"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60-minute CBS Radio adaptation of the movie on December 25, 1950 with Judy Garland reprising her film role as Dorothy.
"Over the Rainbow" was nearly cut from the film; MGM felt that it made the Kansas sequence too long, as well as being too far over the heads of the children for whom it was intended. The studio also thought that it was degrading for Judy Garland to sing in a barnyard. A reprise of the song was cut: Dorothy sang it to remember Kansas while imprisoned in the Witch's castle. Judy Garland began to cry, along with the crew, because the song was so sad.
Judy Garland had to wear a painful corset-style device around her torso so that she would appear younger and flat-chested.
Judy Garland would later refer to the pint-sized Oscar Juvenile Award she won at 1939's Academy Awards as the Munchkin Award.
Judy Garland's portrayal of Dorothy was the main inspiration for the character of Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island.
George Cukor not only changed Judy Garland's physical appearance in the film to the way it looks in the finished version, but also modified the Scarecrow's makeup. Later, when Victor Fleming had been assigned to direct, Jack Haley began filming his first scene as the Tin Man, the scene in which Dorothy and the Scarecrow first discover him. Buddy Ebsen, who had been playing the Tin Man, had to back out because of an allergic reaction to his makeup, and never filmed this scene; he had only filmed scenes that take place in the second half of the film, after the four travelers have been to the Wash and Brush Up Co. at the Emerald City. Haley had been filming his first scene for three days before anyone realized that he had no "rust" on his "tin" costume, even though in the story he was supposed to have been standing rusted for an entire year. The rust was immediately applied to it.
Fanny Brice was originally slated for the part of Glinda, the Good Witch.
Beatrice Lillie was considered for the role of Glinda the Good Witch in the film's pre-production stages.
Terry (Toto) was stepped on by one of the witch's guards, and had a double for two weeks. A second double was obtained, because it resembled Toto more closely. Judy Garland very much wanted to adopt Terry after the two spent so much time together shooting the film. Unfortunately, the owner of the dog wouldn't give her up, and Terry went on to a long career in films. She died in 1945 and was buried in her trainer's yard.
Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Coroner of Munchkinland, was, at one time, the shortest licensed pilot in the U.S. During WWII, he volunteered for military service and was turned down. He was accepted as a volunteer instructor in the Civil Air Patrol.
Fred Stone, who played the Scarecrow in the 1902 stage musical of "The Wizard of Oz", was briefly considered for the role in the movie. However, at age 65 in 1938 he was physically not up to the demands of the role.
Ray Bolger was originally cast as the Tin Woodsman. However, he insisted that he would rather play the Scarecrow - his childhood idol, Fred Stone had originated that role on stage in 1902. Buddy Ebsen had been cast as the Scarecrow, and now switched roles with Bolger. Unbeknownst to him, however, the make-up for the Tin Man contained aluminum dust, which ended up coating Ebsen's lungs. He also had an allergic reaction to it. One day he was physically unable to breathe and had to be rushed to hospital. The part was immediately recast and MGM gave no public reason why Ebsen was being replaced. The actor considered this the biggest humiliation he ever endured and a personal affront. When Jack Haley took over the part of the Tin Man, he wasn't told why Ebsen had dropped out (and in the meantime, the Tin Man make-up had changed from aluminum dust to aluminum paste as one of its key components). However, his vocals remain whenever the song "We're off to see the Wizard" is played. Jack Haley's vocals were never used during the song, but were used for "If I only had a Heart" and "If I only had the Nerve." Ebsen's vocals are also heard in the extended version of "If I were King of the Forest," though the sp
Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley had to eat their meals in their dressing rooms, as the make-up they wore frightened the other diners in the MGM cafeteria. Ray Bolger commented in an interview on the reactions that other MGM actors had upon seeing these "weird-looking characters" in the cafeteria.
Jack Haley did not use his normal speaking voice when playing the Tin Man, only when playing Hickory, one of the farm hands in Kansas. His normal speaking voice contained none of the almost falsetto-like quality that the Tin Man's did. This was Haley's own idea, and he himself said that this was the tone of voice that he used when relating bedtime stories to his then-small son, Jack Haley Jr..
Walt Disney was the unwitting impetus behind getting the film started. Louis B. Mayer was determined to come up with something that would equal the success of Disney's runaway smash, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which had become the most successful film of all time in a matter of months. Walt originally wanted to make 'The Wizard Of Oz' after 'Snow White' but MGM owned the rights to the book. In the 80's the Disney studios made a semi-sequel Return to Oz.
Edna May Oliver was considered for the role of the Wicked Witch of the West.
L. Frank Baum's novel is considerably more gruesome than MGM's rendition. For example, "Kalidahs" (tiger-bear hybrids) are dashed to pieces in a crevasse, the Tin Woodman uses his axe to lop off the heads of a wildcat and 40 wolves, bumblebees sting themselves to death against the Scarecrow, and the Wizard orders the 4 to actually kill the Wicked Witch of the West, not simply to retrieve her broomstick.
Margaret Hamilton said that whenever she saw the scene where Frank Morgan as the Wizard is giving Dorothy's friends gifts from his "black bag" (a diploma for the Scarecrow, a ticking heart for the Tin Man, and a medal for the Cowardly Lion), she got teary eyed, because "Frank Morgan was just like that in real life - very generous".
Margaret Hamilton, a life-long fan of the Oz books, was ecstatic when she learned the producers were considering her for a part in the film. When she phoned her agent to find out what role she was up for, her agent simply replied, "The witch, who else?"