Sep 25, 2015
WHEN ARE JUDY, RAY, JACK, AND BERT
NOT JUDY, RAY, JACK, AND BERT
OZZY TRIVIA # 2: DOUBLES AND STAND-INS AND STARS! (OH, MY!)
[Above: Garland, Bolger, Haley, and Lahr in portrait publicity for the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film, THE WIZARD OF OZ.]
This month's trivia question was anonymously submitted to The OZ Museum Facebook page. To be honest, we like and prefer it when people are prepared to "stand up and be recognized," but the proffered query is such a potentially interesting (and hopefully entertaining) one, it's a pleasure to address!
Are there many moments in THE WIZARD OF OZ film where we're seeing "doubles" for members of the principal cast, rather than the stars themselves?
There are probably more such moments than there is herein room to discuss – at least in any detail! But these are some that come to mind:
Margaret Hamilton’s double, Betty Danko, plays The Wicked Witch of the West during that character’s initial appearance in Munchkinland. And, of course (while broom-bound all the way), a teeny, tiny, “puppet” witch later soars out of her castle window and circles the tower, while another miniature handles the sky-writing, SURRENDER DOROTHY, over the skies of The Emerald City. (Since this is a trivia column, Did You Know…that the sky-written message was originally longer -- and supposedly trimmed to take the edge off any terror it might cause among children in the 1939 OZ audiences? The complete notification read SURRENDER DOROTHY OR DIE WWW.)
[With her back to the camera, WWW double Betty Danko arrives in Munchkinland.]
A double for Bert Lahr takes the athletic first-entrance of The Cowardly Lion when he springs from the back-forest into his encounter with Dorothy & Company – and again when the Lion careens down the palace corridor in The Emerald City and leaps through a huge “glass” window. When Tin Man Jack Haley refuses to believe in the spooks of The Haunted Forest, he himself is hoisted into the air. But the high-priced and valued actor was spared the clattering tumble back to earth when, instead, his double was dropped (just out of camera range) from the Metro rafters.
The most obvious -- though still often overlooked -- instance of doubling occurs when the trio of Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion are clambering up the mountainside en route to The Witches Castle. The two-shot dialogue exchange (“I hope my strength holds out”/”I hope your tail holds out”) features the stars…but look closely at the immediately preceding and following scenes: it’s definitely not Lahr, Haley, and Bolger. And the faux Lion is costumed in a particularly shoddy replica of the real thing!
[Haley, Lahr, and a barely-visible Bolger “climb ev’ry mountain” to rescue Dorothy – and deliver their dialogue in this sequence.]
[Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion “doubles” prep for the long-shots of the same scene.]
In Judy’s case, there are three major moments of duplicity. It’s double Bobbie Koshay who effects Dorothy’s topple “in with the Big Duroc” in the Kansas barnyard – although it’s Garland herself whom Farmhand Zeke carries out of the pigpen. It’s also Koshay who is lifted off The Haunted Forest turf and hauled above the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer soundstage by the wired Winged Monkeys (although miniatures of all of them – and Toto, too – next do the actual in-the-distance flight through the air). And, as has been frequently cited, it’s Koshay who opens the door of the farmhouse, backs completely out-of-frame and field of vision, and allows The Real Dorothy Gale to step out onto the Munchkinland plaza.
[Stafford Campbell and Bobbie Koshay stand-in for lighting and camera tests in The Haunted Forest. Koshay would be more carefully coiffed and garbed to actually portray Dorothy when the girl is lifted into the air by the Winged Monkeys.]
Are there any other sequences that come to mind? Let’s discuss ’em!
Meanwhile, please keep sending any and all wonderings about The Wonderful World of Oz, L. Frank Baum, Judy Garland, et al, to The OZ Museum Facebook page; we'll have another answer for you next month. Many thanks for now...and DON’T FORGET THIS WEEKEND’S OZTOBERFEST, which includes the unveiling and premiere display of the Museum's new cOZtume pieces, including two actually worn in the MGM film. Additionally, there’ll be special appearances and/or video and visual presentations by “Munchkin by Marriage” Myrna Swensen, national film critic Ryan Jay, Oz collector extraordinaire JP Cafiero, historian and International Wizard of Oz Club (ozclub.org) officer Jane Albright, Oz author Paul Miles Schneider, and yours truly.
Please see the blog for September 4th for the details -- and we’ll meet you at the Museum!
Article by John Fricke