who played the Munchkin coroner in “The Wizard of Oz” and who was a frequent
visitor to Chesterton’s Wizard of Oz festivals has died. He was 94.
Cindy Bosnyak, said Raabe died Friday morning at a hospital in Orange Park,
Florida. He was one of the few surviving Munchkins from the 1939 film.
Raabe complained of a sore throat at his retirement community before
collapsing and going into cardiac arrest. He was taken to Orange Park
Medical Center, where he later died, she said.
“He had a
headful of hair at 94 and he ... remembered everything everyday,” she said.
“To me he was a walking history book, very alert.”
Raabe was one of
the 124 Munchkins in the film classic and one of only nine who had speaking
parts. He was 22 years old and a show business veteran, earning money for
college as a “midget” performer, as they were called then, when the movie
was shot in 1938.
the diminutive Munchkin official who solemnly pronounces the witch dead
after Dorothy’s farmhouse lands on her: “As coroner I must aver, I
thoroughly examined her, And she’s not only merely dead, she’s really most
included a huge hat with a rolled brim, and dyed yak hair was used for his
handlebar mustache and long beard.
In a 1988
Associated Press interview, he said he had no idea the movie would become a
classic, because at the time of its release, it was overshadowed by “Gone
With the Wind.”
“It was only
after CBS got the film in 1956 and used it for their promotions that it
became as well known,” he said. “There is nothing in the picture that dates
it,” he said. “There are no old vintage cars or old vintage streetcars. ...
It’s a fantasy picture that will be fantasy for generations to come.”
Raabe was about
31/2 feet (1.07 meters) tall when the movie was made. He eventually grew to
about 41/2 feet (1.37 meters). He toured the country for 30 years in the
Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, promoting hot dogs as “Little Oscar, the World’s
He also enjoyed
going to Oz nostalgia events and getting fan mail.
In 2005, his
book “Memories of a Munchkin: An Illustrated Walk Down the Yellow Brick
Road,” co-written by Daniel Kinske, was published.