‘The Wizard of Oz’: Toto Earned More Than Some Human Actors on Set

The Wizard of Oz is one of the most iconic and beloved films of all time. The movie made a superstar out of Judy Garland. And it introduced millions of young fans to the wonders of the moviegoing experience. Among the many charming characters in the film, few are more adorable than Toto, Dorothy Gale’s little dog. To this day, Toto enchants viewers whenever they watch The Wizard of Oz — and behind the scenes, the dog that played Toto earned her own devoted following, including Judy Garland herself. 

How much did the dog that played Toto make for ‘The Wizard of Oz’?

toto wizard of oz
Judy Garland and Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow dance on the Yellow Brick Road as Toto watches in a scene from the film ‘The Wizard Of Oz’, 1939. | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

When The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939, it changed the way the movie industry was perceived. However, years before it hit theaters, a dog named Terry worked her way up the ladder in the film business. According to Palos Verdes Pulse, Terry was taken in by a California-based dog trainer named Carl Spitz, who decided to train her for the movies after the family who initially adopted her struggled to housebreak the pup. 

Terry made her first film appearance in the 1934 movie Ready for Love. She went on to work with the movie icon Shirley Temple in another movie released the same year, Bright Eyes. When producers were casting The Wizard of Oz, Terry was a natural choice, since she was a show business veteran. As Palos Verdes Pulse points out, Terry also made a notable salary for her work in the movie — $125 per week, which was more than what some of her human co-stars made. 

What happened when Terry got injured on the set of ‘The Wizard of Oz’?

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows when Terry was playing the part of Toto on The Wizard of Oz. The set was often a chaotic place to be, with dozens of costumed extras running around. During one particularly busy scene, an actor playing one of the Wicked Witch of the West’s soldiers accidentally stepped on Terry, causing the dog to suffer a sprain in its foot, according to a video on the MsMojo YouTube channel

The sprain put Terry out of commission for a while. Spitz had to get a double for Terry in order to continue filming her scenes. During Terry’s two weeks of recovery time, she stayed at Judy Garland’s home. The actor had become quite attached to Terry, and as Palos Verdes Pulse notes, Garland even approached Spitz about adopting her — but the trainer refused. 

Terry is considered to be one of the most iconic movie dogs

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Terry was able to return to work after her sprain healed, and finished filming The Wizard of Oz. The film went on to become a huge hit, and Terry herself became a cinema icon. According to The Vintage News, Terry became so popular that Spitz even changed her name to Toto as a nod to her famous role. Still, Terry continued acting, appearing in a total of 16 films throughout the course of her career.

Terry’s last film was the 1942 movie Tortilla Flat. Three years after working on that film, she died at the age of 11. Terry was buried at Spitz’s home in California, but her influence lives on to this day. In 2011, in fact, a memorial was built to Terry at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, paying homage to the little dog who charmed so many.