Claim: A second-hand coat selected as part of the costume for Professor Marvel in the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz was discovered to have been owned by Oz author
Origins: Actor Frank Morgan played five different roles in MGM's classic 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz: In the Emerald City, he was the cabby who drove the Horse-of-a-Different-Color, a guard at the entrance to the Wizard's palace, the doorkeeper at the Wizard's palace, and the Great and Powerful Oz himself; in the Kansas sequences that opened the film, Morgan also portrayed the disreputable fortune-telling Professor
Nearly all of the makeup and costume designs used in The Wizard of Oz went through numerous revisions and changes before and during filming, and Morgan's outfits were no exception. Since the portions of the film in which Morgan appeared (the Emerald City and Kansas sequences) were the last to be filmed, there was even more time to fiddle with the outfits worn by his various characters. Although Morgan did not make his first appearance before the cameras until
|Original Prof. Marvel test
using Wizard outfit
|Later test with new costume|
The story behind the jacket selected for this second shot (and ultimately used in the film itself) is one of the most curious of all Oz anecdotes: A tattered coat selected from a local second-hand shop by MGM's wardrobe department turned out to be a garment originally owned by Oz author L. Frank Baum himself. Once gainsaid as "an example of the lies press agents are willing to tell in order to get a story in print," the story of the jacket's origins was retold and affirmed by Aljean Harmetz in her book The Making of The Wizard of Oz:
The coat fitted Morgan and had the right look of shabby gentility, and one hot afternoon Frank Morgan turned out the pocket. Inside was the name
"We wired the tailor in Chicago," says Mary Mayer, "and sent pictures. And the tailor sent back a notarized letter saying that the coat had been made for Frank Baum. Baum's widow identified the coat, too, and after the picture was finished we presented it to her. But I could never get anyone to believe the story."
Last updated: 26 February 2014
Fricke, John. The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversay Pictorial History. New York: Warner Books, 1989. ISBN 0-446-51446-2 (p. 107). Harmetz, Aljean. The Making of the Wizard of Oz. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977. ISBN 0-394-49350-8 (pp. 241-242).