The Wizard of Oz made its premier in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin on August 12, 1939. It made its Hollywood premiere on August 15, 1939 and its New York City premiere on August 17, 1939 and was released on August 25, 1939 to the rest of the United States.
The film started shooting on 13 October 1938 and was completed on 16 March 1939 at a then-unheard-of cost of $2,777,000. It earned only $3,000,000 on its initial release.
WRITERS AND DIRECTORS:
The film had five different directors: Richard Thorpe (fired); George Cukor (did not actually film any scenes; he merely modified Garland's and Bolger's makeup); Mervyn LeRoy (directed some of the transitional scenes); King Vidor (took over the remaining sequences after Fleming went to work on Gone With The Wind) and Victor Fleming.
Ultimately it took 14 writers the story to the screen.
*Ray Bolger was originally cast as the Tin Man, however, he insisted that he would rather play the Scarecrow
*Buddy Ebsen had been cast as the Scarecrow, and but switched roles with Bolger. But the aluminum powder makeup for the Tin Man was toxic and Ebsen apparently had an allergic reaction to it as well. He left the picture, but his voice can still be heard in "Off to see the Wizard".
*Charley Grapewin came out of retirement to play Uncle Henry.
*Shirley Temple was the original choice to play Dorothy. However, she was under contract to 20th Century Fox at the time. A deal was put in place to loan her to MGM Studios in exchange for Clark Gable and Jean Harlow going to 20th Century Fox for a film. However, after Jean Harlow's untimely death the deal was revoked.
*Frank Morgan actually had five roles in the film: Professor Marvel, The Wizard, Gatekeeper of Emerald City, Guard, and The Carriage Driver.
*Toto's real name was Terry, she died in 1945 and was buried in her trainer's yard. Terry was the dog Rainbow in the film Fury (1936) and the dog in the beauty shop in The Women (1939).
*The ruby slippers were silver (like in the book) until MGM chief Louis B. Mayer realized that the Technicolor production would benefit from the slippers being colored.
*There are thought to be seven pairs of ruby slippers, of which the whereabouts of five are known. Each has an estimated value of $1.5 million, making them the most expensive Hollywood memorabilia.
*Margaret Hamilton suffered a serious injury on the set when her make-up heated up and nearly caught fire in the scene where she disappears in a cloud of orange smoke and fire. As it was, she suffered second- and third-degree burns to her hands and face. It was later discovered that one of the key components in her make-up was copper.
*Judy Garland had to wear a painful corset-style device around her torso so that she would appear younger and flat-chested.
*Glinda's gown was first worn by Jeanette MacDonald in San Francisco (1936).
*Bert Lahr's costume weighed 90 pounds.
*The Munchkins were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in November, 2007. Seven of them attended the ceremony: Mickey Carroll, Ruth Robinson, Margaret Pellegrini, Meinhardt Raabe, Karl Kosiczky and August Clarence Swenson.
*Many of the Wicked Witch of the West's scenes were either trimmed or deleted entirely, as Margaret Hamilton's performance was thought too frightening for audiences.
*The "tornado" was a 35-foot-long muslin stocking
*In the movie Glinda is the good witch of the North. However, in L. Frank Baum's book, Glinda is the good sorceress of the South.
*Judy Garland very much wanted to adopt Terry, after the two spent so much time together shooting the film. Unfortunately, the owner of the dog wouldn't give her up, and Terry went on to a long career in films.
*The last surviving major cast member was Ray Bolger (Scarecrow) who passed away in 1987.
*Meinhardt Raabe (born September 2, 1915) is the oldest surviving Munchkin (The Coroner) with any significant dialogue in the film.
*Over the Rainbow" was nearly cut from the film; the song was ranked #1 by the American Film Institute on the 100 Greatest Songs in American Films Institute
*Ding Dong the Witch is Dead is #82 on the 100 Greatest Songs by the American Films Institute
*The movie's line "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" was voted as the #4 movie quote by the American Film Institute.
*The movie's line "There's no place like home." was voted as the #23 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
*The movie's line "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!" was voted as the #99 movie quote by the American Film Institute.
*Dorothy was the main inspiration for the character of Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island.