Saturday, September 19, 2009

Meeting a Munchkin

It isn't every day that one gets to meet an actor who appeared in a Marx Brothers movie, let alone one who also played a Munchkin in "The Wizard of Oz." Today, I had that privilege.

Chesterton, Indiana holds an annual Wizard of Oz festival which is quite popular. Since it's only about an hour from my home, I was considering going to Chesterton to get some pictures of the festival parade. As I checked out the festival web site and read about the dwindling cadre of celebrities associated with the film who appear at the festival, I was fascinated by the biography of Jerry Maren. He was the member of the Lollipop Guild who presented Dorothy with the lollipop in this clip.

Jerry has had a long and productive career, as is attested by his lengthy listing. Besides being a Munchkin, Jerry later appeared in commercials as Buster Brown, Little Oscar (for Oscar Meyer meats), and for McDonald's as the Hamburgler and Mayor McCheese. He also played numerous roles in film and on TV, including an appearance in the famous "Yada Yada" episode of Seinfeld in 1997.

But the role that motivated me to make the trip to Chesterton occurred in the Marx Brothers movie "At the Circus," released in 1939, the same year as "The Wizard of Oz." Jerry played circus performer Professor Atom. I searched my collection for a movie still or poster that might include a picture of Jerry. As an alternative, I did a screen capture of Jerry and Groucho from the DVD of the movie and printed it out. He seemed pleasantly surprised when I presented the picture to him at this afternoon's autograph session. He and his wife Elizabeth were very cordial, and I salute them for accommodating so many fans.


  1. Did you ask him if he had a spare cigar?

  2. BTW, have you noticed how Jerry suddenly smiles after Groucho's horse-laugh following "the charge would have been moider - pronounced moider?"

    - - -

    And David, I'd like to point out that actually are three sites in one; by Stefan Timphus (a German living in Britain), my own Marxology (and I'm a Swede living in Sweden) and Why A Duck by the late Frank Bland (an American in the US who passed away way too early).

    So, the link should read something like : by Stefan Timphus
    (including Mikael Uhlin's Marxology and
    Frank Bland's Why a duck)

  3. I recognized him immediately from The Odd Couple episode where Felix gets the gambling bug. He played a bookie.