Maren attending the premiere of Dahmer Vs. Gacy in Hollywood on January 15, 2010, nine days before his 90th birthday.
January 24, 1920
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||May 24, 2018 (aged 98)|
La Jolla, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills|
(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.
Life and career
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Gerard Marenghi, eventually known as Jerry Maren, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the youngest of eleven or twelve children. His father, Emil Marenghi, worked at a shoe factory. His four brothers were six feet or taller by 1939.
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.
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.)
Maren began to cultivate his performance talents by creating a persona as a thirteen-year-old during school vacations. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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). 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.
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.
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.
Maren was married to Elizabeth Barrington from 1975 until her death at age 69 on January 27, 2011. He lived in southern California.
On February 29, 2016, it was reported that Maren had died of pancreatic cancer, but these reports were false. 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.
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.
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. Maren left no immediate survivors. 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.
|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|
|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|
|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|
|1978||The Amazing Captain Nemo||TV movie|
|The Bad News Bears Go to Japan||Page Boy|
|The Lord of the Rings||Character Actor||Voice|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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)|
|Dahmer vs. Gacy||Mime|
|2011||Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time||Himself|
|2016||The Hollywood Shorties||Himself||(archive footage)|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|1998||E! Mysteries & Scandals||Himself||1 episode|
|1999-2000||The Daily Show||Himself||2 episodes|
|2007||TV Land: Myths and Legends||Himself||1 episode|
- "Final female 'Oz' Munchkin Ruth Duccini dead at 95". nwitimes.com.
- "Trouble in 'Oz': the Munchkins' dirty secret". Retrieved January 15, 2018.
- "Jerry Maren, Who Sang and Danced as a Munchkin in Oz, Dies at 98". NYTimes.com. June 6, 2018.
- "Motherly Women Big Pain To Jerry, A Midget Actor". The Pittsburgh Press. June 21, 1939. p. 15. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- "Pays to Be a Midget". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. December 10, 1939. p. 34. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Harmetz, Aljean (2013). The Making of The Wizard of Oz (illustrated, reprint ed.). Chicago Review Press. p. 196. ISBN 978-1613748329.
- Gore Filled Trailer: Frankenstein Rising, dreadcentral.com; accessed June 6, 2018.
- Munchkin Star on the Walk of Fame, usatoday.com; accessed June 6, 2018.
- "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.
- "Jerry Maren places hands in wet cement at TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles - Photos". UPI. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
- Potempa, Philip (2011-01-31). "'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin's wife, Elizabeth Maren, dead at 69". nwi.com. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- "Last 'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin: Jerry Maren NOT Dead ... Just Laying Low". tmz.com. March 1, 2016.
- "Munchkin Actor Jerry Maren Dead? 'Oz' Star Sets Record Straight At 96". inquisitr.com. March 2, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
- 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.
- "Oldest 'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin Jerry Maren's Heart Gave Out".
- Saunders, Emmeline (June 6, 2018). "Wizard Of Oz star Jerry Maren dies aged 98". mirror.co.uk. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
- "Last 'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin Jerry Maren Dead at 98". tmz.com. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
- "Jerry Maren, last surviving "Wizard of Oz" munchkin, dead at 98". cbsnews.com. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
- Stephen Cox, "The Munchkins of Oz" Cumberland House ISBN 1-58182-269-3
- Short and Sweet: The Life and Times of the Lollipop Munchkin (Paperback) by Jerry Maren (Author) Pub. Date: June 2007ISBN 978-1-58182-543-5