Sad news: Jerry Maren, the last living adult munchkin from The Wizard of Oz, has passed away. He was 98.
TMZ reports that Maren died in a San Diego nursing home sometime last week amid an ongoing battle with dementia. His funeral was held over the weekend in Los Angeles.
Jerry, who portrayed a member of the Lollipop Guild in the 1939 classic, was discovered for the role by a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer scout while performing at a Connecticut hotel when he was 19. He was reportedly paid a measly $50 a week for his part in the film. (In comparison, the dog cast as Toto earned $125 per week.)
Playing a member of the Lollipop Guild was unquestionably Maren’s most memorable on-screen gig, but it wasn’t his only one: The 4’3 actor went on to appear in several other movies and TV shows over the course of his career, including Battle for the Planet of the Apes and Seinfeld. He later helped establish Little People of America, a nonprofit that seeks to better the lives of those diagnosed with dwarfism or other forms of short stature.
When asked about his secret to living a long, full, and healthy life in a 2013 interview with The Los Angeles Times, Jerry replied, “Just livin’ the good life. And I don’t smoke and I don’t drink. The cigar’s just for show.”
Jerry’s cause of death is still unknown. Rest in peace.
Footage provided by WPIX New York.
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