The Wizard of Oz is one of the most beloved movies in Hollywood. Made in 1939, following The Great Depression and just before World War II, the movie was the escapism that the American public desperately needed. The whimsical and beautifully shot film followed Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her dog, Toto’s adventures after they find themselves in the magical world of Oz.
Amid their quest to try and return to Kansas, Dorothy and Toto encounter a Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), a Tin Man (Jack Haley), and a Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr). However, not all of Dorothy’s adventures were so bright and sunny. She also makes herself an enemy of the West’s Wicked Witch (Margaret Hamilton).
As stunning as The Wizard of Oz was, making it was a disaster for MGM. Someone even stepped on poor Toto.
Making ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was a Hollywood nightmare
MGM was determined to bring L. Frank Baum’s 1900 children’s fantasy novel to the big screen in the most stunning way that they could. However, in the 1930s, technicolor was still relatively new, and they did not have the technology for all of the special effects needed in the film.
As a result, things quickly went from bad to worse. Actors were burned, poisoned, and everything in between. The director switched several times, and Garland, who was just 16 at the time, was run ragged.
“Some of these special effects had never been done before,” The Making of The Wizard of Oz author Aljean Harmet told TIME. “There were no unions, at that time. Stars and lesser players were indentured servants [for] studios.”
In the end, MGM’s gamble paid off, the film debuted to critical and financial acclaim, and it became a Hollywood staple when it was broadcast on CBS for the very first time on Nov. 3, 1956.
‘The Wizard of Oz’ actors were poisoned by their makeup
There were several cast changes while making The Wizard of Oz because cast members were continually hurt. Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West, was burned severely during filming. Since she was covered in copper makeup, the team had to rush it so that it would not seep into her wounds. Others weren’t so lucky.
Actor Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as the Tin Man. However, he quickly became poisoned by the aluminum dust he was covered in each day. He had to be hospitalized and put on oxygen. He did not recover in time to return to film, so he was replaced by Haley, who got an eye infection from being covered in a mix of aluminum powder and paste.
Dorothy’s dog Toto also suffered harm during the film.
Someone stepped on Dorothy’s dog Toto while making ‘The Wizard of Oz’
During filming, Toto was played by a female Cairn terrier named Terry. Since the set was so chaotic, Terry was accidentally thrown into harm’s way.
According to TIME, one of the actors playing one of the Wicked Witch of the West’s soldiers accidentally jumped on top of the dog. The dog suffered a sprain in its foot, which forced Carl Spitz, the dog trainer on set, to get a canine double.
Thankfully, Terry recovered and returned to the set a few weeks after the incident.
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