Munchkin

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The Munchkins
Oz books character
Munchkins.png
W. W. Denslow's depiction of Munchkins, from the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
First appearance The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Created by L. Frank Baum

The Munchkins are the natives of the fictional Munchkin Country in the Oz books by American author L. Frank Baum. They first appear in the classic children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). They are described as only wearing shades of blue clothing, as blue is the Munchkins' favorite color, and the predominating color that officially represents the eastern quadrant in the Land of Oz. They and the non-Munchkin Good Witch of the North who accompanies them upon Dorothy Gale's first arrival in Oz, are described as being the same height as Dorothy, who is hinted to be no older than twelve years old.

Appearance[edit]

The following is an excerpt from chapter two of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, titled "The Council with the Munchkins", in which Dorothy first meets three Munchkins and the Good Witch of the North:

she noticed coming down toward her a group of the queerest people she had ever seen. They were not as big as the grown folk she had always been used to; but neither were they very small. In fact, they seemed about as tall as Dorothy, who was a well-grown child for her age, although they were, so far as looks go, many years older.

Baum apparently did not mean that only Munchkins are short in stature (as depicted in the iconic 1939 film), but that this is the norm for all of the adult humans of Oz. In a scene later in the book, the Guardian of the Gates, the first inhabitant of the Emerald City met by Dorothy and apparently representative of its citizens, is "a little man about the same size as the Munchkins". Still later, the Quadlings of the southern land are described as "short and fat". The Tin Woodman is also of Munchkin descent but is of average adult height.

In W. W. Denslow's illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard (approved by Baum), the only Oz humans depicted as remarkably taller than Dorothy are the Soldier with the Green Whiskers and Glinda.

Baum rarely refers to Ozites as small of stature in the Oz books that follow. (One notable exception is the Munchkin wrestler that Zeb challenges in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz).

Notable Munchkins named in the Oz books include Boq, Fyter, Jinjur, Nimmie Amee, Ojo the Lucky, and Unc Nunkie.

Origin of the term[edit]

Baum never explained where the term came from, but Baum researcher Brian Attebery has hypothesized that there might be a connection to the Münchner Kindl, the emblem of the Bavarian city of Munich (spelled München in German). The symbol was originally a 13th-century statue of a monk, looking down from the town hall in Munich. Over the years, the image was reproduced many times, for instance as a figure on beer steins, and eventually evolved into a child wearing a pointed hood. Baum's family had German origins, suggesting that Baum could have seen one such reproduction in his childhood.

It is also possible that "Munchkin" came from the German word "Männchen", which means "mannikin" or "little figure". In 1900, Baum published a book about window displays in which he stressed the importance of mannequins in attracting customers.[1]

It is also possible that the term came from the Romanian word for laborer, "muncitor", replacing the Romanian suffix of agency, "-itor", with the English suffix of (kind, sort, and) class identification, "-kin". "Munci" is the Romanian verb "to labor" and is pronounced /MOOHN-ch/.[citation needed]

In the 1939 film[edit]

In the classic 1939 movie musical The Wizard of Oz, loosely based on Baum's novel, the Munchkins are mostly portrayed by adult actors with dwarfism (with a very few average-sized child actors, used mostly in the background). Unlike the book, their country is called Munchkinland and they wear garments of many colors instead of all-blue attire.

On November 20, 2007, the Munchkins were given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Seven of the surviving Munchkin actors from the film were present. As a result of the popularity of the 1939 film, the word "munchkin" has entered the English language as a reference to small children, persons with dwarfism, or anything of diminutive stature.

Actors and actresses[edit]

The following is a list of actors who portrayed the Munchkins in the 1939 film. Most of the dwarfs hired were acquired for MGM by Leo Singer, the proprietor of Singer's Midgets.[2] A Daily Variety news story from August 17, 1938 stated that 124 munchkins had been signed on to play the munchkins, however modern sources place the number either at 122 or 124. An additional dozen or so child actresses of average size were hired to make up for the shortage of little people that the studio found to appear in the film.[3] At least one munchkin actor named Dale Paullin (stage name: "Paul Dale") did not make the final cut for the movie.[4]

In 1989, author Stephen Cox researched, found, and wrote about the surviving Munchkin actors fifty years after they made the film. He wrote about them in his book, The Munchkins Remember (1989, E.P. Dutton) which was later revised as The Munchkins of Oz (Cumberland House), and his book remained in print for nearly two decades. When he wrote the book, 33 of the dwarfs who acted in the film were still alive and were interviewed. Today, Jerry Maren, who played the green "lollipop guild" member, is the last living Munchkin actor.

Note: Social security information was hard to come by prior to the mid twentieth century. As a result, things such as birth or death years may be incomplete due to lack of records.


Actor Born Died Part(s) played Source
Gladys W. Allison Unknown Unknown Played a villager [5]
John Ballas 1903 Unknown Played a villager [6][7]
Franz Balluck 1913 1987 Played a villager [5][8]
Josefine Balluck 1908 1984 Played a villager [9][10][11]
John T. Bambury 1891 1960 Played a soldier [12][13]
Charlie Becker 1887 1968 Played "The Mayor of Munchkinland" [12][14]
Freda Betsky Unknown Unknown Played a villager [5]
Henry Boers 1896 Unknown Played a villager [15]
Theodore Boers 1894 1945 Played a villager [15][16]
Christie Buresh 1907 1979 Played a villager [17]
Eddie Buresh 1909 1982 Played a villager [17]
Lida Buresh 1906 1970 Played a villager [6][17]
Mickey Carroll 1919 2009 Played a fiddler, a town crier, and a soldier [18]
Casper "Colonel" Balsam UnknownA UnknownA Played a villager [6]
Nona A. Cooper 1875 1953 Played a villager [5][19]
Thomas J. Cottonaro 1914 2001 Played the Bearded Man [5][20]
Elizabeth Coulter Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6]
Lewis Croft 1919 2008 Played a soldier [21]
Frank Cucksey 1919 1984 Played the villager that gives Dorothy the flowers [22][23]
Billy Curtis 1909 1988 Played the BraggartB [24]
Eugene S. David, Jr. Unknown Unknown Played a fiddler [25]
Eulie H. David Unknown Unknown Played a soldier [25]
Ethel W. Denis 1894 1968 Played a villager [6][26][27]
Prince Denis 1892 1984 Played the Sergeant-at-ArmsC [26]
Hazel I. Derthick 1906 1989 Played a villager [28]
Daisy Earles 1907 1980 Played a "munchkin maiden" [29]
Gracie Doll Earles 1899 1970 Played a "munchkin maiden" [29]
Harry Doll Earles 1902 1985 Blue member of The Lollipop Guild [29][30]
Tiny Doll Earles 1914 2004 Played a "munchkin maiden" [29]
Major Doyle ("James D. Doyle") Unknown Unknown Played a villager [31]
Ruth Robinson Duccini 1918 2014 Played a villager [32]
Carl M. Erickson 1917 1958 Played the 2nd Trumpeter [6][33][34]
Fern Formica 1925 1995 Played a villager and a "sleepyhead" [35][36]
Addie Eva Frank Unknown Unknown Played a villager [31]
Thaisa L. Gardner 1909 1968 Played a villager [31]
Jakob "Jackie" Gerlich 1917 1960 Red member of The Lollipop Guild [37][38]
William A. Giblin 1916 1985 Played a soldier [39]
Jack S. Glicken 1900 1950 Played a city father [40][41]
Carolyn E. Granger 1915 1973 Played a villager [31][42]
Donna Jean J. Stewart Hardaway 1933 2008 Played a villagerD [43]
Joseph Herbst UnknownE 1989 Played a soldier [6][44]
Jakob Hofbauer 1898 UnknownF Played a soldier [37][41]
Clarence C. Howerton ("Major Mite") 1913 1975 Played the 3rd Trumpeter [45][46]
Helen M. Hoy 1898 1945 Played a villager [31][47]
Marguerite A. Hoy Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6]
James R. Hulse 1915 Unknown Played a villager [6][37]
Robert Kanter Unknown Unknown Played a soldier [5]
Charles E. Kelley Unknown Unknown Played a soldier [5]
Jessie E. Kelley ("Jessie Becker") 1907 1968 Played a villager [31][48]
Frank Kikel Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6]
Bernard Klima ("Harry") 1897 1957 Played a villager [22][49]
Mitzi Koestner Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6]
Emma Koestner Unknown Unknown Played a villager [3][31]
Willi Koestner Unknown Unknown Played a soldier [6][50]
Adam Edwin Kozicki ("Eddie Adams") Unknown Unknown Played a fiddler [31]
Joseph J. Koziel Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6][51]
Dolly F. Kramer 1904 1995 Played a villager [6][15]
Emil Kranzler 1910 1993 Played a villager [6][52][53]
Nita Krebs 1905 1991 Member of The Lullaby League and a villager [22][54]
Jeane LaBarbera ("Little Jean") 1909 1993 Played a villager [55]
Hilda Lange Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6]
John Leal ("Johnny") 1905 1996 Played a villager [31][56]
Ann Rice Leslie 1900 1973 Played a villager [31][57]
Charles Ludwig 1889 1941 Played a villager [31][58][59]
Dominick Magro 1909 1959 Played a villager [60][61]
Carlos Manzo 1914 1955 Played a villager [6][62]
Howard Marco Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6]
Jerry Maren 1920 Living Green member of The Lollipop Guild [63]
Bela Matina ("Mike Rogers") 1901 1954 Played a villager [5][64][65]
Lajos Matina ("Leo") 1901 Unknown Played a villager [5][66]
Matyus Matina ("Ike Rogers") 1901 Unknown Played a villager [5][66][64]
Patsy May 1934 2013 Played a villagerD [67]
Walter M. B. Miller 1906 1987 Played a soldier and a flying monkey [31][37]
George Ministeri 1913 1986 Played the coachman and a villager [31][37]
Harry Monty 1904 1999 Played a villager and a flying monkey [68]
Yvonne Bistany Moray 1917 Unknown Member of The Lullaby League and a villager [5][37][69]
Johnny Maroldo ("Johnny Winters") 1905 1985 Played The Commander of the Navy [41][70][71]
Marie Bernadet Maroldo ("Marie Winters") 1901 1979G Played a villager [70][72]
Olga C. Nardone 1921 2010 Member of The Lullaby League, a sleepyhead, and a villager [73]
Nels P. Nelson 1918 1994 Played a villager [31][74]
Margaret C. Nickloy 1902 1961 Played a villager [3][75]
Franklin H. O'Baugh 1922 1963 Played a soldier [76][77]
William H. O'Docharty 1920 1988 The coach footman and villager [31][37][78]
Hildred C. Olson Unknown Unknown Played a villager [31]
Frank Packard Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6]
Nicholas Page ("Nicky") 1904 1978 Played a soldier and a city father [3][31][37]
Leona Megest Parks ("Duchess") 1897 Unknown Played a villager [15]
Margaret Williams Pellegrini 1923 2013 Played a "sleepyhead" and the "flower pot munchkin" [35][79]
Johnny Pizo Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6]
Leon Polinsky ("Prince Leon") Unknown Unknown Played a villager [31]
Meinhardt Raabe 1915 2010 Played the coroner [80]
Margaret Raia 1928 2003 Played a villager [81]
Matthew Raia Unknown Unknown Played a city father [41][81]
Friedrich Retter ("Freddie") 1899 Unknown Played a fiddler and villager [31][82]
Billy Rhodes ("Little Billy") 1895 1967 Played the barrister [41][83]
Gertrude H. Rice Unknown Unknown Played a villager [31]
Hazel Rice Unknown Unknown Played a villager [31]
Sandor Roka Unknown Unknown Played a villager [31]
Charles F. Wojnarski Royal 1900 1947 Played a soldier [31][84]
Helen J. Wojnarski Royal 1897 1958 Played a villager [31][84]
Stella A. Wojnarski Royal 1903 1959 Played a villager [84]
Albert Ruddinger Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6]
Elsie R. Schultz 1892 1987 Played a villager [31][37]
Charles Silvern 1902 1976H Played a villager [85][86]
Garland Slatton ("Earl") 1917 1995 Played a soldier [15][87]
Karl Slover 1918 2011 Played the lead trumpeter, a soldier, a "sleepyhead", and a villager [88][89]
Ruth E. Smith Unknown 1985 Played a villager [4][85]
Elmer Spangler 1910 Unknown Played a villager [6][90]
Pernell St. Aubin 1922 1987 Played a soldier [22][91]
Carl Stephan Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6]
Alta M. Stevens 1913 1989 Played a villager [31][37]
George Suchsie Unknown Unknown Played a villager [6]
Charlotte V. Sullivan Unknown Unknown Played a villager [85]
Clarence Swensen 1917 2009 Played a soldier [92]
Betty Tanner 1916 1994 Played a villager [37][93]
Arnold Vierling 1919 1949 Played a villager [6][37][94]
Gus Wayne 1920 1998 Played a soldier [95]
Victor Wetter Unknown Unknown The Captain of the Army [3][85]
Grace G. Williams Unknown Unknown Played a villager [85]
Harvey B. Williams Unknown Unknown Played a soldier [85]
Gladys V. Wolff 1911 1984 Played a villager [37][85]
Murray Wood 1908 1999 Played a city father [6][96][97]

Child actresses[edit]

A dozen or so children of average height were hired so they could be used for background fill. Of these child actresses, four are known to still be living.[98][99]

Actor Born Died Part(s) played Source
Betty Ann Cain Bruno 1931 Living Child actress [98][100][101]
Priscilla Ann Montgomery Clark 1929 Living Child actress [100][101][102]
Joan Kenmore 1931 Living Child actress [98][100][101][99]
Eva Lee Kuney 1934 2015 Child actress [5][103]
Rae-Nell Laskey 1930 1991 Child actress [104]
Elaine Mirk Unknown Unknown Child actress [99]
Valerie Lee Shepard Unknown Unknown Child actress [3][99]
Ardith Dondanville Todd 1930 Living Child actress [98][100][101]
Shirley Ann Kennedy Vegors 1932 2005 Child actress [105]
Viola White Banks 1931 2000 Child actress [3][37]

Appearances[edit]

The Munchkins (specifically the "Lollipop Guild") as depicted in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. L-R: Jackie Gerlich, Jerry Maren and Harry Doll
  • The Munchkins appeared in The Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy and Toto first arrived in the Land of Oz after her house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East, the Munchkins have been hiding until Glinda the Good Witch arrived and had the Munchkins come out of their hiding place. During the musical number, Dorothy told them how she arrived in the Land of Oz and the Munchkins celebrate. The Mayor of Munchkinland and his assistant had to make sure that the Wicked Witch of the East is dead before the celebration continued. The coroner tells the Mayor of Munchkinland that the Wicked Witch of the East is not merely dead and that she is most sincerely dead while showing the Certificate of Death. The Munchkins then celebrate further as Dorothy receives gifts from the Lullaby League and the Lollipop Guild. Near the end of the song, the Wicked Witch of the West arrived causing the Munchkins to hit the deck. After the Wicked Witch of the West left, Glinda had Dorothy follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City as the Munchkins guide her out of Munchkinland.
  • The Munchkins appeared in The Wiz and were played by children and teenagers.
  • In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, the Munchkins were played by Rizzo the Rat (who portrayed the Mayor of Munchkinland) and his fellow rats.
  • The Munchkins appeared in Dorothy and the Witches of Oz. They were brought to Earth by Glinda in order to combat the forces of the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • The Munchkins appear in Oz the Great and Powerful. They alongside the Quadlings and the Tinkers as inhabitants of Glinda's protectorate. Although the film is not otherwise a musical, the Munchkins sing and dance much as they do in the 1939 film.
  • The Munchkins appear in the television series Once Upon a Time.

Notes[edit]

A.^ Find A Grave has Casper's lifespan as 1904–1968 but the page is at a bare minimum with no reliable secondary source(s) to back up this info.
B.^ The "Braggart" can be heard saying: "and ohhhh what happened then was rich".
C.^ It was falsely reported in 1984 that Prince played the role of the Munchkin Mayor.[37]
D.^ Donna Jean Johnson Stewart-Hardaway and Patsy May were either billed as Munchkins or were child actresses.
E.^ There was a person named "Joseph Herbst" who was born in 1908 but he has a recorded death in 1993. While the residence (Joliet, IL) matches up with the munchkin actor, there is no conclusive link.[106]
F.^ According to Stephen Cox it is unknown what became of Jakob Hofbauer, he is rumored to have died in the late 1950s.[37]
G.^ Marie's death could have been in 1974.
H.^ It was mentioned in 1979 that Charles had died on April 1, 1976 which contradicts the date on Find a Grave.[107]

References[edit]

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