ByJonathan Patrick, writer at
The Geek Desk
Jonathan Patrick

Unless you were swept up in a twister and taken to a faraway magical land, you've probably seen The Wizard of Oz. Though it wasn't a huge success when it debuted in 1939, the film has since become ingrained in our culture, captivating us with the most memorable of American fairy tales.

After 78 years, The Wizard of Oz continues to be both a source of joy and of urban legend. While the kibosh has been put on the relentless rumor that a Munchkin can be seen committing suicide in the film, there are still a slew of insane — and true — fun facts you won't believe.

1. The Ruby Slippers That Weren't

'The Wizard of Oz' [Credit: Loew's, Inc.]
'The Wizard of Oz' [Credit: Loew's, Inc.]

The famous ruby kicks Dorothy sported during her stint in Oz were originally silver in the book. During the movie's production, MGM changed the slippers to the red hue we all know because they wanted to flaunt their new Technicolor process.

2. Pretty In Pink

Dorothy's iconic blue and white gingham dress was changed to blue and light pink, but you can't see it. True white appeared underwhelming on film, and light pink made the it easier to shoot with Technicolor.

3. Maybe She's Born With It, Maybe It's Magic

The beautiful Billie Burke was 54 years of age when she appeared as Glinda the Good Witch of the North. She was 18 years older than her evil counterpart, Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West, though you'd never guess it. Must be all that good magic.

4. Toto's Feminine Side

Dorothy's famous furry friend was played by Terry, a five-year-old female Cairn Terrier. Terry belonged to Carl Spitz, who had previously trained military and police dogs in Germany during the first World War before coming to the United States.

5. The Tin Man's Sweet, Sweet Tears

'The Wizard of Oz' [Credit: Loew's, Inc.]
'The Wizard of Oz' [Credit: Loew's, Inc.]

Next time you see the Tin Man cry, don't feel bad –– that's actually chocolate streaming down his face. Naturally, the Tin Man would shed tears of machine oil, but actual oil didn't appear well on film. The creative team found a sweet substitute in chocolate syrup, with viewers none the wiser.

6. Into The Lion's Suit

In what seems like a controversial move, the Cowardly Lion's costume was made from a real lion. The studio wanted the famous scaredy cat to look authentic, so they used real lion skin and fur for the suit. The costume, which weighed about 90 pounds, sold for over $3 million at an auction in 2014.

7. Nowhere Over The Rainbow

Could you imagine without Dorothy singing "Over the Rainbow?" Well, MGM could. The song was originally cut because the studio thought it would not appeal to children and that it slowed down the picture.

8. Working Like A Dog

Startling as it may be, Terry the dog pulled in $125 a week playing Toto while actors portraying Munchkins each earned a reported $50 per week.

9. That Ain't Jello On Those Horses

'The Wizard of Oz' [Credit: Loew's, Inc.]
'The Wizard of Oz' [Credit: Loew's, Inc.]

Right up there with the rumor of Munchkin suicide is the misnomer that the horses in the Emerald City were colored with Jell-O. According to The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion book, this was not the case. Instead of paint or Jell-o, vegetable dye was used to tint the horses' coats.

10. Dorothy's Unseen Torture Device

In L. Frank Baum's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, we never learn Dorothy's age, but she is illustrated as a child. Judy Garland was 15 when she was cast in the role, for which she was ordered to lose 12 pounds. To further achieve a childlike physique, Garland also had to wear a less than comfortable corset.

11. The Sepia Filter Or Black and White?

Depending on when you first watched The Wizard of Oz, the beginning and end of the movie may have changed color. These sequences were filmed on sepia-toned film, giving it a brownish tint. However, starting in 1949, they appeared in black and white. The original sepia tones were not restored until the release of the 50th Anniversary special edition videocassette in 1989.

12. Dark Side Of The Rainbow

Pairing Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz results in the film and album corresponding with each other almost like a music video. The combination of the two is called Dark Side of the Rainbow. Pepé the King Prawn (playing Toto) mentions this in the 2005 film The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, saying, "Those of you who have Dark Side of the Moon, press play now."

13. Honoring The Author

'The Wizard of Oz' [Credit: Loew's, Inc.]
'The Wizard of Oz' [Credit: Loew's, Inc.]

Though only visible in publicity photos and replicas of the document, the Wicked Witch of the East's death certificate declares she died on May 6, 1938. This puts her death exactly 19 years to the day after that of author L. Frank Baum. Baum suffered a stroke and went into a coma, waking just long enough to say his last words to his wife: "Now we can cross the Shifting Sands." The Shifting Sands –– also called the Deadly Desert –– is the magical area completely surrounding the Land of Oz.

What is your favorite part of The Wizard of Oz?


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