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The Wizard of Oz is a Hollywood classic, arguably the most popular film in the industry's history, with a global reach that few others can claim. But it's also a controversial film whose production has been besieged by scandals and rumors for decades, ever since the movie was released in 1939. Sordid tales of suicidal Munchkins and behind-the-scenes squabbles amongst the cast have kept fan interest swirling around the making of The Wizard of Oz, but the most recent rumors are stomach-churning allegations that -- while disgusting -- aren't that hard to believe.
In a newly discovered memoir titled Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland, the actress's husband Sid Luft (one of five men Garland married over the years) claims that she was sexually assaulted by several actors playing Munchkins on the set of The Wizard of Oz. In quotes obtained by The Wrap, Luft, who passed away in 2005, writes:
They would make Judy's life miserable on set by putting their hands under her dress ... The men were 40 or more years old. They thought they could get away with anything because they were so small.
Judy Garland was 17 when The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939. She was 16 years old when she first started costuming and recording songs for the movie somewhere around August 1938. Though, no matter the actress's age, this type of behavior -- if proven -- is reprehensible. As The Wrap notes, most of the men and women cast to play Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz were in their 30s and 40s. The tales of their bad behavior on the set has been well-documented over the years, with Judy Garland even admitting in interviews years later:
They were drunks. They got smashed every night and the police had to pick them up.
But these allegations are far more serious than actors getting drunk when not shooting. These are serious claims that grown men assaulted a teenage girl who should have been protected by adults on the set who were looking out for their young star. And if these allegations are factual, then it becomes easier to comprehend why Judy Garland eventually succumbed to drugs and alcohol, leading to her death of a reported accidental overdose in 1969 at the age of 47.
Sid Luft was Judy Garland's third husband, and they were married from 1952 to 1965, producing two children together. His memoir Judy and I, having been discovered after his death, is being published by Chicago Review Press, and can be purchased on Amazon right now.