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'The Wizard Of Oz' Stars: Where Did They Go?

In 1939, movie audiences discovered "there's no place like home" by traveling over the rainbow with a girl from Kansas and her dog. But what happened to Dorothy, Toto, and the rest of The Wizard of Oz cast after filming? Movie lovers might have followed the budding career of Judy Garland, but most of the film's cast also continued their Hollywood careers, with several acting for many years after leaving Oz.

The Wizard of Oz, based on L. Frank Baum's original story, which dates back to the 1890s, wasn't a commercial success at the time, but the film gained popularity after its television debut in 1956. For many of the film's actors, the characters they played became their best-known roles.

While dark stories about the Wizard of Oz cast later came to light, and some actors carried this darkness off the set, others moved on to successful personal and professional lives. So what happened to Dorothy and her friends after they stepped off the Yellow Brick Road?

  • Terry The Dog's Trainer Officially Renamed Her Toto

    Photo: MGM

    Hollywood often hired dog trainer Carl Spitz when a film needed a canine actor. One of Spitz's dogs, Terry, had appeared in several films, including Bright Eyes with Shirley Temple, before being cast as Toto - a female in a male role. Terry instantly gained the cast and crew's affection and earned $125 a week for her work, a higher wage than the Munchkin actors.

    Judy Garland especially developed a liking for Terry and tried to adopt her several times. Spitz didn't want to let Terry go, but honored The Wizard of Oz by officially changing her name to Toto. She made more than 10 additional movies in Hollywood, including 1939's The Women, and retired in 1942. Toto spent the last two years of her life enjoying Spitz's large property, which also served as her final resting place in 1944.

  • Photo: ABC Television Network / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    After dropping her kindergarten teaching career to become an actress, Margaret Hamilton spent 50 years in Hollywood, including starring as The Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West. She continued working as a character actress after the film, often playing unpleasant and stern women.

    Hamilton worked alongside actresses like Mae West, as well as under directors such as Fritz Lang and Frank Capra. In addition to appearing in more than 70 films, Hamilton took roles on stage and then moved on to television. Perhaps her most famous part came in a series of advertisements for Maxwell House, in which she played a shopkeeper named Cora.

    Hamilton retained her interest in children throughout her life and had a son. She founded a Beverly Hills kindergarten and acted on its board of directors. Hamilton also aimed to assure children her Oz character - the Wicked Witch - wasn't real, once appearing on an episode of Mr. Rogers's Neighborhood without her trademark green makeup.

    But Hamilton wasn't afraid to embrace the Wicked Witch either, appearing at Wizard of Oz events, starring on television specials, and joining the cast of Sesame Street for an episode as the character. She passed away in 1985 from a heart attack, only a few years after her last acting appearance.

  • Photo: MGM

    As a character actress not attached to a studio, Clara Blandick played small parts in many different films. MGM didn't have her in mind for the part of Auntie Em, but eventually gave her the role after others turned it down. The Wizard of Oz became her most famous film, but it didn't ultimately steer her to success.

    Blandick kept appearing in small parts, including the Marx Brothers' The Big Store; as Mrs. Pringle in Anne of Windy Poplars; and many other movies throughout the 1940s. In 1950, unhappiness and poor health led her to retire from Hollywood for good. Suffering from arthritis and failing eyesight, Blandick died by suicide in 1962.

  • Though Charley Grapewin began performing at a young age, he didn't find his place in Hollywood until the late 1930s, starring as Uncle Henry in The Wizard of Oz. In his 60s, Grapewin made a name for himself playing older men, often toothless or ornery. In 1940, he followed Oz's success by starring in The Grapes of Wrath as Grampa Joad. A year later, he appeared in Tobacco Road, and with Errol Flynn in They Died With Their Boots On.

    After marrying twice and appearing in more than 100 movies, Grapewin passed away in 1956, the same year The Wizard of Oz made a small comeback by appearing on television for the first time. In Corona, CA, where Grapewin lived, the street near his home maintains its name: Grapewin Street.