Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin coroner in The Wizard of Oz and proclaimed that the Wicked Witch of the East was "really most sincerely dead," has died at 94. His caregiver said Raabe died yesterday morning at a hospital in Orange Park, Fla. He was one of the few surviving Munchkins from the 1939 film.
"He had a headful of hair at 94 and he ... remembered everything," said his caregiver. "To me he was a walking history book." Raabe was one of the 124 Munchkins and one of only nine with speaking parts. He was 22, earning money for college as a "midget" performer, when Oz was shot in 1938. In a 1988 interview, he said he had no idea the movie would become a classic, because its release was overshadowed by Gone With the Wind. "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." (Read more The Wizard of Oz stories.)