Last surviving munchkin from The Wizard Of Oz, Jerry Maren, dies aged 99

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Jerry Maren, the last surviving munchkin from The Wizard of Oz, has died aged 99.

Boasting an entertainment career that spanned more than 70 years, Maren died at a nursing home in San Diego.

In one of his most well-known roles, the 4ft 3in actor welcomed Dorothy to Munchkin Land in the classic 1939 film.

He also played The Hamburglar and Mayor McCheese in McDonald’s commercials, as well as appearing in scores of films and TV shows.

Maren was fond of his role as one of the Lollipop Kids in The Wizard Of Oz, and regularly appeared at film conventions and other events honouring the cast over the years.

“I’ve done so many things in showbusiness, but people say: ‘You were in The Wizard of Oz?’ It takes people’s breath away,” he said in an interview in 2011.

“But then I realised geez, it must have been a hell of a picture, because everyone remembers it everywhere I go.”

Maren attending a special screening of The Wizard Of Oz in California in 2009 Last surviving munchkin from The Wizard Of Oz, Jerry Maren, dies aged 99 Last surviving munchkin from The Wizard Of Oz, Jerry Maren, dies aged 99 skynews jerry maren wizard of oz 4329792
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Maren attending a special screening of The Wizard Of Oz in California in 2009

Maren was one of more than 100 people recruited to play munchkins in the movie.

He stood out after ad-libbing a move handing an oversized lollipop to Dorothy, played by Judy Garland.

Maren said the director liked it so much he told him to keep doing it.

“He was a very sweet person and he was very approachable if you were a fan,” his niece said on Wednesday. “He was the kind of person who would always take time to talk to you.”

Born Gerald Marenghi in Boston on 24 January 1919, Maren was singing and dancing at a show at a Connecticut hotel in 1938 when MGM talent scouts saw the teenager actor and invited him to Hollywood to join the munchkin cast.

Having dreamed since childhood of a being a Hollywood film actor, he accepted and reportedly earned $50 a week for the role, twice what his father was making.

Maren went to appear in dozens of other films, TV show and commercials, including Seinfeld and The Twilight Zone.

Jerry Maren, then aged 93, became one of the oldest and smallest honorees of a hand and foot ceremony in the history of the TCL Chinese Theater  Last surviving munchkin from The Wizard Of Oz, Jerry Maren, dies aged 99 Last surviving munchkin from The Wizard Of Oz, Jerry Maren, dies aged 99 skynews jerry maren wizard of oz 4329788
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Jerry Maren, then aged 93, became one of the oldest and smallest honorees at the TCL Chinese Theater

In 2014, fellow munchkin actor Ruth Robinson Duccini died and Maren became the group’s final survivor.

He and other munchkins attended the unveiling of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honouring them in 2007.

Six years later, he placed his handprints in cement outside Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre to promote the release of The Wizard Of Oz in 3D.

“It means everything to me,” he said at the time. “It shows that it could happen to any one of us, you know, if you get lucky breaks.”

Maren was preceded in death by his wife Elizabeth. The couple had no children.



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