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The Munchkins
Oz books character
W. W. Denslow's depiction of Munchkins, from the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
First appearanceThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Created byL. Frank Baum
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For other uses, see Munchkin (disambiguation).
The Munchkins
Oz books character
W. W. Denslow's depiction of Munchkins, from the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
First appearanceThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Created byL. Frank Baum

The Munchkins are the natives of the fictional Munchkin Country in the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. They first appeared in the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in which they are described as wearing only blue. They and the non-Munchkin Witch accompanying them are described as being Dorothy's height. The 1939 film The Wizard of Oz depicted Munchkins as being much shorter than other residents of Oz; they are played by either adults with dwarfism or children,[1] dressed in brightly multicolored outfits, and their land is called Munchkinland. Many of the Munchkins' voices were achieved by pre-recording some of the actors' voices onto tape, and speeding it up slightly.[2]

On November 20, 2007, the Munchkins were given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Seven of the surviving Munchkins actors from the film were present.[3] As a result of the popularity of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, the word "munchkin" has entered the English language as a reference to small children, persons with dwarfism, or anything of diminutive stature.[4]


The following is an excerpt from chapter two of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in which Dorothy first meets three Munchkins and the Good Witch of the North:

"... she noticed coming down toward her a group of the queerest people she had ever seen. They were not as big as the grown folk she had always been used to; but neither were they very small. In fact, they seemed about as tall as Dorothy, who was a well-grown child for her age, although they were, so far as looks go, many years older.

Baum apparently did not mean that only Munchkins are short in stature (as depicted in the iconic 1939 film), but that this is the norm for all of the adult humans of Oz. In a scene later in the book, the Guardian of the Gates, the first inhabitant of the Emerald City met by Dorothy and apparently representative of its citizens, is "a little man about the same size as the Munchkins." Still later, the Quadlings of the southern land are described as "short and fat."

In W. W. Denslow's illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard (approved by Baum), the only Oz humans depicted as remarkably taller than Dorothy are the Soldier with the Green Whiskers and Glinda. The short stature of Oz residents is rarely mentioned in the later books of the 'Oz' series written by Baum.

However, in later Oz books, the Munchkins, and the people of Oz in general, were not described as being unusually short and were depicted as no shorter than the human characters from the United States. The one exception is the Munchkin wrestler that Zeb fought in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz.

Origin of the term[edit]

Baum never explained where the term came from, but Baum researcher Brian Attebery has hypothesized that there might be a connection to the Münchner Kindl, the emblem of the Bavarian city of Munich (spelled München in German). The symbol was originally a 13th-century statue of a monk, looking down from the town hall in Munich. Over the years, the image was reproduced many times, for instance as a figure on beer steins, and eventually evolved into a child wearing a pointed hood. Baum's family had German origins, suggesting that Baum could have seen one such reproduction in his childhood.

It is also conceivable that "Munchkin" is derived from the German word for "mannikin" or "little figure": "Männchen", with "-chen" being the diminutive suffix for "Mann" (man). Southern German dialects use different diminutive suffixes and a "Männchen" is called "Manderl" or "Manschgerl", the latter of which is phonetically very close to munchkin.

It is also possible that the term came from the Romanian word for laborer, "muncitor", replacing the Romanian suffix of agency, "-itor", with the English suffix of (kind, sort, and) class identification, "-kin". "Munci" is the Romanian verb "to labor" and is pronounced /MOOHN-chee/.

Known Munchkins[edit]

The following is a list of Munchkins named in the Oz books:


The following is a list of actors who portrayed the Munchkins in the 1939 film. Most of the 124 midgets hired were acquired for MGM by Leo Singer, the proprietor of Singer's Midgets.[5][6] An additional dozen or so child actresses of average size were hired to make up for the shortage of little people that the studio found to appear in the film. These actors – including those with speaking parts – were credited on-screen collectively, as "The Munchkins."

In 1989, author Stephen Cox researched, found, and wrote about the surviving Munchkin actors fifty years after they made the film. He wrote about them in his book, The Munchkins Remember (1989, E.P. Dutton) which was later revised as The Munchkins of Oz (Cumberland House), and his book remained in print for nearly two decades. When he wrote the book, 33 little people who acted in the film were surviving and were interviewed.

Deceased (123)[edit]

ActorBornDiedPart(s) playedSource
Gladys W. AllisonN/AN/APlayed a villager[7]
John BallasN/AN/AN/A[8]
Franz Balluck19131987Played a villager[9]
Josefine Balluck19081984Played a villager[10][11][12]
John T. Bambury18911960Played a soldier[13]
Charlie Becker18871968Played "The Mayor of Munchkinland"[13][14]
Freda BetskyN/AN/APlayed a villager[7]
Henry Boers1896N/AN/A[15]
Theodore Boers1894N/AN/A[15]
Christie Buresh19071979Played a villager[16]
Eddie Buresh19091982Played a villager[17]
Lida Buresh19061970Played a villager[8][18]
Mickey Carroll19192009Played a fiddler, a town crier, and a soldier[19]
Casper "Colonel" Balsam19041968N/A[8]
Nona A. Cooper18751953Played a villager[20]
Tommy Cottonaro19142001Played the Bearded Man[21]
Elizabeth CoulterN/AN/APlayed a villager
Lewis Croft19192008Played a soldier[22]
Frank Cucksey19191984Played the villager that gives Dorothy the flowers[23][24]
Billy Curtis19091988Played the Braggart ("and ohhhh what happened then was rich")
Eugene S. David, Jr.N/AN/AN/A
Eulie H. David19211972N/A
Ethel W. Denis18941968Played a villager
Prince Denis18921984Played the Sergeant-at-Arms[25]
Hazel I. Derthick19061989Played a villager[26]
Daisy Doll19071980Played a villager
Gracie Doll18991970Played a villager
Harry Doll19021985Member of "The Lollipop Guild"
Tiny Doll19142004Played a villager
Major Doyle18931940Played a villager
Ruth Robinson Duccini19182014Played a villager[27]
Carl M. Erickson19171958Played the 2nd Trumpeter & a Sleepyhead[28]
Fern Formica19251995Played a villager and a "sleepyhead"[29]
Addie Eva FrankN/AN/Aplayed a villager
Thaisa L. Gardner19091968Played a villager
Jakob "Jackie" Gerlich19171960Member of "The Lollipop Guild"[30]
William A. Giblin19161985N/A
Jack S. Glicken19001950Played a city father[31]
Carolyn E. Granger19151973Played a villager
Joseph L. Herbst19081993Played a soldier[32]
Jakob Hofbauer1908N/APlayed a soldier[33]
Clarence C. Howerton "Major Mite"19131975Played the 3rd Trumpeter & Sleepyhead[34]
Helen M. HoyN/AN/Aplayed a villager
Marguerite A. Hoy19061969N/A[35]
James R. Hulse19151964Played a villager[36]
Robert KanterN/AN/APlayed a soldier[37]
Eleanor Keaton19181998N/A
Charles E. KelleyN/AN/AN/A
Jessie E. Kelley19071968Played a villager
Shirley Ann Kennedy Vegors19322005Child actress[38]
Frank Kikel19121989N/A
Bernard "Harry" Klima18971957N/A[23][39]
Mitzi Koestner18941975N/A
Emma Koestner19001984Played a villager
Willi Koestner19081974Played a soldier
Adam Edwin "Eddie" Kozicki19171986Played a fiddler
Joseph J. KozielN/AN/APlayed a villager
Dolly F. Kramer19041995Played a villager[40]
Emil Kranzler19111993Played a villager[41]
Nita Krebs19051991Member of The Lullaby League and a villager
"Little Jean" LaBarbera19091993Played a villager[42]
Hilda LangeN/AN/APlayed a villager[43]
Rae-Nell Laskey19301991Child actress
Johnny Leal19051996Played a villager and a soldier
Ann Rice Leslie19001973Played a villager
Charles LudwigN/AN/APlayed a villager
Dominick MagroN/A1959N/A[44]
Carlos Manzo19141955N/A[37]
Howard MarcoN/AN/AN/A
Bela "Mike" Matina1903N/APlayed a villager[37]
Lajos "Leo" Matina18931975Played a villager[37]
Matjus "Ike" Matina1903N/APlayed a villager[37]
Patsy May19342013Child actress[45]
Walter M. B. Miller19061987Played a soldier and a flying monkey
George Ministeri19131986Played the coachman and a villager
Harry Monty19041999Played a villager and a flying monkey[46]
Yvonne Bistany Moray1917N/AMember of The Lullaby League and a villager
Olga C. Nardone19212010One of the sleepyheads, a villager, and a member of The Lullaby League[47][48]
Nels P. Nelson19181994Played a villager
Margaret C.H. Nickloy19021961Played a villager[49]
Franklin O'BaughN/AN/AN/A
William H. O'Docharty19201988The coach footman and villager
Hildred C. OlsonN/AN/APlayed a villager
Frank PackardN/AN/AN/A
Nicholas Page19041978Played a city father[37]
Leona M. Parks1897N/APlayed a villager
Margaret Williams Pellegrini19232013Played a "sleepyhead" and the "flower pot munchkin"[50]
Johnny PizoN/AN/AN/A
"Prince Leon" Polinsky19181955Played a villager
Meinhardt Raabe19152010Played the coroner[51]
Margaret Raia19282003Played a villager[52]
Matthew RaiaN/AN/APlayed a city father who welcomed Dorothy to Oz
Friedrich "Freddie" Retter1913N/APlayed a fiddler and villager
"Little Billy" Rhodes18941967Played the barrister[53]
Gertrude H. RiceN/AN/APlayed a villager
Hazel RiceN/AN/APlayed a villager
Sandor Roka18991957N/A
Jimmy Rosen18921973N/A[54]
Charles F. Royal19001947Played a soldier
Helen J. Royal18971958Played a villager
Stella A. Royal19031959Played a villager
Albert RuddingerN/AN/AN/A
Elsie R. Schultz18921987Played a villager[37]
Charles Silvern19021979N/A
Garland "Earl" Slatten19171995Played a soldier[55]
Karl Slover19182011Played lead trumpeter, a soldier, a "sleepyhead" and a villager[56]
Ruth E. Smith18951985Played a villager
Elmer Spangler1910N/AN/A
Pernell St. Aubin19221987Played a soldier
Carl StephanN/AN/AN/A
Alta M. Stevens19131989Played a villager
Donna Jean Johnson Stewart-Hardaway19332008Child actress
George SuchsieN/AN/AN/A
Charlotte V. Sullivan19061966Played a villager
Clarence Swensen19172009Played a soldier[57]
Betty Tanner19161994Played a villager
Arnold Vierling19191949Played a villager[58]
Gus Wayne19201998Played a soldier[59]
Victor Wetter19021990The Captain of the Army[60]
Viola WhiteN/AN/AChild actress
Gracie B. WilliamsN/AN/APlayed a villager
Harvey B. WilliamsN/AN/APlayed a soldier
Johnny Winters19051985Played The Commander of the Navy
Marie Winters19011979Played a villager[37]
Gladys V. Wolff19111984Played a villager[37]
Murray Wood19081999Played a city father[61]
Elaine MirkN/AN/AChild actress
Valerie ShepherdN/AN/AChild actress

Living today (1)[edit]

As of January 16, 2014, there is one known surviving munchkin from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. The other survivor, Priscilla Ann Montgomery Clark, was a child actress at the time.

Jerry MarenJanuary 24, 1920green member of "The Lollipop Guild"[62][63]
Priscilla Ann Montgomery Clark1929Child actress[64][65][66]


ActorBornDiedPart(s) playedSource
Betty Ann Cain1931UnknownChild actress[65][66]

AKA Betty Ann Bruno. Retired from KTVU-TV in 1991. Lives in Sonoma, CA. Teaches hula. Website Source: Her husband, Craig Scheiner.

Ardith Dondanville1930UnknownChild actress[65][66]
Joan Kenmore1931UnknownChild actress[65][66]
Eva Lee Kuney1934UnknownChild actress


The Munchkins (specifically the "Lollipop Guild") as depicted in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. L-R: Jackie Gerlich, Jerry Maren and Harry Doll

The Munchkins appeared in The Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy and Toto first arrived in the Land of Oz after her house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East, the Munchkins have been hiding until Glinda the Good Witch arrived and had the Munchkins come out of their hiding place.

During the musical number, Dorothy told them how she arrived in the Land of Oz and the Munchkins celebrate. The Mayor of Munchkinland and his assistant had to make sure that the Wicked Witch of the East is dead before the celebration continued. The coroner tells the Mayor of Munchkinland that the Wicked Witch of the East is not merely dead and that she is most sincerely dead while showing the Certificate of Death. The Munchkins then celebrate further as Dorothy receives gifts from the Lullabye League and the Lollipop Guild. Near the end of the song, the Wicked Witch of the West arrived causing the Munchkins to hit the deck. After the Wicked Witch of the West left, Glinda had Dorothy follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City as the Munchkins guide her out of Munchkinland.


  1. ^ TV Guide Movie News Question: "Are some of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz played by children dressed like adults?" by Maitland McDonagh, Sep 22, 2005.
  2. ^ "The Ultimate Oz liner notes for chapter 44". Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  3. ^ "News, Munchkin actors get star on Walk of Fame". (with CNN reference). Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  4. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2004. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (2013). The Making of the Wizard of Oz (75th Anniversary Updated ed.). Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 193. ISBN 1613748329. 
  6. ^ GoogleBooks image for The Making of the Wizard of Oz p. 193.
  7. ^ a b Jay Scarfone, William Stillman. The Wizardry of Oz: The Artistry and Magic of the 1939 M-G-M Classic. Hal Leonard Corporation. Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  8. ^ a b c Rob White, Edward Buscombe. British Film Institute Film Classics, Volume 1. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  9. ^ "Find a Grave website/Franz 'Mike' Balluck". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Find a Grave website/Josefine Balluck". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Scarfone, Jay (2004). The Wizardry of Oz: The Artistry and Magic of the 1939 M-G-M Classic. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 240. ISBN 1557836248.
  12. ^ Rushdie, Salman (1992). The Wizard of Oz. Macmillan. p. 67. ISBN 0851703003.
  13. ^ a b "Munchkins of 'Oz' get a star on Walk of Fame". USA Today. 11/21/2007. Retrieved 08/08/2013.
  14. ^ "Munchkin Mayor's famed 'Oz' vest displayed at Chicagoland casino". 2007-11-17. Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  15. ^ a b "1938 Midget Jamboree". Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  16. ^ "Find a Grave website/Christie Buresh". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "Find a Grave website/Eddie Buresh". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "Lida Buresh at Find a Grave". Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  19. ^ "Mickey Carroll Obituary". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "Find a Grave website/Nona A. Cooper". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  21. ^ "Tommy Cottonaro at Find a Grave". Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b "Nate Eagle's Hollywood Midgets". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "Frank H. Cucksey". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Prince Denis, 84, Performer Who Played Munchkin Mayor". The New York Times. June 24, 1984. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  26. ^ "Find a Grave website/Hazel I. Derthick". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  27. ^ "Final female 'Oz' Munchkin Ruth Duccini dead at 95". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  28. ^ "Carl M. "Kayo" Erickson". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  29. ^ "Fern Formica". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  30. ^ "Jackie Gerlich Biography". Retrieved September 2014. 
  31. ^ "Jack S. Glicken Biography". Retrieved September 2014. 
  32. ^ "Joseph L. Herbst Biography". Retrieved September 2014. 
  33. ^ "Jacob Hofbauer". Archived from the original on 2004-06-20. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  34. ^ "Find a Grave website/Clarence Chesterfield "Major Mite" Howerton". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  35. ^ "Marguerite A. Hoy". Archived from the original on 2006-09-14. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  36. ^ "Find a Grave website/James R. Hulse, Jr.". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Little People: Midget, Dwarves and Others....". Archived from the original on 2005-02-24. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  38. ^ "Shirley Ann Kennedy Vegors Obituary". Retrieved 2014-11-26. 
  39. ^ "Circus Midget Dies in Mexico". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  40. ^ "Dolly Kramer". Archived from the original on 2006-11-08. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  41. ^ "Find a Grave website/Emil Kranzler". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  42. ^ "Jeane La Barbera and Robert Drake". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  43. ^ Hogoboom Family Tree,
  44. ^ San Diego Union 5/1/1959 p b5
  45. ^ "Patsy May 1934 - 1913 - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2014-11-26. 
  46. ^ "Wizard of Oz 'Munchkin' dies aged 95". BBC News. 2000-01-01. 
  47. ^ Olga Nardone's obituary. Retrieved 2010-11-04
  48. ^ "The "MGM" Munchkins". Kansasoz. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
  49. ^ "Find a Grave website/Margaret Cynthia Nickloy". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  50. ^ "Margaret Pellegrini dies at 89; actress played Munchkin in 'Oz'". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  51. ^ Fox, Margalit (9 April 2010). "Meinhardt Raabe, Famous Munchkin, Is Dead at 94". New York Times. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  52. ^ "Find a Grave website/Margaret "Margie" Raia". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  53. ^ "Find a Grave website/Billy Rhodes". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  54. ^ "Jimmy Rosen". Archived from the original on 2006-11-10. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  55. ^ "Midget Jamboree 1938". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  56. ^ - Munchkins Get Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
  57. ^ Banta, Bob (2009-02-26). "Former Munchkin dies at 91". Austin-American Statesman. Retrieved 2009-02-26. 
  58. ^ "Find a Grave website/Arnold James Vierling". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  59. ^ "Find a Grave website/Gus Wayne". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  60. ^ "Victor Wetter". Archived from the original on 2005-02-06. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  61. ^ "Murray Wood". Archived from the original on 2006-10-30. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  62. ^ "OFFBEAT: 'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin's wife, Elizabeth Maren, dead at 69". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  63. ^ As of January 18, 2014 there are several Munchkins whose names do not appear in the Social Security Death Index and may still be alive. They include Joan Kenmore Bernhoft, Betty Ann Cain Bruno, and Ardith Dondanville Todd. Their married names are documented here. (Joan divorced and some sources use the former married name of Bernhoft)
  64. ^ "'The Wizard of Oz' 3D Screening in LA". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  65. ^ a b c d "Child actors recall joining Munchkin ranks in 'Oz'". Archived from the original on 2009-03-04. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  66. ^ a b c d "Meet Joan Kenmore who once danced on the yellow brick road". Retrieved 2014-11-26.