Claim: A lovelorn actor portraying one of the munchkins hanged himself on the set during the filming of The Wizard of Oz.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, May 2001]
I just recently was crashing in at my best friend’s house and we decided to watch The Wizard of Oz. Now, rumor has it that a small munchkin can be spotted in the background. Now, when I saw this, I began to flip out. I started running around my best friend’s house and I hit the wall. I then got the courage to watch the movie again. I am so positive that I saw munchkin in the background who commited suicide because he was in love.
My mom and I watched a documentary of the behind the scenes of The Wizard of Oz. We saw the footage closely and they even showed us before shots of the person. My mom told me to watch the movie closely and look in the woods in the trees for a person wearing black moving around strangely when Dorothy, the scarecrow and the tin man were walking down the yellow brick road. Which I did and I saw clearly a person hanging.
Dorothy and the Scarecrow trying to pick fruit from the talking apple trees, encompasses their discovery of the rusted tin man and their encounter with the Wicked Witch of the West (who tries to set the Scarecrow on fire), and ends with the trio heading off to Oz in search of the Wizard. To give the indoor set used in this sequence a more “outdoors” feel, several birds of various sizes were borrowed from the
The unusual movement in the background of the scene described above was noticed years ago, and it was often attributed to a stagehand’s accidentally being caught on the set after the cameras started rolling (or, more spectacularly, a stagehand’s falling out of a prop tree into the scene). With the advent of home video, viewing audiences were able to rewind and replay the scene in question, view it in slow-motion, and look at individual frames in the sequence (all on screens smaller and less distinct than those of theaters), and imaginations ran wild. The change in focus of the
rumor from a hapless stagehand to a suicidal munchkin (driven to despair over his unrequited love for a female munchkin) seems to have coincided with the heavy promotion and special video
The logistics of this alleged hanging defy all credulity. First of all, the forest scenes in The Wizard of Oz were filmed before the Munchkinland scenes, and thus none of the munchkin actors would yet have been present at MGM. And whether one believes that the figure on the film is a munchkin or a stagehand, it is simply impossible that a human being could have fallen onto a set actively being used for filming, and yet none
of the dozens of people present
Last updated: 22 December 2013
Doolittle, Leslie. “Really Most Sincerely, Still a Munchkin.” The Orlando Sentinel. 29 October 1996 (p. A2). Fine, Marshall. “Defusing the Rumor of ‘Oz’.” Gannett News Service. 26 April 1990. Malcolm, Paul. “L. Frank Baum’s Silent Film Collection.” LA Weekly. 20 December 1996 (p. 90).