Did You Know?
The body of the Cowardly Lion costume used in the Wizard of Oz is made of real lion skin and fur, and the mane is made of human hair.
An original Cowardly Lion costume from The Wizard of Oz was packed away after filming and forgotten for decades.It was found barely in time to be included in the landmark 1970 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer auction, where it sold for $2400 to a California chiropractor. In 1985, sculptor Bill Mack acquired it; he could not recall the exact price, but stated, "It was several thousand dollars, instead of several hundred thousand". He had it restored by a taxidermist and "recreated the headpiece with a lifelike sculpture of Lahr". In December 2006, he sold it for $826,000.
Another costume currently resides in the Comisar Collection, the largest collection of television artifacts in the world. Curator James Comisar acquired the costume, after verifying to his satisfaction that it had been worn in the film, and set about restoring it.The major challenge was the weight of the tail caused rips across the back of the costume that needed to be patched, which was done by Cara Varnell, a textile conservation expert at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Cowardly Lion’s original facial appliances had been glued directly to Bert Lahr’s face and did not survive the production, so Comisar asked Lahr’s son, Herbert, to model for another face cast, as he had an uncanny resemblance to his father. Herbert Lahr remarked:
The Lion’s suit was very interesting. It was a real lion skin, and it weighed 60 lbs. My dad had to be in it all day, he couldn’t eat because of the way the mask was, so he had to eat his lunch through a straw.
The Cowardly Lion’s mane was re-created from human hair imported from Italy at a cost of $22,000, and more than twenty-one artisans worked for two years completing the conservation.