One of the last surviving cast members of 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz has died at the age of 93.
Karl Slover played the part of a Munchkin trumpeteer and greeter, appearing in the first scenes of the movie when Dorothy lands in Oz and begins to discover her new surroundings. Slover passed away in Laurens County, Georgia, and county coroner Nathan Stanley said that the cause of the diminutive star’s death was cardiopulmonary arrest.
Born in 1918 in the Czech Republic as Karl Kosiczky, Slover was one of only three living Munchkins remaining of the original 124. According to the New York Times, the Wizard of Oz star’s early years were marked by adversity stemming from his tiny size:
“In those uninformed days his father tried witch doctor treatments to make him grow,” Mr. Fricke said. Young Karl was immersed in heated oil until his skin blistered and then attached to a stretching machine at a hospital, all in an attempt to make him taller. When he was 9, he was sold by his father to a traveling show in Europe, Mr. Fricke said.
Mr. Slover was paid $50 a week for “Oz” and told friends that Toto, Judy Garland’s canine co-star, made more money.
In later years, Slover continued to appear at events related to the film, and was present in Hollywood for the bestowing of a star in 2007. Wizard of Oz expert John Fricke commented on his fame in Slover’s sunset years:
“Of the 124 little people, he’s one of the handful who got to enjoy this latter-day fame, to have people know who he was and be able to pick him out of the crowd in the movie.”