Walking the Dog on the Yellow Brick Road: Who Played "Toto," Dorothy’s Pet on the "Wizard of Oz?"

Toto with Judy Garland in the "Wizard of Oz"
Toto with Judy Garland in the "Wizard of Oz"

A two-year-old female Cairn terrier named Terry played the iconic animal in the Wizard of Oz film, which was based on Frank L. Baum’s classic book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The book never mentioned a dog breed, but called him (yes, it was a male in the book) “a little black dog, with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose.” W.W. Denslow, the original illustrator of the book, drew Toto as a terrier. MGM thus cast a terrier to match the drawing.

Terry as Toto in the "Wizard of Oz"
Terry as Toto in the "Wizard of Oz"

Terry was born on November 17, 1933, and was trained by her owner Carl Spitz. Though she appeared in 15 films, including the 1934 Bright Eyes with Shirley Temple, and the 1942 Tortilla Flat with Spencer Tracy. Coincidentally, Victor Fleming directed her in both Oz and Flat. However, she only ever received credit for Oz.

For her work with Judy, Terry received $125, which was more than the wages of many actors in the film, and many workers during the Great Depression. (The Munchkins, for example, received $100 a week. In contrast, Judy Garland received $500 a week.) A Winkle guard stepped on her foot and broke it during filming. The production company used a second dog for filming while she healed. Terry attended the 1939 premiere of the film at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

She died on September 1, 1945 at the age of 12, and was buried in a small pet burial area behind owner Spitz’s house and kennel. (Carl Spitz died in 1976.) Unfortunately, CalTrans took over the property and razed the site in 1958 to widen the 101 (Ventura) Freeway.

Toto Memorial at Hollywoodland Cemetery
Toto Memorial at Hollywoodland Cemetery | Source

In 2010, JP Myers expressed his outrage at this star’s treatment by creating a Facebook page designed to remember Toto. Supporters donated thousands only to have L.A. Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas, California, turn down the memorial marker. Fortunately, Tyler Cassity, owner of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, donated a $100,000 VIP plot at this final resting place of Rudolph Valentino, Fay Ray, Peter Lorre and Jayne Mansfield. The memorial was dedicated on June 18, 2011 and includes a life-sized bronze Toto statue sculpted by Roman Gal on top of a marble base designed by Arsen Oganesyan. Part of the dedication reads There’s No Place Like Home. Rest in Peace, Dear Friend.

Filmography: Role (from IMDB)

1942 George Washington Slept Here: Dog (uncredited)
1942 Tortilla Flat: Little Paelito (uncredited)
1942 Twin Beds: Dog (uncredited)
1940 Cinderella's Feller (short): Rex the Dog (uncredited)
1940 Calling Philo Vance: Philo's Dog - McTavish (uncredited)
1939 Bad Little Angel: Dog (uncredited)
1939 The Women: Fighting Dog at Beauty Shop (uncredited)
1939 The Wizard of Oz: Toto (as Toto)
1938 Stablemates: Pet Dog (uncredited)
1938 The Buccaneer: Landlubber - Gretchen's Dog (uncredited)
1936 Fury: Rainbow - Joe's Dog (uncredited)
1935 The Dark Angel: Dog (uncredited)
1934 Bright Eyes: Rags - Loop's Dog (uncredited)
1934 Ready for Love: Dog (uncredited)

Toto and Dorothy in Munchkinland

More by this Author

Comments 15 comments

Marlin 55 profile image

Marlin 55 5 years ago from USA

That was a great piece of film history.Thank you for sharing.

alocsin profile image

alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

You're very welcome.

Dawn 5 years ago

Great information - I have always wondered who played Toto.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Nice to know more about the dog who played Toto in the film the "Wizard of Oz." He was a cutie! Voted up and interesting.

formosangirl profile image

formosangirl 5 years ago from Los Angeles

Alocsin, this is such a great hub. I really enjoyed the information.

Voted up and interesting.

profile image

HubTub 4 years ago

Ah, the memories this movie brings back. Our family used to have a yearly tradition of watching The Wizard of Oz. What an awesome memorial for little Toto. Animals deserve credit too! Voted up and beautiful!

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thank you for this information, alocsin. I think that it's important that dog actors get credited in films, and their trainers too. It was interesting to learn about Terry and her work.

hotwebideas profile image

hotwebideas 4 years ago from New York

Hey alocsin, great hub! I just wrote a funny hub on the Wizard of Oz. You said "The book never mentioned a dog breed" and I don't think you mentioned the breed in your hub, so Toto's breed was a Yorkie.

alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Thanks, hotwebideas, for the clarification.

profile image

iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

I am a sucker for movie tid bits like this! I like you artice far more than the movie! One rich pup hih? Like reading a fun hub tonight :) Voted up :)

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

This was short, sweet, and very interesting. Poor little Toto (Terry), being famous then having a highway built over her! So nice that people got together to build a memorial. I know she was only a dog but a great little dog. Thanks for this enjoyable hub.

Voted up.

Ausemade profile image

Ausemade 4 years ago from Australia

What a life, they should make a movie about Terry, although not as sad as the story of "Hachi: A Dog's Tale". Although now I can say to friends that Toto had a highway built over her... love reading something I have never heard before... :)

ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

An entertaining and unusual piece of information on one of the well-known animals of the silver screen! I have seen Toto in the film 'The Wizard of Oz' and he looked so cute. He is probably one of the most famous and successful animal stars with 15 films to his credit. Nice to know that there is a bronze statue of Toto in his memory. A nice and engaging hub! Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Interesting. Voted up

stars439 profile image

stars439 4 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Beautiful hub, and so well written that I enjoyed it so much. So nice to know that Toto has a monument to him in such a formidable setting. GBY.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

I knew this was going to be a fun hub to read. I really enjoyed it - didn't realize that little dog had been in so many movies I watched the video clip and got a kick out of Toto. So adorable!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article