'Oz' Munchkins get Hollywood star

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The Yellow Brick Road finally ended on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday as the Munchkins from "The Wizard of Oz" got their star after a 68-year wait.

Seven of the nine surviving Munchkins -- thought to be the only living actors from the 1939 movie classic -- traveled from across the U.S. to see their star unveiled on Hollywood Boulevard.

Dressed in green and blue costumes and with bunches of green balloons waving behind them, the now gray-haired diminutive performers were driven to their star in a horse-drawn carriage reminiscent of the film.

"It feels great to be here," said Jerry Maren, 88, waving a lollipop to mark his role in the movie as a member of the Lollipop Guild.

The Munchkins were the tiny natives of the fictional Munchkin Country in L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel, on which the movie starring Judy Garland was based.

A total of 124 people played Munchkins in the movie and were honored with a joint pink terrazzo star inscribed "The Munchkins."

Tuesday's honor was the result of a campaign led by a Chicago movie theater owner Ted Bulthaup, who became friends with some of the Munchkin actors a few years ago and was amazed to learn that they did not have a star on the Walk of Fame.

A petition drive and support from Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Garland friend Mickey Rooney helped the Munchkins earn their pink travertine plaque.

"With their joyous send-off for Dorothy as she began her journey down the Yellow Brick Road, the Munchkins secured their place in Hollywood history and in the hearts of movie fans everywhere," wrote director George Lucas in a letter of support for the nomination.

Aside from Maren, the other six were Mickey Carroll, the town crier, Margaret Pellegrini, one of the Munchkin sleepy-heads, Karl Slover, the main trumpeter, Clarence Swensen, a Munchkin soldier and Meinhardt Raabe, who played the coroner who certifies that the wicked witch struck by Dorothy's house was dead.

More than 2,000 stars embedded in the Hollywood sidewalk since 1960 honor contributions to the entertainment industry.


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