Sunday, April 11, 2010

We lost another Munchkin

Meinhardt Raabe
(1915-2010) died on Friday at the age of 94. Raabe (pronounced RAH'-bee) was one of the 124 little people to appear as Munchkins in the 1939 movie "The izard of Oz." He officiated after the death of the Wicked Witch of the West: "As coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her, And she's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead." Raabe enjoyed his claim to fame and wrote a memoir in 2005. A New York Times article describes his life in a Florida retirement community: "Sitting on his small bed, his coroner’s outfit stored in a closet, Mr. Raabe recalls a rich and varied life but makes clear that he accepts, even embraces, how his obituary will read: Munchkin City coroner, handled case of woman killed by house that fell from the sky."

It wasn't until 2007 that Raabe and 6 more of the 9 Munchkins who had speaking parts received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and by the time the celebrated the 70th anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz," 2 more - Mickey Carroll and Clarence Swensen had died. Now Raabe is survived by Ruth Duccini, Jerry Maren, Margaret Pellegrini, and Karl Slover.

Trivia about "The Wizard of Oz" includes the fact that the Munchkins were paid less than Dorothy's dog Toto. But the best tidbit is this: After his role in the film, Raabe took on the role of "Little Oscar, the World's Smallest Chef," and toured with the Wienermobile for 30 years!

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