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Walking the Dog on the Yellow Brick Road: Who Played "Toto," Dorothy’s Pet on the "Wizard of Oz?"

Aurelio is an ordinary guy who likes to write about the extraordinary things he encounters in the world.

Toto with Judy Garland in the "Wizard of Oz"

Toto with Judy Garland in the "Wizard of Oz"

A two-year-old female Cairn terrier named Terry played the iconic animal in the Wizard of Oz film, which was based on Frank L. Baum’s classic book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The book never mentioned a dog breed, but called him (yes, it was a male in the book) “a little black dog, with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose.” W.W. Denslow, the original illustrator of the book, drew Toto as a terrier. MGM thus cast a terrier to match the drawing.

Terry as Toto in the "Wizard of Oz"

Terry as Toto in the "Wizard of Oz"

Terry was born on November 17, 1933, and was trained by her owner Carl Spitz. Though she appeared in 15 films, including the 1934 Bright Eyes with Shirley Temple, and the 1942 Tortilla Flat with Spencer Tracy. Coincidentally, Victor Fleming directed her in both Oz and Flat. However, she only ever received credit for Oz.

For her work with Judy, Terry received $125, which is equivalent to $2,294 in today's dollars. This was more than the wages of many actors in the film, and many workers during the Great Depression. (The Munchkins, for example, received $100 a week, or an equivalent $1,835. In contrast, Judy Garland received $500 a week, or $27,532 for today.) A Winkle guard stepped on her foot and broke it during filming. The production company used a second dog for filming while she healed. Terry attended the 1939 premiere of the film at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

She died on September 1, 1945 at the age of 12, and was buried in a small pet burial area behind owner Spitz’s house and kennel. (Carl Spitz died in 1976.) Unfortunately, CalTrans took over the property and razed the site in 1958 to widen the 101 (Ventura) Freeway.

Toto Memorial at Hollywoodland Cemetery

Toto Memorial at Hollywoodland Cemetery

In 2010, JP Myers expressed his outrage at this star’s treatment by creating a Facebook page designed to remember Toto. Supporters donated thousands only to have L.A. Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas, California, turn down the memorial marker. Fortunately, Tyler Cassity, owner of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, donated a $100,000 VIP plot at this final resting place of Rudolph Valentino, Fay Ray, Peter Lorre and Jayne Mansfield. The memorial was dedicated on June 18, 2011 and includes a life-sized bronze Toto statue sculpted by Roman Gal on top of a marble base designed by Arsen Oganesyan. Part of the dedication reads There’s No Place Like Home. Rest in Peace, Dear Friend.

Filmography: Role (from IMDB)

1942 George Washington Slept Here: Dog (uncredited)
1942 Tortilla Flat: Little Paelito (uncredited)
1942 Twin Beds: Dog (uncredited)
1940 Cinderella's Feller (short): Rex the Dog (uncredited)
1940 Calling Philo Vance: Philo's Dog - McTavish (uncredited)
1939 Bad Little Angel: Dog (uncredited)
1939 The Women: Fighting Dog at Beauty Shop (uncredited)
1939 The Wizard of Oz: Toto (as Toto)
1938 Stablemates: Pet Dog (uncredited)
1938 The Buccaneer: Landlubber - Gretchen's Dog (uncredited)
1936 Fury: Rainbow - Joe's Dog (uncredited)
1935 The Dark Angel: Dog (uncredited)
1934 Bright Eyes: Rags - Loop's Dog (uncredited)
1934 Ready for Love: Dog (uncredited)

Toto and Dorothy in Munchkinland

© 2011 Aurelio Locsin

Comments

Nadia on April 29, 2020:

rip toto

Marlene Bertrand from USA on February 04, 2013:

I knew this was going to be a fun hub to read. I really enjoyed it - didn't realize that little dog had been in so many movies I watched the video clip and got a kick out of Toto. So adorable!

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on August 21, 2012:

Beautiful hub, and so well written that I enjoyed it so much. So nice to know that Toto has a monument to him in such a formidable setting. GBY.

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on August 20, 2012:

An entertaining and unusual piece of information on one of the well-known animals of the silver screen! I have seen Toto in the film 'The Wizard of Oz' and he looked so cute. He is probably one of the most famous and successful animal stars with 15 films to his credit. Nice to know that there is a bronze statue of Toto in his memory. A nice and engaging hub! Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Interesting. Voted up

Ausemade from Australia on June 15, 2012:

What a life, they should make a movie about Terry, although not as sad as the story of "Hachi: A Dog's Tale". Although now I can say to friends that Toto had a highway built over her... love reading something I have never heard before... :)

Mary Craig from New York on June 14, 2012:

This was short, sweet, and very interesting. Poor little Toto (Terry), being famous then having a highway built over her! So nice that people got together to build a memorial. I know she was only a dog but a great little dog. Thanks for this enjoyable hub.

Voted up.

iamaudraleigh on June 14, 2012:

I am a sucker for movie tid bits like this! I like you artice far more than the movie! One rich pup hih? Like reading a fun hub tonight :) Voted up :)

Aurelio Locsin (author) from Orange County, CA on March 26, 2012:

Thanks, hotwebideas, for the clarification.

Bruce Chamoff from New York on March 25, 2012:

Hey alocsin, great hub! I just wrote a funny hub on the Wizard of Oz. You said "The book never mentioned a dog breed" and I don't think you mentioned the breed in your hub, so Toto's breed was a Yorkie.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 17, 2012:

Thank you for this information, alocsin. I think that it's important that dog actors get credited in films, and their trainers too. It was interesting to learn about Terry and her work.

HubTub on March 04, 2012:

Ah, the memories this movie brings back. Our family used to have a yearly tradition of watching The Wizard of Oz. What an awesome memorial for little Toto. Animals deserve credit too! Voted up and beautiful!

formosangirl from Los Angeles on January 31, 2012:

Alocsin, this is such a great hub. I really enjoyed the information.

Voted up and interesting.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 16, 2011:

Nice to know more about the dog who played Toto in the film the "Wizard of Oz." He was a cutie! Voted up and interesting.

Dawn on August 12, 2011:

Great information - I have always wondered who played Toto.

Aurelio Locsin (author) from Orange County, CA on June 20, 2011:

You're very welcome.

Marlin 55 from USA on June 20, 2011:

That was a great piece of film history.Thank you for sharing.