In a posthumous memoir from Judy Garland’s ex-husband Sid Luft, he deviates from the usual tales of drugs and drama to allege that Garland was getting grabbed every day on set by the hundreds of Munchkin extras on the Yellow Brick Road.
Perhaps our vision of Munchkinland as an adorable world where everyone has pointed beards and giant lollipops is why folks are finding this revelation so shocking. But most women who have been on a crowded subway know that men of any size will use proximity as an excuse for inappropriate touching. People reports that Luft wrote Garland faced continual harassment while filming The Wizard of Oz, saying, “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,” he continued, “because they were so small.”
Garland herself accused the Munchkins of being alcoholics, saying in an interview before her death, “They were little drunks. They got smashed every night, and the police had to pick them up in butterfly nets.”
Munchkin alums have long taken offense to the rumors circulating about the cast of little people on set, who worked long hours and were paid $50 a week. The Independent reported in 2011 that Munchkin actress Margaret Pellegrini denied allegations of drunkenness, saying, “There were a lot of them who liked to go out and have a few drinks, but nothing got out of hand. Everyone was having a good time and enjoying themselves. There was no rowdiness or anything like that, and those stories are very upsetting.”
Garland also reportedly had a good working relationship with the crew. “During our breaks, I would sit on the Yellow Brick Road and talk to Judy,” said Pellegrini. “She was so excited to be with so many little people.” Garland also reportedly gave the 124 actors a signed photo and a box of chocolates at the end of shooting.