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” 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 whether 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.”
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.