‘The Wizard of Oz’: The Hidden Message of the Wizard’s Coat May Be Truth or Fiction

The Wizard of Oz is one of the most beloved movies of all time, which is no easy title to maintain. The 1939 musical fantasy film starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, a girl who gets transported to a magical world, is a true American classic.

There are plenty of sinister stories from the making of The Wizard of Oz, from Garland’s horrific treatment by studio elites to some of the cast members getting ill from toxic makeup. One of the more delightful tales, however, has to do with the Wizard’s coat. 

It’s a legend that could be true or false. But Wizard of Oz fans all hope this one piece of folklore actually happened on the movie set.

Frank Morgan played many roles in ‘The Wizard of Oz’

The Wizard of Oz cast outside the Emerald City
Jack Haley as the Tin Man, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, Judy Garland as Dorothy, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow and Frank Morgan as the Doorman to the Emerald City in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ | Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Casting was an important part of what made The Wizard of Oz such a success. It’s easy to see how Garland played the part of Dorothy perfectly while her companions Ray Bolger (Scarecrow), Jack Haley (Tin Man) and Bert Lahr (Cowardly Lion) rounded out the foursome.

But you can’t have The Wizard of Oz without a wizard. Not all viewers realize that the same actor who portrayed the elusive “man behind the curtain” also played the fortune teller Professor Marvel in Kansas, the cabby who drove the Horse-of-a-Different-Color, a guard at the Wizard’s palace, and the doorkeeper at the Wizard’s palace.

Frank Morgan may have been the busiest person on set.

Legend has it the Wizard of Oz wore a very special coat

Snopes cannot confirm or deny the validity of the rumor. However, legend has it that an MGM costume designer set out to find the ideal coat for Morgan to wear during his time as the Wizard. She went to a secondhand store in Hollywood and picked one out only to discover that it had once belonged to L. Frank Baum, who originally authored the book on which the movie is based.

“For Professor Marvel’s coat, they wanted grandeur gone to seed. A nice-looking coat but very tattered,” movie pubicist Mary Mayer explained.

“So the wardrobe department went down to an old second-hand store on Main Street and bought a whole rack of coats. And Frank Morgan and the wardrobe man and [director] Victor Fleming got together and chose one. It was kind of a Prince Albert coat. It was black broadcloth and it had a velvet collar, but the nap was all worn off the velvet.” 

Post fitting, Morgan reached into the pocket to find a slip of paper confirming the original ownership.

The Wizard’s coat is only 1 magical element of the movie


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The movie publicist went on to insist that the coat’s ownership was confirmed by both the original tailor and members of Baum’s family. Still, Snopes didn’t find enough evidence to deem the rumor true, and instead has it classified as “legend.”

It’s a lovely tale whether it’s true or not. At least everyone can agree Morgan looked just like the character Baum was envisioning when he wrote The Wizard of Oz.