‘Wizard of Oz’ Munchkin, Mickey Carroll, dies at 89

 

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2007 file photo, actor Mickey Carroll, the Town Crier with The Munchkins from 'The Wizard of Oz,' jokes as he arrives, to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of  at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, site of  'The Wizard of Oz's' 1939 premiere, in Los Angeles. One of the last surviving Munchkins from the 1939 classic film, 'The Wizard of Oz' has died. The St. Louis actor Carroll died Thursday May 7, 2009, at age 89.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)One of the last surviving Munchkins, Mickey Carroll, from the 1939 beloved film "The Wizard of Oz," died Thursday at the young-in-heart age of 89. Caretaker Linda Dodge said Carroll died in his sleep at her home in suburban Crestwood due to heart problems.

Carroll was one of more than 100 adults and children who were recruited to play the movie natives of what author L. Frank Baum called Munchkin Country in his 1900 book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."  "The Wizard of Oz" was Carroll’s only movie. When it appeared on television in the 1960s, he found a new career at charitable events, retail events and Oz-related events.

"It’s not me; it’s the movie," Carroll said. "When they see me, they think of their childhood, and it makes them smile."

Carroll told The Associated Press in a 2007 interview that the Munchkins made only $125 a week while filming the movie that would become a classic.

A pituitary condition caused Carroll’s short stature.

Carroll danced at the Muny Theater in St. Louis when he was in grade school, he once said, and in the 1920s worked in Chicago clubs and on the Orpheum Theater vaudeville circuit.

Carroll played the part of the Munchkinland "Town Crier," marched as a "Munchkin Soldier" and was the candy-striped "Fiddler" who escorted the movie’s wide-eyed orphan, Dorothy Gale, played by Judy Garland, down the yellow brick road toward Emerald City.

In November 2007, Carroll and six other surviving Munchkins received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Carroll was joined on that occasion by former Munchkin colleagues Ruth Duccini, Jerry Maren, Margaret Pellegrini, Meinhardt Raabe, Karl Slover and Clarence Swensen. (Swensen died in February 2009)

At a special screening of the film in 2005 in Los Angeles, Carroll said talking to longtime fans about the movie brought back their childhoods.

"They have tears," he said. "I’ll say, `May the magic of Oz always be with you.’ And, `Follow the yellow brick road!’ And they’re all excited. I bring back their childhood. Ain’t that something?"

 

Video: Mickey Carroll talks about meeting Judy Garland at the
Chicago World’s Fair (Judy Garland was 7 at the time, Carroll was 9)