The Munchkins of Oz Book Review
The Munchkin of Oz - best book for all seasons
"The Munchkins of Oz" is a tribute to the 124 diminutive actors and actresses who inhabited the magical Munchkinland in the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's "The WIzard of Oz." They were all extremely short but normally proportioned individuals. In those days, they were called midgets, but today, the politically-correct word for them would be Little People. It was these wee folks that made a fairy tale come to life, captivating audience from around the world in one of the most elaborate and elegant motion picture sets of all time. They came to be known as the Munchkins and made a motion picture that cannot ever be duplicated. Yet, their names were not even listed in the movie credits. Who were the Munchkins, how were they recruited and where did they come from?
Mickey Carroll Autographed Wizard Of Oz Munchkin Signed Photo
The "Munchkins of Oz" tells the stories of what went on behind the scenes, on and off camera, based on the experiences of the tiny actors during the filming of "The Wizard of Oz." We learn interesting facts about how each one was recruited, where they came from, their lives at the Munchkinland and at the Culver Hotel in Culver CIty, California, where they all stayed for 8 weeks. There were many intimate memories of the stars, what they did before and after Oz. There were unsavory rumors about the 'wild bunch' and 'little drunks' which were dispelled by some of the munchkins interviewed. The seldom seen photographs put a face to each munchkin as a real person without the heavy makeup and colorful costumes.
After reading this book from cover to cover, I gained a lot of respect for the Little People. Not only did I gain a fresh perspective about the Munchkins and the magic they created in the make-believe Munchkinland, but felt what it was like to be so little in a big world. WIth their hearts, their minds and their courage, the Munchkins have created a timeless classic ingrained in the consciousness of all those who have seen it. The 10-minute Yellow Brick Road scene will take your breath away as it did mine, many times over. If you have not seen the movie, watch the video clip of the Munchkins welcoming Dorothy to Munchkinland.
Signed Pellegrini, Margaret
(Wizard Of Oz) 8x10 Photo B&W
(P) .... The photo is first day's walk from the hotel to the studio by the munchkins Photo
The diminutive actors and actresses who were cast as Munchkins in "The Wizard of Oz" were known as the Singer Midgets. They were recruited and named after a Viennese impresario and entertainer Baron Leopold von Singer ((May 3, 1877 - March 5, 1951). The original vaudeville troupe of the Singer Midgets were from Europe and were employed as acrobats, dancers, singers, and wrestlers in circuses and carnivals there.
MGM studios contracted Leo Singer to recruit little people with proportionately-sized body parts so they could dance with ease. None of them were dwarfs (with disproportionate dwarfism). But Leo Singer's European troupe has dwindled to 18 by 1938. Most of them did not speak English, like Karl Slover (played soldier and trumpeter), Nita Krebs and Olga Nardone of the Lullaby League. Singer then hired the rest of the little people from all across the United States to the total of 124 Munchkins. To fill in the crowd, ten normal-sized children 6-10 years of age were added during the production.
The Munchkins were paid through Leo SInger, who served as their employer, surrogate father (they called him Papa Singer) and organizer. Some sources say that they were paid $100 a week but Singer took half for commission. Each Munchkin was paid $50. Leo Singer was a controversial figure who had been accused of cheating and shortchanging his tiny actors. In spite of this, most of the Munchkins interviewed by Steven Cox talked fondly of him because Leo SInger took care of them and kept them employed.
Most of the Munchkins recruited from Leo Singer's European troupe returned to their countries, but some stayed and became U.S. citizens.
This book has become a collectible - A fascinating book that is hard to put down.
It has become one of my favorite books. Steven Cox's delightful and respectful narrative style features each of the Little People with their bio and stories in their own words.
This is an excellent video of the Yellow Brick Road segment where the Munchkins can be see in one place. See the toy soldiers, the Sleepyheads, the trumpeters, the villagers, the mayor and more.
Imagine synchronizing all of the Little People for the movie.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road - The Munchkins guide Dorothy safely to the border of Munckinland on her way along the Yellow Brick Road.
This is one of the scenes that took eight weeks to film. One hundred twenty-four Little People in their colorful and lavish costumes populated the Munchkinland set. They were a hardworking bunch working 14-hour days, getting up at 6 am for makeup and costumes, wigs, fake noses, cheeks, beards, etc., as well as rehearsing dance and song routines. Removing the makeup was a harrowing experience because the spirit gum used in those days for glue was not kind to their skin. And then they are off the set after 8 pm where all the munchkins ambled back to the Culver Hotel in Culver City, California, where they all stayed, a few blocks down from the MGM studio.
The Lollipop Guild welcomes Dorothy to Munchkinland - Harry Doll, Gerard Marenghi (aka Jerry Maren), and Jackie Gerlich
This video shows the Lollipop Guild singing with their own voices and then later dubbed with professional singers' voices.
These are the lyrics of the catchy tune:
"We represent the Lollypop Guild, The Lollypop Guild, The Lollypop Guild
And in the name of the Lollypop Guild,
We wish to welcome you to Muchkinland."
Jerry Marren known as the lead munchkin (center with green plaid shirt) is still living today and attending charity and Oz-related activities. He has also written a book about his experiences as a Munchkin and his life before and after Oz.
Lollipop Jerry Marren's autobiography edited by Stephen Cox - The middle Lollipop (green shirt) with the bad-boy smirk
Jerry Marren is the most famous living Munchkin still making the circuit after 70+ years in show business. This autobiography "Short and Sweet" is a play on words of the pint-sized actor's incredible career (he was barely 3 feet tall in The WIzard of Oz) which is packed with anecdotes, colorful pictures and unpublished photos from Jerry's own collection.
Watch Meinhardt Raabe as the coroner - 13 seconds of fame
Meinhardt Raabe was the blue-cloaked coroner with the floppy hat who warbled the death proclamation of the WIcked Witch of the East crushed by an errant Kansas farmhouse.
"As coroner, I must aver
I thoroughly examined her.
And she's not only merely dead,
She's really most sincerely dead."
Right after the proclamation by the coroner that the Wicked Witch is "She's really most sincererly dead", watch how 124 Munchkins of Munchkinsland erupt into joyous glee singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" that was never seen in motion picture history.
Meinhardt Raabe was also the original Little Oscar of the Oscar Mayer meat company.
Munchkin coroner, Meinhardt Raabe - 13 seconds of fame in Munchkinland
Meinhardt Raabe grew up in WIsconsin and was one of the munchkins with a speaking part.
The best line ever
"There is such a thing as a peck of flour, a flock of geese, and yes, that's right, a clump of Munchkins."
What I learned from "The Munchkins of Oz" book
- The Munchkins were midgets, not dwarfs. Leo singer, the recruiter contracted by MGM Studios in 1939 was to hire 124 little people with proportionate body parts.
The Oompa Loompas in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory were dwarfs.
- Toto, the Cairn terrier dog was paid more a week than any of the munchkins.
Each munchkin was paid $50 a week because Leo SInger took 50% of the original $100 for commission. Toto, the dog was paid $125 a week.
This was according to Jerry Marren, one of the Lollipop Guild trio who is still active with Munchkin-related activities today.
- The rumor of a munchkin hanging himself on-camera during the Tinman-woodsman sequence with Dorothy hopping down the Yellow Brick Road is just a myth.
- Some of the munchkins were terrified of The Wicked Witch of the West ( Margaret Hamilton) during the filming because they thought she was a real witch. The fear and terror caught on camera on their faces were candid shots and not scripted.
- The unsavory rumor that the Munchkins were "Little drunks" was perpetuated by Judy Garland when she unwittingly joked about them in the Jack Paar Show. Unfortunately, this rumor stuck and has been making the rounds for years.
- Some of the voices of the Munchkins were dubbed with professional singers because most of them could not speak English or had heavy foreign accents or could not sing. The actors only discovered their voices were dubbed over after the movie was made.
- The Munchkins from Europe learned to speak English from the stagehands, carpenters, and electricians.
My favorite Munchkins - and why
- Karl Slover - one of the first trumpeters to herald the arrival of the Munchkin Mayor and the shortest of the male munchkins. He also played a soldier and one of the Sleepyheads.
Karl has got to be my favorite, the shortest male munchkin with an angelic face. He was barely 2 ft. tall at the age of 9 when his father (all 6ft 6") sold him to a traveling midget show in Berlin, Germany. Karl always believed his father did like him because he was so small and used unconventional methods to make him taller. At such a young age, he felt he was better off being with Leo Singer than with his parents.
Steven Cox's book interview with Karl made me teary-eyed. In spite of so many obstacles due to his small stature, Karl always had a happy and positive disposition. He never had an unkind word about anyone.
Karl was cast in several movies, like Terror of Tiny Town and Bringing Up Baby, to name a few, and worked in carnivals and vaudeville shows. While he was in Hawaii, his circus manager sent him to Hollywood where he became one of the Munchkins. He became Leo Singer's favorite munchkin.
He attended the yearly Judy Garland birthday celebrations, spoke and sang at Oz-related activities and attended the dedication of the Munchkin star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In more ways than one, Karl Slover has been blessed with a long productive life.
- Meinhardt Raabe - The munchkin coroner who announced to the citizens of Munchkinland that the Witch is dead.
Meinhardt Raabe did not know that he was a midget until he was in high school. Then he had to put up with a lot of prejudices. He convinced the faculty of University of WIsconsin to allow him to be a member of Midget CIty cast at the Chicago World's Fair so he can pay for his tuition. Raabe received a Bachelor Degree in Acocunting and a Master's Degree in Business Administration.
I am most impressed with Raabe's power of persuasion, self-confidence, drive and zest for life. He was not contented to be just a sideshow act because of his short stature. He became a pilot and instructor for the Civil Air Patrol during WWII, worked as a spokesman for Oscar Mayer for 30 years, drove the Weinermobile in 1936 was a horticulturist and teacher.
The Munchkins 70 years later - 2009 - Reunion revives the magic of making "Oz'
This is a video of a reunion of 5 surviving munchkins at the Culver Hotel in Nov.2009. In attendance were Meinhardt Raabe (played coroner with the blue cloak and curled hat), Ruth Ruccini, Munchkin villager, Margaret Pellegrini, who played one of the Munchkin sleepyheads; Jerry Marren was one of the smirking boys of the Lollipop Guild who handed Dorothy with a giant lollipop; Karl Slover played a trumpeter, a soldier and one of the sleepyheads.
Seven surviving Munchkins revisit Culver Hotel in 2009 - Their home during the filming of "The Wizard of Oz"
The Culver Hotel in Culver CIty, California was where 124 of the Little People stayed for eight weeks while filming "The WIzard of Oz" in 1939.
- Jerry Maren, 'Lollipop Munchkin,' Remembers His Time in Oz - North Hollywood-Toluca Lake, CA Patch
The 91-year old actor looks back on his life and the making of one of the world's most famous movies
- There are now just three Munchkins living
Karl Slover, who played a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz, has died at age 93.
- Meinhardt Raabe, played Munchkin coroner Is Dead at 94
Mr. Raabe's brief appearance in the film - about 13 seconds of uncredited screen time - made him an internationally recognized pop-cultural figure, if not precisely a household name.
- Welcome - www.ozfestivalchesterton.com
Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival September 14, 15, 16 Margaret Pellegrini (flower pot lady munchkin) invited in 2012
- Jerry Maren, 'Lollipop Munchkin,' Remembers His Time in Oz - North Hollywood-Toluca Lake, CA Patch
Jerry Marren, the only surviving member of the Lollipop Guild reminisces about his life during the filming of The Wizard of Oz.
Jim Shore Wizard Of Oz Set of 2 Munchkins Statue
Dorothy meets the Wicked Witch of the West
Dorothy meets the tinman, the lion and the scarecrow
Madame Alexander Dolls I'm Melting?, 8 inch, Wizard of Oz Collection
These days, the word "Munchkin" - now included in some dictionaries - is synonymous with small.
Rate it, if you please. - Do you think you would read the book?
On a scale of 1-7, what did you REALLY think?
Costume Ideas for Halloween
How to dress up like a lollipop kid for Halloween
Let's duke it out here - Your opinion matters, so let's hear it.
Do you think the Little People recruited for Munchkinland were exploited?
The Wizard of Oz movie must-read links
- Summary of The WIzard of Oz
If you have never seen or heard of the 1939 movie, "The Wizard of Oz", this is website covers the summary, the cast, producers, directors, credits, and everything and anything about the movie.
- The Wizard of Oz (1939) - Full cast and crew
The Wizard of Oz on IMDb: Movies, TV, Celebs, and more...
- Oz Wiki - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Oz Wiki covers The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, the books, movies, Dorothy Gale, Toto, spinoffs including Wicked, and more.
A complete directory of the Munchkins
Jerry Marren is the only surviving munchkin and lives in a retirement home in Southern California.
Some of the Munchkins have performed in vaudeville shows, movies, and The Midget CIty in the Chicago World's Fair, yet deep in their hearts, there is still no place like 'Oz'.
About the author, Stephen Cox
- Stephen Cox
An accomplished journalist and author, Stephen Cox was recognized by the Alumni Association at the Alumni Weekend Awards Banquet on June 27 for a career that befan before he left the Parkville Campus.
- Tackling the World's Tallest Man
Author Steve Cox's Next Project: Tackling Robert Wadlow, The World's Tallest Man
- One Fine Stooge: Author Steve Cox Remembers the Talented Larry Fine - National Pop Culture | Examine
January 27, 2011-- The Three Stooges are everywhere. Indeed, their influence on modern comedy can be seen in current reigning box office stars inclu
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