Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today with the answers to our The Wizard of Oz quiz that we recently ran. We expect that you all were and remain on tenterhooks, awaiting the final words on our not-too-tough (we hope!) questions. So, here we go:
Question: ’The Wizard of Oz” worried the MGM brass in 1938 because of its high production price tag. Exactly how much did it cost to make the picture 1) $5 million; 2) $7 million; 3) $1 million; or 4) $3.2 million?
Answer: 4) $3.2 million, which, as producer Mervyn LeRoy noted, was a lot of money in 1938. It has made so much more than that…however, that that it would have been cheap at five times the cost, he said.
Question: It may come as a shock for today’s ‘Oz’ fans to discover that Judy Garland was NOT the first choice to play Dorothy. Who was? 1) Deanna Durbin; 2) Jean Harlow; 3) Norman Shearer; 4) Shirley Temple?
Answer: 4) The MGM brass was unanimous in its preference for Temple. Both LeRoy and MGM’s so-called “Dean of Musicals” Arthur Freed persuaded studio boss Louis B, Mayer that Garland was the better choice. At the time, she had a gap between her front teeth, and I sent her to a dentist who gave her that winning, gapless smile, recalled LeRoy.
Question: Just how old WAS Judy Garland when she made ‘The Wizard of Oz.” 1) 12; 2) 15; 3) 19; 4) 22; or 5) none of the above?
Answer: 5). None of the above. Garland entered the MGM talent machine (one of 253 contract players) on Sept. 27, 1935, three months after her 13th birthday. When she started on the ‘Oz’ production she was 16.
Question: Which one of Judy Garland’s six movies prior to ‘Oz’ ultimately won her the role as Dorothy? 1) Broadway Melody of 1938; 2) Pigskin Parade; 3) Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry; or 4) Everybody Sing?
Answer: 2). Wrote LeRoy, I had seen my Dorothy… when I caught a low-budget Fox musical ‘Pigskin Parade’ (with Garland participating as an MGM loan out). Garland…had the quality I wanted for Dorothy. For the record, Garland’s part in the Fox picture was that of a frumpish kid sister to an aspiring football player.
Question: Who was the first choice to play the part of the Wizard? 1) Jack Benny; 2) Ed Wynn; 3) Fred Allen; or 4) Bob Hope?
Answer: 2). For the Wizard, I wanted Ed Wynn (the father of Keenan), but he turned me down. He said the part was too small for him, wrote LeRoy. A giant misjudgement by the veteran vaudeville, radio and tv comedian. Frank Morgan wound up with the part, and he turned out to be ideal.
Question: MGM management disliked ‘Over the Rainbow,’ the signature song of the movie that turned out to be Garland’s defining vocal statement for the rest of her career. They wanted to drop the Harold Arlen-E.Y. (Yip) Harburg tune. Why? 1) Louis B. Mayer thought it was too sentimental; 2) The song, a ballad, clashed with the movie’s zippier musical material; 3) producer LeRoy was told he couldn’t have a cut of the song royalties; or 4) there were reservations about Garland’s handling of the tune?
ANSWER: 2). After a test screening of ‘Oz’ in San Bernardino, some MGM execs complained that ‘Over The Rainbow’ detracted from the movie’s generally uptempo musical score. “This song has to go,” they said. LeRoy, Harburg, Arlen and Freed disagreed, and persuasively made their case to studio boss Mayer, who determined that the song “stays in the picture.”
Question: Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm, and toured with a family vaudeville act before landing at MGM. How many family members were part of that act? 1) 12, in an ensemble circus group; 2) four, in a family chamber music quartet; 3) three, in a conventional song and dance act; 4) eight, in an acrobat act.
Answer: 3). There were three Gumm Sisters, Garland and her two older siblings: Mary Jane and Virginia. Both were conventionally pretty. It was the unconventional looking Garland, though, that had the big career.
Question: Although hard to imagine in retrospect, character actress Margaret Hamilton was NOT the first choice for the role of the Wicked Witch. Who was? 1) Billie Burke; 2) Edna May Oliver; 3) Gale Sondergaard; or 4) Fanny Brice?
Answer: 3. At one point, producer LeRoy mulled the casting of Sondergaard as a “glamorous witch.” Sensible heads prevailed and Hamilton, then a 36-year-old, newly divorced single mother earning her way on small character parts, won the role.
Question: The “yellow brick road” required the importation from India of specially painted bricks. True or False?
Answer: False. Ordinary, “cheap,” yellow fence paint was used, and the yellow brick road finally looked like what a yellow brick road should look like, wrote producer LeRoy.
Question: Jack Haley was NOT the first choice for the Tin Man role. True or false?
Answer: True. Buddy Ebsen was, but he fell ill after breathing in the aluminum dust he was sprayed with. Haley had better luck using an aluminum paste.
Question: MGM went through three directors before ‘Oz’ completed production. Can you name them?
Answer: In order, George Cukor, Richard Thorpe and Victor Fleming, the film’s director of record.