May 6

The Curse of the Wizard of Oz

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One of my all time favorite movies is The Wizard of Oz. Like many people, this was one of the first movies that I ever got to see. To this day, I have never grown tired of it. I watch it at least once a year, if not more if it’s possible. This movie was based off the second book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum. Every since he wrote this story of the people of Oz, and Dorothy going on her adventure, it has never been out of print. In fact, many different versions of this story exists including stage, and other books based off of this world. This movie is one of the most loved, and of course, one of the most studied.  People think that there many have been a curse associated with the movie. Here are a few examples, and you make up your mind about the Curse of the Wizard of Oz!

 

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Back in the 1930’s, the rules and regulations for make up weren’t anywhere near what they are today.  Basically there were no rules, or regulations, so many different substances and chemicals were used in the makeup, no matter what kind of damage that it could do the person wearing it. For the tin man, they used a toxic combination of paint and aluminum dust. Buddy Epson, who played the Tin Man had to be hospitalized due to complications from wearing this make only during the first 9 days. Because of this, he suffered lung failure and the filming of The Wizard of Oz was shut down for over two weeks. Buddy Epson suffered with issues for the rest of his life due to this choice in makeup materials.

 

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Speaking of makeup, one of the biggest painting jobs had to go to the actress who played the Wicked Witch. Saying it ain’t easy being green is an understatement is an understatement. Actress Margaret Hamilton played the Wicked Witch of the West. She was painted green to make the character a little bit more scary. Her makeup was made with paint and copper. This is toxic to anyone, and Hamilton had to wear a variation of this mixture the whole film. While bad enough to have toxic makeup on every pore, it wasn’t as terrible as what happened next. An accident happened on set when the Witch leaves during the first scene. The fire came too early, and ended up burning Hamilton. The makeup actually made it much worse, and help spread the burns. She ended getting first and second degree burns across her hands and face. She was able to come back to work almost a month later. However, her hands were so badly burned, she had to wear gloves which covered her injuries.

 

The biggest curse and controversy surrounding The Wizard of Oz has to do with the famous hanging. Or lack of hanging? For years, people have debated if their was a person hanging from a tree in the background when the group happily sins that they are off to see the Wizard. This urban legend has been told at countless slumber parties, camp fires, and of course, on the internet. No matter what you think happened, there is clearly something in the background. Some people think that there was a munchkin that hung himself , while others think it was an extra walking around. There are also those who  think it was just an animal. My personal story with this theory is that as far back as I can recall, I thought someone was hanging from the tree. Keep in mind, movies get “remastered” all of the time. This means that they change things, edit others things out, and add things in. Think of the Star Wars movies that you grew up with verses what they are today. They have new scenes that weren’t filmed or finished in the first place. When The Wizard of Oz was remastered, the hanging person was replaced by a big, walking bird. The official story was that this bird was wondering around the whole time, but people misunderstood what it was and thought it was a person hanging.

 

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Most of us called that explanation BS! My thoughts on this matter are what follows. The Wizard of Oz didn’t have any birds walking around. Why would they appear in this one random spot if they aren’t in any other scene? Yes, there were scenes that were filmed and deleted. In fact, there was an entire music number that was cut. No one can seem to find why this random bird was there because it wasn’t in those deleted scenes. Could it be a person who hung themselves? That is truly what I always thought, but I know it could have been people walking around. Unfortunately, like The Song of the South, you will not find an original version being sold of The Wizard of Oz today. They  only show the remastered version on TV as well, so the answer may be lost in time.

Those were some examples of why people think that the Wizard of Oz was cursed. It had a lot of terrible things happen on set, that included some very scary injuries. We aren’t sure if someone killed themselves, but we do know that Judy Garland was abused by the movie studio, and drugged. Her life was tragic and her time on the set didn’t help her any. Her life is worth a blog of it’s own, but it isn’t hard to see that the studios didn’t really care about their stars, and put them in life threatening situations. It’s hard to look at footage from the past because HD didn’t exist. You will not get a clear shot of what happened in that forest. What do you think? Is this movie cursed?