Up Close & Peculiar

More than 100 years ago, the globetrotting Robert Ripley began collecting artifacts from his journeys around the world, which today form the heart of the greatest collection of oddities ever assembled. Up Close & Peculiar brings the curious history of these pieces to a personal level as our very own, Allyson Iovino, explores the strange relics that lie within our Warehouse walls! Become a part of the story as we share pieces for every history buff, pop culture junkie, and oddities collector alike.

Today: Yellow Brick 

Strap on your red heels and grab your closest lions and tigers and bears! Today we’re taking a trip down the yellow brick road and talking about The Wizard of Oz!

Right here, in the Ripley’s Warehouse, we have one of the bricks used on the set of The Wizard of Oz! Hundreds of these things were made but only a few of them are still in existence and this is one of them!

What intrigues me the most about this isn’t really the brick itself, but all the lore surrounding what was happening on top of the brick. I don’t know if you guys are as deep down the rabbit hole as I am, but there is a ton of controversy surrounding all the unusual things that happened while this film was being made. Just in the main cast alone, almost everyone sustained some type of injury during filming!

Absurd Accidents

One of the most notorious involved the Wicked Witch, played by Margaret Hamilton. When she was filming her iconic exit from Munchkinland, in which she was engulfed in a fiery cloud of smoke before disappearing, something went wrong. She caught on fire and received third-degree burns which landed her in the hospital. After this incident, she very rightly refused to do any more stunts involving fire. This ended up being a good call, because not too far after the same thing happened to her stunt double!

Hamilton wasn’t the only one that landed in the hospital from the movie. In fact, one of the cast members was down almost before the camera started rolling. Buddy Ebsen, who was originally cast to play the tin man, had recorded all of his songs, done all his rehearsals, and made it all the way to filming until something went wrong. After just over a week on set, he started experiencing shortness of breath that eventually led to his lung collapsing. The culprit was the silver makeup he wore for his role, as it caused a severe allergic reaction. He spent over two weeks in the hospital and during that time Jack Haley was cast in his place.

The Cowardly Lion got out relatively unscathed, with the biggest issue being the costume. Believe It or Not!, the lion costume was made from real lion fur and allegedly weighed over ninety-pounds! Because of the unique fur pattern that each lion has, it was impossible to replicate, so Bert Lahr had to wear the same costume throughout the entire filming of the movie. Combining ninety pounds of costume with all those studio lights made for a very sweaty situation.

And last but certainly not least, how could I forget the icon, the legend, Ms. Dorothy. Although she wasn’t poisoned or set on fire, Judy Garland, at the tender age of sixteen years old, was put on a diet of chicken soup, coffee, and eighty cigarettes per day to keep her figure for the iconic role. Beauty really has always been pain.

A New Perspective

This was one of my favorite movies growing up but I’ll be honest, after knowing all the craziness that went on while on set I will be going into my next viewing with a very different lens.

Did you know about any of the mysterious incidents that took place on the set of this iconic children’s movie? Leave your reactions down below and I’ll see you next time!


Discover hundreds of strange and unusual artifacts and get hands-on with unbelievable interactives when you visit a Ripley’s Odditorium!