know what I would have done if I hadn't been in ‘The Wizard of Oz'" said
Swensen, who played a Munchkin soldier and now lives in Texas. "It was a great teacher."
after the movie premiere, the Munchkins had little contact as a group. It
wasn't until the last 20 years that the survivors began gathering at special
events honoring the movie. Most are well into their 80's. "We didn't start getting together again until
1985. That's when they started having the events all over the country and
inviting us;" said Pellegrini, an 84-year-old Glendale, Ariz., resident. In the movie she played the sleepyhead girl
and flower pot girl. She shrugged off
the rumors of hard partying by the Munchkins when they stayed three-in-a-bed at
Culver Hotel in Culver City, near what was then the MGM studio
lot. "I was only 15 when the movie was
filmed. There were a few of them who
liked to drink, but it wasn't what they said it was. A lot of those stories were false," said
Pellegrini, whose show business career ended four years later in the early
1940s when she married and had children.
lives in Hollywood Hills and will be 88 in January, was part of the Lollipop
Guild in the film. He went on to roles
in about 100 films, he said.
a long time," Maren said of Tuesday's ceremonies. "We have a lot of fans. I can understand that
lives in Georgia. In the movie he was the main
trumpeter. He remembers the filming, for
which the Munchkins earned $60 a week (compared to the $125 a week paid to
Toto, Dorothy's dog, noted Hollywood Honorary Mayor Johnny Grant), as grueling. "At
the time I didn't enjoy it. I had four
parts and each time I had to change clothes and do it so fast. But three years
later when I saw the movie I really enjoyed it. I remember telling my roommate there are two
things I don't hear or see in it: no filthy language and no bikinis" he said.
mini-reunions the Munchkins have when they periodically meet with fans to sign
autographs and pictures are "like a family get-together," he said. "We're
really good friends and really enjoy one another." The Munchkins have clashed in the past over
the use of an agent to arrange their guest appearances. And there are differences of opinion about
their acting abilities.
who is 88 and lives in St. Louis, was the town crier. "The Wizard of Oz" was the only film he
appeared in he said. "I'm not a movie
star. I'm an entertainer. I've been on stage since I was 15 years
old. But in vaudeville, where I worked,
you'd better have it and I would have the audience in the palm of my hand. That
shows you how big the audience was," he said with a grin, adding a "ba-dum-bum"
rimshot sound for emphasis. Carroll
recalled that some of the Munchkins were German-born actors who had performed
throughout Europe in a midget troupe booked by showman Leo Singer, who arranged
to bring the to the United States for the filming. "The Wizard of Oz" allowed
the actors to escape as the Nazis began to extend their reach across Europe in the late 1930s, he said.
showmen, several of the tiny actors wore replicas of their original costumes.
lives in Florida, portrayed the coroner. He delighted the crowd by reciting
his memorable lines: "As coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her, and
she's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead."
star unveiling, the horse-drawn carriage took the seven up the street to the
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for a luncheon in their honor.
recognition was long overdue, said fan Phyllis Turner, who drove from
Winslow, Ariz., for the event. "I grew up watching them. We had a
ritual: Every year we'd make root
beer floats and sit down and watch "The Wizard of Oz,'" said Turner,
next to her was Dorothy Walker, 50, of Salinas, Calif. "With my name, I've been a fan of the movie
all my life. The Munchkins are part of a
historical film and these people are the last of the breed," Walker said.
listing all seven names, the star on the Walk of Fame is engraved in honor of
"The Munchkins." Duccini, who played a Munchkin villager and now lives in Phoenix area, thanked officials for
remembering "all 124 Munchkins" rather than focusing on individuals. On a big day for Munchkins, there was little
disagreement about the sentiment.