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. While none of the main actors died from asbestos-related illnesses, the son of Jack Haley (Tin Man) died of respiratory failure age 67, which some have wondered might have been mesothelioma, caused by his father bringing asbestos dust home back from filming.
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 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: The original head of Oz that appeared in front of the columns was a flat piece of painted plywood for the actors to look at during filming. It is visible as such in an often-published studio still. For the film version, they filmed Frank Morgan in the large head make-up and superimposed it on the footage of the empty set.
Trivia: One of the most popular quotes from the movie is "Fly, My Pretties, Fly" which Wicked Witch of West tells Winged Monkeys when she sends them for our heroes. There is one problem with this - this line DOESN'T exist in the movie. What Wicked Witch actually says, and it is very well obviously heard, is "Fly, Fly, Fly".
Trivia: Although in the film the main characters get on well, the actors who played the Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Lion actually resented Judy Garland as they were convinced that she was trying to up-stage them. This wasn't true, but Garland had a very hard time when making the film as she was only friendly with Margaret Hamilton and her musical director, Roger Edens. Actually at the time, Garland was on a much lower salary than most of the stars. She received $500 a month, with $200 of that for her mother Ethel's services.
Trivia: In the beginning of the movie you can see an umbrella across the handlebars of the bike Almira Gulch is riding. This is a nod to the witch in the original book who carries a umbrella around to keep dry but never flew around on a broomstick.
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.
Trivia: Contrary to common belief, "The Wizard of Oz" is not based on Populism (a mostly rural movement in the 1890s that challenged the interests of the railroads and big business) and its ideals. This myth originated from the fact that writer L. Frank Baum had been the editor of a Populist newspaper in Kansas prior to writing the Oz books.
Trivia: The Wicked Witch of the West appears for only 12 minutes in the entire film.
Trivia: Several actresses screened for the Wicked Witch of the West, but none had the right chemistry the directors wanted opposite of Judy and Billie (Burke). The role went to Lady Margaret Hamilton, at a perfect time, being a single, divorced mom raising a young son, and had just bought a house.