by Edwin L. Carpenter - Editor, The Dove Foundation
surviving Munchkins from the classic “The Wizard of Oz” feature film finally
received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, reserved for immortals of film
lore. The ceremony was held on November 20, 2007. The Dove Foundation recently
interviewed four of the surviving Munchkins, a rare group indeed. We recently
posted interviews with Karl Slover (the first trumpeter in the film) and
Meinhardt Raabe (the coroner Munchkin). The next two interviews took place with
Jerry Maren, the Lollipop Kid who handed the world’s largest sucker to Judy
Garland, and Mickey Carroll (The Town Crier and a fiddler).
When I started off by congratulating Mr. Jerry Maren, aka The Lollipop kid,
on receiving the star, he said, “Thank you,” and then quickly added, “It’s the
group that’s getting a star.” He wanted to share the honor with his fellow
actors, a commendable response.
“It’s got to feel pretty good to be part of that group,” I said. “Oh, and
how,” he said. “We deserve it, I’m telling ya. I don’t know if you’ve seen the
movie, it’s probably one of the finest sequences ever filmed.” I assured Mr.
Maren I had seen the film every year growing up and I own the DVD. “Then you
know how good that Munchkin sequence was.”
I have seen pictures of a young Jerry Maren, eighteen at the time, and the
make-up job was terrific as it makes him look like an older character with an
edge. I asked how long it took him in the make-up chair when filming Oz.
an hour or an hour…a long time.” In some respects an hour doesn’t seem long, but
as often as Maren would have been needed on the set, the hours added up. Dove
asked Mr. Maren if he got tired of the process. “Oh yes,” he said. “That’s one
thing I hated. I had to get to the studio ahead of everybody else, and it was a
We asked Mr. Maren how much of his own voice was included in the dialog, such
as “We thank you very sweetly for doing it so neatly,” and the song, “We
represent the Lollipop Guild.”
“My voice was used but it was all taken out. The whole sequence was dubbed
in,” he said. When I mentioned that he had such a great screen presence, he
said, “Don’t forget there were three of us singing.” I replied by saying he was
a gracious man. Again, he wanted to honor all of the Munchkins, not just
himself. He mentioned that another one of the guild members, Harry Doll, aka
Harry Earles, who appeared in the film “Freaks,” “was a wonderful man.” In “The
Wizard of Oz” Earles appears on the right side of the screen during the Lollipop
Guild’s scene, and he appears elsewhere in the film, including one of the first
Munchkin scenes when he pops up from a manhole.
Maren has done a ton of work in Hollywood including a TV commercial with
basketball superstar Larry Johnson during the 1993 Super Bowl. He appeared as a
troll-like Munchkin dressed in a striped referee’s uniform. He welcomed Johnson
“to three-point land” in an Oz lampoon. “They ran it at a terrific time,” Maren
said. “Those commercials were expensive to run.”
He also performed in McDonald’s television commercials as “Mayor McCheese”
and the “Ham burglar.” In the 1950’s he helped co-found the “Little People of
America” organization with his buddy and fellow actor, the late Billy Barty. His
other television credits, which are vast, include “Star Trek,” “The Beverly
Hillbillies,” “The Lucy Show,” “Daniel Boone,” “Get Smart,” and “The Twilight
“What was it like working with Judy Garland?” we asked. “She was an absolute
angel,” he replied. We mentioned she was a wonderful singer. “A wonderful
everything,” he said. “She was a lovely woman.”
asked Mr. Maren what were one or two of his favorite scenes, apart from the
Lollipop Guild scene. “There was one scene with the witch when she made an
appearance. I was just about four feet away from her. I thought, ‘Where the heck
did she come from?’ I have a pretty good eye. She came up out of the ground, an
elevator—that’s how they make them disappear. It took a lot of preparation. They
had an elevator to push ‘em down and push ‘em up.”
Dove asked Mr. Maren about other favorite roles and he replied, “’Marx
Brothers at the Circus.’ I played Professor Atom.” Maren said he had a lot of
fun making the picture. The plot involved his character living on a train and
the Marx Brothers conducting an investigation. They asked if he smoked cigars as
they were trying “to connect me with the murder.” At one point Maren said one of
the characters stuck his face “right in front of me and I’m laughing, and the
director said ‘Cut! Jerry, what are you laughing at? You’re a suspected burglar
in the movie.’ I didn’t mean to laugh but if you were around them (Marx
Brothers) you couldn’t help but laugh!” Maren added that in the film both he and
the furniture were blown around by the Marx Brothers. He speaks highly of the
film. “I enjoyed it very much,” he said.
Mr. Maren has a book coming out titled “Short and Sweet: The Life and Times
of the Lollipop Munchkin.” It will be published by Cumberland House. “It was a
lot of work but we did it,” he said.
We asked if he still attends “The Wizard of Oz” conventions around the
country and he said, “Every one of ‘em!” He plans to attend the annual
convention which will be held in Chesterton, Indiana, in September. “I love that
one,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest ones of the year.”
We closed by telling him once more how great it is that the Munchkins are
receiving a star. “I think so too,” said Mr. Maren. He ended the interview by
saying, “Thank you, if you have any more questions be free to call.” His
graciousness and class stood out. Mr. Maren is a big man in our book.
Carroll helped clear up who did the singing for “The Lollipop Guild.” It was Mr.
Carroll who did the song. We caught up with the Munchkin who saunters across the
screen with a bell just after Harry Earles pops up from a manhole. In addition,
Mr. Carroll was the second fiddler from the left who plays as Dorothy dances
when the Munchkins sing “You’re off to see the Wizard.” He did some other voices
in the film too.
Mr. Carroll resides in St. Louis, Missouri, and is a big Cardinals fan. He
has lived in the area for years and when he attends the games or a meal in a
restaurant, he is swarmed by eager fans seeking autographs. He had a long run in
show business and when he learned we were calling from Grand Rapids, Michigan,
he said, “I’ve been there, years ago. Who hasn’t? I was in vaudeville. I did it
all my life to make a living. My mother wanted me to be a lawyer! When I was in
seventh grade in Hollywood my agent called me up and he said, ‘I have thirty six
weeks for you for $500 a week.’ I said, ‘There goes my education!”
Mickey Carroll is a quick-witted man with a sharp memory and, although he
just turned eighty eight years old in July, he still enjoys entertaining. “I was
a song and dance man,” he said. Suddenly he broke out into song on the phone!
“One of these days, you’re going to miss me honey!” he sang. He still has a
great voice. “Do you remember a commercial (and he breaks into song again) ‘Call
for Philip Morris?’ I got $500 a week and I coughed all the way to the bank!”
When we congratulated Mr. Carroll on the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,
he said, “Guess whose name is going to be first?” “Who’s that?” I enquired.
“Me.” “Hey, that’s awesome!” I replied. “You know why?” he asked me, “cause it
starts with a ‘C’!” His name comes first in the alphabet. I must admit he nailed
me on that one. “Alphabetically!” he laughed.
Carroll spoke for a bit on “The Wizard of Oz.” He said many of the Munchkins did
not speak English, or his voice was more suited for some of the roles than some
of the other actors, and “I dubbed their voice. I was three weeks late getting
into the picture. I had an accident and was in the hospital. But the director
Victor Fleming said, ‘Mickey, don’t worry. All you’re going to do is read the
script and you’re going to do the voice when you see the picture.’ Like the
lollipop kid, he used his fist (Jerry Maren, shaking his fist in a scene) and I
said, ‘We represent the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild, we wish to welcome
you to Munchkinland.’
“And then Auntie Em, when she was looking for Dorothy in the tornado at the
farm, she was hollering in the tornado with all that noise and she was saying,
‘Dorothy! Dorothy!’ And the director said, ‘Dorothy won’t be able to hear you.
Go ahead Mickey, you do it.’ ‘Dorothy!’” Mickey cried out in a high voice.
“So you did that part?” Dove asked. “Yeah, I did her voice,” replied Mr.
Carroll. “I did three weeks of voiceovers. Before I did the movie I was to go to
Hollywood at Disney and do voices for Disney.”
He also wound up being the town crier in the brief scene already mentioned,
and the second fiddler. “I said, ‘We thank you very sweetly for doing it so
neatly,’ and then ‘Follow the yellow brick road.’ And then when she (Dorothy)
went down the yellow brick road I was the second one with the violin. We went
down the yellow brick road with her. We only went down about thirty feet because
it showed it like the yellow brick road went on for about two hundred miles. If
she’d have gone more than forty feet, she would have bumped into the wall!”
Mr. Carroll said he used to use return address labels with a picture of him
on the yellow brick road with Judy Garland. Much of his mail didn’t make it to
the intended locations as many people, assuming there were autographed photos in
the envelopes (which there were) stole the letters! He said a lot of people get
his autographs at his various appearances and then he sees the autographs on
I asked about Mr. Carroll working with Judy Garland, and he said, “We grew up
together. When she was six we did vaudeville together. I knew she was a great
singer, even at six years old. We did vaudeville and Al Capone was there in
Chicago at the World’s Fair in ’33. She worked with her sisters. She was Frances
Gumm and they were the three Gumm sisters.”
As happy as Mr. Carroll is about the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he
is prouder of a few other special moments in his life. “The best thing that
happened to me, in ’33, I wrote a speech for Roosevelt. He was the governor of
New York then. He wanted something funny for the men’s club. And I wrote
something. He was with his (future) wife, but not yet married. And in the speech
I did his voice too. ‘I say again, and again, I hate war. Eleanor hates war. And
I hate Eleanor!” I must admit to chuckling with Mr. Carroll on that one. Mr.
Carroll said he wrote some speeches for Harry Truman too.
Mr. Carroll also mentioned his fellow Munchkin, Jerry Maren, saying he hopes
to read his upcoming book, and that “Jerry was a pretty snappy guy. He was
pretty smart.” He mentioned that Jerry had started out young in the business as
“I love people,” said Mr. Carroll as we wound down our interview. “I never
get angry at people. I love ‘em. I love to talk in front of them. I love to make
them laugh.” He also recalled his past years of entertaining people with thirty
week contracts at $500 a week.
“Everybody in my family was tall. That’s one thing I didn’t want to be—tall.
There’s no money in it!”
Mr. Carroll shared a funny anecdote about an occurrence in 2006 when Tony
LaRussa, the St. Louis Cardinals manager, was about to attend a press
conference, and Mickey talked him into wearing a pair of ruby slippers. Of
course the Cardinals won the World Series last year and LaRussa said he owed it
all to Mickey Carroll and the ruby slippers!
Mr. Carroll said that Donald O’ Connor once visited him in St. Louis and that
his favorite song was “Make ‘em laugh! Make ‘em laugh!” Of course Mr. Carroll
had to sing it to me and not just tell me! He added that recently he was asked
why “The Wizard of Oz” is still so popular after all these years. “We all grew
up with it,” he replied. Mr. Carroll may be 88 years old now, but he hasn’t
slowed down much.
He spends a lot of his time “keeping busy,” so old age doesn’t catch up to
him too quickly. He participates in parades honoring “The Wizard of Oz” and he
donates his time to charities, including the local fire department and the
Ronald McDonald House.
Mr. Carroll lamented all his uncles and aunts and cousins who are now dead,
and won’t be able to join with him when he receives the star on the Hollywood
Walk of Fame. But one gets the impression that for those who attend the ceremony
that day, Mr. Carroll will “make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh.”
Read Dove's Review of "The
Wizard of Oz"
Munchkins of Oz: Exclusive Interviews (Part 1)"