Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton


Birth Place
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
December 09, 1902
May 16, 1985
Cause of Death
Heart Attack


In a career that spanned five decades and more than 70 features, Hamilton is best remembered as the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 MGM classic "The Wizard of Oz." This character actress was in private life a gentle, animated woman who taught kindergarten before getting her first break in the 1932 Broadway production "Another Language." The play's success provided her ticket to Holl...

Family & Companions

Paul Boynton Meserve
Married on June 13, 1931; divorced in 1938.


In a career that spanned five decades and more than 70 features, Hamilton is best remembered as the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 MGM classic "The Wizard of Oz." This character actress was in private life a gentle, animated woman who taught kindergarten before getting her first break in the 1932 Broadway production "Another Language." The play's success provided her ticket to Hollywood where, after recreating her role in the film version, Hamilton went on to supporting roles as what she termed "women with a heart of gold and a corset of steel" under such directors as Frank Capra, Fritz Lang, Michael Curtiz, Busby Berkeley, and William A. Wellman. Hamilton never signed a studio contract by design, partly to avoid typecasting. Additionally, she only asked for a salary of $1,000 per week so as not to price herself out of the market.

Ironically, Hamilton almost didn't get cast in her best-known role, despite having played the Wicked Witch in a Cleveland stage version of "The Wizard of Oz." Producer Mervyn LeRoy had originally wanted Gale Sondergaard for the part but her makeup and costume tests made her look too glamorous. Relenting, LeRoy offered the role to Hamilton, who in turn demanded a guarantee of six weeks work. After being cast, the actress was nearly burned in an onset accident when the Witch was supposed to disappear in a flash fire and the stage trap door did not open quickly enough, causing her costume to catch fire. Also, Hamilton disdained the dual role because she had a total of just over ten minutes of screen time. The initial reviews seemed to justify her feelings; she was barely mentioned and the film proved to be somewhat of a box office disappointment in its initial release. It took the annual TV airings begun in the 1950s for her to be fully appreciated. Scores of children were terrified by the Witch and Hamilton was assured of a place in the hearts and nightmares of many.

Hamilton also kept her stage career active, taking parts in repertory and regional theaters, appearing in Lincoln Center productions of "Oklahoma!" and "Show Boat" and in the mid-1970s toured as Madame Armfeldt in "A Little Night Music," delivering a standout interpretation of her one major musical moment, the lovely waltz "Liaisons." She also frequently performed a one-woman show entitled "Aprons I Have Worn" in which she offered key lines from her screen roles.

A pioneer of early television, she made her small screen debut on the anthology series "Silver Theater" in the late 1940s and went on to a regular stint on NBC's "The Paul Winchell-Jerry Mahoney Show" during the 1953-54 season. In the 1960s and '70s, Hamilton had recurring parts on ABC sitcoms like "The Patty Duke Show" and "The Addams Family" and the NBC children's program "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters." One of her best late-in-life roles was the college professor with a knowledge of the occult in the TV movie "The Night Strangler" (ABC, 1973). Around the same time, she embodied the helpful, sweet New England storekeeper Cora in a long-running series of commercials for Maxwell House Coffee. Hamilton continued to act until about two years before her 1985 death from a heart attack.



Cast (Feature Film)

Letters From Frank (1979)
Grandma Miller
Journey Back to Oz (1974)
The Night Strangler (1973)
The Anderson Tapes (1971)
Miss Kaler
Brewster McCloud (1970)
Daphne Heap
Angel in My Pocket (1969)
Rosie (1967)
The Daydreamer (1966)
Mrs. Klopplebobbler
Paradise Alley (1962)
13 Ghosts (1960)
Elaine Zacharides
Comin' Round the Mountain (1951)
Aunt Huddy
People Will Talk (1951)
Sarah Pickett
Riding High (1950)
Wabash Avenue (1950)
Tillie Hutch
The Great Plane Robbery (1950)
Mrs. Judd
The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (1949)
Mrs. Elvira O'Toole
The Sun Comes Up (1949)
Mrs. Golightly
The Red Pony (1949)
State of the Union (1948)
Texas, Brooklyn & Heaven (1948)
Ruby Cheever
Reaching from Heaven (1948)
Sophia [Manley]
Bungalow 13 (1948)
Mrs. Theresa Appleby
Dishonored Lady (1947)
Mrs. Geiger, landlady
The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947)
Driftwood (1947)
Essie Keenan
Janie Gets Married (1946)
Mrs. Angles
Faithful in My Fashion (1946)
Miss Applegate
George White's Scandals (1945)
Clarabelle Evans
Guest in the House (1944)
Johnny Come Lately (1943)
Myrtle Ferguson
City Without Men (1943)
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
Mrs. Larch
The Affairs of Martha (1942)
Meet the Stewarts (1942)
Twin Beds (1942)
The Gay Vagabond (1941)
Agatha Badger
Play Girl (1941)
I'm Nobody's Sweetheart Now (1940)
Mrs. Thriffle
The Villain Still Pursued Her (1940)
Mrs. Wilson
The Invisible Woman (1940)
Mrs. Jackson
My Little Chickadee (1940)
Mrs. Gideon
Main Street Lawyer (1939)
The Angels Wash Their Faces (1939)
Miss Hannaberry
Babes in Arms (1939)
Martha Steele
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Miss [Almira] Gulch [/The Wicked Witch of the West]
Four's a Crowd (1938)
Mother Carey's Chickens (1938)
Mrs. [Pauline] Fuller
Breaking the Ice (1938)
Mrs. Small
Stablemates (1938)
Beulah Flanders
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938)
Mrs. Harper
A Slight Case of Murder (1938)
Mrs. Cagle
The Good Old Soak (1937)
Nothing Sacred (1937)
Drugstore lady
You Only Live Once (1937)
When's Your Birthday? (1937)
Mountain Justice (1937)
Phoebe Lamb
I'll Take Romance (1937)
Saratoga (1937)
The Moon's Our Home (1936)
Mitty Simpson
These Three (1936)
The Witness Chair (1936)
Grace Franklin
Laughing at Trouble (1936)
Lizzie Beadle
Chatterbox (1936)
Emily "Tippy" Tipton
The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935)
Lucy Gurget
Way Down East (1935)
Martha Perkins
There's Always Tomorrow (1934)
Broadway Bill (1934)
Hat, Coat, and Glove (1934)
Madame Du Barry [also known as Mrs. Pansy Jones]
By Your Leave (1934)
Another Language (1933)
Helen [Hallam]

Costume-Wardrobe (Feature Film)

My Cousin Rachel (1953)

Cast (Special)

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)
Is There a Doctor in the House? (1971)
Who's Afraid of Mother Goose? (1967)
Mother Hubbard
Fun Fair (1960)
The Bat (1960)
Lizzie Arlen
Once Upon a Christmas Time (1959)
On Borrowed Time (1957)
Aunt Demetria
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1954)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Devil's Disciple (1955)
Mrs Dudgeon

Life Events


Made stage acting debut in "The Man Who Ate the Popomack"


Helping a friend audition, she won a part for herself in the Broadway play, "Another Language"


Reprised stage role in film version of "Another Language"


Reprised Broadway role in "The Farmer Takes a Wife", directed by Victor Fleming


Played the dual roles of Elvira Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of Oz"; reprised role in numerous stage versions


Played the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of Oz"


Appeared in support of W C Fields and Mae West in "My Little Chickadee"


Co-starred with Harold Lloyd in Preston Sturges' "The Sin of Harold Diddlebock/Mad Wednesday"


Acted in "State of the Union"


TV debut as guest on anthology series, "Silver Theater" in episode titled "Papa Romani"


Last film for nearly a decade "People Will Talk"


TV-movie debut, "The Devil's Disciple"


Played Dolly Tate in a tour of Irving Berlin's stage musical "Annie Get Your Gun"


Returned to featured in "13 Ghosts"


Voiced character of Auntie Em in the animated "Journey Back to Oz", with Liza Minnelli voicing Dorothy; film released on video in 1974


Had recurring role in the ABC sitcom, "The Patty Duke Show"


Portrayed Aunt Eller in the revival of "Oklahoma!" staged at the New York State Theater in NYC


Had last acting role in feature film, "The Anderson Tapes"


Played an occult specialist in the ABC TV-movie "The Night Strangler"


Played Madame Armfeldt in the national tour of "A Little Night Music"


Appeared on stage in "The Devil's Disciple" in NYC


Last TV-movie "Letters from Frank" (CBS)


Movie Clip

State Of The Union (1948) -- (Movie Clip) Twelve Commandments Continuing their first scene together, maid Norah (Margaret Hamilton) in the middle as estranged wife Mary (Katharine Hepburn) discovers how close her potential-candidate husband Grant (Spencer Tracy) has become with his powerful mistress, in State Of The Union, 1948.
Slight Case Of Murder, A (1938) -- (Movie Clip) Douglas Fairbanks Rosenbloom Ex-bootlegger turned legit-but-broke brewer Marko (Edward G. Robinson) visiting his "alma-mater" orphanage, Margaret Hamilton in charge, collecting his annual summer adopt-ee, (Bobby Jordan), in A Slight Case Of Murder, 1938, from the Damon Runyon and Howard Lindsay play.
Brewster McCloud (1970) -- (Movie Clip) Isolate The Dream Rene Auberjonois is "The Lecturer," an ornithologist, providing a sort of continuity, in the opening of Robert Altman's Brewster McCloud, 1970, featuring Margaret Hamilton as stadium vocalist "Daphne Heap."
Farmer Takes A Wife, The (1935) -- (Movie Clip) Who Is That Lady? Notable as Henry Fonda’s first scene in his first movie, a new arrival in 1853 Rome, NY, after we meet Janet Gaynor as Molly, Charles Bickford as canal-boat captain Jotham, with Jane Withers, Margaret Hamilton, John Qualen, Andy Devine, Slim Summerville among the locals, in The Farmer Takes A Wife, 1935.
Wizard Of Oz, The (1939) -- (Movie Clip) I'd Turn Back If I Were You! As chilling as any sequence, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Lion (Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr), sent to the retrieve the Wicked Witch’s broomstick, run into trouble as she (Margaret Hamilton) looses the flying monkeys, in MGM’s The Wizard Of Oz, 1939.
Wizard of Oz, The (1939) -- (Movie Clip) We're Not In Kansas Anymore Dorothy (Judy Garland) and Toto arrive at the farmhouse just as the cyclone is approaching, Victor Fleming directing and A. Arnold Gillespie's special effects transporting them, in The Wizard Of Oz, 1939.
My Little Chickadee (1940) -- (Movie Clip) Will You Take Me? Cuthbert J. Twillie (W.C. Fields) has a proposal for Flower Belle (Mae West) on the train approaching Greasewood City in My Little Chickadee, 1940.
My Little Chickadee (1940) -- (Movie Clip) Opening, Flower Belle Opening credit sequence followed by Flower Belle (Mae West) getting snatched by "The Masked Bandit" (Joseph Calleia) in the W.C. Fields/Mae West comedy My Little Chickadee, 1940.
My Little Chickadee (1940) -- (Movie Clip) Indians! Twillie (W.C. Fields) is introducing himself to Flower Belle (Mae West) when Indians attack the train in My Little Chickadee, 1940.
George White's Scandals (1945) -- (Movie Clip) Utter Monstrosity Jack (Haley) visits Joan (Davis) backstage as they try to deal with Clarabelle (Margaret Hamilton) who objects to their romance, and Hilda (Rose Murphy) offers consolation in George White's Scandals, 1945.
George White's Scandals (1945) -- (Movie Clip) Mrs. Jack Evans Jack (Haley) and snarky sister Clarabelle (Margaret Hamilton) visit Joan (Davis) and the girls at their anniversary party, and a lobster gets a lengthy gag in George White's Scandals, 1945.
13 Ghosts -- (Movie Clip) How Did He Die? There's something witchy about the housekeeper (Margaret Hamilton) who shows Mr. Zorba (Donald Woods) where his uncle and her former boss died in William Castle's 13 Ghosts, 1960.


Brewster McCloud - (Original Trailer) A mysterious boy living in the Houston Astrodome dreams of building himself a pair of wings in Brewster McCloud (1970), directed by Robert Altman.
Wizard of Oz, The (1939) -- (1949 Re-issue Trailer) A Kansas farm girl dreams herself into a magical land where she must fight a wicked witch to escape in The Wizard of Oz (1939), starring Judy Garland.
George White's Scandals (1945) - (Original Trailer) The Wizard of Oz stars Jack Haley and Margaret Hamilton play brother and sister in the 1945 edition of George White's Scandals.
Another Language - (Original Trailer) When Helen Hayes marries Robert Montgomery, she inherits a monster mother-in-law in Another Language (1933).
Angels Wash Their Faces, The -- (Original Trailer) Crusading district attorney Ronald Reagan helps the Dead End Kids when one of them is accused of arson.
Anderson Tapes, The - (Original Trailer) A thief (Sean Connery) plans a heist in a building full of surveillance cameras in Sidney Lumet's The Anderson Tapes (1971).
Affairs of Martha, The - (Original Trailer) A servant's employers land in hot water when they're the subject of a tell-all book in The Affairs Of Martha (1942).
13 Ghosts - (Original Trailer) A family inherits a house haunted by 13 ghosts and a living killer in William Castle's 13 Ghosts (1960).
Nothing Sacred - (Original Trailer) When a small-town girl is diagnosed with a rare, deadly disease, an ambitious newspaper man turns her into a national heroine in Nothing Sacred (1937).
Red Pony, The - (Original Trailer) A rancher's son learns a valuable lesson when he's given a pony in Lewis Milestone's film version of John Steinbeck's novel, The Red Pony (1949).
Slight Case Of Murder, A - (Original Trailer) Edward G. Robinson is a gangster who stumbles on a killing in the comedy A Slight Case Of Murder, 1938, based on the play by Damon Runyon and Howard Lindsay.
Babes in Arms - (Original Trailer) A group of second-generation entertainers put on a show to launch their careers in Babes in Arms (1939) with Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney.


Walter J Hamilton
Jennie Hamilton
Sylvia Dick
Hamilton Meserve
Newspaper publisher. Oversees chain of newspapers in Dutchess County, New York.


Paul Boynton Meserve
Married on June 13, 1931; divorced in 1938.