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The actor died in a San Diego nursing care facility.


2013 Imprint Ceremony

By David Livingston/Getty Images

Jerry Maren, the oldest living actor who portrayed a munchkin in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, has died. He was 98 years old. According to TMZ, Maren died over a week ago in a San Diego nursing care facility; the cause of death is unknown, though he reportedly suffered from dementia.

Maren played a member of the Lollipop Guild in Oz, the group that welcomes Dorothy and her crew to Munchkinland. In the video below, Maren can be seen at the 30-second mark, wearing a green sweater and tap dancing between two other actors. At the end of his verse, he hands Dorothy, played by Judy Garland, a giant swirly lollipop.

The Wizard of Oz was young Maren's first film, a lucky coup for the actor. He was one of dozens of little people who were cast to fill Munchkinland. The experience was eye-opening for Maren, who said in a 2009 interview that up until that point, he had never even met another little person. "I was the only small person in my family," he said. "Making the film was the greatest fun I ever had in my life."

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