One of the last surviving Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz, Karl Slover, has died at age 93. At noon Wednesday, flowers were placed on the Munchkins' Hollywood Walk of Fame star in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
Slover died of cardiopulmonary arrest on Tuesday in a central Georgia hospital. "He was best known for playing the lead trumpeter in the Munchkin band, but also had roles as a townsman and soldier in the film," said John Fricke, author of "100 Years of Oz" and five other books on the movie and its star, Judy Garland. Slover was one of the tiniest male Munchkins in the movie.
Fellow Oz cast member, Joan Kenmore, 80, a resident of Dana Point who appeared in the film when she was 7 years old as an extra 'child Munchkin' said, "It's very sad, they are really dwindling down."
Kenmore said she last saw Slover when the Munchkins were honored with a star on Nov. 11, 2007.
"As extras, we were always on the set with the Little People like Karl," she said. "They didn't like being called 'Munchkins or midgets.'"
According to Kenmore and numerous books written about the film, there was a difference between the Little People as they liked to be called and the child Munchkins. The Munchkins in the film, about 125 of them, were midgets or dwarfs. Those playing child Munchkins were young children like Kenmore who were cast because they were small in stature and because there were only so many midgets and dwarfs available at the time of hire. The child Munchins had no speaking parts. Kenmore said many of the Little People came from Europe.
Some 70-plus years since the film's release, Kenmore said she still gets at least two to three requests a week for her autograph.
"People send me photos of the movie that they get on the Internet and ask me to sign them," she said. "Sometimes, they are of me and other times they are of Judy Garland or other charcters from the film. People just want a piece of the movie because they still think it is the greatest film of all time besides Gone With the Wind."
She said the letters come from all over the world, many from Scotland and Germany.
"A lot of young people are interested, 12, 13 years old, and servicemen and women who want an autograph," she said.
Kenmore said whenever the film airs on television, she only watches the Munchkinland scene.
"I never liked the monkeys or the witch scenes," she laughed. "I was scared of the soldiers, too."
Kenmore said besides herself there are only three surviving child Munchkins: Betty Ann Bruno, Ardith Todd and Priscilla Clark.
For more about Kenmore, read Life Beyond the Yellow Brick Road.