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Dorothy's Torture Exposed! Inside The Secrets & Scandals Of 'The Wizard of Oz'

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Nov. 16 2017, Published 9:51 a.m. ET

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Child star Shirley Temple was the first choice to play Dorothy and sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in the classic film The Wizard of Oz! That’s just one of the shocking secrets about the beloved 1939 movie revealed by authors Jay Scarfing and William Stillman in their blockbuster tell-all book “The Wizard of Oz, The Official 75th Anniversary Companion.” In addition, legendary kid-hater, W.C. Fields was the original choice to play the Wizard, The Wicked Witch of the West would have been super-sexy — and Toto would have been a man in a dog costume! As it turned out, dangerous costumes could’ve killed off a number of the cast, including future TV superstar Buddy Ebsen, who suffered a near-fatal allergic reaction. Click through to learn all about the secrets and scandals behind on of one of America's greatest movies ever made!

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Child star Shirley Temple was the first choice to play Dorothy and sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in the classic film The Wizard of Oz! That’s just one of the shocking secrets about the beloved 1939 movie revealed by authors Jay Scarfing and William Stillman in their blockbuster tell-all book “The Wizard of Oz, The Official 75th Anniversary Companion.” In addition, legendary kid-hater, W.C. Fields was the original choice to play the Wizard, The Wicked Witch of the West would have been super-sexy — and Toto would have been a man in a dog costume! As it turned out, dangerous costumes could’ve killed off a number of the cast, including future TV superstar Buddy Ebsen, who suffered a near-fatal allergic reaction. Click through to learn all about the secrets and scandals behind on of one of America's greatest movies ever made!

//wizard of oz secrets scandals
Source: Getty Images

Child star Shirley Temple was the first choice to play Dorothy and sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in the classic film The Wizard of Oz! That’s just one of the shocking secrets about the beloved 1939 movie revealed by authors Jay Scarfing and William Stillman in their blockbuster tell-all book “The Wizard of Oz, The Official 75th Anniversary Companion.” In addition, legendary kid-hater, W.C. Fields was the original choice to play the Wizard, The Wicked Witch of the West would have been super-sexy — and Toto would have been a man in a dog costume! As it turned out, dangerous costumes could’ve killed off a number of the cast, including future TV superstar Buddy Ebsen, who suffered a near-fatal allergic reaction. Click through to learn all about the secrets and scandals behind on of one of America's greatest movies ever made!

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So the studio settled for Judy Garland, who at first, didn’t want the role either! At age 16, she was chasing more sophisticated parts. She didn’t was to play a child.

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But she changed her mind after learning the Technicolor film has an all-star cast of vaudevillian actors and songs written to showcase her singing talents. “I knew my entire future rest on my ability to play Dorothy convincingly,” she stated.

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It was physical torture for Garland, who says the Temple-smitted MGM bosses “tried to make me look as much like Shirley as possible. I was fat, had crooked teeth, straight black hair and the wrong kind of nose. They made m wear a corset and a wig, capped my teeth and put horrible things in my nose to turn it up like Shirley’s, Making that picture was almost the end of me.”

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Garland was also ordered to lose 12 pounds and the studio assigned her a personal trainer and body double, 1928 Olympic swimming star Barabara “Bobbie” Koshay.

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In Baum’s book, Dorothy’s slippers were silver and tinkled. The studio decided the shoes should be ruby and sparkle to contrast with the Yellow Brick Road and take advantage of the new Technicolor process. For close-ups, Garland’s feet were not used. She had a stand-in.

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As a juvenile, Garland was allowed to work only four hours a day, and Koshay appeared in many shots when Garland’s face wasn’t visible.

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Actor/dancer Ray Bolger, too, suffered in his Scarecrow costume. “My face gets so hot it seems like it’s going to explode,” revealed Bolger. “I had no ears. There were bunches of straw in their place…I couldn’t hear a single thing and my own voice sounded like somebody talking in a huge, empty hall.”

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But the Tin Man had it worst of all. Jack Haley took over the role of Ebsen, the producer’s first choice, nearly died from inhaling aluminum powder used as makeup to silver his face. The silvery stuff was also put on Haley, who had makeup men wipe away any perspiration to keep the aluminum from running into his eyes. The Tin Man’s outfit was so cumbersome he couldn’t sit down in it — and in all close-ups, Haley removed his torturous pants!

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Bert Lahr had few physical problems playing the oft-hysterical Cowardly Lion, but the role ruined his career. “After The Wizard of Oz, I was type-cast as a lion, and there aren’t all that many parts for lions,” he explained.

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At first, the Wicked Witch was slinky and glamorous, as played by Shakespearean actress Gale Sondergaard. But she didn’t like the image it projected and dropped out. Margaret Hamilton was hired in her place — and the witch turned downright scary! With a ferocious delivery that sent children screaming, Hamilton was okay with her character’s green skin, jutting jaw and sharply hooked nose. “My face has given me lots of work,” said Hamilton, who revealed her father once waned to have her nose fixed but she refused beaus “it was mine and I wanted to keep it.”

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The witch’s tiny servants, the Winkies, wore costumes made from such heavy felt, they all nearly expired from heatstroke, working under the heavy arc lights.

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The Winged Monkeys, who came after Dorothy and Toto in the Haunted Forest, were more small men wearing suits made of hair, facial appliances to look like moneys, and motorized wings to make them appear airborne. They were nearly roasted alive, too.

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Meanwhile, the 124 little people who played Munchkins faced big problems of their own. Chairs, dressing tables and bathroom fixtures were all too tall for them and had to be reconfigured. And one crewman, dubbed “the midget elevator,” was hired for the sole purpose of picking up the Munchkins and putting them down on a designated spot. Sadly, few of the Munchkin players found work after the film

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The real scene-stealer was Toto, a five-year-old, 17-pound female brindle Cairn Terrier named Terry. The anniversary book reveals, incredibly, Toto was originally slated to be a man in a dog costume!

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W.C. Fields was cast as the Wizard, but bowed out with a scheduling or salary conflict, and Frank Morgan was tapped for the role. The vaudeville, Broadway and silent picture veteran was a natural, adding his own doublespeak and witty ad-libs. Morgan also had a portable cabinet filled with booze and “nipped a bit,” Garland claimed.

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But then producer, Mervyn LeRoy, noted, “To make a picture like The Wizard of Oz, everybody had to be a little drunk with imagination.

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