It was this day in history, August 25, 1939, when the Wizard of Oz opened in theaters nationwide in the United States. The making of the movie was fraught with troubles; the actors worked six days a week, twelve and thirteen hours a day for five months. Some of the troubles included, the original star to play the Tin Man, Buddy Ebsen, was allergic to the aluminum dust on the costume and had to be rushed to the hospital because he as having a hard time breathing. Ebsen wasn’t the only one to suffer effects from the make-up, Jack Haley received a severe eye infection from the aluminum paste on the costume as well.
Margaret Hamilton received serious burns from a fire scene when she “disappeared” in the smoke and fire in Munchkinland. She also had to be taken to the hospital. When Hamilton returned from the hospital, she refused to do a scene in which she would fly on her broomstick and smoke would billow out of it. They hired another actress to do this scene and the actress as severely injured from doing the scene. The entire Emerald City sequence as filmed with a n process called Technicolor and it required a lot of lighting that caused temperatures on the studio to rise over a hundred degrees.
Although troubles plagued the movie from the onset, the Wizard of Oz has gone on to become one of the most beloved movies since it first aired on television in 1959. It cost well over two million dollars to make and only raked in about three million in the theaters. It has won numerous Oscar awards except for best movie. That prestigious title went to a little Civil War drama called Gone with the Wind. The song Over the Rainbow won the Oscars for best music and Original song in a movie and the funny thing about that is, the song was almost cut from the movie entirely.
The movie itself as based on a novel called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum. He got the idea for the name of Oz when he looked at his filing cabinets and saw that they were organized “A-N” and “O-Z”. Baum also wrote thirteen other novels based on Dorothy’s adventures in Oz and the novel as much gorier than the movie. The novel featured such creatures as a tiger and bear hybrid called kaidahs and the Tin Woodsman used his axe to decapitate a wildcat and several wolves. There were even scenes cut from the movie in which the producers thought the Wicked Witch of the West was too scary in them. So scary were the costumes of the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion, that they had to take their meals in their dressing room and not in the studio cafeteria so they would not scare the patrons.
Yes, the Wizard of Oz has been riddled with problems but has become one of America’s most loved movies for generations past and present and probably will be for generations to come.