A Rubber Face for Rubber Legs

Everyone knows the faces of their favorite characters from The Wizard of Oz. Change one freckle, one mustache, or wrinkle and it would be immediately noticeable to true fans of this legendary movie.

Interestingly, these faces we know so well often took on several incarnations in pre-production makeup testing before the familiar final versions were arrived at. Probably the most notable case was the Scarecrow.

In the years before the film, audiences of numerous stage and screen productions saw a smooth-faced Scarecrow, with pasted-on straw hair and eyebrows, and that’s where the film’s producers began. Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow, in fact, initially resembled that of Fred Stone who played the character in the popular 1902 stage musical, with simplistic solid white makeup only slightly enhanced with dark lines encircling the eyes and cheekbone.

Ultimately, after a series of attempts that added layered features to his face, the film’s makeup artists finally arrived at the look they were going for. They created a mottled, thin rubber mask that was glued to Bolger’s face and painted over to simulate burlap. This incredibly realistic result we know and love so well took two hours each morning to apply.

Time well spent when you consider the results, and when you think about it, it seems appropriate for an actor and dancer who was known as “Rubber Legs” to also have a rubber face.

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