Last year I had considered Margaret Hamilton’s portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard Of Oz” as a candidate for membership in the Television Crossover Hall of Fame. I don’t remember what my reasoning was to bypass her – it could be that I was already inducting a more tele-worthy witch and wanted to spread the witchy wealth out.
But she does have her advocates….
Don't forget her part in The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. She shares scenes with The Wicked Witch of the West, played once again by Margaret Hamilton. This connects, of course, to the film The Wizard of Oz, but, thanks to Hamilton's guest appearance, also connects to Sesame Street, tying together the worlds of Sid & Marty Krofft and the Worlds of Jim Henson.
Welcome to the TVXOHOF!
The [Wicked Witch of the West’] most popular depiction was in the classic 1939 film based on Baum's novel, where she was portrayed by Margaret Hamilton. Hamilton's characterization introduced green skin and this has been continued in later literary and dramatic representations, including Gregory Maguire's revisionist Oz novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” (1995) and its musical stage adaptation “Wicked” (2003), the 2013 film “Oz the Great and Powerful”, and the television series ‘Once Upon A Time’ and ‘Emerald City’.
On a 1976 episode of the American television program ‘Sesame Street’, the Witch, once again played by Hamilton herself, drops her broom and falls onto the street. Big Bird and a Sesame Street resident, David, have the broom and refuses to give it back to her because he remembers who she is and what she did to Dorothy and Toto. In retaliation, she tells them she would turn them into a basketball and feather duster if they do not give it back and adds rain to Mr. Hooper’s store. In order to get the broom back, she must prove that she can be nice and she turns into an old lady. The Muppets, Susan, Gordon, Bob, Luis, and Hooper express fears of her, except for Oscar the Grouch, who develops a romantic relationship with her, and Big Bird.
After she proves that she is nice and she turns back into the Wicked Witch, Big Bird is upset when the time comes for her to leave. She reassures him that one day she will return (only to drop her broom yet again). The episode was not immune to negative reception.
Following the episode’s airing, the show’s production company The Children’s Television Workshop and series creators Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett received numerous complaints from parents, who claimed that the episode was frightening to young children, and was never aired again.
The Museum of the Moving Image in New York City screened part of the Wicked Witch episode on November 24, 2019, as part of a "Lost and Found" event celebrating ‘Sesame Street’'s 50th anniversary. It was accompanied by many other clips, including the unaired episode "Snuffy's Parents Get a Divorce", along with a discussion panel with Jim Henson Legacy president Craig Shemin, former ‘Sesame Street’ head writer Norman Stiles, and Sesame Workshop's Rosemarie Truglio.
Hamilton also played the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special” (1976), and reprised her role several times on stage, most notably at the St. Louis Municipal Opera.
Hamilton also appeared as herself on ‘Mister Rogers' Neighborhood’ three times between 1975 and 1976. In these appearances, she demonstrated how her costume and acting skills made her appear to be the Witch, and assured her young viewers that there was nothing about her to be feared, because her portrayal in the film was only make-believe.
With all the appearances on TV plus in the Cineverse and the World-Stage, Margaret H. Witch is a multiversal, not just a multidimensional. Within the realm of Earth Prime-Time, the 1939 movie has to be considered a movie since, unlike the original books and other adaptations, the adventure is treated as a concussion dream of Dorothy Gale’s.
So the televersion of Margaret Hamilton could be looked upon as a witch who became an actress. It’s not so much of a stretch when you remember that in Toobworld, Emma Thompson was born in Akron, Ohio; Billy Martin burned down Studio 8-H, the ‘Saturday Night Live’ soundstage; Jack Benny was a robot; Dennis Rodman is an extraterrestrial; Dick Van Patten died of a heart attack while making a sitcom pilot; and Jean-Claude Van Damme was killed in a movie stunt and replaced by a robot. (Probably made by the same company which made the “Jackbot”.)
So for Toobworld, Margaret H. Witch adopted the stage name of “Margaret Hamilton” and appeared as the Baum character, even though her portrayal maligned her people.
And by appearing in those other shows, she showed that she was also a serlinguist and apparently had the ability to change the color of her skin.
Here are the shows (and the ) which qualified Margaret H. Witch for the TVXOHOF as a multidimensional:
Miss Gulch / The Wicked Witch of the WestMister Rogers Neighborhood
Margaret H. Witch
- 1454 (1975)
- 1459 (1976)
O'Bservation - Margaret H. Witch in both
- Episode #7.52 (1976)
Wicked Witch of the West
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)
Housekeeper / The Wicked Witch of the West
So we’ve adapted Margaret Hamilton’s televersion to link all of her appearances together. Not the weirdest thing I’ve done to get a favorite into the Hall. Heck, I created a whole character from third-party mentions to forge a connection between ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Torchwood’! What can I say? It’s my sandbox even if these aren’t my action figures.
At any rate….
Welcome to the Hall, Ms. Witch!