There have been many famous onscreen relationships between a child and his/her pet over the years, perhaps none so well-known as that between Dorothy and Toto in the iconic film, The Wizard of Oz.
Who can forget the loyal Cairn Terrier, constantly by Dorothy’s side as they made their way through the magical, and often dangerous, Land of Oz? But did you know that Dorothy wasn’t Toto’s first onscreen master? Here’s the scoop on that, along with some other little-known facts about everyone’s favorite furry companion.
Toto was actually a female named Terry. She belonged to a trainer named Carl Spitz who, years before, had been hired by Terry’s original owner to break her of her shyness. When the owner couldn’t pay Carl for his services, Terry became his dog.
He’d done such a good job training Terry that he thought he’d try getting her into the movies, and her first big break came not as Toto in The Wizard of Oz, but in a film called Bright Eyes. Terry played “Rags,” the faithful companion of another Hollywood icon of the era (and an actress originally considered for the role of Dorothy Gale), Shirley Temple.
Bright Eyes is a story about a little girl forced to live with a snooty family after her mother, the family’s maid, is killed. Rags is her loyal companion throughout as a difficult custody battle ensues between an aviator friend and the wealthy couple’s crotchety Uncle.
Terry actually made 13 films in all, including everyone’s favorite, The Wizard of Oz, where she was reportedly paid a weekly salary of $125—more than some of the human actors were paid!
Due to the overwhelming popularity of the movie, Carl officially changed Terry’s name, and when she passed away in 1945 he buried her on his California ranch. Fortunately for fans around the world, the scrappy and loyal Toto will live forever in The Wizard of Oz, a film that never gets old.