Margaret Hamilton

December 9, 1902 – May 16, 1985

Movie stars play leading roles. Actors play characters. The success of an actor generally hinges upon his or her ability to play a wide-range of characters well. Good characters. Funny characters. Eccentric characters. Evil characters. These characters often differ vastly from the person portraying them. Character actor Margaret Hamilton’s defining role could not have been more different than her real-life nature. In order for her parents to let her pursue acting professionally, Hamilton had to attend college first. She studied teaching – a passion she carried with her throughout her life – and then jumped into acting. She made a number of movies in Hollywood in the 1930s, but it was a 1939 film that would cement her in film history. As the iconic Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, Hamilton terrified children for generations. In reality, she adored children and not only made public and television appearances geared toward children (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Sesame Street) to show them the (fear-free) magic of playing a character, but she also continued teaching and even served on the Beverly Hills School Board for a few years. Of course, she also kept acting. She appeared on TV shows, in movies and on stage into her 80s. She was lifelong friends with fellow Oz cast member, Ray Bolger and the two appeared together on a number of projects.

Burial

Cremated – Margaret died of a heart attack and complications from Alzheimer’s at the age of 82 and her ashes were scattered over her Amenia, NY property.

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