The 1939 film version of L. Frank Baum's classic fantasy tale is one of the original Hollywood legends. The seemingly cheerful, Technicolor land of Oz hid a dark and troubled production marked by tragedy and misery. Or so the story goes.
It's true that several harrowing incidents did befall cast members. Buddy Ebsen (the Tin Man) suffered terribly when the aluminum powder used to make his skin silver irritated his lungs and left him in the hospital, unable to continue in the role. Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West) was burned when the pyrotechnics that marked her teleportation spell misfired. She returned to the set only after recovering in a hospital.
Other incidents included flying monkey flight failure, wayward Munchkins and a conga line of directors being replaced for various reasons. There's even an urban legend that a Munchkin hanging himself was caught on film and accidentally left in the movie (not true). According to MGM's creative accounting, "The Wizard of Oz" lost money until its 1949 rerelease allowed it to turn a profit [source: Corliss].
Much of the curse focuses on tragedies in the lives of certain cast members, like Clara Blandick (Auntie Em) committing suicide many years later, or Frank Morgan (the Wizard) being injured in a car accident a few months after the film's release. This is a theme we'll return to in this list -- everyone dies eventually. Of the hundreds of people who work on a given film, some are bound to have notable deaths, and 100 percent of them will die. It doesn't mean there's a curse.
If there truly is a darkness at the heart of "The Wizard of Oz," it surrounds Dorothy herself. Judy Garland was beloved as an actress and a singer, but she was treated terribly by the Hollywood studio system. She was forced to take bizarre measures to keep from gaining weight (including smoking dozens of cigarettes every day), was given drugs to help her maintain the studio's brutal production pace and was essentially treated as a human commodity [source: Norman]. She killed herself when she was 47.