June 6 (UPI) — Jerry Maren, the actor who played a member of the Lollipop Guild in The Wizard of Oz and was the last surviving adult Munchkin from the classic film, has died at the age of 98.
Maren died last month, his niece and nephew reported in separate Facebook posts. He had been living at an assisted-care facility in San Diego, Steve Cox, co-author of Short and Sweet: The Life and Times of the Lollipop Munchkin told The Hollywood Reporter.
Stacy Michelle Barrington, Maren’s niece, also confirmed the star’s death to Fox News, saying the family wanted to hold off on sharing the news of his death.
“I wish I had grown up with him and had spent more time and being around him growing up,” Barrington said. “I’m grateful to have had such important people in my family. Uncle Jerry would want the legacy of the Wizard of Oz to continue.”
Maren appeared in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz as one of the three Lollipop Guild Munchkins who handed a lollipop to Dorothy, played by Judy Garland. There were 124 adult actors who portrayed Munchkins in the film.
Maren enjoyed a successful career in show business, also appearing in films such as At the Circus, Superman and the Mole-Men, Battle for the Planet of the Apes and in Little Cigars, where he appeared alongside fellow Munchkin actor Billy Curtis.
Television roles included a regular appearance on Gong Show and recurring roles on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Lidsville. Other roles included guest appearances on The Odd Couple, The Beverly Hillbillies, Get Smart, The Wild Wild West and Seinfeld.
The Munchkins received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007. Maren was present at the ceremony alongside seven others including Mickey Carroll, Ruth Duccini, Margaret Pellegrini, Meinhardt Raabe, Karl Slover and Clarence Swensen.
“It’s taken a long time [to get a star on the Walk of Fame],” he said at the time. “We have a lot of fans. I can understand that now.”
Maren’s wife, Elizabeth Barrington, died at the age of 69 in 2011.