Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Margaret Hamilton meets Mr Rogers Wicked Witch Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz Margaret Hamilton Judy Garland
Real vs Make-Believe:
Margaret Hamilton vs The Wicked Witch of the West

Margaret Hamilton was born December 9, 1902 in Cleveland, OH. Her son says the actress caught the acting bug early. She wasn't allowed to pursue acting until she attending college and earning a degree to teach kindergarten.

She was in her mid-30s in 1939 when cast in The Wizard of Oz. She had three roles, the Wicked Witch of the East, the Wicked Witch of the West and Almira Gulch. 

Hamilton said she won the role largely because of her shudder-producing witch's cackle, which she developed while playing the same part in stage versions of the L. Frank Baum classic children's book. 

His mother took the Wicked Witch role because her son says, "she lived by the philosophy, 'You accept every gig you're offered.'"
-- The Topeka Capital Journal

Short segment about character actresses mentions Hamilton and Louise Beavers

She has become a pop culture icon. Her legendary role as the Wicked Witch of the West was ranked #4 on the American Film Institute's Villains List of the 100 years of The Greatest Screen Heroes and Villains. 

Her character, The Wicked Witch of the West follows only these three baddies: Dr. Hannibal Lechter Silence of the Lambs, Norman Bates Psycho and Darth Vader from The Empire Strikes Back.

The two following the Wicked Witch are Nurse Ratched One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Mr Potter from It's a Wonderful Life

The Villains list also includes Michael Corleone from The Godfather Part 2 at number eleven. During talk of movie heroes and villains there may be dissension about which characters you may classify as a true villain or hero. Experience, knowledge, personal taste and more will enter into any discussion of the arts.

The Wicked Witch costume, one modeled after the costume she wore in the 1939 film continues to be a best seller. Her image is immediately recognizable. Theaters and fans around the world are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the film.

Margaret Hamilton
Autographed 8x10 Photo

Mr. Rogers showed a photo of her like this
 to the children on the show.
Her son, Hamilton Meserve speaks about her and has done an informative and moving tribute to her for the channel TCM.  

Mr. Meserve appeared in Topeka, KS in 2009 where he talked about an accident his mother had on the Munchkinland set of The Wizard of Oz.

Shocked when she tries to take Dorothy's ruby slippers in Munchkinland, the Wicked Witch disappears in a burst of flame and smoke. On the first take, which was successful weeks earlier, Hamilton dropped through a trap door into the arms of stagehands below.

However, on the second take there was a malfunction, and she suffered second-degree burns to her face and third-degree burns to her hands.

"Meserve said one of his earliest images in his memory of his mother was as a 3-year-old seeing her in the hospital after the accident. He was told by his nanny that his mother would 'have a wonderful costume on. She looks just like a mummy.'

"Sure enough, Meserve recalled his mother's head completely encased in bandages except for her left eye, but she was able to joke with the boy about how silly she looked, and 'I left none the wiser,' he said."
-- excerpt from The Topeka Capital Journal

According to the Los Angeles Times, Miss Hamilton had said that she received and faithfully answered as many as 2,000 letters a year from children who knew her from television reruns of the famous film.

Angel in my pocket 1969 Lobby Card
Lee Meriwether, Andy Griffith, Margaret Hamilton

"'Almost always they want me to laugh like the Witch. And sometimes when I go to schools, if we're in an auditorium, I'll do it. And there's always a funny reaction, like Ye gods, they wish they hadn't asked. They're scared. They're really scared for a second. Even adolescents.

"I guess for a minute they get the feeling they got when they watched the picture. They like to hear it but they don't like to hear it. And then they go, Ohhhhhhhhhh!...

"The picture made a terrible impression of some kind on them, sometimes a ghastly impression, but most of them got over it, I guess... Because when I talk like the Witch and when I laugh, there is a hesitation, and then they clap. They're clapping at hearing the sound again.'"
 -- excerpt from The Making of the Wizard of Oz, Aljean Harmetz

Margaret Hamilton appeared in more than 70 films. It surprises some people to learn that she appeared in The Wizard of Oz for only 12 minutes.

Classic TV fans will also remember her as Hester Frump on The Addams Family.

She appeared in her witch costume in an episode of Sesame Street. Apparently after complaints from parents of terrified children, the episode has not been seen since 1976. 

On May 14, 1975, Margaret Hamilton, the former kindergarten teacher, appeared on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. 

Early in the episode, Mr. Rogers went to Elsie Neal's craft shop, where he gets to make witch's hat out of construction paper. He sees the costume worn by Ms. Hamilton during her appearance in the Wizard of Oz.

Back at his house, he greets Ms. Hamilton in person. They talk about her role in as a witch, the costume, make up, all the work that went into creating the character. Ms. Hamilton demonstrates her role by putting on her witch costume and talks about her own grandchildren.

Mister Rogers talks about how witches are only pretend. He describes the difference between real things and make-believe things.

Related Pages of Interest:

Favorite Magic Shoes - Remembering Fairy Tale Shoes
Five Books and Fairy Tales Featuring Iconic Shoes or Boots

King Friday XIII : 10 Famous TV Dads: Costume Ideas, Mr. Rogers

Be a Sweater Girl, Wear or Knit a Sweater in honor of Mr. Rogers

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood won four Emmy awards. Fred Rogers received one for lifetime achievement in 1997. (Video of award acceptance at the King Friday page link above.)

Mister Rogers went onstage to accept his Emmy Lifetime Achievement award .... He made his small bow and said into the microphone...

"All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are.

"Ten seconds of silence." He lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, "I'll watch the time."

Sources, References:
Los Angeles Times Obituary May 1985
Topeka Capital Journal Wicked Witch was just Mom September 2009
AFI's 100 Years : 100 Heroes and Villains

Thanks for some information to Mr. Rogers Neighborhood Archive web site

In the latter part of her life, Hamilton lived in Salisbury, CT. She died in Connecticut at the age of 82.

Margaret Hamilton Connecticut Connection

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