tipsy munchkins and a nice wicked witch -- 8/10/18

Today's selection -- from Short and Sweet by Jerry Maren. Jerry Maren was a 19-year-old when he left Boston for Hollywood to become a Munchkin -- one of the three members of the Lollipop Guild -- in MGM's Wizard of Oz. Here he reports on some of his fellow actors, including the notorious Wicked Witch of the West:

"Judy Garland was just an average teenager. Granted, she was on her way to becoming a huge star in the movies, but she never acted like it. Remember, I grew up with several teenage sisters, so I had something to compare her to, and she was just lovely. We didn't see much of her because she had schoolwork to do. When she arrived in makeup and wardrobe ready to go, she'd wave at all of us and say 'Hi, gang!' ...

"So many people ask me about crazy things. There were some drunkards among us; one guy named Kelly started some problems on the set and in the hotels. He was in the middle of a messy divorce, and he got rough with his wife, Jessie, one of the little ladies. Prince Ludwig, a handsome little guy in a suit, had a cane. He was always drinking and always had to go to the toi­let. He was a townsperson in the scene. There were two Irish twins named Mike and Ike who got drunk pretty often, too, but for the most part we were all well behaved and acted very appropriately. ...

Director Victor Fleming, Judy Garland and the Munchkins.

"I have to admit, even though I was excited to be working on a motion picture, and everything was still new to me, it didn't temper the fact that the makeup process was a real pain in the ass. We'd go downstairs, below street level, and there was a series of makeup chairs, maybe twenty­-five, with a makeup man at each one. They'd group us next to our makeup man. We had to put on a skullcap, makeup, a colorful wig, more makeup, striped tights, etc. ... They freshened up our makeup after lunch, and by the time the end of the day rolled around, re­moving the glue and skullcaps was sometimes painful because it was near the hairline and you were pulling out hair at the same time. Our heads would get sweaty under­neath the skullcaps and makeup during the day, so the entire makeup routine was defi­nitely not that pleasant.

Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West with Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

"Margaret Hamilton was a lovely lady, even in the witch's outfit. Her makeup prepara­tion was done separately and actually took much longer. She didn't scare any of us. To us, Margaret (some called her Maggie) was a sweet lady who would talk with us on the set and sit down and chat even though she was covered in that horrid green paste. One day, that paste nearly took her life. She had an accident on the set where she was burned from the flames when she disappeared in her exit. The trap door didn't work right and she was burning up down below. We didn't really know what was going on at the time, but we found out more of it later on. Her makeup was toxic, and if the makeup man hadn't gotten it removed quickly, she might have died. Her scene was in the can, thank God. That was her last day with the Munchkins."



Jerry Maren


Short and Sweet: The Life and Times of the Lollipop Munchkin


Cumberland House Publishing


Copyright 2008 by Jerry Maren and Stephen Cox


21, 25-29
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