The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is one of the most famous movies ever made and we can all sing a song from the movie. Difficult to believe then that at the time of release in 1939 the film was not a massive commercial success.

The film, which is perhaps the movie Judy garland is mostly associated, follows fourteen year old Dorothy who, after a tornado in Kansas, finds herself in the Land of Oz. She sets out to see the Wizard of Oz at the Emerald City to get home making a string of friends along the way.

So FemaleFirst takes a look at what happened to the cast and their career after the success of the 1939 musical fantasy movie.

Judy Garland - Dorothy Gale

Judy Garland was a major child star who had a career for forty five of her forty seven years as a singer and an actress. She was sixteen years old when she landed the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

The film propelled her to stardom and she was awarded with an Academy Juvenile Award at the Oscars for her performance and she became one of MGM's most bankable stars.

After Andy Hardy Meets Debutante and Strike Up the Band in 1940 she appeared in her first adult role in Little Nellie Kelly.

Over the years she starred in the likes of For Me and My Gal, Meet Me in St Louis and The Harvey Girls. But despite all of her success her private life was troubled and she suffered a nervous breakdown in 1947 as well as attempting to take her life that same year.

After a battle with drug addiction she died from an accidental overdose in 1969 at the age of forty seven.

Ray Bolger - Scarecrow

Despite appearing in The Great Ziegfeld and Sweethearts in the early thirties it was his role as the Scarecrow in Oz that really propelled Ray Bolger to fame.

After Oz his career took off and he went on to appear in film as well as on the stage. He reunited with Garland in 1946 for The Harvey Girls, he also starred with her daughter Liza Minnelli in 1985.

He worked on The Ray Bolger Show from 1953-1955 an won a Tony Awards for Best Performance by a Leading Actor for his role in Where's Charley.

He died in 1985 and was the last member of the main Wizard of Oz cast to pass away.

Jack Haley - Tinman

Jack Haley was largely know as a musical comedy actor before he landed the role of the Tinman in 1939 after the original actor Buddy Ebsen had a near fatal reaction to the aluminium dust make-up used on the costume.

He worked steadily throughout the forties, after returning to his musical comedy roots, mainly working in RKO Radio Pictures projects.

He died in 1979 aged eighty.

Bert Lahr - Cowardly Lion

Lahr kicked off his career in the theatre finding success in Holding Everything in 1928. He moved into film just three years later as he made his big screen debut in Flying High.

But even after the success of Wizard of Oz his movie career never really took off and he switched to straight theatre in the mid fifties with Waiting for Godot.

But he did find plenty of work on Broadway appearing in Two on the Aisle and Anything Goes before picking up a Best Actor Tony award for his role in Foxy.

He did some work with NBC on The Eleventh Hour, a medical drama, and Let's Face It. He died of pneumonia in 1967 at the age of seventy two.

Billie Burke - Gilda, the Good Witch of the North

Billie Burke had enjoyed both Broadway and movie success before coming to the role of Gilda in 1939 with the likes of A Bill of Divorcement and Dinner at Eight under her belt.

Following Oz she went on to appear in Father of the Bride and Father's Little Dividend before moving into radio in 1943 with The Billie Burke Show.

Her last screen appearance came in 1960 in Sergeant Rutledge. She died in 1970 at the age of eighty five.

Margaret Hamilton - Wicked Witch of the West

Before the role that defined her career Margaret Hamilton had built up a reputation as a character actress working on the likes of These Three and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

She went on to work steadily in film for many years before branching into television appearing in The Addams Family and The Night Strangler.

However it is for Wizard of Oz that the actress remains most famous she died in 1985 aged eighty two.

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw


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