The actors had to endure absolute torture to wear their costumes. Bert Lahr’s Lion costume weighed about 90 lbs, and it didn’t afford him much ventilation – he was constantly perspiring in the suit. It took a few assistants to dry out the costume every night. Buddy Ebsen’s Tin Man ensemble was made mostly of metal, so he wasn’t able to even sit while wearing it. When he felt tired, poor Buddy had to lean against a wall. He also had an extreme reaction to the makeup.
Judy Garland Was Medicated
Garland was a teenager at the time she played Dorothy and was only permitted to work for four hours a day. During filming, Garland was given barbiturates and amphetamines, as well as sleeping tablets to help her wane off from the medication at night and get enough sleep. Those medications were new to the marketplace at that time; so there was very little information about their side effects, let alone the long-term consequences.
The studio insisted that their teen star shed any excess fat – even though Garland was only 15 years old when she began her role as Dorothy, they wanted her to look even younger. They strongly suggested that she diet. They also assigned her a personal trainer, who also served as a spy for the studio. MGM was infamous for assigning people to shadow their biggest stars because they had a clause in their contracts concerning how they conducted themselves.
Billie Burke had plastic surgery specifically for the film. This was before cosmetic surgery became so mainstream, and an easy and often less painful way to give a facelift was to fix small pieces of fabric in front of an actress’ ears and then pull them up tight with a string. A wig would then cover it, making the cheeks and the droopy neckline magically revived. Billie Burke, who played Glinda the Good Witch, underwent surgery to appear ageless on camera, but she was actually 54 years old.
Judy Garland Got Paid Less
With all the buzz nowadays around the gender wage gap, it was certainly way worse back in the day, especially in Hollywood. Even though Dorothy is no doubt the star of the 1939 classic, Judy Garland earned much less than the other actors, even though she had the most screentime. Judy only earned $500 per week for her role as Dorothy. Meanwhile, her fellow co-stars, Ray Bolger (Scarecrow) and Jack Haley (Tin Man) earned the most, about $3,000 per week.
It Cost Millions To Make
The Wizard Of Oz is considered to be one of the most expensive movies made to date, matching the type of budget that today’s CGI fantasy films command, like Star Wars, Avengers and Avatar. At that time, there had never before been so much money put into a movie; there were special effects, makeup, costumes, reshoots, rehearsals, and extended production times, probably the most in Hollywood history. All told, the movie cost $3 million to create, which was a huge amount at the time.
The Horses Were Covered In Gelatin
The special-effects team decided to paint the horses of the Emerald City with a gelatin mix in order to give them their color. Four different horses were used as the film crew found that multiple color changes on a single horse were too time-consuming to give the impression of an animal that changes color from moment to moment. The only issue was that the horses constantly tried to lick off the sweet stuff, but the team managed to make the effects work anyhow!
In the film, Dorothy, Toto, and the Cowardly Lion fall asleep in a poppy field but are magically awakened by falling snow. Because history is a never-ending carnival of terrors, that snow was asbestos. Asbestos fibers were often used as fake snow from the mid-1930s to the 1950s, in films such as The Wizard of Oz. It wasn’t until many years later that people discovered the harmful effects of asbestos, far too late to help the actors exposed to the carcinogenic snow.
A Slap In The Face
Judy Garland got slapped while filming the famous slap scene between Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion; the young actress couldn’t stop giggling. After several ruined takes, and many more scenes to shoot, the film crew’s patience grew thin, so the director Viktor Fleming felt it was necessary to take Judy Garland aside, slap her across the face, and then tell her to “go in there and work.” When she attempted the scene, following that, she did it perfectly (with no giggling).
Five Different Directors
Victor Fleming may be the officially credited onscreen director, but The Wizard of Oz can boast four other directors. Initially, Richard Thorpe was fired after two weeks. George Cukor was brought in after, but he was requested to go work on Gone With the Wind. Then Viktor Fleming came in and he was probably around the longest until he too was called over to assist with Gone With the Wind, and King Vidor was in the end hired to complete the movie.
The Infamous Urban Legend
For years there has been a grim rumor circulating about the death of a Munchkin that was supposedly inadvertently captured by the cameras and ended up on the big screen. The speculation that one of the little people took his own life is false. The dark spot in the distance as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man skip down the yellow brick road, was a bird — MGM had a bunch of exotic birds around the set to make the background look more compelling.
Scarier Than You Think
There are crucial differences between the book and the movie. The Wizard of Oz book is more explicit and horrible compared to the film. For instance, in the book, there’s a scene with tiger-bear hybrids being killed in an abyss. Also, Tin Man uses his ax on a wildcat and 40 wolves. Bumblebees swarm and sting the scarecrow and die. All these scenes were never put in the script or shot for the film as they were considered to be too scary and gruesome.
The Tin Man
Jack Haley was not cast as the original Tin Man; he was his replacement. Buddy Ebsen was the original Tin Man and went through the first ten days of filming. But unfortunately, he fell terribly ill and was taken to the hospital amid rumors that inhaling the aluminum powder lathered on him for the part may have been the reason for his undoing. When Jack Haley took over the role they, fortunately, made sure to switch over to aluminum paste.
The Wizard of Oz was regarded as a failure at the box office, but the truth is a little more complicated. The movie did manage to bring in $3 million while in theatres, making it very successful for that time. However, the expenses of production, including technical demands, cast changes, and director changes made the film break even. It was also pulled from theaters earlier than other competing titles like Gone With the Wind, which kept on playing for several years.
Burned On Set
During the filming of the clip where the Wicked Witch escapes Munchkinland in a burst of smoke, there was a malfunction, resulting in the actress Margaret Hamilton’s broom, hat, and makeup catching fire. Her face and hands were severely burned. Medics had to use rubbing alcohol to remove her toxic makeup, which was also extremely painful. After returning to work, she was asked to film the “Surrender, Dorothy,” scene, which also required smoke effects. She refused, so her stunt double, Betty Danko, took over.
Before Margaret Hamilton took on the part of the evil Wicked Witch of the West, she taught little children as a kindergarten teacher. It’s ironic that this charming and loving kindergarten teacher is best known for her frightful disposition and her criminal behaviors, not to mention for scaring the daylights out of generations of little children. The former teacher often said her biggest fear was that her large role on-screen would give younger people a false impression of who she is.
The Lost Song
“Over the Rainbow” is one of Garland’s most iconic hits, but it’s essential to note that the song wasn’t originally written with her in mind. It turned out the song that was intended for Garland was a cheerful dance number titled “The Jitterbug” based on the dance fad at the time. It was recorded but then discarded during the editing process. The song was an emotional ballad inspired by a 1915 operetta titled “Over the Rainbow.”
Shirley Temple Was The Original Dorothy
While Judy Garland was the obvious choice for the role of Dorothy, it was child star Shirley Temple who received the popular vote by fans of the book. Judy Garland was not the popular candidate among book fans; she was 15 years old, which was considered too old for the role. She was bubbly and over the top. The Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz has a very contrasting personality from what we see in the film. But otherwise, there was never a serious contender except for Judy Garland.
Sneaky Frank Morgan
The actor Frank Morgan didn’t just play one role in The Wizard of Oz, the Great and Powerful Oz made five appearances in the movie. Most people can’t tell but not only did he depict the Great and Powerful Oz. With the help of extra wardrobe, a mustache, and makeup, he also played the fortune-telling professor in the opening, the cabby driving the Horse-of-a-Different-Color carriage, a guard at the wizard’s palace, as well as the doorkeeper at the palace.
Before Billie Burke charmed audiences as the Good Witch, she was already a reigning Broadway stage star in New York City and had appeared in numerous silent films as well. At the time of filming, Billie Burke was 54, so that would make her 18 years older than her counterpart Margaret Hamilton, who portrayed the Wicked Witch of the West. Billie Burke established her career by playing these strange, motherly characters. Before The Wizard of Oz, she played Judy Garland’s mother in 1938’s Everybody Sing.
More Than 3,000 Costumes Were Made For The Movie
It shouldn’t be a surprise that The Wizard of Oz required so many costumes, especially with all those Munchkins walking around the land. It still comes as a shocker that a movie that premiered in 1939 required that many costumes for its production. The interesting fact is that most of the costumes of the movie were lost years later. The Cowardly Lion head is at the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Scarecrow costume is in the Smithsonian.
The Date On The Wicked Witch’s Gravestone
If you look closely and pay attention, you can spot the date on The Wicked Witch’s gravestone. It shows that she died on May 6, 1938. This was done in honor of L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz, who died 20 years prior to that. The Witch’s gravestone wasn’t the only thing that connected the movie to its book; Professor Marvel’s jacket used to belong to Baum as well.
Inappropiate Behavior on Set
Sid Luft, Gerard’s ex-husband, wrote in his memoir about the inappropriate behavior that happened on set towards young Judy. He mentioned the inappropriate behavior came mostly from the people playing the Munchkins, who also used to party and gamble every night after filming. In several occasions, the police showed up to at the Culver Hotel due to complaints made by other guests. One Munchkin actor even got stuck in a toilet once and had to be rescued.
The Truth About Lunch
Bert Lahr, who played the Cowardly Lion, was not allowed to eat while wearing his costume because all the effort it took to put it together. He lived off soups, milkshakes and other liquid food for a while, until he became sick of his diet. The movie took years to film, and Lahr had to fight for his rights to eat a solid meal between takes. He demanded his costume be retouched after eating.
More On Lunch
Margaret Hamilton also had restrictions when it came to eating her food. The paint used for her costume was highly toxic when consumed because it contained copper. She had to have people feed her or help her eat when wearing the Wicked Witch costume to avoid accidentally eating any of the paint. On one occasion, Hamilton consumed some of the makeup and was extremely sick for days, not being able to eat for a period of time.
The movie was so popular during its debut that people were dying to see a sequel of it. But given Gerard’s success, this didn’t happen. She was cast for other movies and was busy with other projects, so the sequel of The Wizard of Oz didn’t happen until 1985 when Disney released Return to Oz. The movie didn’t do so well in the United States, although it became a cult following in other countries. The sequel was nominated for an Academy Award for best visual effects, although it didn’t win.
During the 1970s, MGM needed to clean the warehouse that contained most of the Wizard of Oz props. Kurt Warner was one of the set’s designers when the movie was in production, and he was instructed to clean said warehouse. In return, he was allowed to take whatever he wanted with him. Among the items he took are the famous red slippers Dorothy wore in the film. Today they are worth around $1.5 million.
Talk about horrible costumes! Apparently, the Scarecrow’s costume left the actor’s face full of tiny scars. Every morning he had to have the rubber mask glued to his face, and had to take it off at the end of the day. It is rumored that scars disappeared within a year, while others say that he had the marks on his face permanently. Margaret Hamilton’s face was also stained for a while after wrapping the movie due to her tinted makeup.
Temperature On Set
One of the movie’s most famous qualities is its use of Technicolor technology, which showed brighter and more saturated colors on screen. The technology required extremely bright lighting for it to work properly. For it, they used hot studio lights which made the set reach above 100 degrees and also created issues with carbon dioxide buildup. Imagine wearing those heavy costumes or not being able to eat for hours, only to stand on a set that reached such high temperatures. Poor actors!
According to the Library of the Congress, The Wizard of Oz is the most-watched movie of all time. While others would say that it could easily be Vertigo, Casablanca, or The Godfather, we can say with certainty that it’s your favorite American fairy tale movie.
This makes perfect sense, given the fact that it’s regularly broadcasted on television. In fact, it usually airs around Christmas and Easter — that’s when many people take vacations and spend time with their families in front of the TV.
That’s Not Oil
Despite what you might have thought, they didn’t use oil to loosen the rusty joints of Tin Man. It was, actually, chocolate syrup. Now, the reason is, perhaps, not so surprising. Apparently, chocolate simply looked better on screen than oil.
Also, maybe squirting oil over the leather-covered buckram Tin Man’s costume doesn’t sound like a good idea in the first place. At least you can wash chocolate off, but it’s much harder with oil.
It Was Not Yellow
What could easily be one of the most iconic scenes of the movie has an unflattering aspect to it. Since they used what was back then novel technology, they had to make all kinds of adjustments to make sure they captured the scenes on camera just the way they wanted.
So, it appears that during the shooting of the yellow brick road scene they didn’t get the color right. Ultimately, they had to repaint it green.
Toto Was Supposed to Be a Male
Apparently, Toto was supposed to be played by a male dog — at least, according to Mervyn LeRoy, one of the directors of the movie. However, it was eventually played by a female dog, called Terry.
Also, there seems to be a debate about the original dog breed that the author intended. In the book, however, the dog breed was never mentioned. Although, some scholars claim that it should have been a mongrel, presumably a Yorkshire Terrier. Terry was a Cairn Terrier.
The Crystal Ball
Only 1920s kids would probably recognize the crystal ball that was used by the Wicked Witch. Apparently, it was used in a different movie, which aired in 1932, seven years prior to The Wizard of Oz.
The Crystal Ball was sold in a public auction in 2011. Part of the money was transferred to New Jersey’s teen art program. There is definitely justice in using this money to further promote the arts.
Got the Line Wrong
When the Wicked Witch tells her army of flying monkeys to bring Dorothy, alive, to her, it is often thought that she said “fly, my pretties, fly!” However, that’s not exactly what she said.
In fact, if you listen closely, she says: “Now fly! Fly!” There is a lot of uncertainty as to where this misquote originates from, but the fact remains that many of us just remember it wrong.
The Coroner of Munchkinland Was a Pilot
Apart from being one of the last surviving munchkins who lived well into the 21st century, Meinhardt Frank Raabe was a WWII pilot. Just to remind you, he played the role of the coroner who presented the death certificate of the Wicked Witch from the East.
During WWII Raabe joined the Civil Air Patrol, and he mostly flew fire and lake patrols. He even worked as a ground instructor for the Patrol.
The Munchkins Got Their Star
If you’ve ever been to Los Angeles, there is a good chance that you didn’t miss Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. However, it was not until 2007 that the actors who played the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz got their own, collective, star.
A total of 124 people played the munchkins in the movie, and it took “only” 68 years for Hollywood to recognize their contribution to the success of the movie.
Today, the thought that they used real lion skin to create the costume of the Cowardly Lion would probably be shocking, even to the point of boycotting the movie. However, in the 1930s, they saw nothing wrong with using lion pelts to create the costume.
We guess that’s worse than having a brown bag incorporated into your makeup. Also, given its 90lbs weight, Bert Lahr had to remove his suit between the shootings.
The Legacy Lived On
Judy Garland who played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, had a daughter named Liza Minnelli. Minnelli married the son of the actor who portrayed the Tin Man in the movie, Jack Haley Jr. The couple married in 1974, however, their relationship didn’t survive.
The couple called it quits in 1979. According to Garland, they were more friends than lovers. While this doesn’t say anything about Haley’s preferences, it clearly didn’t help the couple to preserve their relationship.
It Was the Tenth Screen Adaption
The 1939 movie that we have all watched and basically grew up on wasn’t the first screen adaptation. It is, perhaps, the most iconic of them though, since it has never left the screen since it first aired.
This movie was in fact the tenth adaptation of the story to the screen when it came out in 1939. Today, however, there are over 50 screen adaptations of this wonderful fairy tale. Originally, Frank Baum, the author of the book, was paid only $75,000 for the rights.
The Hidden Voice
“If I Had a Heart,” is one of the most famous songs that appeared in the movie. It’s also Tin Man’s song, in which he laments the fact that he doesn’t have a heart. There is a hidden cameo appearance in the song.
A little girl’s voice sings a single line: “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” But, this wasn’t just any girl. In fact, it was Adriana Caselotti who played in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was paid $1000 just for singing this one line.
Margaret Hamilton’s Stunt Double Was Hospitalized
Betty Banko, who was Margaret Hamilton’s (The Wicked Witch) stunt double, ended up in the hospital with a severe leg injury due to an unpleasant incident that occurred on set.
A pipe that was attached to the Witch’s broomstick exploded. It seems like trouble kept following Banko. Her career as a stunt woman ended in the 1950s after she was hit by a car while waiting for a bus.
The first director of the movie, Richard Thorpe, who was later replaced by George Cukor, originally wanted Dorothy to be blond and to wear a baby doll dress. He also wanted her to put on tons of thick makeup.
Cukor reversed this decision, claiming that Dorothy looked too cartoonish as a blonde. And so, he changed her hair back to brunette. The old look was obviously a far cry from the original look of a Kansas girl, envisioned by the author.
Toto Broke Her Paw
Toto, or Terry, who was played by a female Cairn Terrier, had to be replaced for a couple of weeks during filming because one of the Witch’s Winkies, the flying monkeys, accidentally stepped on her paw and broke it.
However, as compensation, Terry received higher pay. Technically, her owner received it. Surprisingly enough, Terry got paid much more than the munchkins.
Dorothy And The Scarecrow
A closing scene back in Kansas after Dorothy’s return was never filmed. If it had, we would see Dorothy’s relationship with the bumbling Scarecrow quite differently. In the end scene, the Scarecrow leaves for an agricultural college and asks Dorothy to write to him. This scene was meant to imply that a romance would develop. Traces of this plot idea can still be noticed throughout the film, particularly when Dorothy is about to leave Oz and tells the Scarecrow, “I think I’ll miss you most of all.”
The iconic red slippers we are all familiar with were originally supposed to be silver, in the novel by L. Frank Baum. As read in the original children’s book, the slippers that played such a crucial role throughout the storyline were silver. But when creating the film, The change was made because MGM studio head Louis B. Meyer wanted to take advantage of the new Technicolor in films, which they could in a brighter hue, and that’s how the ruby red slippers came to be!
The Tornado Stocking
The tornado was created using a muslin stocking. Keep in mind, this film was made back in 1938, so special effects were nothing like they are today. The tornado that brings about the initial conflict within the film was created using a 35-foot-long muslin stocking, and it was inspired by those windsocks they have (or had) at airports. They whirled it around and around with plenty of dirt, dust, and wind involved to give it a disastrous look.
Judy Garland had spent a lot of time with Terry, the dog who played the role of Toto, on and off set and developed a very close bond with her. She wanted to keep her as her pet beyond the film. But Toto made about $125 per week working in the movie, which was more than some of the munchkin actors got paid, so the idea vanished when Terry’s trainer, Carl Spitz, turned down the request.
Not The First
Back in 1910, a 13-minute a silent version of the film called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was made. Nowadays, it’s would be creepy and even terrifying, but 100 years ago, it was probably a revelation. The movie also took a lot of license with Baum’s original story, which can be confusing for the modern audience. The movie ends with Dorothy ditching Kansas and opting instead to stick around this far more exciting magical land. “There’s no place like–Oz?”
The Light And Dark Secrets Of The Brady Bunch
The Brady Bunch has become a mark of American TV culture. However, life on-set and off of it was very different for all of the cast. Hair color was an important part of the casting process. The producer, Sherwood Schwartz, insisted that the show have three blonde girls and three brunette girls, and the same for the boys, on hold as the children until they hired the actors for the parents – to create a balance on screen.
For serious fans of the show, they might have noticed that Tiger, the family’s young dog, stopped appearing quite early on. The little pooch passed away after being hit by a car in a tragic accident. He only appeared for the first six episodes because the replacement dog was too difficult to work with. So after a while, the producers decided to scrap the idea altogether but decided to keep his doghouse because it covered up a part of the set that had been burnt by a light.
A Modern Woman
The ’60s and early ’70s were a time of great societal change in America. The civil rights movement meant that people of color were voicing their desire for equality and the same applied to white housewives. More and more women wanted to leave the traditional role of being a housewife to join the workforce. Florence Henderson, the actress who played Carol, wanted her character to join the workforce to reflect the changing times. However, the idea never caught on with the producers and she remained a housewife.
A Close Call
After the first season of The Brady Bunch, Sherwood Schwartz was approached by the producers of another movie called Yours, Mine and Ours. According to them, there were too many similarities between The Brady Bunch and their movie. As a result, they decided to file a lawsuit against Schwartz for plagiarism. However, Schwartz promised that his idea was original and eventually had to reveal notes from his planning phase to prove that work had started on the show two years before in 1967.
Good Sisters, Bad Friends
Susan Olsen and Eve Plumb had great on-screen chemistry as sisters on the show. As kids, it’s largely why they were originally chosen for the roles in the first place. However, as the two grew up and matured on set, it became apparent that off-set, things weren’t exactly the same. While the two never got into any open arguments or fights, there was an uneasiness between them that was often hard to place but easy to notice. Good thing it didn’t affect their acting.
Due to the fact that the script called for three young blonde girls, Cindy had to dye her hair to make sure it was the correct shade. Her hair was originally a mousey brown, so to ensure that her hair stayed blonde, she was forced to bleach it regularly. The bleaching got so bad that her hair started to fall out – and she was only just a young girl. After protesting to Schwartz, the producer, she was allowed to slow down and let her hair grow back.
The Lisp Was Real
On the show, Cindy was often remembered by fans for having a cute and bubbly personality, as well as having an adorable lisp. As most parents will know, it’s not uncommon for young children to develop a mild speech impediment when they’re younger. For many, it’s a stutter, but for Susan Olsen, it was her lisp. A lot of fans wondered in later years whether the lisp was just acting or whether the youngster legitimately had one. As it turned out, the lisp was legitimately hers!
Carol Was Literally Late
No – we’re not talking about her being a mother, but rather about her joining the show. If you watch the show from the first season onwards, it seems like Carol has been in the show from the start. However, according to the producers of the show, she was busy shooting in Denmark and arrived on set late. As a result, she missed the first six episodes, which they had to reshoot later on after she arrived on set.
When they were auditioning for the show, Susan and Eve made it clear that they could both sing. This was a huge bonus for them and the producers as it meant they had more to work with during the story. However, not all the actors could sing, even though they were forced to partake in musical scenes. When Christopher Knight had his chance to sing, it became apparent quickly that he was terrible! He had to lip-sync his way through the show as a result.
No Toilets On Set
During the ’60s and ’70s, media censors were a lot more conservative than they are these days. This was simply because the times were different and what was acceptable differed a lot from today. It might shock you to know, but even showing a toilet bowl during this era was considered ‘edgy’ and was therefore banned from family-orientated shows. Because of this, the producers had to hide the toilet in the house’s bathroom. Six kids and no toilet? I don’t think so!
The Show Wasn’t A Hit
It might seem strange to fans of the show now, but The Brady Bunch wasn’t a big success when it started out. In fact, every time a season would end, the cast and crew would wonder whether they’d get called back to the set for the next season – which wore on a lot of their spirits over the years. Now that the show has garnered a large cult following, it is ironically more popular than when it was originally aired all those years ago.
Carol Was A Divorcée
There are a lot of things about the characters that are not really discussed during the course of the show. One important aspect of Carol’s character, for instance, is that she’s a divorcée – which was still taboo on TV at the time. While her past husband is never mentioned or revealed over the course of the series, her character description specifies this and she has her own set of kids. While it’s implied, it’s never clearly mentioned and a lot of people missed that about the show.
For any long-time fan or viewer of the show, they’ll know that it’s commonplace to find wardrobe malfunctions throughout the show. The reason for this was because the producers were always running things on a tight budget and therefore, a short schedule. This often meant that scenes had to be rushed or reshot in order to make the air date. As a result, the cast was often missing items of clothing that they had in the last shot or would have totally different hairstyles in between scenes.
All But A Statistic
When Sherwood Schwartz, the producer of the show, was originally doing research to try and decide which creative project he wanted to start next, he was reading through the L.A Times when he stumbled across a short, four-line article. The article stated but one simple statistic that claimed that 31% of marriages in 1965 involved people who had children from a previous marriage. The idea stuck with him and after a while, he thought that by creating the show, he could appeal to the niche audience.
Cindy And Bobby Had A Crush
It’s not uncommon for romances to happen on set. It is rare to have child actors develop lasting crushes. In the case of Susan Olsen (Cindy) and Mike Lookinland (Bobby), the two youngsters spent so much time together on set, that after a while, they both realized that they had feelings for one another. It’s one thing to develop these kinds of feelings when you’re in school, but on-screen and on your fake sibling is a totally different thing altogether.
Bobby Dealt With Substance Abuse
When you watch a show like The Brady Bunch, it’s difficult to imagine that the cast would have complicated lives off-set. But unfortunately, a lot of child stars find it difficult to cope with their status and the attention that comes with fame, so they often turn to addictive substances to help deal with their issues. In Bobby’s case, he went through a phase of this in his 20s and soon had to give up drinking completely.
Gene Hackman Almost Played Mike
When the producers were originally running the casting process for the show, they had high hopes on Gene Hackman for the role of Mike, the father. The young Gene Hackman was only just starting out his career and according to Paramount, had a very low TVQ. This basically means that TV audiences didn’t know much about him and wouldn’t let him take the part. Shortly after that, Hackman went on to star in The French Connection and won an Academy Award!
An Experimental Phase
The late ’60s and early ’70s was the start of a huge cultural change in American society. The hippies, free-love movement, and birth of psychedelic music led to a huge wave of new experimental substances that were readily available. Being young and in the media, Barry Williams (Greg) got caught up in the hype. One day, he showed up to shooting under the influence and had to be written out of the episode because it was too obvious he was not himself!
Just like young Bobby and Cindy, it turned out that Greg and Jan, or Bobby Williams and Eve Plump, had also developed a liking for one another. As the two spent more and more time on set together and consequentially wound up going through puberty together, the combination of their natural chemistry and hormones brought them closer and closer together. However, the producers wanted to keep them apart because when teenagers break up, it can get quite ugly and would most likely disrupt the show.
After the filming of the show, Marcia (Maureen McCormick), developed a serious substance abuse problem. It became so bad at one point that she exchanged intimacy in return for substances. Her life had spiraled out of control and she wasn’t in touch with anyone to keep track of her condition. She also developed Bulimia – something which was never discussed openly back then either. After years of suffering like this at her own hands, she eventually found help, but that was only much later.
Hand In Hand
As relationships develop, so do the physical feelings of attraction that we have for one another. When a couple like Greg and Jan spend so much time together not only working on something fun, but literally growing up together, it’s easy to see why they’d form a deep relationship. One night, Barry Williams decided to woo a young Plumb by making out with her in the back of his pick-up truck. They were eventually broken up by the cops, but came close to becoming young lovers.
Living In The Closet
For a long time, homosexuality was still largely misunderstood by the greater public and was often something that could lead to someone being cut off from people they knew and loved. As a result, Robert Reed, the actor who played Mike, was forced to hide his true identity as a gay man and initially even struggled to act intimately with Henderson and had to rehearse before doing takes. Towards the end of his life, Reed had become HIV positive but eventually died from cancer in 1992.
After the show, most of the actors went their separate ways. Some continued working in show business, others went into their own line of business. For little Cindy, it was something else entirely! By the time the show had come to an end, Susan Olsen had moved into a dramatically different line of work – growing a certain green plant. After a while though, she left her then-boyfriend because he had originally suggested doing so and has never gone back to that line of work or even used it since.
It turned out that McCormick’s bad habits started off a lot earlier, while she was still on the show. As time went on, it became clear to those who knew the young actress well enough, that she was quite a disruptive personality. According to Susan Olsen, she would frequently convince friends of hers to come on shoplifting expeditions with her. If they ever got caught, she would blame the friend she brought with her – which happened quite often. She later admitted that she had also suffered from kleptomania.
A Tragic Death
While Alice was one of the lesser characters on the show, the actress who played her, Anne B. Davis, was quite successful in her career. She had been nominated for four Emmy Awards and even won two over the course of her career. Then, one day, without warning at all, a freak accident claimed her life. She slipped while getting out of the bath and died from a subdural hematoma – a bad blow to the head or neck. Her passing was very tragic and totally unexpected.