Jerry Maren, born Gerard Marenghi, the last living ‘munchkin’ from the classic move “Wizard of Oz,” has died, according to reports.
Maren died last week at a San Diego nursing care facility, TMZ reported. The actor was laid to rest over the weekend at Forest Lawn in Hollywood, said the outlet.
“I wish I had grown up with him and had spent more time and being around him growing up,” his niece Stacy Michelle Barrington. “I’m grateful to have had such important people in my family. Uncle Jerry would want the legacy of the ‘Wizard of Oz’ to continue.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Maren was the final surviving Munchkin actor from the 124 little people who starred in The Wizard of Oz. The bio on his Instagram page also states, “Last living munchkin from the Wizard of Oz.”
Maren was close to his nieces and nephews after his wife Elizabeth, who was also a little person, died in 2011 at age 69, TMZ reports.
The actor played many roles over the years, but he was best known for his time as a lollipop-toting munchkin in the classic film, “Wizard of Oz,” Fox News reported.
The actor appeared in TV bits on popular shows over the years including The Twilight Zone, Seinfeld and Bewitched, according to IMDB. His most recent role was back in 2010, when he appeared in the movie Dahmer vs. Gacy, People reported.
However, he is best remembered for being in the middle of the Lollipop Guild trio donning green and presenting Garland with a giant candy.
Maren recalled being cast for the movie in a 2009 interview with The New York Post.
“I was just out of high school in Massachusetts and appearing in vaudeville Times Square with an act called Three and a Half Steps. I was approached by a casting agent who said, “We need little people who can sing and dance.”
He had never met another little person before filming “Oz.”
“No, not until I got to MGM and there were 124 of us — young boys, young girls, old guys and old women,” Maren said. “We were all paid $50 a week because we didn’t have agents. They thought we were stupid, but we knew we were getting the shaft. Toto was getting $150 a week,” he added.
“I’ve done so many things in show business, but people say, ‘You were in The Wizard of Oz?’ It takes people’s breath away,” Maren recalled during an interview with Patch in 2011. “But then I realized, ‘Geez, it must have been a hell of a picture, because everyone remembers it everywhere I go.’”
Rest in peace little buddy and thanks for the memories.
Enjoy reuniting with your friends in heaven.