"We represent the Lollipop Guild. The Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild.
And in the name of the Lollipop Guild .. We wish to welcome you to Munchkin Land ... Tra la la la la la la la la la la la"
Annnd what a guild it 'twas!
Ahh .. the loveable Munchkins. The bitch about doing Hollywood motion-pictures sometimes is .. the err of branding! Once your branded .. your stamped for life in the role of that brand. No matter WHAT ELSE you decide to do, or WHERE you go - ALL the public wants to see .. is the character you are branded as. The Munchkins, were such characters!! Although Jerry Maren did well after Oz... Sadly for MOST of them, it just didn't happen.. I guess once you realize it.. All you can do is enjoy it!! If you can't beat them - join them!! After all, who wouldn't want a star, yo?!?
The Munchkins were characters with a 'literal', life of their own!
First rule of business.. Dispelling a ridiculous rumor that a Munchkin hung themself on the Oz set. Completely, & RIDICULOUSLY FALSE! Forget the fact that MGM would NOT leave something like that in the film (and it would have been caught).. That COULD NOT have been kept secret.. LB Mayer had an extreme 'morality' clause in ALL his star contract due to his belief that his studios reputation was more important than a films quality!! Not to mention - he had a 'frame by frame' eye like Disney & meticulously watched EVERY film, before, the eye of the public saw it!! ALSO.. It has been confirmed by Snopes. (ALWAYS check Snopes people! ALWAYS!!) The small explanation of FABRICATION, made up, concocted from the mouth of (all places) Judy Garland. Judy was NO DOUBT a MASSIVE talent .. thus proving even MASSIVE talents can make BIG ASS oopsies!! It was wrong and immature.. Something she admitted later in life - but some would argue, howev, as to if Mrs. Garland ever really grew up in the first place. To some, it was part of the FUN shits & giggles of Mrs. Garland!! Buuut she was drunk when she made these claims.. And who here hasn't said something out of the throws of "oopsie" whilst drunk? Anyway ..
The Oz screenplay was written. It had ALL the elements! All the makings! ALL the toppings! Finished off with a sweet cherry!! That's not to say it hadn't been done. Just a few years earlier, Todd Browning and Universal's Carl Laemmle had made a film called 'Freaks,' with 'little people.' In fact .. for a few on the set of Oz .. including Daisy Earles ..it was a reunion of sorts. A few of the 124 munchkins .. had a spot in the film 'Freaks.' What set this one apart - was THE WAY in which the little people were portrayed. Set about with GREAT care and HE knew it! He - being THE definition of MGM. He - being Louis Mayer. This being, just one OPINE.. But all Hollywood historians KNOW - it wasn't Lowe running MGM, it wasn't Boy Wonder, Thalberg .. it was L.B. Mayer - who was the true strings. Had the decisions not been up to him - Oz, might have NEVER seen the light of day, (in the way it did!) Once again .. IMO! There are several different stories .. I am not saying it is fact .. IMO = in my opinion.
The stage right was about to turn from black and white - into COLOR! And the first thing you see in color (besides Dorothy and Toto??)... Anyone? Anyone?? ... THE MUNCHKINS!
**NOTE TO OZ FANS - some know this, some may not. The former MGM lots are now owned by Sony. (try to get thru them gates without a pass?!?! UH UHH .. IT AIN'T HAPPENIN!) If you will recall back in the 70's .. SONY was practically DROOLING to get a piece of the film industry. Well .. now they have 2 major pieces .. MGM and Columbia Pictures (both NOW on the same lot).
WHERE THE HISTORY - WAS HAAD!
Oz was parked at the MGM lots, as far as the "where" filming took place.. At MGM’s Culver City studio, 10202 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, Cali - & is NOW owned by SONY Pictures.. Stage 14 - which is where the 'tornado' scene' was filmed.. The cornfield (where Dorothy first comes upon the Scarecrow), was filmed on soundstages 15 , and apple orchard scenes, were filmed on soundstages 25 and 26; Munchkinland was built on Stage 27; and the Poppy field, & everything ELSE, was shot on the (then, brand new) - Sound stage 29.. So from Kansas, to the emerald city of OZ, were ALL filmed on one lot in THIS square area!!!!
The MGM (now SONY) soundstages - are NOW almost all absolved of ANYTHING that remained of Oz. I have toured the lot 3 times in hopes of seeing inside .. but have not. I hear that you can still see fractions/sections of the Yellow Brick Road inside (when the floor is down.) As a credit to SONY .. The Oz set was taken down by MGM, and NOT them. I admire the way SONY keeps MGM and Columbia alive! I LOVE their motto .. make. believe! I couldn't imagine the studio in better hands. Some of the decisions they make - I think are WHACK - like throwing Columbia Pictures in the Rocky mix!! Naww! Rocky, is front and center United Artist and an MGM pic. No one seems to notice though - 'cept a few fellow historians and myself! Stallone (bless his heart) does good to get his lines out!! But I digress! Uhh What the HELL was I talking about?? Pass the adderall, please - Oh yes - of COURSE ... THE MUNCHKINS .. however ...
Firstly .. we will give credit where credit is due. Hollywoodlegends.net CANNOT forget that FIRST Oz flick made in 1925. Shocked? No - Garland wasn't the first Dorothy. Just the most famous one. The Munchkins of Oz, first came about thru the GREAT, MIGHTY, and WONDERFUL mind of L. Frank Baum in his 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. (Which is available @ amazon.com in eBook form, ABSOLUTELY FREE with Kindle.. As coincy-dink would have it!!) As you will hear in my upcoming interview with Cass Warner (granddaughter of Harry Warner..founder w/ his brothers of all that is Warner Bros.) in the day, films were conceived thru newspaper articles, or novels. Change the names of people, of a certain circumstances, and let the imagination-flow be limitless. It worked then, AND now (hence all the Hollywood remakes lately.) Filming on the Wizard of Oz commenced October 13, 1938 on the MGM Studios lot in Culver City, California .. without the Munchkins (they had yet to be found..in New York!)
MGM scouts had a BIG task ahead of them when it came time to find the 'little' talent to play the part of the Munchkins. They were found (a little over a hundred little people made up the citizens of Munchkinland.) According to Munchkin actor Jerry Maren, each little person was paid over $25 a week for their performances. (although..other sources report him saying they were paid $50 dollars a week).. Whatev the case .. they were ALL put up at the Culver Hotel. Just a few blocks from the MGM studios. There have been rumors of mass hysteria caused by the Munchkins at the hotel. According to the EVER imaginative Judy Garland, "They got smashed every night and the police had to pick them up in butterfly nets."
MGM Studios producer Mervyn Leroy (wanna see Merv's posh pad?) quipped once, "They got into sex orgies at the hotel. We had to have police on every floor." Bert Lahr, the "cowardly lion's pad"?? , said this: "Many of the Munchkins were midgets who, in fact, made their living by panhandling, pimping and whoring... Assistants were ordered to watch the crew of midgets, who brandished knives and often conceived passions for other, larger Metro personnel." Other rumors include they trashed rooms, were swinging from the chandeliers, and that the hotel required constant security. You can just FEEL the Munchkin anger & frustration BUILDING .. can't you!?! Admittedly from the Munchkin's themselves.. It was all a lie, and mostly fueled by Judy Garland whilst drunk one night on the Jack Paar Show.
(**EDITOR NOTE .. I did spend the better end of my night last night watching Judy on the Jack Parr Show. I went through EVERY video YouTube has to offer (even getting on Facebook videos), not once did I see Judy even mention the Munchkins. I COULD however see how it could happen. In most videos Judy is 3 sheets to the wind and Jack is a HUGE instigator! However thru all my searchings .. I couldn't find her trashing the Munchies. You all just KNOW how I love to provide picture links! ;) I was hoping for some kind of video to back that tale up .. no such LUCK! Doesn't mean it DIDN'T happen however.) If anyone knows of a whereabouts of that PARR-ticular (haha) interview .. please let me know!
According to Munchkin actor Jerry Maren ... "there were small room get togethers .. but for the most part, there wasn't time for partying when making, 'The Wizard of Oz." The hotel confirmed to me, there were no problems. According to dockets from production .. it would appear they had VERRRY little time to even sleep. Munchkin Meinhardt Raabe, who played the coroner, revealed in the 1990 documentary The Making of the Wizard of Oz that "the MGM costume and wardrobe department, under the direction of designer Adrian, had to design over one hundred costumes for the Munchkin sequences. They then had to photograph and catalog each Munchkin in his or her costume so that they could correctly apply the same costume and makeup each day of production. Usually arriving at the wake of sun, and leaving after the setting." Here are some behind the scenes stuff .. as shot by the GREAT composer, Harold Arlen .. on the set ..
Over the years .. the Munchkins have had great reunions. Most notably .. getting a star, a reunion at the hotel, (video below), they SUPPOSEDLY trashed while filming Oz, annd the 'ol lollipop kid & his homies join the strikers. Here is that mentioned video of the reunion & a reenactment of the LOLLIPOP GUILD from the film..enjoy!
Nowadays .. there are few, of the original 124 Munchkins - left on earth. Most you'd have to dig six foot of dirt to get to.
According to B.W. Rocks, reporting @ imdb.com .. as of September of 2018.. There are 5 original Munchkins alive!
Valerie Lee (born 1930; played a Munchkin child)
Betty Ann Bruno (born on May 4, 1930; Munchkin (child) - played a munchkin villager, can be seen waving from one of the huts.)
Ardith Dondanville (born in 1930; Munchkin (child) - played a munchkin villager, can be seen in the background with the other munchkin villagers)
Joan Kenmore (born on November 3, 1931; Munchkin (child) - munchkin villager, can be seen in the background, wearing a decorative flower pot hat.)
Priscilla Montgomery (born on July 19, 1929; Munchkin (child) - played a munchkin villager, can be seen on the yellow brick road)
Dorothy Barrett (101) who also passed away in May 2018 and Shep Houghton who passed away in December 2016 at the age of 102 (although his death was not widely reported until more than a year later). They were all extremely talented actors and will be greatly missed. ~ compiled by B.W. Rocks)
COOL INTERESTING FACTOID ... one of the 124 little ones, Harry Roland, (uncredited, of course) was a cousin of Michu Mezaros! Who is Michu Mezaros?!? Onlyy the little guy who wore the costume of this 80's sitcom. Geeez! 😉 His family had made their living with Barnum & Bailey Circus .. After the first 2 seasons .. He left the show, to go back & tour with the circus. Apparently, he was more thrilled with being billed as the smallest fella on earth.. As to an ALF. I'd have chose ALF.. But thats me. Anyway - The only one around to fill his small shoes (aka: the 3ft 2in costume), was a show producers, then, five year old son, Abraham Verduzco. Abraham also played in 'Desperato', alongside Antonio Banderas...GREAT film! Upon the 3rd season .. we never saw the alien walk again. We only saw him from the chest up. Time had beget radio technology that allowed the crew to operate the aliens facial motions through holes in the set floor. Interesting eh?? I could go on and on!! That show remains my all-time fzavorite show still today!! Annnyway .. I have went from Munchies to ALF! See?? IT CAN be done!! Ima go now! Bye-bye .. to The Munchkins .. you'll ALWAYS be Hollywood Legends!! Oh yeah .. now YOU TOO can be a Munchkin through Oz costumes! I reckon, yes I do, that there is something for every Oz fetish online! Fascinating!
I hope all you Hollywood Legend-eers have a WONDERFUL, and BLISSFUL Happy Christmas!! :)