wizard! Welcome to and today we’ll be exploring ten pieces of interesting trivia about the iconic 1939 film adaptation of ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

#10- MGM Bought The Wizard

Kicking off our list is the fact that MGM studios bought the rights to L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel “The Wonderful Wizard of OZ” for the then-insane price of 75 thousand dollars. They did so only to tone it down by removing all of its gruesome violence, such as a scene in which the Tin-Man beheads a pack of wolves. This re-imagining required 14 writers, five directors and a rigorous 5-month schedule to finally shoot.

#9- Box Office Flop

This groundbreaking fantasy film introduced most filmgoers to Technicolor film, after defying expectations with its introductory scenes. Despite the breathtaking novelty, stellar reviews and academy recognition, the movie failed to earn back its 3 million dollar budget, or even leave an immediate impact popular culture! Both only happened a decade later when it was re-released in theatres and shown on television, proving that it was far ahead of its time.

#8- The Leading Lady

Dorothy is 12 years old, and Judy Garland was 17. She was cast after the studio failed to nab younger and more popular actresses, including Shirley Temple. Garland was then forced to wear a painful corset to flatten her chest, after initially being outfitted with a blonde wig and baby doll makeup! For her trouble, she was honored with an Academy Juvenile Award, which she lovingly referred to as “The Munchkin Award”!

#7- The Munchkins

These unforgettable little people have a story of their own! The vertically challenged actors who played the munchkins mostly came from Europe, and used their participation in the film as a chance to escape Nazis persecution. Most were unable to speak English, so their voices were dubbed. Shockingly, while they were each paid $50 per week, Toto the dog fetched a salary of $125! At least the Munchkins were finally awarded their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007…

#6- The Source Material

Curious how Oz got its name? Well, author Frank Baum had a filing cabinet drawer labeled O-Z, which he claims provided the inspiration. Moreover, his Oz was a much more realistic land, and not the dreamscape of the film populated with versions of Dorothy's friends and family from Kansas. Speaking of which, Dorthy’s slippers were also changed from Silver to Ruby so they could really pop with Technicolor. Only five pairs exist today, and are each worth over $666,000.

#5- Hazardous work conditions

Nothing was painless on this production! Tin Man’s original make-up contained aluminum dust, which coated actor Buddy Ebson’s lungs. A near-fatal misjudgment, he was hospitalized and MGM was forced to quietly recast the role. His replacement, Jack Haley was instead outfitted with aluminum paste, so while his lungs were safe, it infected his eyes. Thankfully, he recovered.

#4- The Lion’s Share of the Pain

While the Tin man costume was dangerous, the Cowardly Lion's getup was equally unbearable. His costume weighed 90 pounds, and was made from real lion skin. With a set temperature at 100 degrees Fahrenheit thanks to the lights, the suit was always soaked with sweat!

Meanwhile, The Scarecrow’s makeup included a rubber prosthetic that left a cloth-like pattern on the actor’s face that took nearly a year to fade away.

#3- The Wicked Witch

Actress Margaret Hamilton played the wicked witch, giving a performance so frightening that her scenes had to be edited! Ironically, she was previously a kindergarten teacher that adored children that were destined to fear her for decades. As if that wasn’t enough of a burn, she was hospitalized with actual burns following a botched explosion, which caught fire to her conductive copper make-up! Refusing other pyrotechnic scenes, a stand in was brought in, who was severely burned as well.

#2- Dark Side of the Rainbow

Coincidence or not, music lovers and movie aficionados discovered in 1995 that Pink Floyd’s 1973 album “The Dark Side of the Moon” seamlessly matched many of the scenes from the classic film! In 2000, a redubbed version of the film featuring the music was released on television, while other versions sprung up on the web. Most fans agree, the Cowardly Lion appears to act as a musical cue.

#1- The Semi- Sequel

Taking the top spot on our list is the fact that Disney’s 1985 film “Return to Oz” is not an official sequel to MGM’s 1939 film. Regardless, it was awarded a Guinness record for being the sequel made the longest time after the original, with a 46-year gap. Another box office failure, this adaptation was much grimmer, not a musical, and required Disney to license MGM’s Ruby Slippers.

Which piece of Wizard of Oz Trivia did you find the most interesting? Feel free to add any that we missed to the thread comments thread. For more informative and entertaining Top 10s, be sure to subscribe to

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