Winged monkeys (aka flying monkeys) are fictional characters created by American author L. Frank Baum in his children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). They are jungle monkeys with bird-like feathered wings. They are most notably remembered from the famous 1939 musical film by MGM. Ever since, they have taken their own place in popular culture, regularly referenced in comedic or ironic situations as a source of evil or fear.
In the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, the monkeys are apparently intelligent enough to obey commands, but do not speak, though they do in the book. They abduct Dorothy and dismantle the Scarecrow, but do nothing to the Tin Man or the Cowardly Lion, leaving them free to put the Scarecrow back together and rescue Dorothy. There is no mention of any three wishes in the film, suggesting that the monkeys serve the witch unconditionally. Nikko (the head monkey, played by Pat Walshe) is shown again after the Witch orders him to throw a basket containing the dog Toto in the river, with the Witch as she angrily throws down the hour glass after the trio rescues Dorothy, and once more after the Witch has been melted.
There is only a brief glimpse of the Golden Cap in the film: after Dorothy and the Lion reawake after Glinda breaks the spell on the poppies conjured by the Witch, she is seen watching them in anger in her crystal ball. Nikko hands her the Golden Cap and she utters the “somebody always helps that girl” line, before throwing the cap across the room angrily. The reason for this brief appearance comes from a scene deleted from the final film.
In the script, after the Witch conjures up the poppies that put Dorothy, Toto and the Lion to sleep she orders Nikko to fetch the Golden Cap so she can summon the winged monkeys and they can take the Ruby Slippers from the sleeping girl. However, she never gets a chance as the spell is broken before she can. Why the Witch doesn’t use the Golden Cap to summon the monkeys when she sends off into the Winkie Forest to capture Dorothy and Toto is unknown. In the film, the cap looks almost identical to the original artwork by Denslow in the book.
Below are some amazing behind the scenes photographs of Flying Monkey’s make up and costume tests to pick the perfect wings for The Wizard of Oz.