Jerry Maren: Last Wizard of Oz Munchkin dies aged 98

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The Wizard of Oz Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Maren became famous for handing a lollipop to Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz

Jerry Maren, the last surviving actor to play a Munchkin in the original Wizard of Oz film, has died in California at the age of 98.

Maren portrayed one of the 124 members of the Munchkin Lollipop Guild in the classic 1939 film.

The role saw him become known as the “lollipop kid” after handing a lollipop to Dorothy – played by Judi Garland.

His funeral service was held on Saturday at Forest Lawn cemetery in Hollywood Hills.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The actor also appeared in films and TV shows like Planet of the Apes and Seinfeld

Maren, real name Gerard Marenghi, had been suffering from dementia is recent years, TMZ reported.

Actress Pam Dubious paid tribute to her “close friend” in a post on Facebook.

“Jerry was a kind, and loving man, who never let his stature get in the way of his eternal strive for happiness, and a good life… RIP sweet Jerry,” she wrote.

‘Greatest fun’

Maren featured alongside 123 fellow actors of restricted growth in the film adaptation of L Frank Baum’s children’s book, all of whom played characters inhabiting the fictional Munchkinland.

Speaking to The Independent in 2009, Maren described the experience as the “greatest fun I ever had in my life”.

The actor also described Garland, who was 16 as the time of filming, as “an angel”.

“She was a movie star and I’d figured she’d be a pain in the neck. But she was glad to meet us, and we were glad to meet her,” he said.

Marin received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on behalf of the Munchkins in 2007.

Beyond his iconic appearance in Wizard of Oz, Maren continued acting, landing parts in a number of movies and TV shows, including Planet of the Apes and Seinfeld.

He married Elizabeth Barrington, a fellow actor, in 1975. The pair remained together until her death in 2011, aged 69.

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