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The Horse of a Different Color was a horse who drew the carriage in the opening Emerald City scenes of the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz. The Cabbie (Frank Morgan) drove the carriage drawn by it. It would periodically change colors, hence its name.
Four separate horses were used to create the effect of an animal that changes color from moment to moment; the filmmakers found that multiple color changes on a single horse were too time-consuming. The ASPCA refused to allow the horses to be dyed; instead, technicians tinted them with lemon, cherry, and grape flavored powdered gelatin to create a spectrum of white, yellow, red, and purple. They had to be prevented from licking the colored powder off themselves between takes.
In Noel Langley's script for the film, the Horse of a Different Color had purple and green skin and red stripes. And it talked, too. Langley had it and the Wizard join the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion in their rescue of Dorothy from the Wicked Witch of the West and her Winged Monkeys — a plot element that did not survive into the final film.
The carriage drawn by the Horse of a Different Color in the 1939 film was originally made for President Abraham Lincoln and given to him as a gift during the Civil War. It possesses a handwritten note on its frame, "A. Lincoln, June 8, 1863." Before becoming a part of the collection at The Judy Garland Museum, it had been used in nearly 200 films.
Oscar Diggs and Finley pass a number of color-changing horses outside the Emerald City on their journey to find and kill the Wicked Witch. (Oz the Great and Powerful) While this movie is technically not a prequel to the 1939 one for copyright reasons, it contains many references to it, including the Horses of a Different Color.
The Marvelous Map of Oz is a 2009 map poster produced by the company Culturenik. It appears to be a licensed work based on the 1939 film, and so the characters are drawn as they appear in it. However, the map also has some locations from Gregory Maguire's Wicked, as well as from Baum's books.
The Ranch of a Different Color's location on the map matches where the horses are seen in Oz the Great and Powerful, which is off the Yellow Brick Road in the Munchkin Country, near the Emerald City.
- John Fricke, Jacy Scarfone, William Stillman. The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History. Warner Books, 1989.