Trivia: "Over the Rainbow", which the American Film Institute recently named the greatest movie song of all time, was nearly cut from the film.
Trivia: Professor Marvel, the horse of a different color driver, the doorman, the crystal ball reader, the wizard's guard, and the wizard himself are all the same actor, Frank Morgan.
Trivia: Liza Minelli, the daughter of Judy Garland, was once married to TV producer Jack Haley Jr., the son of the Tin Man.
Trivia: In L. Frank Baum's books, Dorothy was actually about 11 years old. As Judy Garland was in her mid-teens when she was cast, MGM pulled out all the stops to make her look as young as possible. Already on a chicken soup-only diet and appetite suppressants (as she was a little too chubby for the studio's liking), MGM upped her dosage and had a corset made to flatten any signs of a womanly figure. Garland had to have special lessons on how to walk, talk and dance normally as the corset was so tight. The costume department dressed her in a childish pinafore dress and gave her little girl plaits too. Even with these efforts it's still clear to see that Garland looks older than 11 in the film.
Trivia: The coat that Frank Morgan wears as Professor Marvel was bought second-hand for the film. It was only discovered later that it once belonged to L. Frank Baum, the creator of the Oz stories. The name sewn into the garment was shown to his widow, who confirmed that the coat did indeed once belong to the author.
Trivia: Buddy Ebsen, the original actor hired to play the Tin Man, became very ill from the metallic makeup and was not able to appear in the movie, but his voice can still be heard singing "We're off to see the wizard," when Dorothy and her friends are dancing down the yellow brick road after the forest scene.
Trivia: In the original book by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy's slippers were not Ruby but Silver. The color was changed in the movie for Technicolor purposes.
Trivia: The Scarecrow was unable to say the correct Pythagorean Theorem (right after he got his brains), so after multiple attempts, the director simply selected the best take and used it.
Trivia: The method used to make the house fall: Paint the sky on the floor, hold a toy house up against the camera which is elevated over the floor, film the house falling, then reverse the film. Voila.
Trivia: Some of the more minor mistakes in the film may have been left in because there was no time to shoot more accurate takes. This picture wasn't expected to be as big of a hit as it was, and when it went over-budget and took longer than expected to shoot, a lot of pressure was put on the crew and director to finish it. MGM wanted to put Judy Garland in a film with Mickey Rooney, as he was a bigger star than she was (and the studio thought starring with him would help her career), so the crew of the film had to rush to get it all shot and edited so Garland could be released. There was also pressure as every Technicolor camera in existence at the time was needed for Gone With the Wind, which had already started filming.
Trivia: During filming, Toto was accidentally stepped on by one of the Witch's guards, and had to be replaced for several days with a look-alike. Other on-set accidents included two winged monkey actors who fell when their support wires snapped, and Margaret Hamilton being severely burned when the elevated platform that made her disappear from Munchkinland in a puff of smoke malfunctioned.
Trivia: I have to post this to refute the comment that denied the existence of an alternate ending. I was overjoyed to find a comment here from someone else who remembered seeing a different ending just one time in the 1960s. I've spent my whole life trying to find someone else who remembered this. In the 1960s the annual broadcast of the film had hosts. I, and two of my friends, ever since childhood always remembered that one year the movie had a different ending. I've always sensed it was the year that the hosts were Liza Minnelli and Lorna and Joey Luft. We never could remember what the different ending was, but we recalled that it was black and white and that our reaction was: It wasn't just a dream that time. Now that I've read this other person's memory of the camera's panning to the ruby slippers under the bed, in black and white, I remember that's what I saw. Another commenter says that there's no evidence that the scene ever existed. I am here to verify that someone else has never stopped wondering for over 40 years about a vague memory of a different ending from one airing in the 1960s.
Trivia: Originally, the Wicked Witch of the West recorded a lot more scenes. Most of these scenes were cut because the director thought it would scare the children too much. You can see evidence of this when the foursome are surrounded by her guards and the witch comes and says something like Ring around the Rosie and it cuts to a different scene with her in it.
Trivia: The album "Dark side of the moon" by Pink Floyd seems to be in sync (by accident or design) with the Wizard of Oz if you start it right after the MGM lion roars the third time. Examples: the smoke turns black and blue when they are visiting the wizard as the words "black and blue" are sung. When the tone of the movie changes as Dorothy falls in the pigpen, the music picks up, becoming somewhat "panicky." When Auntie Em is "gripping" at the Uncles, the music has a nagging woman's voice that matches Auntie Em perfectly. The Tin Man's dance to a track called Speak to Me/Breathe. This has to be done with DVD/CD, and bear in mind that PAL format DVDs play back 4% faster due to differing frame rates, so for a 101 minute film like this it'll be 4 minutes apart from the NTSC version by the end, potentially messing up any synchronisation.
Trivia: Early in pre-production, Shirley Temple was considered for the role of Dorothy, who would have been on loan out from 20th Century Fox, but the truth as to why she did not get the part remains uncertain. One reason offered is that MGM's head of production, Mervyn LeRoy, was under pressure to cast Shirley (who was a popular child star at the time), but during an unofficial audition he decided that her singing was not what he envisioned for Dorothy and wanted an actress with a different style. Another reason is that they thought it to be too big a role for such a young actress (she was 11 at the time). Yet another possible reason is that 20th Century Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck was offered double Shirley's salary to star her in the film, but Zanuck declined, and the offer was raised to MGM's budget limit that the film could afford, but once again Zanuck declined. In addition, a rumored story exists that there was a deal that MGM's Jean Harlow and Clark Gable were going to be on loan to 20th Century Fox in return for Shirley's loan out to MGM, but after Harlow's death (from uremic poisoning brought on by acute nephritis) in 1937 the deal ended. However, Harlow died in 1937, which was before MGM had even purchased the rights to the story.
Trivia: A Russian writer adapted "The Wizard of Oz" for Russian children. Dorothy was re-named Allie, and Toto could talk. He later wrote 5 more books about the adventures of Allie, her sister Annie, Toto, Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion. The book is titled "The Wizard of the Emerald City", by Alexander Volkov. It has been translated into English along with the sequels.
Trivia: The falling snow in the poppy field was actually made from industrial grade chrysotile asbestos, despite the health hazards already being known at the time.
Trivia: More than a dozen writers worked on various versions of the Oz script. Some of their "original" ideas that were (thankfully) scrapped: an opera-singing Princess Betty of Oz; a stupid son for the Wicked Witch with ambitions to be King of Oz; and a budding romance between Dorothy and one of the farmhands. For a while, the Wicked Witch was to be glamorous (a la Disney's witch in Snow White), but fortunately, saner heads prevailed and kept her as L. Frank Baum had originally written her.