Jerry Maren

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Jerry Maren
Jerry Maren 2010.jpg
Jerry Maren attending the premiere of "Dahmer Vs. Gacy", Hollywood, CA on January 15, 2010
Born Gerald Marenghi
(1920-01-24) January 24, 1920 (age 95)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1938–2010
Known for Last surviving cast member and Munchkin of (The Wizard of Oz)
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Barrington
(1975–2011) (her death)

Gerald Marenghi (born January 24, 1920), known as Jerry Maren, is an American actor and the only confirmed surviving cast member of the classic 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz, in which he portrayed a Munchkin member of the Lollipop Guild. He became the last survivor of the original cast (and, hence the last surviving Munchkin) following the death of fellow Munchkin Ruth Duccini on January 16, 2014.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Gerald Marenghi eventually known as Jerry Maren was born on January 24, 1920 in Boston, Massachusetts. In The Wizard of Oz, he played the green-garbed member of the Lollipop Guild (between Jakob "Jackie" Gerlich and Harry Earles), handing a lollipop to Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland). Maren was eighteen years of age when he shot his scenes for the The Wizard of Oz in the latter part of 1938 and early 1939. At that time he stood just three feet six inches (106 cm). He was especially chosen to be the central figure in the male Munchkin trio, and this afforded him the distinct privilege of handing the complimentary sweet to Dorothy. It was because of his unique abilities to sing and dance well that he was selected for the role heretofore mentioned. The reason behind his talents for performing stemmed from a persona he had built up years earlier as a thirteen year old during school vacations. He began attending lessons for singing and dancing in his early teens and enjoyed them so much that he opted to band together with his teacher in order to create an act known as "Three Steps and a hop." This idea proved to be a small success on stage that toured the New England circuit for a considerable length of time thereafter.

In the same year as The Wizard of Oz, Maren also appeared in an Our Gang feature, Tiny Troubles, playing criminal 'Light-Fingered Lester'.

The three members of the "The Lollipop Guild" performing in The Wizard of Oz. From left to right: Jakob Gerlich, Jerry Maren, and Harry Doll

After The Wizard of Oz Maren continued acting and appeared in many movies and television shows. Some of these appearances were in the Our Gang comedy shorts, in the Marx Brothers' At The Circus (1939), and as an ape in Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). He is also featured, along with fellow munchkin Billy Curtis, in American International Pictures' release Little Cigars (1973), about a gang of "midgets" on a crime spree.

In the 1950s Maren worked as a Little Oscar for the Oscar Mayer Company and as Buster Brown in television and radio commercials. Later he joined his friend Billy Barty in organizing Little People of America. Maren has also portrayed Mayor McCheese and The Hamburglar in commercials for McDonald's.

In the late 1970s he was the dapper little man on The Gong Show, heralding each show's big finish with an onslaught of confetti as Milton DeLugg's band played "Hoop Dee Doo".

Maren also made a notable appearance in the episode "Felix the Horseplayer" of The Odd Couple as Harry Tallman, a racehorse exerciser who gives Oscar tips on winning horses.

In 1982 he played Morris the bellboy, a regular character in the ABC sitcom No Soap, Radio.

Maren continues to occasionally act in movies and television shows as well as traveling around America appearing at Wizard of Oz festivals and autograph signings. Maren had a walk-on role in an episode of Seinfeld "The Yada Yada" and played a mime in the 2010-released comedy horror movie Dahmer Vs. Gacy. Maren also starred in the Eric Swelstad-directed horror movie Frankenstein Rising (2009).[2] In Feb 2009 Maren performed in Project Lodestar Sagas (still in completion), playing the role of Thaddeus. He was joined in that production by his former MGM fellow thespian Margaret O'Brien, who played the lead role of Livia Wells.

Personal appearances[edit]

Maren has made many personal appearances along with other, now deceased, members of the Munchkins. He has appeared at county and state fairs and at film festivals and memorabilia shows.

On November 21, 2007, Maren appeared with six other Munchkin actors at the unveiling of a Hollywood Star for the Wizard of Oz Munchkins on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The other actors were Mickey Carroll, Ruth Duccini, Margaret Pellegrini, Meinhardt Raabe, Karl Slover, and Clarence Swensen.[3]

On June 3, 2010, Maren appeared at Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY. He was there to promote a new Wizard of Oz slot machine.[4] After September 2011 he stopped traveling or appearing at any of the Oz Festivals held throughout the country.

On September 18, 2013, Maren had a handprint and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Personal life[edit]

Maren was married to Elizabeth Barrington from 1975 until her death at age 69 on January 27, 2011. He lives in southern California.[5]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]