Toto, The Wizard of Oz Dog (1932-1945)

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website.

Contrary to popular belief, the little black Cairn terrier who played Toto in The Wizard of Oz was not named Toto. That is, until The Wizard of Oz became so popular that almost everyone forgot what her original name was! Like all the other cast members, she had a character name, Toto, and a real name: Terry. She may have been the best actor on the set, too, because without even the benefit of makeup or a costume, the girl dog played a boy dog.

Interestingly, Terry received incorrect billing in the closing credits. She is billed as "Toto" playing the role of "Toto." Her actual name, at the time of filming, was Terry.

Terry's owner and trainer was a man named Carl Spitz. He ran the Hollywood Dog Training School. Spitz adopted Terry in 1933, when she was just a year old. He had no plans for Terry to become a movie star. Her original owner had left Terry to be trained, but then never returned to pick her up.

Terry was to appear in 15 films altogether. The Wizard of Oz was the only one in which she actually got a screen credit. Her first appearance was in Ready For Love in 1934. This was just one month before her first major film with a big star. Later that year, Terry appeared with Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes, playing the role of "Rags."

In 1938, Terry was taken to a casting call looking for a dog that resembled Dorothy's black dog in the Wizard of Oz books. Terry was hired on the spot and immediately began living the high life. This meant living for two weeks at Judy Garland's house! Judy became quite fond of the dog and wanted to adopt Terry after filming ended, but Carl Spitz said no.

Terry received a $125 weekly salary (which was over twice as much as the Singer Midgets each received for playing the Munchkins). But life in the spotlight isn't always glamorous. Terry didn't like being in the basket when Miss Gulch took her away from Dorothy. She cowered when the set's wind machines were turned on to simulate the twister that swept her and Dorothy our of Kansas to the land of Oz.

She also suffered a sprained foot after accidentally being stepped on by one of the Wicked Witch's guards. But Terry recuperated and returned a few weeks later to finish her scenes.

After her immortal role as Toto, Terry appeared in a half-dozen other films. In 1942, three years after The Wizard of Oz, Terry's name was officially changed to Toto.

Terry died in 1945 at the age of 13 (that's 91 in human years). She was buried in the pet burial area behind Carl Spitz's residence and kennel. But according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Terry was stuffed and auctioned in 1996 for $3,600! Which story is true? Your guess is as good as mine! Somehow, I'm sure we all hope it was the former instead of the latter.

I Toto, the biography of Terry the dog, was published in 2001.

Okay, here's your bar bet for the week. Which character in The Wizard of Oz is in more scenes than Dorothy? Yes, you guessed it: Toto! Hard to believe? I agree, I was surprised myself.

Well, according to one book I read, Toto is in more scenes in The Wizard of Oz than Dorothy. Now, I do find this hard to believe, but it is possible. Remember, Toto is in pretty much every scene Dorothy is in, even if only for a few seconds. Yes, even when Judy Garland sings "Over the Rainbow."

Toto is alone early in the film when she escapes from Elvira Gulch's basket and later she escapes alone and runs to get the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow alone, in order to help rescue Dorothy from the Witch.

Obviously, Dorothy (Judy Garland) has much more screen time, but Toto may be in more total scenes. If anyone ever counts their relative scenes, let me know.

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It's funny... I grew up a HUGE Wizard of Oz fan. I'd walk around school and do all the voices... "I do believe in spooks" as the cowardly lion... or "They threw my arms over there and my legs over there" as the scarecrow... or "How 'bout a little fire, scarecrow?" in the wicked witches voice.
As much as I loved The Wizard of Oz, I was annoyed every time that little dog appeared. He just broke my concentration from the scene and took my attention away. I don't think he was unattractive, I just think he was a really bad actor.
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Poor Terry! All that work and so little credit. So when did filmmakers start crediting animals with regularity? Are they required to do so?
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