Behind the ScenesMovies and TVThe Wizard of Oz

Fan Q&A: Part One

Fan Q&A with Jay Scarfone and William Stillman

Fans were invited on the film’s official Facebook page to submit questions about The Wizard of Oz. Here are some of the questions and answers.

There were so many questions posed by fans of The Wizard of Oz. Much of what folks were asking was fresh and original, and overall the questions were quite different from the last time this opportunity was offered. Furthermore, it was wonderful to hear that so many followers had the chance to see the movie on the big screen in its latest theatrical release!

Question: Eric Daly, Michael J. Adams, and David Riley Jr. all enquired about missing footage or deleted scenes from The Wizard of Oz and whether these film snippets would ever be recovered.

Answer: While one never knows, it is unlikely—over 80 years later—that all scenes deleted from The Wizard of Oz will be discovered. There may be additional home-movie-style film taken behind the scenes by visitors to the movie set. What’s more likely to surface would be individual frames of Technicolor film from outtake footage or cut scenes, such as the two images from Ray Bolger’s deleted Scarecrow dance published for the first time in The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion. What may also be found one day in the future is the original 1939 theatrical (“coming attraction”) trailer for The Wizard of Oz, which was longer than the subsequent re-release versions and featured additional outtake footage, such as a close-up of the Wicked Witch hiding behind an apple tree!

Question: Valerie Nichole Coppola wondered, “Where are the costumes from The Wizard of Oz?” And Jordan Law and Nolan McCormick asked, “Do any sets survive?”

Answer: The answer to these inquiries can be traced back to May of 1970 when the MGM studio contracted with an auctioneer to dispose of its property over a three-week period. This included a vast inventory of planes, trains, and automobiles; antiquities of all manner; furniture from every era; and costumes and props from famous films. Sets were typically “struck” shortly after filming unless a portion of a set might be repurposed in another production. Same for costumes and props. Because The Wizard of Oz was a fantasy film, very little could be reused elsewhere. Anything that still survived from The Wizard of Oz would’ve largely been auctioned or sold directly on sale tables about the time of the 1970 auction. The good news is that a pair of Judy Garland’s Ruby Slippers and Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow ensemble are in the collections of The Smithsonian Institution for public viewing.

Question: Karen Acuff wanted to know about Judy Garland’s hairdressing in The Wizard of Oz, as her hair never got mussed (despite tumbling into a pigpen or being menacing by the Wicked Witch), and if there was a “sponsor” for hair and make-up products used.

Answer: At first it was decided that Judy Garland should reflect the blond look of “Princess Dorothy” from the series of Wizard of Oz books. A color image of the blond Dorothy was discovered and may be seen in the Official 75th Anniversary Companion book. When this concept was abandoned after two weeks of filming, Judy Garland’s own hair was used. She was given a henna rinse to redden her hair for Technicolor photography and a “three-quarters” wig was pinned to the back of her head, like extensions, to lengthen the actress’s own hair for purposes of creating her famous Dorothy braids. Pomade hairdressing was used to give her hair sheen and hold its coiffure. Max Factor provided the studio with Garland’s hairpieces as well as its cosmetic products.

Question: Simon Wade wanted to know, “How did they make the monkeys fly? Was it Claymation?”

Answer: Although techniques similar to Claymation were being used for animation at the time of The Wizard of Oz, the special effect of an army of Winged Monkeys descending upon Dorothy and her friends was at first created by cartoonists in the studio’s animation department. But this looked too artificial when edited together with live-action footage of the actors. Instead of clay figures, miniature rubber figures in varying sizes were created to give the illusion of depth. The miniature monkeys were attached to thin wires that moved them across the background and flapped their wings. Small stuntmen dressed as monkeys—complete with animatronic wings—supplemented their rubber counterparts for the “live-action” scenes.

Question: Dale Goode asked, “How old was Judy Garland when she got the part of Dorothy?”

Answer: Despite some fans believing she was sixteen or seventeen years old, Judy Garland was officially cast as Dorothy in February 1938. This predated her June 10th sweet sixteen by several months. Three rare photos from April 1938 documenting the then-fifteen-year-old Garland’s first wig and make-up test for the part are shown in The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion. By the time production got underway in October 1938, Judy had turned sixteen and remained that age for the majority of making The Wizard of Oz. However, in late June 1939, she was called back for an additional scene, by which time she had turned seventeen.

Question: Treasa Gaw Jennings posted, “How’d they make the Horse of a Different Color?”

Answer: Two white steeds portrayed the chameleon-like horse that changes hue like a rainbow prism. The ASPCA had oversight on this special effect to ensure that it was done humanely. Because it involved make-up, solving this problem fell to Jack Dawn, head of the make-up department. Instead of toxic paint, vegetable dye (or food coloring) was used to tint the horses’ hides—not Jell-O. In addition to the horse’s purple, orange and yellow shades (as seen in The Wizard of Oz), additional shots were taken with the horse dyed blue, but these were cut from the movie.

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