Jerry Maren

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Jerry Maren
Jerry Maren 2010.jpg
Maren attending the premiere of Dahmer Vs. Gacy in Hollywood on January 15, 2010, nine days before his 90th birthday.
Born
Gerard Marenghi

(1920-01-24)January 24, 1920
DiedMay 24, 2018(2018-05-24) (aged 98)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills
OccupationActor
Years active1938–2016
Spouse(s)
Elizabeth Barrington
(m. 1975; died 2011)

Gerard Marenghi (January 24, 1920 – May 24, 2018), known as Jerry Maren, was an American actor who played a Munchkin member of the Lollipop Guild in the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film, The Wizard of Oz. He became the last surviving Munchkin following the death of Ruth Duccini on January 16, 2014, and was also the last surviving cast member with a specifically identifiable speaking or singing role.[1][2]

Life and career[edit]

Gerard Marenghi, eventually known as Jerry Maren, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the youngest of eleven or twelve children.[3][4] His father, Emil Marenghi, worked at a shoe factory. His four brothers were six feet or taller by 1939.[5]

At the age of 12, Maren started taking dancing lessons with his sister. He toured around New England with his dance instructor with an act called Three Steps and a Hop and was noticed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer scouts who were looking for three little guys who could sing and dance. Maren received a telegram, just after graduating from High school, asking him to come to California to work on a movie. He was offered nearly $100 per week plus expenses.[6]

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 18 or 19 years old when he shot his scenes for The Wizard of Oz in the latter part of 1938 and early 1939. At that time he stood just three feet six inches (107 cm). (Hormone treatments allowed Maren to reach a height of four feet six inches (137 cm) later in life.)[3]

Maren began to cultivate his performance talents by creating a persona as a thirteen-year-old during school vacations.[citation needed] He began attending singing and dancing lessons in his early teens, and enjoyed them so much that he opted to team up with his teacher in an act known as "Three Steps and a Hop." The idea was a success on stage, and the group toured the New England circuit for a considerable length of time. In the same year as The Wizard of Oz, Maren appeared in an Our Gang short Tiny Troubles as the criminal "Light-Fingered Lester", and was an extra in the Western film The Terror of Tiny Town.[citation needed]

After The Wizard of Oz, Maren appeared in many movies and television shows, including as a circus performer in the Marx Brothers film 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.[citation needed]

In the 1950s Maren worked as a Little Oscar for the Oscar Mayer Company and as Buster Brown in television and radio commercials. He later joined his friend Billy Barty in organizing Little People of America. He also portrayed Mayor McCheese and The Hamburglar in commercials for McDonald's.[3]

In the late 1970s, Maren was the dapper little man in top hat and tuxedo on The Gong Show, heralding each show's big finish with an onslaught of confetti as Milton DeLugg's band played "Hoop Dee Doo". He 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.[citation needed]

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. He also starred in the Eric Swelstad-directed horror movie Frankenstein Rising (2009).[7] In February 2009, Maren performed in Project Lodestar Sagas as Thaddeus, opposite former MGM child actress Margaret O'Brien in the lead role of Livia Wells.[citation needed]

Promotional appearances[edit]

Maren (far left), Karl Slover, Clarence Swensen and Margaret Pellegrini in 1998

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.[8]

On June 3, 2010, Maren appeared at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York to promote a new Wizard of Oz slot machine.[9]

After 2011, Maren stopped traveling or appearing at any of the Oz Festivals held throughout the country, but he did appear for a handprint and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on September 18, 2013.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Maren was married to Elizabeth Barrington from 1975 until her death at age 69 on January 27, 2011. He lived in southern California.[11]

On February 29, 2016, it was reported that Maren had died of pancreatic cancer, but these reports were false.[12] He posted a video on Instagram to say that he was alive and well, and according to friend Steve Cox, he didn't have cancer.[13]

When The Hollywood Reporter attempted to contact Maren for a story on little people in Hollywood in August 2016, Maren's caretakers informed the reporter that he was too frail to make further appearances or conduct interviews.[14]

Death[edit]

Maren died in San Diego, California, at a nursing facility center in La Jolla, California on May 24, 2018, aged 98, from a combination of old age-related diseases including cachexia, heart failure and senile dementia.[15][3][16][17][18] Maren left no immediate survivors.[3] At the time of his death, he was the last surviving member of The Wizard of Oz's adult Munchkin cast,[a] as well as the last surviving actor to have co-starred in a film starring the Marx Brothers.[3]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1938 The Terror of Tiny Town Townsperson Uncredited
1939 Tiny Troubles Light Fingered Lester Short
The Wizard of Oz Lollipop Guild Member Uncredited
At the Circus Little Professor Atom as Jerry Marenghi
1940 The Golden Fleecing Midget in Phone Booth Uncredited
1941 Maisie Was a Lady Midget Uncredited
1942 True to the Army Col. Delaroy Uncredited
Fingers at the Window Small Boy Uncredited
Beyond the Blue Horizon Native Uncredited
Here We Go Again Body Double for Charlie McCarthy in Motion also stand-in for Charlie McCarthy
1943 Flesh and Fantasy Midget Uncredited
1944 Silent Partner Messenger Uncredited
Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore Gremlin
1945 Bring on the Girls Midget in Fireman Skit Uncredited
The Great John L. Midget
That's the Spirit Midget Uncredited
Duffy's Tavern Midget Uncredited
An Angel Comes to Brooklyn Midget Baby Uncredited
1946 Three Wise Fools Sir Boulder Uncredited
1948 Are You with It? Midget Uncredited
When My Baby Smiles at Me Midget Uncredited
1949 Samson and Delilah Jester Uncredited
1951 Superman and the Mole Men Mole-Man Uncredited
1965 Bob Hope Christmas Show Sketch Performer Uncredited
1968 Planet of the Apes Child Ape Uncredited
1969 Hello, Dolly! Midget Uncredited
1970 Bigfoot Baby Creature
1971 Outlaw Riders Bartender
Dirty Harry Stunts Uncredited
1973 Little Cigars Cadillac
1978 The Amazing Captain Nemo TV movie
The Bad News Bears Go to Japan Page Boy
The Lord of the Rings Character Actor Voice
1979 Americathon Act
Prophecy Stunts
The Making of The Wizard of Oz Himself
1980 Where the Buffalo Roam Bell Man
1981 Side Show Tom Tiny TV movie
Under the Rainbow Hotel Rainbow Guest
1982 Tron Uncredited
1983 Something Wicked This Way Comes Demon Midget Uncredited
High School U.S.A. Robot TV movie
The Being Monster as Jerry Marin
1984 Hot Moves Arcade Vendor
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear Elf #3 TV movie
1985 Petronella George TV movie
House Little Critter
Graffiti Citizen Short
1987 Spaceballs Uncredited
1988 The Great Outdoors The Old Man Stranger Uncredited
1990 The Dreamer of Oz Mr. Munchkin TV movie
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic Himself
1993 We're Off to See the Munchkins
1994 The Bible According to Hollywood Himself
In Search of Oz Himself
I Married a Munchkin Himself
1998 Glorious Technicolor Himself
1999 A Tribute to The Wizard of Oz Himself
2000 Bit Players Oompa Lompa Short
2001 Memories of Oz Himself
2004 Todd Browning's 'Freaks': The Sideshow Cinema Himself also "Special Thanks" credit
2005 Best Ever Family Films Himself
The 100 Greatest Family Films Himself
2009 The Yellow Brick Road and Beyond Actor / Munchkin also "Special Thanks" credit, credited as Jerry Marin
Hollywood Celebrates Its Biggest Little Stars! Himself
The 78th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade Himself
To Oz! The Making of a Classic Himself (archive footage)
2010 Frankenstein Rising Manlon
Dahmer vs. Gacy Mime
Heroic Ambition Himself
2011 Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time Himself
2016 The Hollywood Shorties Himself (archive footage)

Television[edit]

Title Year Role Notes
1953 Adventures of Superman Mole-Man #3 2 episodes, Archive footage
1954 Smilin' Ed's Gang 1 episode
1955 Andy's Gang Buster Brown Voice
1956 Producers' Showcase 1 episode
1960 This Is Your Life Himself 1 episode
1966 The Beverly Hillbillies Spaceman #2 1 episode
1967 Bewitched Gremlin 1 episode
The Wild Wild West Coco 1 episode
1968 The Bob Hope Show Santa's Elf 1 episode
1969 The Andy Williams Show Himself
1970 Julia Little Green Man 1 episode
Get Smart Lower Gemini 1 episode
1971 Here's Lucy Milton 1 episode
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In Himself 1 episode
1971-1972 Lidsville Boris/Rah-Rah 17 episodes
1975 The Odd Couple Harry Tallman 1 episode
When Things Were Rotten Archer 1 episode
1976 The Gong Show Confetti Thrower
Van Dyke and Company Midget Basketball Player 1 episode
1977 Switch Shoe Shiner 1 episode
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Dash 5 episodes
Charlie's Angels Circus Worker 1 episode
1978 Hollywood Greats Himself 1 episode
1982 Lou Grant Man on Street 1 episode
No Soap, Radio Morris 5 episodes
1983 Wizards and Warriors Floyd the Feather 1 episode
1986 The Twilight Zone Creature 1 episode, Segment: "Personal Demons"
1989 Short Ribbs 1 episode
1992 MGM: When the Lion Roars Himself 1 episode
1997 Seinfeld Dad 1 episode
Biography Himself 1 episode
1998 E! Mysteries & Scandals Himself 1 episode
1999-2000 The Daily Show Himself 2 episodes
2007 TV Land: Myths and Legends Himself 1 episode

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A small number of anonymous female extras who portrayed Munchkins are known to survive, but they were children, rather than adults with dwarfism. Two stunt doubles, Ambrose Schindler (who died seven months after Maren) and Caren Marsh, also outlasted Maren at the time of his death.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Final female 'Oz' Munchkin Ruth Duccini dead at 95". nwitimes.com.
  2. ^ "Trouble in 'Oz': the Munchkins' dirty secret". Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Jerry Maren, Who Sang and Danced as a Munchkin in Oz, Dies at 98". NYTimes.com. June 6, 2018.
  4. ^ "Motherly Women Big Pain To Jerry, A Midget Actor". The Pittsburgh Press. June 21, 1939. p. 15. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  5. ^ "Pays to Be a Midget". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. December 10, 1939. p. 34. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  6. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (2013). The Making of The Wizard of Oz (illustrated, reprint ed.). Chicago Review Press. p. 196. ISBN 978-1613748329.
  7. ^ Gore Filled Trailer: Frankenstein Rising, dreadcentral.com; accessed June 6, 2018.
  8. ^ Munchkin Star on the Walk of Fame, usatoday.com; accessed June 6, 2018.
  9. ^ "Munchkin Lollipop Guild Member visits Turning Stone during Oz-Stravaganza". Wktv.com. June 4, 2010. Archived from the original on March 21, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  10. ^ "Jerry Maren places hands in wet cement at TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles - Photos". UPI. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  11. ^ Potempa, Philip (2011-01-31). "'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin's wife, Elizabeth Maren, dead at 69". nwi.com. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
  12. ^ "Last 'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin: Jerry Maren NOT Dead ... Just Laying Low". tmz.com. March 1, 2016.
  13. ^ "Munchkin Actor Jerry Maren Dead? 'Oz' Star Sets Record Straight At 96". inquisitr.com. March 2, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  14. ^ Abramovitch, Seth (August 25, 2016). "Little People, Big Woes in Hollywood: Low Pay, Degrading Jobs and a Tragic Death". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  15. ^ "Oldest 'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin Jerry Maren's Heart Gave Out".
  16. ^ Saunders, Emmeline (June 6, 2018). "Wizard Of Oz star Jerry Maren dies aged 98". mirror.co.uk. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  17. ^ "Last 'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin Jerry Maren Dead at 98". tmz.com. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  18. ^ "Jerry Maren, last surviving "Wizard of Oz" munchkin, dead at 98". cbsnews.com. Retrieved June 6, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]