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'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin Margaret Pellegrini dies

Thursday, August 8, 2013
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In this Sept 9, 1998 file photo, 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, Ariz. 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/Tribune Newspapers, N. Scott Trimble, File)
In this Sept 9, 1998 file photo, 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, Ariz. 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/Tribune Newspapers, N. Scott Trimble, File)

PHOENIX — 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, said Ted Bulthaup, a Woodbridge, Ill., resident who owns a Chicago theater where Pellegrini and other Munchkins have made special appearances. Bulthaup said he learned of Pellegrini's death from her relatives.

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. She played one of the "sleepy head" kids and wore a flowerpot on her head in the movie.

Later, 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" contained 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 she and the other actors who played 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."

Bulthaup had known Pellegrini for more than a decade and said she was an energetic person.

"She really had a very robust personality. She was a great lady," he said. "She was always on the move. You couldn't hold her down."

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

 
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