These Wizard of Oz movie facts are based upon the 1939 film of the same name, which was dramatized from L. Frank Baum's children's novel titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Introducing the Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The 1939 film The Wizard of Oz was not an instant hit when it was first released, but it was critically acclaimed. Through the years, quotes and scenes from the film became integrated into many aspects of American culture and media, and the film itself transformed into one of the most well-known films of all time.
A History of the Children's Book
The film was based upon the much loved children's novel by L. Frank Baum, and it was a testament to his beautiful story. The novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900 and sold over 21,000 copies the first year. It was turned into a very popular Broadway musical stage play in 1902. One of the reasons Frank initially wrote his fairy tale was because he felt that the old fairy tales of the time were far too scary with horrifying witches, goblins and dwarves.
No matter where life took Frank, when he returned home he would tell the children of the family so many amazing stories, that children in the neighborhood would visit for "storytelling hour." During one of these storytelling sessions that included the neighborhood kids and his own children, Frank began telling the story of Dorothy and Oz. He was so surprised by his own story that he ended storytelling hour early so that he could jot down the tale in order to remember it. He titled his original hand printed draft, "The Emerald City." After his publisher refused the title, he eventually reworked it into The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Basic Wizard of Oz Movie Facts
While the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger and many other major stars became the timeless classic that everyone came to know and love, it was by no means the first visual incarnation of the book. After the popular book was published and distributed in the early 1900s, it was created and recreated many times and in many forms.
- From 1902 through 1903, The Wizard of Oz was a stage musical in both Chicago and New York. The popular musical toured the country all the way through 1911.
- From 1908 through 1925, a total of nine silent films where created from the book, with titles like The Patchwork Girl of Oz and His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz.
- Many films eventually followed the 1939 feature film, including the 1967 ABC animated TV version Off to See the Wizard and Disney's 1985 Return to Oz.
- In all forms of media, The Wizard of Oz has had some form of influence at some point, either through quotations, images or scenes borrowed or mentioned through the years.
The 1939 Hollywood film was eventually nominated for six Academy Awards, and won Best Score and Best Song. Had it not been for the fact that Gone With the Wind was released the same year, the film might have won many more awards. The leading roles of film included the following actors and actresses.
- Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale
- Ray Bolger as The Scarecrow and Hunk
- Frank Morgan as The Wizard and Professor Marvel
- Jack Haley as The Tin Woodsman and Hickory
- Bert Lehr as The Cowardly Lion and Zeke
- Charles Grapewin as Uncle Henry
- Clara Blandick as Antie Em
- Billie Burke as Glinda the Good Witch
- Margaret Hamilton as The Wicked Witch and Miss Gulch
Interesting Wizard of Oz Facts
For many avid fans, there are a number of somewhat obscure Wizard of Oz movie facts that people who only occasionally watch the movie may never know.
- The "Jitterbug" army - When the Wicked Witch is talking to the Captain of her Winged Monkeys, she says, "I've sent a little insect on ahead to take the fight out of them." These were insects that Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow had to fight off with weapons like a bug sprayer and a net. In some scenes of the final movie, you actually see the characters carrying these weapons in the Haunted Forest, but they disappear in later scenes.
- The famous tornado scene was created with the help of a Gantry Crane hung from the roof trusses above the set, and various Gantry cars at the top and bottom of a canvas cone twirled by an electric motor. Wind machines and other contraptions created the illusion of both wind and dust.
- The actual death certificate of the Wicked Witch of the East that was used on the set listed the anniversary of the day L. Frank Baum died - May 6th.
- Judy Garland was 16 when she played the role of the 12 year old Dorothy.
- Buddy Ebsen originally played the Tin Man, but an allergic reaction to the aluminum dust makeup lead to his replacement by Jack Haley.
- MGM originally wanted Shirley Temple for the role of Dorothy, but 20th Century Fox would not allow her to fill the role for MGM's production.
- Many fans were originally surprised by the image of a "hanging person" in the scene where the Tin Man, Dorothy and the Scarecrow first encounter the Wicked Witch. As the three leave the set down the yellow brick road, a strange image of what looks like a person hanging appears between some of the trees at the far end of the set. The image was actually a bird trainer attempting to catch a large bird as it was flapping its wings.
As each generation gets introduced to Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, this story and this film will forever go down in history as one of the greatest classic films of all time.