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Munchkin Actor Raabe Dies

April 11, 2010

Hollywood has said goodbye to actor Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin coroner in The Wizard Of Oz.

Flowers were laid on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame star dedicated to the 124 Munchkin actors, after Raabe died in Florida on Friday, aged 94.

Playing the coroner, he was one of nine Munchkins to have had a speaking part in Oz, pronouncing the Wicked Witch of the East “most sincerely dead”.

The actor, who was 1.37m tall, was one of the last surviving Munchkins.

When the troupe’s star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame was unveiled in 2007, there were only seven left – most in their 80s and 90s.

Raabe attended the ceremony, dressed in a huge hat with a rolled brim, as seen in the film.

He delighted fans by reciting his most famous line: “As coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her. And she’s not only merely dead. She’s really most sincerely dead.”

The actor’s caregiver, Cindy Bosnyak, said he died in hospital on Friday.

He had complained of a sore throat at his retirement community before collapsing and going into cardiac arrest.

“He had a headful of hair at 94 and he… remembered everything every day,” she said.

“To me he was a walking history book, very alert.”

‘A perfect coroner’

Raabe was born in Watertown, Wisconsin, in 1915, and was a member of the Midget City cast at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1934.

He used the money from this and other appearances to pay his way through University, earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration.

He married Marie Hartline, who worked for a vaudeville show called Rose’s Royal Midget Troupe, in 1946. She died in a car crash in 1997. Raabe was injured in the same accident.

Meinhardt Raabe

Raabe was 22 years old when he landed his most famous role

The Wizard Of Oz, filmed between 1938 and 39, featured a cast of 124 Munchkins – some of whom were children.

Raabe said the pay was pitiful – “by today’s standards, people would say you were crazy to work for that,” he once noted – but enjoyed the recognition the film brought him.

In later years, he toured fan conventions and released a book, Memories of a Munchkin: An Illustrated Walk Down the Yellow Brick Road, in 2005.

The actor lived a full life after Oz. He was a pilot and an instructor in the Civil Air Patrol during World War II; He worked as a spokesman for the Oscar Mayer hot dog company for 30 years; and he was also a horticulturalist and teacher.

But the film always remained a large presence in his life. In 2005, the Florida Times-Union visited his retirement home and reported that he still kept a signed photograph from Judy Garland in his room.

“For Meinhardt,” she had written. “A perfect coroner, and person, too.”

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