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Monday, October 19, 2009

Munchkins: "Toto got paid more"

As far as showbiz dogs go, few are more recognizable than the female Cairn Terrier in The Wizard of Oz.

But it's always somewhat fascinating, too, to learn what we don't know about some of our most recognizable pop culture relics. Take Skipper's little buddy from Gilligan's Island, for instance. Did you know his full name was Willy Gilligan? I sure didn't.

How about Toto's gender? Seems to be male in the film, but Toto was actually a little lady called Terry back in those days. (Her name was officially changed to Toto only after the 1939 film - which sounds a bit confusing for a small dog, but I'm sure it eased the process of booking her for public appearances...)

Believe it or not, Toto also pulled in more dough than her Munchkin co-stars.

Take it from head Munchkin Jerry Maren, who said his kind made $50 for a six-day work week, while the pooch was paid $125. Four surviving Munchkins recently discussed the discrepency in this quirky Newsweek reunion.

Other fun facts from Toto's IMDB page:

• She lived from 1933 to 1944.

• Her first film was Bright Eyes, with Shirley Temple, in 1934 - and she would go on to act in 13 more movies through 1942.

• She spent two weeks at Judy Garland's house while training to play Toto, and suffered a broken foot on the set. She was also quite afraid of the powerful wind machines.

• She attended the premiere of The Wizard of Oz at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

• Her autobiography "I, Toto" can be purchased on for $13.57.

• Her trainer, Carl Spitz, went on to train acting dogs, including The Call of the Wild's Buck in 1935, until his death in 1976. Alas, there was no dog like Toto.

-- Sandra M. Klepach,


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