Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Margaret Hamilton’s classic portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West is the stuff Halloween dreams are made of—but as seen in this publicity still, the character’s makeup was somewhat different when production first began on October 13, 1938 under director Richard Thorpe. As seen here, the makeup created by artisan Jack Dawn actually made the Witch more closely resemble Ms. Hamilton’s Kansas incarnation, Miss Gulch—in other words, as Margaret Hamilton actually looked. It was only after director Thorpe was let go (his first two weeks of filming were discarded) that the Witch’s facial design was changed, with a sharper chin, a more pronounced profile and her hair pulled back into a bun supporting her oversized pointed hat, the design seen in the finished film. However, for the film’s 1939 release, MGM chose to distribute the still pictured here and several others like it despite the differences from the character’s actual onscreen appearance, and the inaccurate stills have been used ever since. Whatever her appearance in the stray publicity shot, there’s no mistaking the “wicked” perfection of the Witch’s design and Margaret Hamilton’s unforgettable performance—Oz’s threatening ruler of the West is the iconic Halloween witch of every child’s nightmares.