Dear Kid,

There is a great deal, my darling, that you don’t know. Hopefully, none of those things show up on your final exams.

Because while you are super smart, you still have things to learn. That’s why you have to go back to school next year.

Turns out there are about a zillion things you don’t know about The Wizard of Oz (and about a zillion and three websites devoted to telling you about said things).

Follow the yellow brick road. Where does your magic road take you? DearKidLoveMom.comHere are some of my fave what-the-heck? factiods.

You already (probably) know that Dorothy’s shoes in the book were silver and that they were changed to ruby red in the movie because the red showed up better against the Yellow Brick Road. But did you know that (in the movie) Dorothy’s outfit was light pink and blue because the light pink looked more white than white did?

Baum may have invented the name ‘Oz’ when looking at an alphabetical filing cabinet label, ‘O-Z.’ That may or may not be true.

And do you know that horses like Jell-O? Remember the horse-of-a-different-color? I always thought it was a techno-trick to make the horse change colors. That’s probably because I believe in magic. In this case however, the magic was crystalized Jell-O that was a painted onto several different horses (one for each color). The scenes had to be shot magically fast because the horses kept licking off the Jell-O yumminess. (Don’t worry about the horses—the ASPCA was involved to make sure they were well treated.)

The phrase horse of a different color means another matter entirely. Except in Oz where it means a horse that changes colors.

The horses were the only ones on set who loved their makeup. The green paint the Wicked Witch wore was toxic. Once she was painted, she wasn’t allowed to eat which made for an interesting diet. (And her face stayed green for weeks after filming because of the copper in the makeup.)

The Scarecrow’s makeup stayed with him too. For about a year, Ray Bolger had lines in his face from the mask. Even worse, Buddy Ebsen (who was supposed to be the Scarecrow and then swapped roles with Bolger to be the Tin Man) had a severe (as in he couldn’t breathe) reaction to the aluminum dust they used to make his face silver. Not breathing is generally a liability in acting, so Ebsen left Dorothy et al. for other projects (as they say). The next Tin Man got a paste instead of powder and his lungs seemed to appreciate the change.

The tornado in the film was actually a 35-foot-long muslin stocking spun around with dust and dirt.

Speaking of weird ingredients, the snow (in the poppy scene) was asbestos. The Tin Man cried chocolate syrup (machine oil didn’t show well on camera). And the sparks that shot off the ruby slippers were apple juice not magic.

Four sets of ruby slippers were used during filming. The ruby slippers were a size 5. That means they were too small for me to borrow. Size 5 is a tiny little foot.

Ingredients weren’t the only oddities. Behavior during the making of TWoO was odd as well. For example, the film’s director slapped Judy Garland when she couldn’t control her giggles. Not saying that today’s film sets are models of decorum, but slapping a star today would cause social media (and traditional media) to stand on their collective heads.

There are lots of other weirdnesses in the Land of Oz (and I’m not even counting Wicked), but unexpectedness and magic is what The Wizard of Oz is all about, right?

Love, Mom