Jerry Maren, Last Surviving 'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin, Dies at 98

Jerry Maren, who played a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz, has died at 98.

Maren passed away last week at a San Diego nursing home, according to a TMZ report. His cause of death is unknown, but Maren did suffer from dementia before his passing.

His funeral was reportedly held over the weekend Forest Lawn in Los Angeles.

Maren was the only surviving actor to play a Munchkin in the iconic 1939 film at the time of his death. He was a member of the Lollipop Guild in the film and was notably the center character in the below still as he presented Dorothy with a lollipop after her arrival in Oz.

(Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

His Wizard of Oz role was his most famous on-screen appearance. However, he made both credited and uncredited appearances in numerous classic shows and films, including Seinfeld, TRON, The Beverly Hillbillies, Planet of the Apes, The Wild Wild West, Bewitched, The Bob Hope Show, Lidsville, The Twlight Zone and Spaceballs, among others.

He returned to Oz in the 1990 TV movie The Dreamer of Oz. He played Mr. Munchkin in the film, which was a biopic of Oz author Frank Baum.

His last on-screen role came as a mime in the 2010 horror film, Dahmer vs. Gacy.

Maren was preceded in death by his wife Elizabeth, who died in 2011. She was 69.

The actor always seemed proud of his Oz contribution, recounting his experience on the film numerous times over the years, including in a 2011 interview with Patch.

"It took two weeks of makeup preparation," Maren said about preparing for the role. "It was a pain in the a-s-s. I'm tellin' you. They'd have these barber chairs down below street level on one of the stages, and we'd go from chair to chair – wigs, fake cheeks, noses, chins. It was not fun."

Despite all the preparation, Maren said he really did not grasp the size of the production until he got on set.


"I remember when I first saw the sets and all of us. I thought, 'Geez, look at that. Boy, they went to a lot of pain to get all these little people from all over the world. This must be important,'" he said. "The set was monstrous and it was beautiful, with a pond and the Yellow Brick Road and all the flowers."

No other details on Maren's passing are available at this time.