Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Wizard of Oz Munchkin Margaret Pellegrini dies

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Margaret Pellegrini, a cast member who played a Munchkin named Sleepy Head in the original “The Wizard of Oz” movie, poses with various statues from the movie in Scottsdale, Arizonia in this 1998 photo. Pellegrini suffered a stroke Monday, Aug. 5, 2013 at her Glendale, Ariz., home and died Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013 at a Phoenix-area hospital. She was 89.

(AP Photo)

 

By The Chesterton Tribune

and The Associated Press

Margaret Pellegrini, one of the original Munchkins from the 1939 classic movie “The Wizard of Oz,” has died. She was 89.

Pellegrini suffered a stroke Monday at her Glendale home and died Wednesday at a Phoenix-area hospital.

Pellegrini was a frequent visitor to the Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival.

With her death, only two of the original 124 Munchkins in the movie are still alive.

Pellegrini has said she was 16 when “The Wizard of Oz” was filmed.

“I was a Sleepy Head in the bird’s nest, and one of the gals who wore a flower pot hat,” said Pellegrini during one of her Chesterton visits.

“They put me right in the front row and ever since then, the flower pot hat has been my trademark.” As a teenager, some little people asked her if she’d join their midget show. “I said no! I had no idea I was going to stay small, but I guess they saw something in me that made them know before I did.

“They sensed I might change my mind, and suggested they keep in touch.”

It was good they did. Soon afterwards, Pellegrini received a letter from Hollywood asking if she’d like to be in a motion picture called the “Wizard of Oz.”

“I was terribly excited,” she recalls “I said yes indeed, I’d love that.”

After shooting the MGM production, the beautiful lady of miniature proportions continued her show business career which included tap, hoola and fan-dancing. She raised a family as well.

“The Oz story still has such meaning,” says Pellegrini.

“If everyone would use their hearts, their minds and their courage, life would be so much better for all of us. And,” she smiles, “there really IS no place like home.”

Pellegrini was a guest speaker at grade schools across the Phoenix metropolitan area for many years.

She usually appeared in costume and told stories about her time as a Munchkin, The Arizona Republic reported. She also told children that the “Wizard of Oz” movie was a moral lesson.

“There are two roads in life that you can take - the wrong road and the right road,” she said. “And remember, there really is no place like home.”

When asked by the newspaper if the Munchkins had sung for the movie, Pellegrini shook her head.

The real singers were “adults, dubbed in,” she said. “They just played the record faster so their voices would sound high.”

The surviving Munchkins are Jerry Maren, 93, who lives in Los Angeles, and Ruth Duccini, 95, who lives in Phoenix, Bulthaup said.

 

Posted 8/8/2013