Hollywood movies

Behind-the-scenes secrets of old Hollywood movies

The “snow” used in The Wizard of Oz was actually asbestos.

We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the coolest and weirdest facts they know about Old Hollywood. Here are the wild results.


When child actors misbehaved on sets, they were sometimes sent to “the black box” and forced to sit on a block of ice as punishment.

20th Century Fox, MGM

It was definitely cruel and unusual. Shirley Temple later recalled that “as far as I can tell, the black box did no lasting damage to my psyche”.



During a scene in What happened to Baby Jane?, Bette Davis kicked Joan Crawford so hard she needed stitches. Crawford retaliated by putting “weights in her pockets so that when Davis had to drag Crawford’s nearly lifeless body, she held out her back to him”.

Pictures from Warner Bros.

This iconic feud was nasty. Joan Crawford even campaigned against Bette Davis not to receive an Oscar for the film. If Davis had won, she would have been the first actress to win three Oscars.



Buster Keaton fractured his neck while performing a stunt in Sherlock Jr.but he didn’t realize it until years later.


In the scene, a deluge of water was to fall on him from a water tower. The force was so strong that he broke his neck.



Gene Kelly insulted Debbie Reynolds’ dancing so constantly during filming Sing in the rain that she once hid from everyone under a piano, crying.


Reynolds only had a few months to learn what Gene Kelly had been doing all his life, but he “came to rehearsals and criticized everything I did and never gave me a word of encouragement”. She also worked so hard that her feet literally started bleeding.

One day she had had enough and hid under a piano in the studio grounds, crying, and Fred Astaire found her. He began working with her on dance routines: “I watched in awe as Fred worked on his routines to frustration and anger. I realized that while it was difficult for Fred Astaire, the dance was difficult for everyone.”



At Alfred Hitchcock’s The birdslive birds have been linked to Tippi Hedren and also thrown at her while filming the iconic attic scene.

Universal images

Originally, Hedren was told the birds would be fake, but there were mechanical issues, so real birds had to be swapped. Visiting the set and seeing the circumstances of the shoot, Cary Grant said to Hedren, “You’re the bravest woman I’ve ever seen.”



field lily was shot in just 14 days and had such a low budget that Sidney Poitier gave up his usual salary to direct the film.

United Artists

Producer-director Ralph Nelson had to use his house as collateral to get the film made, and Sidney Poitier agreed to give up his salary in exchange for a percentage of the box office receipts. Poitier ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Actor, becoming the first black man to do so and only the second black person to win (the first was Hattie McDaniel for carried away by the wind).



Margaret Hamilton, aka the Wicked Witch, suffered second-degree burns to her face and third-degree burns to her hand when a stunt went wrong in The Wizard of Oz.


Apparently the hatch didn’t fall fast enough while filming a scene, and Hamilton had to spend six weeks recuperating in hospital and at home. Before returning to set, she said, “I won’t sue because I know how this business works and I’ll never work again. I’ll go back to work on one condition – no more fireworks!”



Lon Chaney, who played the main characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Operadid her own makeup for the roles.

Universal images

Chaney has starred in over 150 films and has also been recognized as one of the top makeup artists in the business. He even wrote the entry for “makeup” in the 1929 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.



In Meet me in St. LouisMargaret O’Brien’s mother made her cry on command while filming the sad scenes by telling her that her rival actor at MGM was a better crier than she was.


Vincente Minelli (Judy Garland’s husband) wrote in his book that he made Margaret cry by telling her that her dog was dead, but Margaret said that neither her mother nor Judy Garland would put up with such a thing.

Instead, she said: “The way they made me cry was June Allyson and I were competing as the best screamers on the MGM grounds. So when I had to struggling to cry, my mum would come up to me and say, ‘I’m going to have the makeup artist put the fake tears on your face, but June is a really good actress – she always cries real tears. And then I started crying , because I couldn’t let June win the competition.”



Cleopatra was one of the most expensive films ever made. It had an original budget of $5 million, but after two years the film was still not finished and more money was being poured into it, totaling over $370 million by today’s standards.

20th century fox

The film nearly put 20th Century Fox out of business. Filming began in September 1960, but “two years later the film had not yet been completed, and Fox director Darryl F. Zanuck said the cost was $35 million, although Variety later estimated the true figure to be closer to $44 million.”



The Loose Lion Costume from The Wizard of Oz was made of real lion hair.


In It’s a wonderful lifewriter-director Frank Capra helped create a new kind of artificial snow because the film’s current method (using white-painted cornflakes) was too noisy when the actors had to walk through the scenes.

freedom movies

This new technique made filming much easier for Capra, rather than having to shoot image and audio separately and dub them later. It also earned Russell Shearman and his team a Special Technical Achievement Award at the Oscars.



And in The Wizard of Oz, the “blizzard” that took place was also not made of snow or cornflakes. It was asbestos.


Humphrey Bogart was two inches shorter than Ingrid Bergman, so he would have had to stand on boxes and sit on cushions to look taller in casablanca.


During filming Move over darlingJames Garner picked Doris Day off the floor and accidentally broke two ribs.

20th century fox

Doris Day said James Garner was so big and strong that he “grabbed me under the arm a little too enthusiastically and cracked a few ribs.” I made this movie mummified with duct tape, which made it hard to breathe and painful to laugh at.” The two remained friends for years, and she even joked about the incident with him later, saying: “Jim, if we don’t talk for a while, I forgive you for breaking my ribs. You two. that’s another thought.”



Hattie McDaniel was the first black person to be nominated for an Oscar, but in 1940 the hotel that hosted the awards had a strict “no black people” policy. carried away by the windThe producer had to ask for a special favor just so McDaniel could enter the building. That night, she won the Oscar.


The 12th Academy Awards were held at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, which was not officially incorporated until 1959. There were two carried away by the wind tables at the ceremony that year: one in the front for the cast, featuring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, and one in the back for Hattie McDaniel, an escort, and her assistant.

—power supply48134f1e5


Actors who have played Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz were only paid $50 a week, while Toto the dog was paid $125 a week.


Adjusted for inflation, the Munchkins would have earned just over $900 in today’s world, while Toto would have earned around $2,300 a week.



In Miracle on 34th Streetactor John Payne, who played Fred Gailey, loved the film so much that he actually wrote a sequel to the Christmas classic when he was older.

20th century fox

In Maureen O’Hara’s autobiography, she said: “We talked about it for years, and he even finally wrote a sequel script. He was going to send it to me but died tragically before he could get on it. put. I’ve never seen it and often wondered what happened to it.”



In It’s a wonderful lifethe whole holiday picture was actually shot in the summer of 1946, and it was sometimes so hot that production literally had to be shut down for a few days.


Buddy Ebsen was the first Tin Man in The Wizard of Ozbut the aluminum dust from the make-up nearly killed him and he was quickly replaced by Jack Haley.

Wikipedia / Fair Use / en.wikipedia.org / CBS

Ebsen was eventually hospitalized and kicked out of the production, so when Jack Haley replaced him, they started using safer aluminum paste as makeup. Ebsen claimed to have respiratory problems for the rest of his life from “that damn movie”.

—horse beast


The release of psychology It was the first time a flush toilet had been shown on screen before, and movie censors almost didn’t let it happen.

Paramount Pictures

Alfred Hitchcock really had to fight for the scene to be presented. He thought it would be imperative for the film, saying, “I thought if I could start throwing the audience off balance by showing a toilet flush – we all suffer from the peccadilloes of toilet producers – they would be so out of place at the when murder in the shower would be an absolute killer.”



Some of the most iconic sets from King Kong were destroyed to film the Atlanta stage fire in carried away by the wind.


And Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland were forced by the studio to take pep pills + sleeping pills so they could work 72 hours straight and then crash for a few hours before filming more scenes.


Judy revealed to biographer Paul Donnelly that the studios would give her and Mickey Rooney the pills “to keep us going long after we were exhausted. Then they would take us to the studio hospital and knock us out with sleeping pills…then after four hours they would wake us up and give us the pills again so we could work 72 hours straight, half the time we were hanging from the ceiling but that was a way of life for us.