The Scary Reason The Wicked Witch Actress Couldn't Eat On The Wizard Of Oz Set

"The Wizard of Oz" from 1939 is one of the most iconic films of all time. Based on L. Frank Baum's fantasy stories for children, the film follows the young Dorothy Gale and her adorable dog Toto as they're swept away from their lives in Kansas to the whimsical land of Oz, which is populated by all sorts of magical characters, including the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and more. In order to get back home to Kansas, Dorothy must kill the Wicked Witch of the West before the Wizard of Oz will help her.

"The Wizard of Oz" is remembered today for numerous classic scenes, with many of its lines still showing up in movies and TV shows today, and features one of the most recognizable songs of all time in "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." While the film is a landmark in cinema history, it took some time before it reached its legendary status. The Los Angeles Times states that the movie was generally well-received in 1939, but it failed to make a profit for MGM, and that it wasn't until subsequent re-releases that the studio earned its money back and acquired a larger audience.

The Wicked Witch's toxic makeup

Actress Margaret Hamilton gave us one of the most enduring villains of all time as the Wicked Witch of the West (while also pulling double-duty as the not-quite-as-evil Almira Gulch). Hamilton was perfect as the evil witch who threatens Dorothy, and her little dog, too, to get her ruby slippers. Unfortunately, Hamilton's transformation into the iconic character came with a surprising risk.

According to Jack Young (via who did the makeup for Hamilton, "green is toxic because it's made with copper. Every night when I was taking off the Witch's makeup, I would make sure that her face was thoroughly clean. Spotlessly clean. Because you don't take chances with green." Luckily, it seemed that Hamilton was still proud of her work in "The Wizard of Oz," as she would appear on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" decades later and even demonstrated putting on her costume as the Wicked Witch of the West (though without the dangerous makeup, of course).

Other injuries during the making of The Wizard of Oz

Unfortunately, Hamilton didn't just have to contend with toxic makeup while shooting "The Wizard of Oz." As recounted in, she was severely burned during the filming of the scene in which the Wicked Witch makes a fiery departure from Munchkinland. The explosive special effect went off a little too early, and resulted in the actress getting burns on her hands and face. Here's hoping that the toxic green makeup she wore for the film didn't make the burns worse.

Hamilton wasn't the only one to suffer during the shooting of this beloved film, as per For example, Ray Bolger — the Scarecrow — was stuck with lines on his face that lasted well after cameras stopped rolling. Buddy Ebsen was the original performer cast as the Tin Man, but the aluminum dust in the makeup for the character resulted in the actor being hospitalized; ultimately, the studio replaced him with Jack Haley. And because the Technicolor process necessitated extremely bright lights to achieve the right look, many members of the cast and crew passed out from the lights' extreme heat, according to the film's cinematographer, Harold Rosson.