Did you ever have one of those moments when you learn something or make a connection and your mind is just blown? I was wasting time surfing through various Facebook posts recently and I came across an article that shared 'things you never knew about the movie Wizard of Oz'. One of the items in the article completely captured my attention.
I have always been interested in learning history, and the horrific events of World War II have always been an area that held my interest. Like everyone I learned about Hitler and the Nazis killing Jews and others during the war. I knew that Hitler disliked gays, gypsies and anyone disabled, but I had never stopped to consider who exactly the Nazi’s considered disabled. It never occurred to me that the Nazis considered some of the actors for the iconic Wizard of Oz movie worthy of extermination.
The article explained, “The Munchkins are portrayed by the "Singer Midgets", named not for their musical abilities, but rather for Leo Singer, their manager. The troupe came from Europe, and a number of these actors took advantage of the trip to immigrate and escape the Nazis. Professional singers dubbed most of their voices, as many of the actors couldn't speak English and/or sing well. Only two are heard speaking with their real-life voices - the ones who give Dorothy flowers after she climbs into the carriage.”
Things were not necessarily easy for this group of actors; the article further explained, “according to lead Munchkin Jerry Maren, the actors on the set who played the Munchkins were paid $50 per week for a six-day work week, while Toto received $125 per week.” I would imagine that being paid less than a dog might be humiliating, but faced with the brutality of the Nazi regime, the movie Wizard of Oz literally saved their lives. For this group of actors and actresses, Oz truly was some place ‘over the rainbow’.
I don’t think I will ever be able to watch the Wizard of Oz again without thinking about the Munchkins and their possible fate in Germany if they had not come to OZ.
You can read the other unusual facts about the movie here: http://www.knowable.com/a/10-crazy-behind-the-scenes-stories-from-the-wizard-of-oz/p-3