What Happened to the Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West

Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie The Wizard of Oz
Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie The Wizard of Oz | Source

Wicked Witch of the West - Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz, never gained any real fame in any movies after appearing in that film. What ever happened to the Wicked Witch?

The film was created in 1939 and when it first was released, it got a poor box office draw. TV is what made the film a classic, replaying every year ever since. It has become a favorite of many. It is an event each year watching it.

It was one of the first films to later be shown in color. I remember watching it as a child and watching in amazement. Dorothy was so innocent and the witch was a true villain. Margaret only appeared for 12 minutes in the film, but she'll never be forgotten for the effect she made. The wicked witch melts. Later the munchkins thank Dorothy for saving them from the witch. Margaret was quite the actress.

Margaret was born in 1902, so she was about 37 when she tried out for the role of the Wicked Witch. She worked as a character actor on broadway for 7 years before landing the part. The film was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1939 and was adapted from the book that was written in 1900 by L Frank Baum, a popular children's writer.

Interesting is that a silent film was also made of this movie in 1910. It was titled "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." In 1914 another movie was produced from the book and the movie was titled "His Majesty the Scarecrow.

Margaret Hamilton in 1958
Margaret Hamilton in 1958 | Source

Margaret's Early Career Before the Wizard

Margaret debuted on stage for the first time in 1923. She lived in Cleveland Ohio and acted many times for the children's theater there. Acting also on stage to help pay the bills, she appeared in broadway theater acts. Some of these included: "These Three," "Saratoga", "You Only Live Once", "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and many others. She was a wonderful character actor.

Her parents started insisting that she needed to go to college if she was going to earn a living. There she got a degree to teach kindergarten. I can imagine what fun she was as a teacher. With her personality she probably acted out everything for the kids.

"A Little Night Music" - Martha Hamilton 1974
"A Little Night Music" - Martha Hamilton 1974 | Source

Margaret's Later Career

The Wizard of Oz, never made Margaret rich, nor was she famous after the film. The character of the witch will always be remembered. She was cast later in character roles playing the snoopy woman and other unlikable characters. If she wasn't playing these parts she played the old maid.

She played many parts, but was never paid well. In fact, Margaret would ask for $1000 for each part she tried out for, fearing she wouldn't be chosen. One of the roles was an uptight women in May West's "Little Chickadee."

Margaret with Oscar the Grouch
Margaret with Oscar the Grouch | Source

Margaret Appeared on TV


Margaret also had short roles in such shows as "The Adams Family", "The Patty Duke Show", and starred in a made for TV movie "The Night Strangler."


Margaret enjoyed doing guest appearances for children's shows. She appeared on both Sesame Street and Mr Roger's Neighborhood to the delight of young children.

Cora's Country Cookbook
Cora's Country Cookbook | Source

Margaret Becomes Cora the Cook

In the seventies, Margaret finally found her spot for fame after the movie. She became the spokesperson for the Maxwell House Company and was seen on many commercials. She became a familiar face to almost everyone.

No longer was Margaret known by her real name though. She was now known as Cora and played a cheery shopkeeper. She penned a cookbook by the name, "Cora's Country Cookbook." The cookbook is full of yummy baking recipes and a few main dishes.I happened to run across one at a garage sale and read some of the history of Cora and became interested in her.

Margaret Has Passed Away

Sadly Margaret passed away on May 16, 1985 in Salisbury, Connecticut. Her death was caused by a heart attack.She was 82.

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Comments 33 comments

Gina145 profile image

Gina145 4 years ago from South Africa

Though I have seen the film, I had not heard the name Margaret Hamilton before. Living in South Africa, I probably never even had an opportunity to see most of her later work.

To the best of my memory "The Wizard of Oz" was the first film I ever saw. I know I found it very frightening and that when next I was taken to a film I made my parents leave in the middle because I expected that film to be frightening too.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

Gina, It is too bad that you saw it in the theater. It would have been frightening. The first time I saw it, it was on television in the safety of our living room. I reacted to the film, but I felt safe in our home with our parents. I had never heard of Margaret Hamilton myself until I got her cookbook.


Gina145 profile image

Gina145 4 years ago from South Africa

There was no television in South Africa when I was little. We only got a TV service for the first time in the mid 1970s.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

We started having them here in the '50s. I didn't know we were so fortunate.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida

For years and years watching the Wizard of Oz was a family tradition. Now I think it has been about 10 years since I have watched it, not much on the tv, don't even have cable, just a roku. But I love the film so thanks for reminding me. This was interesting. I had wondered what ever became of that witch we loved to scorn.. ps


Gina145 profile image

Gina145 4 years ago from South Africa

Sometimes I think we were fortunate not to have TV when I was little. It made us go out and make our own entertainment.

I was still at school when we got our TV set and within about a year I started to wear glasses for the first time.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

pstraubie48, Thanks for reading. I ran across the info and thought it was interesting too.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

Gina, We never got to watch it very much, because my Dad enjoyed watching sports. I think that is why they bought it in the first place. Thanks for reading.


rfmoran profile image

rfmoran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

From the Wicked Witch to Cora the Cook. Whodathunkit. I love articles about 'whatever became of" and this hub is no exception. A few years back my wife met Darla from the Our Gang Kids. She was an elderly lady living in Levittown NY and attending a birthday party at a restaurant in her honor. I wonder if she and Cora ever met. Up and interesting.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

rfmoran, I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it. It is something your wife got to meet Darla. Thanks for commenting.


sweetarrow profile image

sweetarrow 4 years ago from China

learn it ,thank you.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

What a nice hub about this actress who will forever be known as the Wicked Witch. She was perfect for that part and even after so many years I still love to watch her and she still spookes me.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

Glimmer Twin, Thanks for commenting. Yes this lady was perfect and left a lasting impression. I read that she only appeared for 10 minutes, but oh what a 10 minutes.


bethperry profile image

bethperry 4 years ago from Tennesee

Barbara Kay, fascinating article! I remember Margaret Hamilton as a spokesperson for animal rights, too. The lady sure accomplished a lot in her lifetime.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA Author

Beth, Thanks for reading. I found her interesting too.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for the good read. I enjoyed learning more about the career of the Wicked Witch of the West. One thing I never suspected was that the Wizard of Oz was "a poor box office draw. " That surprised me. Thanks again.

James


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

James, Thanks for reading the hub. I enjoyed researching it too. I'll have to visit your hubs. I haven't seen you around for awhile.


Little Grandmommy profile image

Little Grandmommy 3 years ago from Small Town Tennessee

I didn't know she had a cookbook. I'll have to try to get myself a copy. I'm a cookbook junkie!


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Little Grandmommy, You can get them on Amazon, if you can't find them anywhere else. I found it interesting that she became Cora on a cooking show. She was an interesting person.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina

Very interesting! Like you, and so many others, I will never forget her in the Wizard of Oz. I was so frightened. Now that I'm older, I can do a doggoned good imitation of her cackling witch's voice, lol UP/A/I/U and sharing.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Denise, I'm happy you enjoyed the hub, since I enjoyed writing it. I wish I could hear your imitation. Thanks for reading and voting up.


Gail Meyers profile image

Gail Meyers 3 years ago from United States

What a unique and interesting hub, Barbara. I had never considered who she was and I knew nothing about her life. Voted up, interesting and FB shared.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Gail, I enjoyed writing the hub. I found her cookbook and it got me interested in finding out what happened to her. Thanks for voting up and sharing.


MissJamieD profile image

MissJamieD 3 years ago from Minnes-O-ta

That's interesting:) She always frightened me as a child, picturing her riding that bicycle past the house window in the eye of the tornado. But you made her seem "real". Thanks, great hub.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

MissJamieD, I don't think there is a person in this country that doesn't remember the first time they saw her on the Wizard of Oz. Thanks for reading. I found her an interesting person.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 3 years ago

wow, excellent write up here, as i can tell you put a lot of effort and research into this. good job.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Stevennix2001, Thanks for the compliment and thanks for reading and commenting.


beingwell profile image

beingwell 3 years ago from Bangkok

Voted up. This hub is very timely as I just watched the Oz last night. I hope Mila Kunis will do better in her career having to portray the Wicked Witch of the West, too.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

beingwell, I had forgotten the new movie is out. Thanks for reminding me. I wonder how many people will search for the information. Thanks for commenting.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Such an interesting read. I love this character actor. Really enjoyed this. Voted up and sharing!


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

vocalcoach, I'm happy to hear that enjoyed the witch's story. Thanks for voting up and sharing.


Solaras profile image

Solaras 3 years ago

Your hub was good to the last drop! Voted up and interesting!


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Solaras, Thank you for the compliment. Thanks for voting it up and commenting.

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