Daily Mirror


- Rod.mcphee@mirror.co.uk

had to be escorted by guards


at Depression, forced to perform in deville comedy acts or as carnival ks. Others had come from Europe, uding one troupe that managed to flee persecutio­n thanks to the film role. rry Maren, 97, is the last surviving nchkin. He enjoyed one of the biggest s in the Wizard of Oz, as part of the of young Lollipop Guild Munchkins welcomed Dorothy to Munchkinla­nd. e played down his co-stars’ riotous utation, claiming there were a few bad es. “There were a couple of kids from Germany who liked to drink beer,” said Jerry. “They drank beer morning, noon and night, and got in a little trouble.”

But the actor, who lives in San Diego, said it was difficult not to get carried away with excitement, as working in Hollywood was such a buzz for them.

“Making the film was the greatest fun I ever had in my life. I’d never met any little people. I was the only small person in my family,” he said.

“My father worked in a hotel and earned about $5 a week. I got paid $50 a week.”

Jerry appreciate­d his wage, but it was still galling to learn they were the lowest paid of the cast. Even Dorothy’s dog, Toto, was paid $125 a week. The actors claimed they were being ripped off by manager Leo Von Singer, brought in by MGM as he already had a troupe of performing dwarves and knew he could find more. The studio reportedly paid him $100 for every Munchkin he brought in, but he took a 50% cut and treated them with disdain. Small wonder many were angry, and felt they had little to lose. Jerry said: “He was a son of a bitch. He was a cheap b ***** d. He stole all their money.” Jerry was one of the lucky ones. Fellow Munchkin Hazel Derthick Resmondo said: “I only got five dollars a day. There wasn’t any union or guild or anything for us then. When I complained, Singer said, ‘If you don’t like your job, you can go home’.” But the Munchkin cast finally gained some long-overdue recognitio­n 10 years ago.

With a petition supported by director Steven Spielberg and actor Mickey Rooney, they received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Some of the original cast, along with Judy’s son Joey Luft, attended the unveiling.

And despite the chaos, Jerry insisted most of the dwarves enjoyed a great relationsh­ip with Judy. She even presented each of the 124 actors with a signed photo and box of chocolates after their last shoot.

Jerry said: “She was a movie star and I’d figured she’d be a pain in the neck. But she was glad to meet us and we were glad to meet her. She was an angel.”

 ??  ?? SHORT STORIES Jerry Maren, centre, with Jakob Gerlich, and Harry Doll in the movie
SHORT STORIES Jerry Maren, centre, with Jakob Gerlich, and Harry Doll in the movie
 ??  ?? BUZZ Jerry Maren, right, with star; top centre, in film
BUZZ Jerry Maren, right, with star; top centre, in film

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