Dark Secrets Happening Behind The Scenes About Children’s Films And Casts

A helicopter crash killed two children while filming a scene for Twilight Zone: The Movie.
Warning: The article below includes references to sexual assault, abuse, and addiction.

1. In 1988, Judith Barsi, the actress who played Ducky in The Land Before Time and Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven, was murdered by her own father at the age of 10 only.

Source: Getty Images / Universal Pictures

Jozsef Barsi, her father, shot both her and his wife, Maria. Barsi would subsequently turn the gun on himself and committed suicide. Before her murder, the young actress was allegedly abused by her father, who intimidated to murder her and his wife on several occasions. The abuse was examined by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, but no further action was taken.

Source: NBC

2. There have been several claims that Judy Garland, who was 17 at the time, was subjected to abuse on the set of The Wizard of Oz. Producers reportedly put her on tight diets and forced her to bind her chest in order for her to appear younger and smaller.

Source: MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

“They’d give us pep pills,” Garland shared about her teenage years under MGM Studios. “Then they’d take us to the studio hospital and knock us cold with sleeping pills…after four hours, they’d wake us up and give us pep pills again…that’s the way we worked, and that’s the way we got thin. That’s the way we got mixed up."
In addition, Garland's ex-husband, Sid Luft, claimed in his posthumous memoir that the actors who played the Munchkins had assaulted her. "They would make Judy’s life miserable on set by putting their hands under her dress…the men were 40 or more years old," he wrote.

Source: Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

3. In the original version of Lilo & Stitch (2002), Stitch hijacks a Boeing 747 jet and crashes it through a skyscraper to save Lilo. Disney modified the segment totally after 9/11, afraid it would be too close to the actual attacks.

Source: Disney

Instead of a spaceship being hijacked and crashing into the mountains, a spaceship was hijacked and crashed into the mountains. The deleted scene is available to watch below:

4. Robert Knox portraying Marcus Belby in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was stabbed to death just a few days after the movie was wrapped, at the age of 18

Source: Warner Bros.

While attempting to defend his younger brother, the actor was tragically stabbed by Karl Bishop. Bishop was later given a life sentence.
Here's an example of one of Knox's appearances:

5. The tunnel scene in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) isn't simply creepy to watch; it's also said to have been scary to film.

Source: Paramount Pictures

Wonka leads a boat load of children into a dark tunnel, where things go strange. Here's a clip from the nightmare-inducing sequence if you need a refresher:
What was the source of the actors' terror? According to Julie Dawn Cole (who played Veruca Salt), none of them were aware of the sequence beforehand and mistakenly believed they were in danger. That was genuine terror! She stated, "Gene [Wilder, who played Willy Wonka] wasn't a method actor and did take instruction, but he was always inventing his own thing." "We never knew what we'd get from him, especially in the boat sequence in the movie, when he went little loopy - whether that was improvisation or not, I'll never know, but we certainly didn't see it coming."

Source: Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

6. In 1982, three individuals were killed during filming a helicopter scene for Twilight Zone: The Movie, including two young children.

Source: Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

A helicopter bombing was intended to be illustrated in the scene. When the plane caught fire, the pilot had no choice but to crash land in a river where the actors were wading. Renee Chen, 6, was crushed to death by the right landing skid. The chopper blade then ripped through Myca Dinh Le, 7, and Vic Morrow, 53, beheading both of them.

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The kid actors were hired illegally and without the proper permits. Numerous people engaged in the production were tried and acquitted of manslaughter, including the director, associate producer, and explosives specialist.
Following the tragedy, the film industry implemented stricter safety requirements. For starters, on-set ambulances were required, insurance companies were kept informed of every detail, and risk managers were engaged.

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7. Buddy Ebsen was cast as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz but had to be replaced due to illness. The actor became ill as a result of the makeup, which was made entirely of aluminum dust.

Source: Clarence Sinclair Bull / Getty Images

Jack Haley was recast in the role. Rather than applying the aluminum directly to Haley's skin, the makeup artists mixed it into a paste, which they then painted on his face.

Source: MGM / Everett Collection

This film caused serious bodily harm to many people, including Ebsen. The Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton, sustained third-degree burns while filming key scenes.

8. Initially, the classic holiday movie The Santa Clause was MUCH darker, when Tim Allen’s character was originally supposed to shoot Santa to death.

Source: Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Allen told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show: "The original Santa Clause is a little darker, written by two comedians, and I actually shot and killed Santa. … He fell off the roof because I thought he was a burglar. He gives me the card, the whole movie starts. The kid actually starts, ‘You just killed Santa.’ And I said, ‘He shouldn’t have been on the roof when he wasn’t invited.'"

Source: Buena Vista Pictures /Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

9. In a 1998 murder-suicide, Phil Hartman, at the age of 49, who co-wrote the film Pee-wee's Big Adventure, was shot and killed by his wife, Brynn Omdahl.

Source: Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Hartman was also recognized for his tenure as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and for his part as Captain Carl on Pee-wee's Playhouse.Brynn fled the scene after shooting Hartman three times and confessed to two different people. She returned home with a friend, who contacted the police. Brynn committed suicide by putting a bullet in her own head before the cops arrived.

Source: Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

10. Matthew Garber, who portrayed Michael in Mary Poppins, died in 1977 from haemorrhagic necrotizing pancreatitis caused by hepatitis complications, at the age of only 21.

Source: Disney / Courtesy Everett Collection

A video of Garber's performance can be seen here:

11. The original Alfalfa actor Carl Dean Switzer — who starred in Our Gang, the inspiration for The Little Rascals, was murdered in 1959.

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He was shot by a friend over a money dispute. The actor was said to owe the acquaintance $50 and hadn’t been able to pay it, leading to his death at the age of 31.

Source: Courtesy Everett Collection

12. Story supervisor at Pixar Joe Ranft died in a car accident while working on the film Cars.

Source: Walt Disney Co. / courtesy Everett Collection

Ranft co-wrote multiple Disney films, including Toy Story and A Bug's Life, and worked as a story artist on Monsters, Inc. He also had voice roles such as Wheezy in Toy Story 2.Ranft and his companion Elegba Earl died after their car left Highway 1 and plunged 130 feet into water at the Navarro River's mouth. Earl was 32 years old when Ranft died at the age of 45. The vehicle's third occupant survived.

Source: Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

13. Bobby Driscoll, who appeared in Song of the South and portrayed the titular character in Disney's animated Peter Pan, was discovered dead in a deserted structure at the age of 31. Despite being a household name as a child, his body was originally unidentifiable, and his death was not discovered for another year and a half.

Source: Disney / Everett Collection

Driscoll died as a result of his chronic use of heroin and other strong narcotics, according to reports. The actor was arrested several times before his death for drug possession, violence, burglary, and check kiting. "I had everything," he stated after being sentenced to prison in an interview. "Was earning $50,000 a year…working steadily with good parts. Then I started putting all my spare time in my arm."

Source: Everett Collection

14. And, finally, do you remember the "snow" from The Wizard of Oz? That was asbestos in its purest form.

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