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Margaret Hamilton Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (27) | Personal Quotes (7) | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Died in Salisbury, Connecticut, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameMargaret Brainard Hamilton
Nickname Maggie
Height 5' (1.52 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Margaret Hamilton was born December 9, 1902 in Cleveland, Ohio to Jennie and Walter Hamilton. She later attended Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and practiced acting doing children's theater while a Junior League of Cleveland member. Margaret had already built her resume with several performances in film before she came to her most memorable and astronomically successful role, Almira Gulch/ The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939). The character is considered to be one of the screen's greatest and most memorable villains of all time.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: tony.r.vario@gmail.com

Spouse (1)

Paul Meserve (13 June 1931 - 1938) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (4)

Often signed her autographs with the notation of WWW (Wicked Witch of the West).
Her iconic role as The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Rapid-fire delivery of lines
Distinctive high-pitched voice

Trivia (27)

It is ironic that her performance as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939) was so scary to children, because her first job was as a kindergarten teacher. She loved and doted upon children all her life.
Until the day she died, she had children recognizing her and coming up to her to ask why she was so mean to Dorothy. She became very concerned about the role's effect on children, and finally did a guest spot on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968) to explain that the Witch was just a character in the film, and not herself.
She was the kindergarten teacher of five-year-old William Windom, until she threw him out for rambunctious behavior. Another of her students was Jim Backus.
Gave her most noted recollection of her role in The Wizard of Oz (1939) by writing the Preface to the book "The Making of The Wizard of Oz" by Aljean Harmetz.
Nearly quit as the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz (1939) after a December 1938 accident in which she was severely burned during her dramatic exit from Munchkinland. The impressive special effect was achieved by her stepping onto a trap door (obscured by rising smoke) that dropped beneath her, and then a burst of real fire came up. On one take, the fire came too early, and her costume caught fire. She was off the film for more than a month. After she recuperated, she said "I won't sue, because I know how this business works, and I would never work again. I will return to work on one condition - no more fire work!".
Welcomed pen-pal fans to visit her at her New York City apartment in later years.
Her legendary role as the Wicked Witch of the West was ranked #4 on the American Film Institute's villains list of the 100 years of The Greatest Screen Heroes and Villains.
She was cremated and her ashes spread on her Dutchess County, New York estate.
She is a distant cousin of Neil Hamilton.
Lived in a Gramercy Park building in New York City that was also occupied by James Cagney and now boasts Jimmy Fallon as one of its tenants.
And Your Little Dog, Too: Miss Hamilton was a strong promoter of animal rights and the welfare of companion animals. She often appeared in TV public service announcements with her cat, pleading that everyone spay and neuter their pets to help cut down on the number of unwanted, homeless animals. She also had a dachshund named Otto.
For many years, she appeared in Maxwell House coffee commercials as the feisty storekeeper who declares, "It's the only brand I sell!"
Had one child, son, Hamilton Wadsworth Meserve, on June 12, 1936.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 360-361. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
Starred in the live on-stage musical "A Little Night Music" (with actress Jean Simmons in the lead role) during the mid-1970s in San Francisco.
Under her married name of Margaret Meserve, she served on the Beverly Hills Board of Education from 1948 to 1951.
Wore the same costume for two productions, 26 years apart. The dress she wore as Miss Gulch in The Wizard of Oz (1939) was worn again when she played Grandma Frump in The Addams Family (1964) in 1965.
She said that when sees the scene in The Wizard of Oz (1939) when Frank Morgan as the Wizard is giving Dorothy's friends gifts from his "black bag" (a diploma for the Scarecrow, a ticking heart for the Tin Man, and a medal for the Cowardly Lion), she gets teary eyed, because "Frank Morgan was just like that in real life - very generous.".
She knew and accepted that she was not "conventionally glamorous". She often told the story that when her agent first called and told her MGM was interested in talking to her about a role in The Wizard of Oz (1939), she responded, "Oh, I loved reading those books to my kindergarten children. Which role?" Her agent replied: "The witch." Hamilton said: "The witch?" and the agent responded: "Yes, what else?".
Remarked during an interview that many children believed that she was mean in real life. She had a hard time to convince them that she was only play acting when she appeared as the Wicked Witch of the West.
She attended Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts. A school that specializes in working with children and families. She acted in some of the Wheelock Family Theater productions.
Profiled in "American Classic Screen Interviews" (Scarecrow Press). [2010]
Hamilton was given a six week guarantee on The Wizard of Oz (1939), but shooting stretched into 23 weeks.
Made her acting debut as an old Englishman in "Pomander Walk" at the Hathaway-Brown High School for Girls. Her singing teacher, Grace Probert, encouraged her theatrical hopes but her father was "dead set against it.".
Would spoof her famous role of The Wicked Witch of The West in a 1976 Paul Lynde Halloween Special for television. She portrayed the sister of Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf herself being spoofed by actress Billie Hayes.
Appeared in an episode of Sesame Street which aired February 10, 1976, reprising her role as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz (1939). Reportedly, her performance scared so many children that their parents wrote in to CTW, saying their kids were too scared to watch the show anymore. As a result of the overwhelming reaction, this episode never re-aired, and as of 2014, no footage of it has surfaced on the Internet, and the only picture available is one with the Witch standing beside Oscar in his trash can. It is unknown whether or not any footage of it still exists.
During the filming of "The Wizard of Oz" , she was accidentally burned during a special effects sequence. She returned to the production under the condition she would not have to work around fire again. Ironically, when she died, she was cremated.

Personal Quotes (7)

I was in a need of money at the time, I had done about six pictures for MGM at the time and my agent called. I said, 'Yes?' and he said 'Maggie, they want you to play a part on the Wizard.' I said to myself, 'Oh Boy, The Wizard of Oz! That has been my favorite book since I was four.' And I asked him what part, and he said 'The Witch' and I said 'The Witch?!' and he said 'What else?'
Almost always they want me to laugh like the Witch. And sometimes when I go to schools, if we're in an auditorium, I'll do it. And there's always a funny reaction, like Ye gods, they wish they hadn't asked. They're scared. They're really scared for a second. Even adolescents. I guess for a minute they get the feeling they got when they watched the picture. They like to hear it but they don't like to hear it. And then they go, "Oh..." The picture made a terrible impression of some kind on them, sometimes a ghastly impression, but most of them got over it, I guess... Because when I talk like the Witch and when I laugh, there is a hesitation, and then they clap. They're clapping at hearing the sound again.
[on Judy Garland] Judy kept us all going. When she came on the set, it was as though the lights got brighter. Her freshness and vitality are things I will never forget.
My only mistake was wanting to do everything; it was so exciting to be in Washington in those days. I don't regret a minute of it, not even when Dorothy kept the Ruby Slippers. If I had it to do over, I'd do the same.
[on her role as the Wicked Witch] I don't look on it as any great shakes of acting, it's not subtle or restrained. It isn't any of the things you like to think might apply to your acting.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) keeps coming back every year... because it's such a beautiful film. I don't think any of us knew how lovely it was at first. But, after a while, we all began to feel it coming together - and knew we had something. I can watch it again and again and remember wonderful Judy, Bert, Ray, Jack, Billie, Frank and how wonderful they all were. The scene that always gets to me, though, and I think it's one of the most appealing scenes I've ever seen, is the one where the Wizard gives the gifts to them at the end. Frank (Morgan) was just like that as a person. And every time I see him do it, the tears come to my eyes. I listen to the words. I think of Frank, and I know how much he meant what he said, and how much the words themselves mean.
[on being burnt on the set of The Wizard of Oz (1939)] When I looked down at my right hand, I thought I was going to faint... the fire had singed my eyebrows off and burned my cheeks and chin.

Salary (1)

The Wizard of Oz (1939) $1,000 /week

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