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About the classic Wizard of Oz movie: Cast interviews, behind the scenes, costumes & lots more

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Dorothy with the Wicked Witch and Glinda - Wizard of Oz

The Wizard is here to delight the kids

Oldsters, too, should enjoy Dorothy’s adventures with the scarecrow, Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion in the Wondrous Land of Oz

by Kaspar Monahan – The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) August 19, 1939

“We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz, ta-da-de-da-te-tah-de-dum-de-dee –”

Dancing along a higyhway of golden bricks, the “main stem” of Oz, a quartet renders that catchy little ditty which keeps ringing in my years. Little Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion are the singers and dancers, and they’re heading toward the Emerald City, there to confer with the Wizard about matters profound and fantastic.

Wizard of Oz movie - Emerald City door and guard

“We’re off to see the Wizard — ”

The words suggest that you bestir yourself and go to see him yourself. Thousands of young and old converged on Loew’s Penn yesterday for that delightful purpose, and were transported to a land of wonders in many ways the equal of the enchanted region created by Disney and his staff for Snow White.

Of course the comparison between The Wizard of Oz and Snow White is inevitable because of the similarity of the two movies. Snow White is still the supreme work of the screen in its excursions into fantasy, in my opinion, but Wizard is not far behind. Each is a masterpiece of ingenuity. Where Snow White had the advantage of using drawn figures, Wizard gets its effects and tells its charming story with living beings.

And in doing that, the producers faced and solves tremendous problems by the wizardry of makeup, trick machinery and many device of all kinds that had to be invented for the big job at hand. Through trial and error and month on month of toil and sweat, Wizard finally emerged, and the results are a near-miracle for the movie industry.

Technicolor is, of course, the perfect medium for a fairy tale. It would be next to impossible to believe in an enchanted land unless it were made to glow in rainbow hues. Once again, technicolor triumphs in the visual delights of Wizard.

The Wizard of Oz vintage movie poster - Judy Garland

The Wizard of Oz cast

In the matter of casting, it is ideal. But for the minor drawback that she’s a bit too large to play Dorothy, Judy Garland in all other respects measures up to her assignment. She is the awed, wide-eyed child from Kansas, bewildered in a strange land after the cyclone whirls her to the Oz. Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion is one of the most appealing characters, human or animal, ever brought to the screen.

“Why don’t you try counting sheep?” she Scarecrow asks him when he complains of insominia, induced by his fears.

“I can’t — I’m afraid of sheep,” the Cowardly Lion sobs.

Rubbery-legged Ray Bolger and Jack Haley take good care of the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman roles respectively; Billie Burke plays the Good Witch, and hatched-faced Margaret Hamilton the Bad Witch. And in Frank Morgan, audiences have a grand Wizard — a gentle, soft-hearted Wizard, whose fake magic is exposed by Dorothy and her pals.

Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley in The Wizard of Oz 1939

The inevitable comparisons

There are, of course, points of similarity between Snow White and Wizard of Oz. Both have as their major character a little girl, witches, strange little people, magic woods. The Good Fairy of Snow White has her counterpart in the Good Witch of Wizard. Enough is retained of L Frank Baum’s original story to indicate that he was no stranger to Alice in Wonderland and the stories of Grimm and the other tellers of children’s tales.

Still unique

However, his creations of the Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow are his very own. They’re droll and wistful figures to appeal not only to children, but the grownups as well. And in the movie, under the loving ministrations of director Victor Fleming and all concerned, they lose none of their charm.

Old-timers, of course, will remember the late Dave Montgomery and Fred Stone in the Woodman and Scarecrow roles, and probably will mourn their absence in the movie. That as it may be, Bolger and Haley are not to be discounted. The boys are very good.

Almost forgot to mention the Munchkins, whose antics and caperings and songs and dances are to be listed among the many good things. For those roles, MGM rounded up an army of midgets.

The Wizard of Oz, definitely, is a picture to see.

Wizard of Oz movie - Dead Wicked Witch of the East with ruby slippers


The Wizard of Oz (1939) original theatrical trailer

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The Wizard of Oz fun facts

It’s true! That truth is stranger than fiction!

IT’S TRUE! that the largest number of midgets ever gathered together anywhere in the world, were assembled to play the Munchkins in M-G-M’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’,” says Wiley Padan . . . “Sixty-two shades of all possible colors were used in the large Munchkin Village set.

“The screen version of L. Frank Baum’s famous story will be made in Technicolor. . . Mervyn Le Roy, producer, is planning to send the entire Village set to the New York World’s Fair following completion of the picture.” – Wiley Padan

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Wizard of Oz facts from 1939

The Wizard of Oz - Follow the yellow brick road


Behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz: Making a classic movie (from 1939)

The magic of modern moviemaking at its miracle best breathes life into that beloved classic of childhood

By Dixie Willson, Photoplay – August 1939

And so M-G-M’s art department was given a script labeled “Wizard of Oz”; a movie script of that wondrous book, that grave and gay mixture of nonsense and philosophy which for forty years has been a juvenile best seller.

At last it was to be breathed into life in as miraculous fashion as ever story or picture imprisoned on film — the fantasy of a little lady from Kansas whom the tail of a cyclone transports to the mystical kingdom of those three musketeers, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Woodman.

Soon there would take place in the huge city of M-G-M’s studio, such breath-taking, unbelievable sights as would have the very stars standing on the sidelines to stop, look and listen! For where else, if ever, could eyes behold flying houses, apple trees which pelt you with apples, men whose complexions are green and whose heads are square! A forest of jitterbug trees! Horses in the gayest shades of the rainbow! Judy Garland whisked away by a cyclone! A fairy city built of emeralds!

The Wizard of Oz lobby card

The magic of modern motion-picture making at its miracle best!

And beginning, of course, in the art department from whence all pictures start; that practical, hard-boiled, down-to-earth art department, where dreams are not only dreamed but come true; where cities, even whole countries, are created for the asking.

“So they gave us a script,” smiled handsome, brawny Art Director Cedric Gibbons, “in which a little girl from Kansas lives a great adventure in a country of her own imagination. But neither in the script nor in the original book was there any description to indicate along what lines her imagination might build such a country! Which left us, first of all, to do some imagining ourselves!

wizard of oz promotional photo

Munchkins and more mischief behind the scenes

“Take one scene of the fifty, for instance, the country the book calls ‘Munchkinland,’ to be inhabited by ‘very tiny people called Munchkins.’ To fashion a ‘Munchkinland’ which a little girl from Kansas might have dreamed, we began with a premise that the smallest things she had ever seen were probably ants. And how do ants live? Under grass and tree roots.

“So with toadstools and anthills as our architectural pattern, we made proportionately larger grass and flowers, such as, for instance, hollyhocks twenty feet tall.”

So much for a thumbnail bit of the “Oz” problems of the art department. And remaining a moment longer in “Munchkinland,” what about Munchkins to people this delightful place?

During Producer Mervyn LeRoy’s entire shooting schedule for “Oz,” the Munchkins, finally assembled, were the gayest detail of all. In response to a call sent out by Casting, midgets from all over the world came trouping to Hollywood; little midgets, middle-sized midgets, lady midgets, gentlemen midgets, midget graduates of Universities, a midget window demonstrator from Chicago . . . The littlest ones smoking the biggest cigars, eating the largest pieces of pie.

Wizard of Oz 1939 - Clara Blandick, Judy Garland, Terry, Margaret Hamilton, Charlie Grapewin

Oh, Toto: Behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz

But the midgets, while perhaps the jolliest casting problem, were not the most difficult. Midgets, after all, are easy to find, but not so the frowsy little mutt who was to play the longest screen role ever written for a dog! Through the entire hour and a half of picture, he appears in every scene!

He will be remembered in the book as Toto; the illustrations showing a bright-eyed Cairn terrier. After many tests and long consideration, the role was entrusted to an engaging little girl dog named Terry who, as boy dog Toto, has delivered a superlative performance.

In Hollywood, Terry’s owner and trainer, Mr. Carl Spitz, conducts a kindergarten, grammar school, high school and college for canines.

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But, though Terry enjoys acting, the “Oz” role was something else again, the strangest background she has ever been called upon to understand! Our lady Toto found it obviously distressing, then suddenly everything was forgotten in complete devotion to the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Woodman.

When the picture was finished and the four said goodbye, it was a sad moment for all of them.

During the entire ten months of shooting, they seemed to fascinate Terry completely, a state of mind which I could well appreciate. Certainly on all Hollywood’s fantastic acres, I have never come upon so startling an eyeful.

Testing Judy Garland hair and dress - Behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz movie (1939)

Behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz: The Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion

My first sight of them was one day during luncheon, which was always served in their dressing room. Because of make-up complications, they did not attempt to eat in the commissary.

Leaving a pair of straw legs, a lion’s skin and a framework of tin joints behind them, yet retaining from the neck up the result of a two-hour morning session in make-up, the three, at noon, would repair to their dressing room to sit around the luncheon table in well-worn bathrobes.

I was bound to know it was still Mr. Bolger, Mr. Lahr and Mr. Haley, as upon the day of my call they turned three pair of eyes toward the door to acknowledge my arrival, but never have I been so carried beyond the realm of anything I could believe.

There they were, a scarecrow’s gunny-sack countenance, framed with wisps of weathered straw which plainly could only have escaped from inside his head, a lion looking through a tawny mane, and a third face contrived of rivets and tin, a funnel for a nose soldered snugly to an unmistakable aluminum head.

“I know what you’re thinking,” grinned Mr. Bolger, after an interim in which I could but silently stare. “When I saw the rushes yesterday where they took off my legs and threw them away, I just about believed, myself, that I’m straw. When I go home at night, I feel as if I’m still just flapping in the wind!”

The WIzard of Oz - MGM picture

“The whole business seems real,” put in the Lion. “When we barged down a stone hall in the scene where we were to try and escape from the castle and the iron door swung shut just before we got through it, and those six-foot green-eyed Winkies ganged up on us, and the witch cackled in at the window, I’m right here to tell you it was something to shiver about!”

“In doing characters like these,” said Mr. Bolger again, “every little thing is so important. In an ordinary part, if you slip up on a gesture or a word, you can get away with it. But, in a thing like this, you aren’t allowed a moment in which to be yourself.”

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“And when you’re playing for kids,” added Mr. Haley, “you’re playing for the toughest audience in the world. The grown people look at it just to be entertained, but the kids look at it … to believe it!”

A voice called from downstairs to say they were wanted on the set. Three chairs scraped away from the table, three undefined creatures knotted the cords of their bathrobes and paraded out.

Cast of The Wizard of Oz - Judy Garland - 1939

School for Judy, Glinda & the Great Oz

Following them to the set, I discovered later that Judy Garland as Dorothy, and small Terry as Toto, were the only members of the entire company unworried by trick make-up of one kind or another.

But Judy had another complaint. The grownups could finish a scene and knock off, whereas for her, in that trim ever-present trailer which is labeled “Judy Garland, School,” the thrill of adventure in “Oz” was forever anticlimaxed by plain old-fashioned geometry.

Judy, however, was not the only scholar. There was also Mr. Wizard-of-Oz Frank Morgan, for whom weeks of serious coaching were necessary for a smooth delivery of the magic his title role required. He can now make a bird cage disappear up his sleeve with the best of the Houdinis, but it took four months of concentration and practice to accomplish it.

As for me, it seemed that all the magic in the world might be accomplished by just one wave of the wand of Miss Burke as the Good Fairy, her elfin Irish smile in the most perfect setting I have ever seen created for it; a cloud of shell-pink tulle, pale silver butterflies poised upon its delicate mesh.

Dorothy with the Wicked Witch and Glinda - Wizard of Oz

“It makes me wish,” she said gently, “that I were sixteen again . . . that my feet didn’t have to touch the ground!” But Billie Burke, as the Good Fairy of “Oz,” is sixteen again, and you are perfectly certain her feet never have touched the ground.

“It’s a divine part,” she said. “There’s child enough in all of us to be thrilled with the settings and the feeling of this picture. It has terrified me a little,” she confided, “to think of living up to the children’s idea of what a Good Fairy must be, but I can only hope with all my heart that I won’t disappoint them.”

Alone on the great soundstage just then, she was waiting for her last scene, which was to be a montage of her face and her smile as it would drift across the picture to finish Dorothy’s dream. The famous Burke red-gold hair rippling loosely about her shoulders’ shimmered with diamond dust and infinitesimal stars. Above, on the catwalk, the electricians waited with the necessary arcs and suns. She laughed and touched me with her wand.

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“What would you like?” she asked. And indeed there was nothing for me to believe but that she could grant it, for if ever good fairies lived, this one was the epitome of them all; a sentiment subscribed to one moment later by Miss Victoria Fleming, five years old, as she approached with her father who had come to superintend this last shot.

“Daddy,” she whispered, looking up at Miss Burke who waited in the single circle of light breaking through the darkness of the great empty soundstage. “Daddy, do you think I could touch the Good Fairy?”

1939 Promo - Behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz movie starring Judy Garland

Behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz: A set transformed into the Emerald City

Later, I watched preparation for a scene on the stage next door; a stage almost the size of a New York block, a stage transformed now into the Emerald City, a panorama of green glass domes, castle gates, tall towers, a floor of highly polished baked enamel, a windmill’s green glass arms slowly revolving against an iridescent sky.

The extras sat about in idle groups; men with green beards and purple feather hair, women wearing jewels which glowed like cats’ eyes in the dark. Alongside the eight-foot cabochon emeralds which marked the palace gates, the scarecrow’s stand-in stretched full-length asleep. Silently, methodically, unemotionally, half a dozen workingmen pushed mops about the floor, making it ready for the coming shot when not a footmark would be allowed to mar its polished perfection.

Along the sidelines parked a row of lighted trailers, the dressing rooms of the principal players, their exclusive little doors bearing the names “Mr. Bolger,” “Mr. Haley,” “Margaret Hamilton,” (Miss Hamilton playing your gorgeously wicked and relentless witch).

Outside Mr. Lahr’s door hung, limply, his lion suit. Presently it would take three dressers to get him into it. On a wig block reposed his tawny toppiece. Mr. Lahr himself, sitting just within his open door, bent his saffron rubber face over a typewriter upon which he was pegging out a letter. And not at all surprising in this setting of complete fantasy, a sky-blue horse stood hitched to a barouche in which Judy, the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Woodman were to ride through the city gates.

The Wizard of Oz - Follow the yellow brick road - Behind the scenes

A sky-blue horse? Yes, and complacently munching teatime oats, a scarlet horse, a lavender horse, a pink one and one of canary color. For the carriage proceeding through the city was to illustrate that timeworn phrase “a horse of a different color,” the blue horse changing before your very eyes to pink, to yellow, to lavender!

And which perhaps pigeonholes, as well as anything can, the picture itself, a production which is indeed, a horse of a different color, the new musical score, the half a hundred Technicolor scenes, laced together with elements which seem to promise something singularly delightful for us all; honesty, beauty, satire and philosophy for the grownups, with adventure and suspense for the children.

And every man to his own particular taste in whimsies, of course, but as for me, “Munchkinland” provides the one I am waiting for . . . flowers growing out of the holes in the toes of the midget Munchkins’ shoes!

Behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz movie (1939) - from Photoplay
Sights, unbelievable and breath-taking, are what you catch on this set visit where the Wizard of Oz, Frank Morgan (above); the Cowardly Lion, Bert Lahr; the Tin Woodman, Jack Haley; the Scarecrow, Ray Bolger; the Good Fairy (left), Billie Burke and Dorothy, Judy Garland bring enchantment to this delightful fantasy

‘Wizard of Oz’ star Judy Garland is an old trouper

They call Judy Garland a new film star. She is — with eight years’ vaudeville behind her

By Lucie Neville – Salt Lake Tribune (Utah) January 21, 1940

SOME of the cinema debutantes descended of footlight ancestry have an awfully hard time these days recalling their A B C’s were learned from head-lines in Variety and that their earliest play-mates were trained seals and midgets. Judy Garland, though, will tell you at length and with gestures how her parents wowed the corn-belt customers. and that she herself had eight years of it.

She wishes vaudeville would come back. It was lots more exciting than movies. She doesn’t care if fans know her name used to be Frances Gumm. When she and her sisters were a singing act and their mother the trio’s accompanist, it looked swell in lights. (Swell except when an electrician made the marquee bulbs spell The Glum Sisters.”)

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Now her name’s in lights on movie theaters. Ironic for a loyal trouper, the first film in which she was starred was “Babes in Arms” — a story of dying vaudeville and a second generation of show people. Soon she’ll co-star again with Mickey Rooney in “Good News.” There’ll be no more pig-tailed little girl parts, such as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”—just starring roles as near her own age and type as Metro can find.

SHE looks older, slenderer and prettier in person than on the screen. Her hair, naturally dark brown. is the carnelian shade the studio selected for color photography in “The Wizard,” and she has graduated to semi-high heels — very young-lady-like.

Terry as Toto in Wizard of Oz 1939

But as soon as she begins to talk, the trouper comes out in her eyes and mouth are round and open, hands fly gesturing, She hunches her shoulders, sits-first on-one foot and then on the other and makes the most astonishing faces. (She says she learned the mugging from hanging around Mickey Rooney.) And how she laughs! Whole-hearted whoops soar out as she clasps her middle and sometimes slides out of her chair.

Completely honest in all her emotions, she says she doesn’t like “two-faced” people, feels sorry for introverts who can’t talk easily or enjoy a party, and gets just as excited over an autographed picture of a star as in her own pre-star days.

Garland autographs are genuine. No studio penman signs her photos or ever will, she vows, because she knows how disillusioning it is to get a phony. Once she wrote a fan letter to her screen crush, Robert Donat (runner-up is Laurence Olivier) and duly received a portrait. But its “sincerely yours” was in the same handwriting as that of the acknowledging letter — signed by Donat’s secretary.

She still is impressed at knowing celebrities — eating in the same lunchroom with Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, meeting such personages as Dame May Whitby and Mary Garden. She confesses a little bashfully that she watches and imitates them to some extent, even asked Miss Garden for pointers on how to walk gracefully and relax her hands.

Wizard of Oz press kit - Dorothy and Scarecrow - Behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz

JUDY GARLAND looks back on her first movie days with mingled horror and surprise that she could have been so corny and that she has succeeded.

“I’m still surprised!” she said. “I don’t know why Metro ever signed me, except that they were looking for kids then. My voice was pretty awful—honestly—and they had planned to let me go about six months after they dropped Deanna Durbin. I wish I could burn that short she and I made together!

“Deanna wore fuzzy bangs and she had a trick then of holding one arm out from her side, like a chicken with a broken wing. I was so pigeon-toed I tripped myself, and I had straight hair, nearly black and cut short. They didn’t put much makeup on me, either, so my eyes looked about as big as a pig’s.

“I felt terrible about Deanna leaving, because we were such good friends. And I wasn’t very cheerful about the way my career was going, either. I finally asked Metro to let me out of my contract, but Mr. Mayer talked to me — asked me if I had a glass chin or could I take it—and so I stayed.

“They probably never would have done anything with me except that Deanna made such a hit just then, and all the studios started looking for kids who could sing. Metro al-ready had me, so they scratched their heads and said, ‘Well-l-l, we can try.'”

The studio hadn’t tried much before. Miss Garland was left pretty much to her own devices with its voice training, no special schooling in acting, playing singing bits and, after every preview, weeping at her mistakes.

Then, when It was decided she was to be Metro’s rival to Universal’s Durbin, she was given Roger Edens, singing coach to Joan Crawford and other Metro-larks, to help her on filmusicals.

1940 Judy Garland cover Photoplay

From what Judy once called her “mezzo-vacuum contralto,” her voice has lowered a full octane. No pampered prima donna, she found her voice in better condition than ever when she got back from six weeks’ New York personal appearances, singing five songs at each of the fire-daily shows. Her secret shame is that she can’t read music. Play a song once and she has it, tune and timing.

SHE usually learns things the hard way, such as piloting the family’s juggernaut limousine when her mother halted it in the middle of boulevard traffic and said, “Here’s where you start driving.” Now she has her own car and her own license.

Like any 16-year-old, she magnifies her small faults: believes she talks too much, doesn’t sit gracefully, gets ton excited about things, isn’t assertive enough. One of the most popular youngsters in town, she, says she doesn’t go much for the boys — she can take ’em or leave ’em alone.

Her bosom friend is Patty McCarty, non-movie like most of her crowd, though Miss Garland’s last birthday party guest list included such top cinemites as Mickey Rooney, Jackie Cooper. Ann Rutherford, Bonita Granville and Johnny Downs.

Dorothy with the Lollipop Guild - Wizard of Oz

A good swimmer, golfer and rider, she still likes to play baseball and is one of the best jitterbugs in town. Dancing at a snooty Balboa place, she and her partner got applause with their swing gymnastics, Miss G. whooping with delight as she was slung over her date’s shoulder and skidded along the floor. Tapped by a decorous attendant and told to dance properly, she was not at all miffed, said cheerfully, “Well, it was fun while it lasted.”

In spite of their being paired in publicity, Mickey Rooney isn’t a date — she seldom sees him except when they’re working together in a picture. He has no warmer admirer, though, and she says proudly, “I think Mickey and I make a good team — a darn good team. He always seems to know just what I’m going to do or say, on a stage or a set, and I know what he’s going to do. That’s probably because we’re both troupers. He was in vaudeville, too, you know.”

judy-garland-mickey-rooney-1939

SHE didn’t know they were going to be co-starred starred in “Babes in Arms.” Metro saved it for a grand surprise and one afternoon asked her if she would like to see the film in a projection room. When “MICKEY ROONEY AND JUDY GARLAND” flashed on the screen, she screamed. And kept right on having happy hysterics while everybody swatted her on the back and congratulated her for her superb acting.

She never has seen all of “The Wizard of Oz,” though it was playing when she and Rooney, Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger made a joint personal appearance in New York. It was fun, working for an audience and trading ribs with Lahr.

Once he turned out the lights and snatched away the microphone while she was in the middle of a serious song. Later, when Lahr went into the woodsman number that he had done for years, and as he made a swipe at a prop tree with an ax, Miss Garland, crouching behind some scenery, showered him with a full bushel of chips, crowned him with the basket and squirted seltzer water on him.

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Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (video)


Fantasy in fashion: The Wizard of Oz costumes

Wizard of Oz costumes & their influence on clothing styles

by Gwenn Walters

The influences that sway the world of fashion have been many, ranging from the brilliant colors of a Van Gogh masterpiece through the surrealism of Salvador Dali, the discoveries of archaeologists in ruined temples, cataclysmic world events, famous books, the primitive attire of hula dancers!

In 1939, some of the major fashion influences have been derived from the supermodern New York World’s Fair, and the more intimate Golden Gate International Exposition — Treasure Island, with its scintillating colors, marine murals and sculpture.

1939 The Wizard of Oz film - Wicked Witch castle

Now comes a motion picture that seems fated to have its fantasy in costume duplicated, not as a whole, but in subtle, exquisite and whimsical details, in fall fashions. The production is Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “The Wizard of Oz,” produced in Technicolor, and Photoplay takes pride in presenting on these pages reproductions of Adrian’s original sketches of the fairylike, frolicsome and sprightly costumes that will be an outstanding feature of this fantasy.

So come with me to The Land of Oz — tread on its imaginative ground and greet its quaint and noble little people. You will love the freedom and abandon of their fanciful and colorful clothes; and readily see how Dame Fashion will adopt many of their silhouettes and details to dramatize the clothes you will wear.

The Wizard of Oz costumes: 9 sketches

1. “The Braggart Townsman” struts in garb of Stuyvesant mood to suggest new design for coats, collars and accessories. His circular box jacket has new dash as it swings from a stiffly-starched collar — the chain that runs from pocket to pocket is easily adaptable as an amusing ornament for coat, frock or suit. The hat of generous proportions has a high, forward peaked crown with startling side wings instead of a regulation brim — exotic and wild, of course, but definitely a change for the better from the bird’s nests, pancake and saucepan models of the past season.

Wizard of Oz - Munchkin costumes

2. In the little land of the Munchkins “The First Townsman” is a personage of distinction, and likewise, his attire is commanding. Of particular note are the shining buckles that glorify the side fastening of his coat. His stovepipe hat has a narrow, elongated brim. Notice the brushes that are used as gayly colored trim. Look for his shining buckles this fall on shoes, bags, coats, frocks, hats, belts and gloves.

3. This robust and jovial character is by name “The Second Townsman.” The dramatic collar of his coat, his high hat with ribbon running through the crown, his huge timepiece hung on a heavy chain (which is surely a far cry from our popular miniature lapel watches) are fantastic points of interest that will be modified and exploited into trends.

4. The Munchkin peasant costumes stress the close-fitting, odd-shaped hat, with a tiny frilled edge that is repeated in a stand-up collar. Flower and tassel motifs are notes of particular interest and Adrian feels flowers — jeweled, embroidered and appliqued — should find a definite vogue from head to toe. The docile Munchkin peasants also wear heavy, wide necklaces of wooden beads, with little flowerpot hats, around the crown of which wooden beads matching those of the necklaces are used — in the crowns themselves nestle little clusters of flowers.

For modern adaptation of this headgear, Adrian suggests hats of velvet and flowers of feathers in rich contrast to wooden beads. The laced bodices, the aprons and the insert bandings of their costumes are likewise inspiration for design.

Wizard of Oz costumes: Fantasy in fashion from 1939

Fantasy in fashion - Costumes from The Wizard of Oz (1939) - Sketches

5. On “One of the Five Fiddlers,” those makers of merriment, Adrian adds an amusing conception of a hat in a skull cap with contrasting silk tassels held upright on a stalk for these Wizard of Oz costumes. Here he emphasizes the use of tassels as decoration. Tassels are a favored medium with Adrian for detail trim and he also uses them in place of buttons. Again, Adrian stresses collar interest.

6. Fantasy reigns supreme in the costume of the austere “Commander of the Navy.” The abbreviated double bolero jacket is of felt. Notice the huge polka dots. You will see them frequently on various characters throughout the picture. Utterly charming is Adrian’s conception of the use of flowers on shoulders and on gloves, an idea that should have wide popularity, and the flower on the hat is due to be adopted in modified form.

7. “The Minister” stands sedate and profound to let you view his magnificent, appliqued, three-tiered cape with a semi-oriental flavor. The curved, stand-up collar is fastened with a cord and huge buttons. The long gauntlet gloves have a panel of embroidery; the hammered silver bracelet holds a shaded brush in place of a jewel. Stiff embroidered bands that are shaped in the same mold as the bracelet and rise to extreme height enhance the inverted bowl hat. The silhouette of the cape and the detail of the bracelet, gloves and hat will create high style interest.

8. “The Man Who Leads the Triumphal Procession” with military precision also wears Adrian’s unusual coif hat — a trend that will be so flattering to women’s faces. This is an instance where a costume should definitely be built around the hat. Easily adaptable is the note of Oriental-looking applique on the gloves and shoes. Notice particularly the panel on the back of the coat.

Dorothy and the Munchkins - Wizard of Oz costumes

9. “The Trumpeter” wears a stiff white coat of felt, with amusing sleeves of silk crepe, felt applique flowers, and garland of daisies around the neck. The hat with a coif treatment is new and exciting, and likewise is the placement of a flower cluster in the back.

And so, on and on, fashion inspiration continues to flow from Adrian, whose recognition by Lord and Taylor, famous New York department store, with a $1,000 prize, as the American designer who has wielded the most influence on the world of fashion, is in keeping with the wealth of ideas and versatility he has displayed and continues to display in his designing capacity with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.


The Wizard of Oz costumes: We Welcome You to Munchkin Land (video)


9200 living actors in The Wizard of Oz!

“The Wizard of Oz!” — 100 minutes of unforgettable entertainment!

The book that 80 million[s] read! The play 941 cities saw! Now the greatest technicolor show-world miracle since Snow White!

The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) – August 17, 1939

Wizard of Oz opening ads - August 1939


Wizard blows into Kentucky – MGM’s magic show of shows — Greatest show-world miracle since Snow White. A triumph of Technicolor!

The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) – August 19, 1939

It had to be star-crowded! It had to be painted with Technicolor’s rainbow! It had to be glorified with laughter and song. It had to have a record cost of 9,200 living actors! It had to be the most costly film ever made. It had to be all of these things — to be the greatest musical show miracle since “Snow White.” Watch the wonders whiz by — in a whiz of a show!

Greatest miracle - Wizard of Oz 1939


The Wizard of Oz hits St Louis (1939)

Now! Broadway’s greatest musical hit now the screen’s Technicolorful masterpiece

Wizard of Oz - St Louis - August 1939


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