The Wizard of Oz: Haley, Bolger, Garland and Lahr

The Wizard of Oz: Haley, Bolger, Garland and Lahr

On February 24, 1938, the entertainment trade newspaper Variety reported that the film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) had bought the rights to adapt L. Frank Baum’s beloved children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for the screen, and that the studio has cast 16-year-old Judy Garland in the film’s central role, Dorothy Gale. the role would make her a star.

Production of The Wizard of Oz was beset by challenges from the beginning. 

  • The script went through numerous rewrites, 
  • The film went through four directors (Richard Thorpe, George Cukor, Victor Fleming and King Visor)
  • Casting problems: Buddy Ebsen as the Tinman suffered a near-fatal allergic reaction to the aluminum dust used in his Tinman makeup. Jack Haley replaced him.
  • The all-important role of the Wicked Witch of the West was also recast, as the original actress, Gale Sondergaard, objected to playing such an ugly, evil character; Margaret Hamilton replaced her.

The Wizard of Oz emerged from these challenges as one of history’s most enduring and best-loved films, ranking sixth on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest films of all time (compiled in 1999). The Wizard of Oz was especially honored for its pioneering use of the film process known as Technicolor, as well as for its now-iconic soundtrack.  “Over Rainbow” would become Judy Garland’s signature song.

In 2015, Comcast has asked us to re-imagine the Wizard Oz through a visually impaired child. A truly wonderful world of oz for everyone.

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4 responses

  1. Elle Knowles says:

    Great posts and great movie! I knew about Buddy Epson, but didn’t know about the wicked witch of the west!

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  2. Birgit says:

    The studio wanted Shirley temple at first but couldn’t get her so they went with Judy and the poor girl had to have her breasts wrapped down. Poor Buddy Ebson had to spend a few weeks in an iron lung because of that dust Margaret Hamilton suffered severe burns when the flame burst that went off after she visited Munchkin Land. The scene when she disappears-they kept that scene in the film! Thankfully we do not realize she was injured. I loved it that all the munchkins had a great time off set since they never realized there were so many of them around America (a movie was made about this with Chevy Chase). One thing that is neat-Frank Morgan, who plays the mighty Oz wore a coat that looked tattered but dignified. The props dept. asked someone to find a coat that would match what they were looking for. The woman came back with this coat she bought at a used clothing store. When Baum’s widow visited the set and saw the coat she was shocked and asked to look inside the coat. Inside the coat was written-Property of L. Frank Baum! It was the author’s coat and he always put his name on the inside of his clothing. I thought you might get a kick out of that

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