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Movies for Grownups

'The Wizard of Oz' Hits Theaters in IMAX 3-D

10 fun facts to get ready for the classic movie's return

Buddy Ebsen, first cast as the Tin Man

Buddy Ebsen, during his brief stint playing the Tin Man. — Jonathan Shirshekan

4. Who was originally cast as the Tin Man?

Many think it was Buddy Ebsen of The Beverly Hillbillies fame, who became ill after filming began from the aluminum particles that were blown onto his face and coated his lungs. After an adjustment to the makeup, Jack Haley replaced Ebsen in the part.

However, Ray Bolger was first picked to be the Tin Man but insisted on playing the Scarecrow instead. As Fricke wryly notes, "Bolger got immortality. Ebsen got aluminum poisoning."

5. How is the distinctively sinister theme music that accompanies both Miss Gulch on her bike and the Wicked Witch of the West a case of recycling?

It is a distorted and repeated version of another Oz song, "We're Off to See the Wizard."

6. How many times was a double used onscreen as Dorothy?

Stand-in Bobbie Koshay subbed for Judy Garland in three scenes: When Dorothy falls into the pig pen; when the winged monkeys pick her up from the Haunted Forest; and when Dorothy opens the door to Munchkinland while wearing a brown-and-checked dress and steps way back.

7. What is the name of the horse that pulls Professor Marvel's wagon?

Professor Marvel, played by Frank Morgan — who shows up in five roles, including the Wizard — reveals his steed's name after saying goodbye to Dorothy: "Better get under cover, Sylvester — there's a storm blowing up."

Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West

Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West. — Warner Bros Entertainment, Inc.

8. What do the Wicked Witch's guards chant as they march into her castle?

The source of much speculation by Oz fans over the years has produced such interpretations as, "All we are, we owe her" and "Oh, we owe the Old One." Last year's animated hit Wreck-It Ralph even offered up a version that began "Oreo."

But Fricke says the conductor's page of the original orchestration for the film reveals it is simply gibberish: "O-Ee-Yah! Eoh-Ah!"

9. What simple trick was used to make it seem that the Wicked Witch's head was shrinking as she melts?

The size of her pointed hat was increased.

10. Is it true that a person is seen hanging himself in the background after Dorothy meets the Tin Man and they head off to the Emerald City with the Scarecrow?

Probably the most notorious urban legend surrounding The Wizard of Oz, popularized after home viewing allowed freeze-framing and slow motion, has taken several forms. The moving suicidal figure is alleged to be either a lovelorn Munchkin, a studio executive upset about cost overruns, a stagehand bereft because he could not get a date with Judy Garland or an actress upset about not getting a part. Fricke says it was just one of several birds rented from the Los Angeles Zoo — most likely a crane. "Once you know" what it is, he says, "and as prints of the film have become clearer, it is a lot more obvious."

Susan Wloszczyna writes about culture and entertainment.

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Movies for Grownups is focused on films with distinct relevance to a 50-plus audience. In reviews, previews and interviews, we look for actors and themes that speak to the experiences of older moviegoers. Find more about us on:


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