ENTERTAINMENT
08/06/2018 17:05 SAST | Updated 08/06/2018 17:05 SAST

'The Wizard Of Oz' Munchkin Actor Jerry Maren Dies, Aged 98

Actor Jerry Maren, who portrayed a Munchkin in the 1939 hit film ‘The Wizard Of Oz’, has died at the age of 98.

U.S. actor Jerry Maren, who portrayed a Munchkin in the 1939 hit film "The Wizard Of Oz", has died at the age of 98.

Maren had been the oldest surviving member of the group known in the musical as the Lollipop Guild. He died last week at a nursing facility in San Diego, California.

His cause of death has not been disclosed, but he had been living with dementia in the years leading up to his death.

John M. Heller via Getty Images
Jerry at an event in 2013

The late actor is best known for starring opposite Judy Garland in the scene where Dorothy first arrives in Oz, and is greeted by the Munchkins, one of whom — Maren's character — hands her a welcoming lollipop.

After "The Wizard Of Oz", Maren took a break from the silver screen for three decades, before appearing in a string of varying film roles, including the 1968 "Planet Of The Apes", the sci-fi parody "Spaceballs" and the comedy "Under The Rainbow" — which portrayed the off-set actor shenanigans that the little people who played Munchkins in the classic film got up to in Hollywood, during its shooting.

MGM
Jerry (in green) in the 1939 film 'The Wizard Of Oz'

He also appeared in bit parts in a number of TV shows over the years, including "The Odd Couple", "Seinfeld", "The Twilight Zone" and "Bewitched".

Maren's final credit was in the 2010 serial killer film, "Dahmer vs. Gacy".

For 36 years, Maren was married to Elizabeth Barrington, an actress and fellow member of the LPA (Little People Of America), until her death in 2011, a romance he said had made him feel "the luckiest guy in the world".

Maren's funeral is set to be held at Forest Lawn in Hollywood over the weekend.

Watch his most iconic scene from "The Wizard Of Oz" below:

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