It?s time to put the rumors to rest about the production of this beloved film.
MUNCHKIN DEATH RUMOR
Claim: An actor portraying one of the munchkins hanged himself on the set during the filming of The Wizard of Oz, and his death was captured on-camera and used in the final print.
Perhaps the most infamous movie urban legend of all time, The Wizard of Oz legend that a man can be seen hanging in a shot of the film is false, although many continue to believe that it?s true.
The scene in question occurs about 45 minutes into the movie, at the end of the Tin Woodsman sequence, when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodsman walk off in the distance as they sing ?We?re Off to See the Wizard.? As they walk toward the top-center of the frame, look toward the left side of the screen. Directly right of the little shack appears the figure in question. It does appear to be a human form hanging from a tree.
But look closer ? the body seems to move its head slightly after a few seconds. The figure in question is a bird, a white bird in the background that?s obscured by a tree, which makes it look slightly like a person.
Besides, there?s just no way that a person could?ve done such a thing without anyone noticing! How could one possibly hang himself on a stage set around dozens of members of the cast and crew without anyone noticing?
TIN WOODMAN CASTING
Claim: Buddy Ebsen was slated to play the Tin Woodman but had to be replaced when the makeup made him ill.
Unlike the ?hanging munchkin? rumour, this claim is entirely true. The aluminum dust used in Ebsen?s makeup caused an allergic reaction or infection in his lungs that left him scarcely able to breathe, and he ended up spending two weeks in the hospital and another month recuperating in San Diego.
Jack Haley replaced Ebsen in the film. But Ebsen can still be heard on the soundtrack in ?We?re Off to See the Wizard,? and early test shots of him in full Tin Woodsman make-up can be found on The Wizard of Oz DVD.
DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
Claim: A number of eerie coincidences can be found when Pink Floyd?s ?Dark Side of the Moon? album is synched with The Wizard of Oz.
While I have never performed this experiment myself, playing Pink Floyd?s ?Dark Side of the Moon? album along with The Wizard of Oz (starting right after the third roar of the lion during the MGM logo) demonstrates strange similarities. For example, the song ?Great Gig in the Sky? begins as the tornado appears and lasts exactly the length of the storm. The lyrics ??home, home again?? are sung as Professor Marvel tells Dorothy that she must go back home. And the album ends with a slowly beating heartbeat, which comes when Dorothy is banging on the Tin Woodsman to see if he has a heart.
What other movie urban legends fascinate you? I?d love to explore more!