LOS ANGELES — Jerry Maren, who danced into pop society in 1939 as the tartan-costumed, candy-toting Munchkin leader of the Lollipop Guild in “The magician of Oz,” a duty that overshadowed a lifetime of quiet offscreen job-related to lug dignity come dwarfs, died on may 24 in mountain Diego. He was 98.
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His death, at a care facility in the La Jolla section, was an initial reported ~ above Wednesday. A nephew, Lloyd Decker, said the reason was congestive heart failure.
Mr. Maren to be the last survivor the the an ext than 100 dwarfs who performed together Munchkins in numbers favor “We’re turn off to check out the Wizard” and also “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead,” follow to Stephen Cox, the writer of “The Munchkins the Oz.”
“In numerous ways, v his humble charm, he ended up being the most beloved of every one of them,” Mr. Cox claimed in a phone call interview.
Most that the “Wizard that Oz” dwarfs walk on to lead non-Hollywood lives, return to the spotlight only periodically for studio-organized publicity stunts and also fan events. Yet Mr. Maren invested his life as a performer, consisting of doing stunt occupational for son actors favor Jodie Foster and also Ron Howard. He appeared in an ext than 60 films and also television series, among them “Bewitched,” the satirical soap opera “Mary Hartman, mar Hartman” and “The Gong Show,” where his task was come merrily scatter confetti.
“It wasn’t much, but it was steady,” he created of that suffer in his 2006 memoir, “Short and Sweet: The Life and also Times of the Lollipop Munchkin.”
Like any character actor, Mr. Maren went where the job-related took him. He was an Oscar Mayer spokesman in the 1950s, traveling the nation in a Wienermobile. (His duties included popping the end of a hatch and also tossing weeny-whistles to spectators.) In well-known commercials for children’s shoes in the late 1940s, he play Buster Brown, attract a tiny Lord Fauntleroy uniform and singing: “That’s my dog, Tige, he lives in a shoe. / i’m Buster Brown. Look for me in there, too.”
He was likewise Mayor McCheese in McDonald’s advertising in the 1970s. “Big Mac constructed my house,” the wrote. (That house, in Los Angeles, was developed to range — his.)
With a friend and fellow actor, Billy Barty, Mr. Maren in 1957 founded little People of America, a nonprofit advocacy organization that states it has about 6,000 members.
Jakob (Jackie) Gerlich, left, Jerry Maren and Harry Doll of \"The Lollipop Guild\" that Munchkinland in The magician of Oz (1939).Credit...MGM/Photofest
“He take it it as his obligation to show, with a strong sense that self and also speaking the end and personal example, that small people are just people,” Mr. Cox said. “All the the various other Munchkins had actually a good deal of respect for Jerry.” (About 10 young girl without dwarfism to be hired come fill out the Munchkin ensemble; follow to Mr. Cox, a handful survive.)
Mr. Maren, who favored to chomp cigars and wear porkpie hats, to be “happily patient” at pan events, also when attendees request derogatory questions about his stature, stated John Fricke, a chronicler of all things Oz and co-author the “100 year of Oz: A Century of standard Images” (1999).
Mr. Fiske stated that Mr. Maren had operated to debunk the “demeaning legends” the sprung up around the Munchkins, in certain that castle were an ext interested in alcohol and also wild sex than in do a movie.
In his book, Mr. Maren blamed a troubled Judy Garland, that played Dorothy in “The wizard of Oz,” because that erroneously paint her dwarf castmates as miscreants. Referring to a 1967 tv interview in i m sorry she called Jack Paar that the Munchkins “all obtained smashed every night” and also had to it is in “picked increase in butterfly nets,” Mr. Maren wrote: “Judy was informing it follow to her pills and also booze that day. She left behind a heritage of untruths around us.”
He to be born Gerard Marenghi ~ above Jan. 24, 1920, in Roxbury, Mass., to Raphaela and Emilio Marenghi, Italian immigrants. The youngest the 12 children, he want to it is in a baseball player. However his pituitary dwarfism, diagnosed when he was a teenager, triggered him to take into consideration show business, in spite of discouragement from his father, a shoe manufacturing facility worker.
By the age of 18, as soon as he stand 3 feet 6 inches high (he later on grew about a foot through the aid of hormone treatments), that had gained attention in new England through performing v a vaudeville act called Three Steps and also a Half. He to be the half.
A scout because that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, looking for dwarfs to play Munchkins in “The wizard of Oz,” summoned him by telegram to brand-new York, whereby he was cast on the spot. He embraced the stage name Maren and also traveled through bus to Los Angeles. He obtained the part of the Lollipop Munchkin — the large candy he hosted was make of painted balsa lumber — due to the fact that he could both sing and dance.
Actors that played several of the initial Munchkins in “The wizard of Oz” hosted commemorative placards ~ receiving a star ~ above the Hollywood walk of call in 2007 in prior of Grauman’s Chinese theater in Hollywood. From left to be Meinhardt Raabe, Clarence Swensen, Jerry Maren and Karl Stover.Credit...Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Like the various other Munchkins, Mr. Cox wrote, Mr. Maren was paid $100 a week. Toto, Dorothy’s dog, earned $125.
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Mr. Maren married Elizabeth Barrington Maren, also a dwarf, in 1975. (Ms. Maren, who passed away in 2011, ended up being known at “Wizard the Oz” fan occasions for put on a T-shirt that read, “I Partied through the Munchkins.”) No immediate family members survive.
A fan of steed racing, Mr. Maren additionally played softball in a league called the Hollywood Shorties until he remained in his 80s. And he was an avid golfer. Request by The Los Angeles time in 1993 to surname his golfing strength, that said, “My brief game, that course.”