The last surviving Munchkin from The Wizard Of Oz is still alive and well, despite reports to the contrary. According to TMZ, Jerry Maren is not dead, though rumors that he had lost his battle to cancer were aplenty this week. Interestingly enough, TMZ caught up with Maren’s pal, Steve Cox, who confirmed that Maren is not only alive, but that he does not even have pancreatic cancer. A sigh of relief was breathed by fans around the globe after hearing this news.
“Steve says Maren doesn’t even have pancreatic cancer, and is well cared for by relatives in Southern California. He doesn’t do appearances any more, but he’s about as healthy as can be at 96.”
Jerry Maren is the last living member of the Lollipop Guild (pictured below, center), made famous when the classic film was released in 1939.
According to IMDb, Maren’s life changed in 1938 when he met up with movie execs about a possible role in The Wizard Of Oz. He was only three foot four, but he was the perfect height for a Munchkin. The aspiring actor, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts, traveled with a group by bus from New York to California in hopes of becoming an actor. He was offered a role in The Wizard Of Oz shortly thereafter. Although he was not a main character, Maren ended up being one of the most prominent Munchkins in Munchkin Land — he is the one who hands Dorothy a lollipop when she arrives in Munchkin Land and meets the Munchkins for the first time. She gets a very sweet send-off before heading down the Yellow Brick Road to the land of Oz.
Jerry Maren earned $50 per week for the time he spent filming The Wizard Of Oz, alongside many greats including Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, and more. Maren has 65 acting credits to his name, and has been in plenty of popular television shows from The Twilight Zone to Seinfeld.
While nothing may have topped his role in one of the most iconic films of all time (one that actually brought color television to life in 1956), Maren is still quite popular. According to the Dallas Morning News, he has kept himself busy over the years and has enjoyed meeting people, signing autographs, and talking about his career. Of course, having Munchkin listed on your résumé makes instantly cooler than everyone else, no question.
“In 2005, he was a featured guest at the State Fair of Texas where he signed autographs and answered questions about his career. His wife, Elizabeth Maren, said her husband stays busy with appearances across the country.”
As the last living Munchkin, Jerry Maren, is an icon. Fellow Munchkin actor, Ruth Duccini, passed away on January 16, 2014, leaving Maren to carry on the legacy.
The following video was posted on Instagram by a man named Danny Filaccio. As with many celebrity death hoaxes and rumors, it is great to hear Maren speak out, letting everyone know that he is doing okay. At age 96, plenty of things start to fail, but fans of The Wizard Of Oz and of Jerry Maren himself are pleased to hear that he’s healthy and that he’s living the best life that he can, given his advanced age.
Jerry Maren will never be forgotten (and neither will the song “The Lollipop Guild” from The Wizard Of Oz). Fans hope that he continues living a healthy life as long as he is able.
[Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images]