It was a modest box officer winner when it was released on this day back in 1939, but MGM’s grand Technicolor fantasy film, The Wizard of Oz, won the hearts of millions more when it debuted on TV for the first time in 1956. It became an annual tradition for many families to huddle around the telly and watch the tale of a girl and her dog traveling the Yellow Brick Road. We’re honoring the film’s theatrical release with an epic list of facts, many strange but true, that shed light on one of cinema’s most beloved movies.
1. Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion costume weighed almost 100 pounds and was made with real lion pelts.
2. Judy Garland had to wear a corset in order to appear more childlike for her role as Dorothy. She was 16 years old when she made the movie.
3. The early Technicolor process required more light than a normal film production, so the set temperatures often exceeded 100 degrees.
4. In L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s slippers were silver. They were changed to “ruby” in order to take advantage of the Technicolor wow factor. Multiple sets were created for the film. A pair of the ruby slippers were stolen in 2005, but several others remain under lock and key.
5. The special effects crew used flavored Jell-O powder to color the horses for the Emerald City scenes. It was a snappy shoot since the horses attempted to lick themselves clean.