Cinematic Curse- The Wizard of Oz

Collected from the Internet:

“Is the wizard of oz a curse? i heard that a munchin killed himself while making the movie.”

The legends of the suicide in the film have traveled through the decades. Some suspect they gained real momentum when the movie reached its 50th Anniversary. The scene in question is at the end of the Tin Woodsman’s sequence. As the characters skip down the yellow brick road, you can see the “hanging” take place.

Actually, the “Munchkin,” is nothing more than a large bird. There were several of them on set when they were filming.

The legend behind Buddy Ebsen’s reaction to the makeup is true. Ebsen was first cast as the Scarecrow, but he decided to exchange roles with Ray Bolger. Bolger was first set to play the Tin Man. The songs were recorded, and all rehearsals went according to plan, so they began filming. Ebsen soon became ill. He was cramping and couldn’t breathe. He was hospitalized. Doctors eventually learned he’d suffered a reaction to the powdered silver makeup the Tin Man wore. He’d been inhaling the makeup, which contained aluminum.

Ebsen had to leave production and recuperate. He was replaced by actor Jack Haley and the makeup changed from powder to paste. Haley didn’t emerge unscathed. He suffered an eye infection that required 4 days to heal.

Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West, was severely burned in the scene where she explodes in flames. Her guards, the evil flying monkeys, often fell from the wires suspending them. Luckily, no serious injuries came from their falls.

Toto, the cute dog who followed Dorothy through the Land of Oz saw its own bad luck. The dog, named Terry, broke his leg during filming. One of the Wicked Witch’s guards stepped on his paw and a substitute dog had to be used for 4 weeks.

Dorothy, played by Judy Garland, is perhaps the most widely used “proof” of a curse. Garland struggled with mental illness for the rest of her life, after The Wizard of Oz. In 1947, she was institutionalized with a nervous breakdown. She continued to suffer psychological problems as well as financial instability. She became addicted to a variety of drugs and died of an accidental overdose in 1969.

Frank Morgan, who played the Wizard, was seriously injured in a car wreck 4 months after the film was released. He was working on another movie in 1949 when he died from a heart attack. It is rumored that Morgan had issues with alcohol. The tattered coat he wore during the movie was indeed one of L. Frank Baum’s coats.

Clara Blandick, who played Auntie Em, is another individual who had a very unhappy life. In the movie credits, she was listed at the very end of the cast, despite her presence in the movie. Her marriage ended 7 years later. She had no children. She committed suicide at 81 by sleeping pills and a plastic bag over her head.

Charley Grapwin, who played Uncle Henry, died in 1956, just before the movie came to television.

There are rumors of the actors who played the Munchkins engaging in prostitution, debauchery, and gambling when they weren’t filming. One book noted they even held orgies at night. While it sounds like propaganda against the vertically challenged, no information refuting these claims has been made available.

It is debatable if any of these events actually hold significance. A legend has been created around a series of events that are actually normal.

 

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