The premier of The Wizard Of Oz, was outstanding. All of Hollywood turned out. At the celebratory feast afterwards, Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch Of The West, arrived in full costume, having hooks or knobs on her grotesque, elongated nose.
I was Maggie’s escort. Roles were rare for me, but in Wizard I played munchkins, trees and, my favorite, mini-gargoyles—which was how I got to work with Maggie.
She was one of the funniest ladies I’d ever known, the reason for the most fun during the filming, and the greatest fright.
During the “I’m melting” scene, where she appears to be engulfed in flame after being doused with water, her cape really did catch fire. She was trapped on a descending platform. No one could reach her through the flames above and the space below was very narrow.
Without thinking, I squirmed beneath the floorboards to her and pulled the cape down off her shoulders.
Everyone was in a panic, not knowing what had happened. Maggie knew, though; she’d seen me at her feet.
“Find that little man,” she cried. “Quickly! He may be burned!”
No one knew what she meant, until I crawled out dragging the smoldering cape. Maggie rushed to me, swept me into her arms and kissed me.
At the feast, Maggie stood, lifted me onto her chair and told everyone what I’d done.
I still didn’t get many roles but, for that moment, I was the biggest name in Hollywood.