Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Margaret Hamilton, 1902-1985

Margaret Hamilton scaring the bejeezus out of people in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

TCM is celebrating the 99th birthday of actor Kirk Douglas today. While they're celebrating him, I'd like to mention somebody else whose birthday is today: Margaret Hamilton, born on this day in 1902. Hamilton actually started her adult life as a kindergarten teacher before getting into the movies as a character actress, with her first film coming in 1933. Hamilton had smaller roles in quite a few well-known movies, such as These Three and A Slight Case of Murder. But, at the end of 1938, MGM came calling with the role of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, and it was the role of a lifetime, and the one for which Hamilton is by far best remembered. Hamilton continued to work steadily for decades, making the transition to television in the 1950s and doing both TV and movie work into the 1970s, with her last movie being The Anderson Tapes.

It's ironic, though, that Hamilton was so well remembered for The Wizard of Oz, due to that early career as a kindergarten teacher and the fact that by all accounts she loved children -- to the point that she was concerned that children were so scared by the witch which, after all, was just an acting role. But that's the power of movies.

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