"We represent the Lollipop Guild. The Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild.
And in the name of the Lollipop Guild .. We wish to welcome you to Munchkin Land ... Tra la la la la la la la la la la la"
Annnd what a guild it 'twas! Ahh .. the loveable Munchkins. The bitch about doing Hollywood motion-pictures sometimes is .. the err of branding! Once your branded .. your stamped for life in the role of that brand. No matter WHAT ELSE you decide to do, or WHERE you go - ALL the public wants to see .. is the charactor you are branded as. The Munchkins, were such charactors!! Although Jerry Maren did well after Oz. Sad for some of them, it did happen.. I guess once you realize it .. all you can do is enjoy it!! If you can't beat them - join them!! After all, who wouldn't want a star, yo?!? The Munchkins were charactors with a 'literal' .. life of their own! First rule of business .. dispelling a ridiculous rumor that a Munchkin hung themself on the Oz set. Completely FALSE! Confirmed by Snopes. (ALWAYS check Snopes people!) The small explanation .. FABRICATION .. made up .. concocted from the mouth of (all places) Judy Garland. Judy was NO DOUBT a MASSIVE talent .. thus proving even MASSIVE talents can make BIG ASS oopsies!! It was wrong and immature .. but some would argue as to if Mrs. Garland ever really grew up. To some, it was part of the FUN shits & giggles of Mrs. Garland!! Buuut she was drunk when she made these claims..and who here hasn't said something out of oopsie whilst drunk? Anyway ..
The Oz screenplay was written. It had ALL the elements! All the makings! ALL the toppings! Finished off with a sweet cherry!! That's not to say it hadn't been done. Just a few years earlier, Todd Browning and Universal's Carl Laemmle had made a film called 'Freaks,' with 'little people.' In fact .. for a few on the set of Oz .. including Daisy Earles ..it was a reunion of sorts. A few of the 124 munchkins .. had a spot in the film 'Freaks.' What set this one apart was THE WAY in which the little people were portrayed. Set about with GREAT care and HE knew it! He being THE definition of MGM. He being Louis Mayer. This being just one OPINE! But all Hollywood historians KNOW - it wasn't Lowe running MGM, it wasn't Boy Wonder, Thalberg .. it was L.B. Mayer who was the true strings. Had the decisions not been up to him - Oz might have NEVER seen the light of day (in the way it did!) Once again .. IMO! There are several different stories .. and I am not saying it is fact .. IMO = in my opinion. The stage right was about to turn from black and white - into COLOR! And the first thing you see in color (besides Dorothy and Toto??) ...anyone? Anyone?? ...THE MUNCHKINS! **NOTE TO OZ FANS - some know this, some may not. The former MGM lots are now owned by Sony. (try to get thru them gates without a pass!! UH UHH .. AINT HAPPENIN!) If you will recall back in the 70's .. SONY was practically DROOLING to get a piece of the film industry. Well .. now they have 2 major pieces .. MGM and Columbia Pictures (both NOW on the same lot). Sound stage 29 - where Oz was basically FILMED IN FULL .. is now almost all absolved of all that remained of Oz. I have toured the lot 3 times in hopes of seeing inside .. but have not. I hear that you can still see fractions of the Yellow Brick Road inside (when the floor is down.) As a credit to SONY .. The Oz set was taken down by MGM and NOT them. I admire the way SONY keeps MGM and Columbia alive! I LOVE their motto .. make. believe! I couldn't imagine the studio in better hands. Some of the decisions they make I think are WHACK - like throwing Columbia Pictures in the Rocky mix!! Uh uh! Rocky, is front and center United Artist and an MGM pic. Noone seems to notice though - 'cept a few fellow historians and myself! Stallone (bless his heart) does good to get his lines out!! But I digress! Uhh What the HELL was I talking about?? Pass the adderall, please - Oh yes - of COURSE ... THE MUNCHKINS .. however ...
Firstly .. we will give credit where credit is due. Hollywoodlegends.net CANNOT forget that FIRST Oz flick made in 1925. Shocked? No - Garland wasn't the first Dorothy. Just the most famous one. The Munchkins of Oz, first came about thru the GREAT, MIGHTY, and WONDERFUL mind of L. Frank Baum in his 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. (Which is FREE to Hollywood Legends.net vistiors at amazon.com in eBook form..as coincy-dink would have it!!) As you will hear in my upcoming interview with Cass Warner (granddaughter of Harry Warner..founder w/ his brothers of all that is Warner Bros.) in the day, films were concieved thru newspaper articles, or novels. Change the names of people, of a certain circumstances, and let the imagination-flow be limitless. It worked then, AND now (hence all the Hollywood remakes lately.) Filming on the Wizard of Oz commenced October 13, 1938 on the MGM Studios lot in Culver City, California .. without the Munchkins (they had yet to be found..in New York!)
MGM scouts had a BIG task ahead of them when it came time to find the 'little' talent to play the part of the Munchkins. They were found (a little over a hundred little people made up the citizens of Munchkinland.) According to Munchkin actor Jerry Maren, each little person was paid over $25 a week for their performances. (although..other sources report him saying they were paid $5o dollors a week).. Whatev the case .. they were ALL put up at the Culver Hotel. Just a few blocks from the MGM studios. There have been rumors of mass hysteria caused by the Munchkins at the hotel. According to the EVER imaginative Judy Garland, "They got smashed every night and the police had to pick them up in butterfly nets." MGM Studios producer Mervyn Leroy (wanna see Merv's posh pad?) quipped once, "They got into sex orgies at the hotel. We had to have police on every floor."Bert Lahr, the "cowardly lion's pad" (currently up for sale) however, said this: "Many of the Munchkins were midgets who, in fact, made their living by panhandling, pimping and whoring...Assistants were ordered to watch the crew of midgets, who brandished knives and often conceived passions for other, larger Metro personnel." Other rumors include they trashed rooms, were swinging from the chandeliers, and that the hotel required constant security. You can just FEEL the Munchkin anger & frustration BUILDING .. can't you!?! Admittedly from the Muchkins themselves .. it was all a lie, and mostly fueled by Judy Garland whilst drunk one night on the Jack Paar Show. (**EDITOR NOTE .. I did spend the better end of my night last night watching Judy on the Jack Parr Show. I went through EVERY video YouTube has to offer (even getting on Facebook videos), not once did I see Judy even mention the Munchkins. I COULD however see how it could happen. In most videos Judy is 3 sheets to the wind and Jack is a HUGE instigator! However thru all my searchings .. I couldn't find her trashing the Munchies. You all just KNOW how I love to provide picture links! ;) I was hoping for some kind of video to back that tale up .. no such LUCK! Doesn't mean it DIDN'T happen however.) If anyone knows of a whereabouts of that PARR-ticular (haha) interview .. please let me know!
According to Munchkin actor Jerry Maren ... "there were small room get togethers .. but for the most part, there wasn't time for partying when making 'The Wizard of Oz." The hotel confirms to me there were no problems. According to dockets from production .. it would appear they had VERRRY little time to even sleep. Munchkin Meinhardt Raabe, who played the coroner, revealed in the 1990 documentary The Making of the Wizard of Oz that the MGM costume and wardrobe department, under the direction of designer Adrian, had to design over one hundred costumes for the Munchkin sequences. They then had to photograph and catalog each Munchkin in his or her costume so that they could correctly apply the same costume and makeup each day of production. Usually arriving at the wake of sun, and leaving after the setting. Here are some behind the scenes stuff .. as shot by the GREAT composer, Harold Arlen .. on the set ..
Over the years .. the Munchkins have had great reunions. Most noteably .. getting a star, a reunion at the hotel (video below) they SUPPOSEDLY trashed & they stayed at in 38 while filming Oz, annd the 'ol lolypop kid & his homies join the strikers. Here is that mentioned video of the reunion & a reinactment of the LOLYPOP GUILD from the film..enjoy!
Nowadays .. there are few of the original 124 Munchkins left on earth. Most you'd have to dig some dirt to get to. According to Answers.com .. as of November 2010 .. there are 4 original Munchkins alive!
Ruth Duccini (7-23-1918)
Karl Slover (9-21-1918)
Jerry Maren (1-24-1920), and
Margaret Pelligrini (9-23-1923)
The most recent to pass away is that of
Meinharte Rabbe was the most recent to pass away (9-2-1915 to 4-9-2010).
Apparently - Kansasoz.com has a ticking hourglass updated to a tee, on the fallen, and falling Munchkin lineup. Morbid-e-o! Of course - that's just what I've heard. I am a death hag afterall. I've been on a quest lately to find a COMPLETE cast list of the Munchkins. If you know where I can find this - or have one .. peezie contact me!
COOL INTERESTING FACTOID ... one of the 124 little ones (uncredited, of course) was a cousin of Mitchu Mezaros! Who is Michu Mezaros?!? Ooonnnly the little guy who wore the costume of this 80's sitcom. Geeez! ;P His family had made their living with Barnum & Baily Circus .. after the first 2 seasons .. he left to go back & tour with the circus. Apparently, he was more thrilled with being billed as the smallest fella on earth..as to an ALF. I'd have chose ALF..but thats me. Anyway - The only one around to fill his small shoes, was a show producers, then, five year old son, Abraham Verduzco. Abraham also played in Desperato alongside Antonio Banderas...GREAT film! Upon the 3rd season .. we never saw the alien walk again. We only saw him from the chest up. Time had beget radio technology that allowed the crew to operate the aliens facial motions through holes in the set floor. Interesting eh?? I could go on and on!! That show remains my all-time favorite show still today!! Annnyway .. I have went from Munchies to ALF! See?? IT CAN be done!! Ima go now! Bye-bye .. to The Munchkins .. you'll ALWAYS be Hollywood Legends!! Oh yeah .. now YOU TOO can be a Munchkin through Oz costumes! I reckon, yes I do, that there is something for every Oz fetish online! Fascinating!
I hope all you Hollywood Legend-eers have a WONDERFUL, and BLISSFUL Happy Christmas!! :)
Munchkins reinactment!! PURE GREATNESS!
Munchkins hotel reunion!! PURE GREATNESS, part 2!