In a career that spanned five decades and more than 70 features, Hamilton is best remembered as the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 MGM classic "The Wizard of Oz". This character actress with a hooked nose and pointy chin whose screeching laugh frightened generations of children was in private life a gentle, animated woman who taught kindergarten before getting her first break in the 1932 Broadway production "Another Language". The play's success provided her ticket to Hollywood where, after recreating her role in the film version, Hamilton went on to supporting roles as what she termed "women with a heart of gold and a corset of steel" under such directors as Frank Capra, Fritz Lang, Michael Curtiz, Busby Berkeley, and William A Wellman. Hamilton never signed a studio contract by design, partly to avoid typecasting. Additionally, she only asked for a salary of $1,000 per week so as not to price herself out of the market.