Ah, the classic “Wizard of Oz”! A timeless masterpiece that whisked us away to the magical land of Oz, where ruby slippers and yellow brick roads became icons of cinema.
But have you ever wondered about the snowfall in the film? What was it made of, and was it safe for the actors? Well, knowing the answer will probably make you think twice about frolicking in the snow-filled Oz land.
In the bewitching 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” Glinda’s magical snowfall that woke up Dorothy and the Lion is widely believed to be asbestos particles. Asbestos, a cancer-causing substance, wasn’t fully recognized for its dangers until the 1970s and ’80s, leading to its eventual ban in 1989. However, others believe that gypsum salt was used in the film to resemble snow.
What Was Wizard of Oz’s Snow Made Of?
“The Wizard of Oz” is iconic, and it has been captivating audiences since its 1939 release, showcasing the wonders of color filmmaking at the time.
Those silver slippers from the original novel? They became sparkling ruby red on the screen, all for the sake of visual delight.
But here’s the catch: making this cinematic gem wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns for the cast.
Now, you might have heard whispers about the snow used in the film being made of asbestos. Sounds absurd, right? But it might just be true!
In the movie, Glinda the Good Witch’s snowfall woke up Dorothy and the Lion from their poppy-induced slumber. Yet, in reality, it was causing quite the opposite effect, as possibly asbestos particles were covering the actors.
So, the snowy substance that adorned Judy Garland was probably pure asbestos, specifically in chrysotile form, which was a tad more dangerous than the kind you’d find in building materials.
Asbestos, for those who aren’t aware, is a notorious cancer-causing substance.
Back then, asbestos wasn’t as vilified as it is today. Back in the early 1900s, it wasn’t uncommon for folks to buy fake snow made of—you guessed it—asbestos for decorating during the winter holidays.
Asbestos made appearances in all sorts of places, including the glitzy world of Hollywood.
Interestingly, even though they knew asbestos had health risks in 1939, it was still used to create fake snow and other special effects on film sets.
Why, you ask? Well, it was fireproof and convincingly resembled snow, making it a handy choice for movie magic.
And to think, Glinda didn’t have a clue about the health hazards she was unleashing!
Asbestos is notorious for its link to mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer.
Surprisingly, asbestos was widely marketed for various commercial uses throughout the 20th century until the U.S. government finally put its foot down in 1989, banning new applications.
But “The Wizard of Oz” isn’t the only Hollywood gem with a snowy asbestos secret. The 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring the beloved Jimmy Stewart, also featured asbestos as a stand-in for snow.
However, not everyone agrees that asbestos was used in the film to resemble snow. Some are of the view that gypsum salt was used. So, even decades after the film’s release, no conclusion has been reached in this regard.
Will you see the classic film in a new light after this revelation? Do you think the makers really used gypsum salt?
Let us know in the comments below.