Dorothy Was Supposed To Be Blonde
Victor Fleming was not the original director of the film. The original director was a man named Richard Thorpe. He had envisioned a film that resembled the book much more closely. He wanted a Dorothy that looked like the illustrations of John R. Neill. In the original illustrations Dorothy is blonde. Thorpe wanted his and sporting a face of baby doll styled makeup.
Thorpe did not cast Judy Garland in his film. He was hoping he would be able to cast the young blonde star, Shirley Temple. He also cast a different actor for the Tin Man, Buddy Ebsen of “Beverly Hillbillies” fame. His vision didn’t matter much in the end because Thorpe’s tenure on the film lasted for only two weeks.
Judy Garland Almost Didn’t Get The Lead Role
Many years later, it is almost impossible to imagine The Wizard of Oz without Judy Garland. MGM Studio executives always had her in mind, but she wasn’t at the top of their lists. Everyone thought the blonde star, Shirley Temple, would be a better casting decision. She was younger than Garland and a much bigger star at the time. However, despite her baby doll looks and successful filmography, no one was sure that she had the singing voice necessary to make the movie successful.
In the end it was the studio system itself that sealed both actresses’ fates. Shirley Temple was contracted to 20th Century Fox at the time. MGM offered to trade both Clark Gable and Jean Harlow’s contracts to secure Shirley Temple but when Jean Harlow died unexpectedly the deal fell through. The studio system itself may have led to Harlow’s untimely death. It has been implied that the hair dye the star used may have caused her death from liver failure.