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Smoke coming out of Jack Haley’s hat in The Wizard Of Oz
Dangerous Things That Happened On The Set Of The Wizard Of Oz
History - Science
Workplace health and safety standards were pretty nonexistent in the early 20th century in Hollywood. This was very apparent during the 1939 production of "The Wizard of Oz."
The white snow that fell on the actors in the poppy field scene was pure asbestos. Also made of asbestos was the Wicked Witch's broom and Ray Bolger's Scarecrow costume.
Buddy Ebsen, the first actor cast as Tin Man, was hospitalized due to an allergic reaction to aluminum dust that gave Tin Man a metallic shine, leading to lifelong health effects.
Jack Haley replaced Ebsen. The dust was replaced with an aluminum paste that was painted on, but it gave Haley an eye infection and filming was delayed while Haley recovered.
Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion costume was made out of real lion hide that made it heavy and hot inside. Lahr getting overheated while in character was a legitimate concern.
Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West, and her stunt double, Betty Danko, were badly burned when scenes involving fire went terribly wrong.
The studio put Judy Garland, who played Dorothy, on a weight control diet consisting only of chicken soup, black coffee, and cigarettes. This was also supplemented with diet pills.
Additionally, the studio administered adrenaline shots to keep Garland’s energy up during filming, and at night she was given the sleep aid Seconal to help her rest.