Margaret Hamilton Did The Most Heartwarming Thing With Her Wizard Of Oz Fame

"I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!" uttered Margaret Hamilton's most famous character, the Wicked Witch of the West, in Victor Fleming's 1939 "The Wizard of Oz." Due to this role, the masses have associated Hamilton's image with pure villainy. In fact, the character ranked No. 4 in the American Film Institute's list of the "50 Best Movie Villains of All Time," crowning her the top female villain (via The Village of Bratenahl). She was so frightening to children that she constantly had to explain to them that it was just a role, and she was never really going to get Dorothy, or Toto for that matter (via IMDb).

She even went on one of the most beloved children's TV shows of all time, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," to explain to the nation's youth that what they saw on the big screen was not real life. Considering how much she terrified them, it is surprising how well Hamilton did with children and even more surprising how compelled she was to educate them. However, she was not always a famed actress known for flying monkey henchmen. No, at one point, she actually did the exact opposite of "getting" little girls and their canine companions.

An Unfair Image

Before a life of fame and infinitely pleading not guilty to the fictional charge of witchcraft, Margaret Hamilton was awarded the role for a reason quite cruel. Actress Gale Sondergaard, notable for her beauty and musical talent, declined the role upon finding out the witch must be ugly — so they chose Hamilton instead (via The Village of Bratenahl). Additionally, the set she was invited to be a part of was cursed, according to popular legend. In fact, several mishaps occurred, including the stage makeup making actors sick (Hamilton's skin was burned with copper makeup) and Toto getting stepped on by an actor playing one of the Wicked Witch's soldiers (via Time).

Worse yet, Hamilton suffered second-degree burns to her face and third-degree burns to her hand in a fiery technical malfunction during the scene where she leaves Munchkinland. A previous glimpse of the tragedy could be seen in former edits of the film but has since been removed. It took her six weeks to heal in the hospital, during which Judy Garland visited her regularly (Dorothy and the Witch were friends?) and took care of Hamilton's son, to whom she was a single mother after divorce. Hamilton only returned to the set under the demand that she would not work with pyrotechnics, but even then, she was not bitter. While some would have become hardened, she became even softer.

A Saint in Witch's Clothing

Before turning to acting full-time, Margaret Hamilton did what she loved most — teach young children (via The Village of Bratenahl). Starting in 1929, Hamilton served as a preschool teacher for about six years, which led to a lifelong dedication to public education. She later served on the Beverly Hills Board of Education from 1948 to 1951. She also went to Wheelock College in Boston to be a kindergarten teacher. We know how this might sound, considering she was known across the land (and Oz) for not being too fond of kids or their little dogs messing up her plans.

However, she was a known advocate for not only children's issues and education but animal rights too (via IMDb). She regularly appeared in televised public service announcements with her cat, begging pet owners to spay and neuter their pets to decrease shelter and homeless populations. She also had a dachshund named Otto (not far off from Toto, if you ask us). So, there you have it. As a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing, saints tend to cosplay in pointy hats and green makeup, threatening children and animals on screen and fighting for their rights off-set.