It’s the end of an era, folks. Jerry Maren, the last living Munchkin from The Wizard of Oz, passed away last week at the age of 98. The legendary 1939 film told the story of a girl named Dorothy, displaced to a mysterious world after a tornado, who enlists the help of her new friends Scarecrow, Tinman, and Cowardly Lion on a quest to find her way back to her hometown in Kansas. Along the way, Dorothy and her crew encounter the Munchkins in Munchkinland, who give them a warm welcome.
Of the 124 little people who appeared in The Wizard of Oz, Maren stood out as a member of the Lollipop Guild — he was the one in green who presented Dorothy with the welcome candy. TMZ reports that Maren passed away last week at a San Diego nursing care facility and that there was a funeral for the actor at Forest Lawn in Hollywood.
Maren took his Munchkinland credit very seriously — his Instagram bio read: “Last living munchkin from the Wizard of Oz.”
Maren recalled in that same interview that he was only 18 years old when he was cast in the film, there were no wild Munchkinland after-parties (despite what you’ve heard), and that he loved Judy Garland. Maren was always keen to enthusiastically represent the film and the Lollipop Guild and appeared at events, ceremonies, and tributes to the film throughout his entire life.
RIP to Mr. Maren and the lasting joy he brought to our lives with his work.