What Happened to the Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West
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'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.
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 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.
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.
Get Cora's Cookbook at Amazon
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.