The end of an era. Wizard of Oz star Jerry Maren has died. He was 98.
Maren was the last living member of the Wizard of Oz Munchkin crew, according to his Instagram page. He was most recognized for his role in the 1939 film, in which he was one of 124 Lollipop Guild characters.
The actor died at a San Diego nursing care facility over a week ago, according to TMZ. The outlet notes that his funeral was held over the weekend in Hollywood and though his cause of death is unknown, it’s reported that he suffered from dementia.
Maren helped welcome the film’s main character Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) to Munchkinland in the movie by handing her a lollipop after a tornado swept through her Kansas home landing her in the fictional land. He was only 18 at the time of filming.
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Following his role in the legendary motion picture, he continued to work as an actor into the early 2000’s, even landing a walk-on role in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld. Maren joined a handful of his Oz costars for the unveiling of a “Munchkin” star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 2007.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Elizabeth who passed away in 2011 at the age of 69. The two first met at an organization Little People of America meeting and tied the knot in Las Vegas in 1975, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Hollywood Reporter noted in an August 2016 story that they had reached out to Maren for an interview about little people working in Hollywood, however, his family told the outlet that he was “too frail to submit to an interview.”
Ruth Robinson Duccini, the second-to-last member of the Munchkin group, died in 2014 at the age of 95.
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