Monday, April 12, 2010

Living Munchkins of Oz

With the recent death of Meinhardt Raabe, who played the 'Coroner' of Munchkinland in The Wizard of Oz, there are but five "little people" alive who played Munchkins. What's often overlooked is the fact that about nine children (all girls) were hired for "fill" in the background in Munchkinland as well, most of whom are living. Photo right shows the Munchkins [Jerry Maren holds up lollipop] at the unveiling of their "Star" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.

Stephen Cox's terrific book The Munchkins of Oz, profiles the little people who played Munchkins [and chronicles the 122 verified players in a handy appendix], and also notes three of the child actresses who appeared. Wikipedia (believe it or not) has a fuller list of the child actors.

Here's the current list of living Munchkins:

Little people (5):
Ruth (Robinson) Duccini (b. 1918)
Jerry Maren (b. 1920)
Olga C. Nardone (b. 1919)
Margaret (Williams) Pellegrini (b. 1923)
Karl (Kosiczky) Strover (b. 1918)

Child actors (8):
Betty Ann (Bruno) Cain (born c. 1931) [profiled in the Cox book]
Ardith Dondanville (born c. 1930)
Joan (Bernhoft) Kenmore [profiled in the Cox book]
Shirley Ann Kennedy
Eva Lee Kuney (b. 1934)
Patsy May (b. 1934)
Priscilla Montgomery (born c. 1929)
Valerie Shepard (child actress)

As far as I know, the only one of the child actresses who has passed is Viola (Banks) White [profiled in the Cox book, where her death date is listed as 1/8/00]

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