Jerry Maren, who called himself the last living actor to have played a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz, died last week in San Diego at age 98.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner's office confirmed to USA TODAY that a death certificate was issued for Gerard Marenghi (the actor's birth name), who died May 24 at a residence in the city's La Jolla neighborhood.
His cause of death was listed as cardiopulmonary failure, said Azita Safarloo, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office. She said his body was picked up by Forest Lawn funeral home for burial in one of its Los Angeles cemeteries.
Maren, a Boston native, was best known for playing a member of the Lollipop Guild, the group of little people who welcome Dorothy to Munchkin Land in Oz. He's the one in green, tap dancing as they sing.
"We represent the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild and in the name of the Lollipop Guild we welcome you to Munchkin Land," they chorused.
At the end, Maren handed Dorothy, played by Judy Garland, a giant swirly lollipop.
Born in Boston, Maren stood just 3 feet, 4 inches. He took dancing lessons when he was young and aspired to be an actor.
In November 1938, when he was still a teen, he met up with an Oz-bound group of diminutive actors in New York and went by bus to California, where he was chosen to be the Munchkin who hands Dorothy the welcoming lollipop in the 1939 film, according to his IMDb page.
Later, he described the eye-opening experience of meeting so many other little people through the film.
"Not only the United States but from all over," he recalled. "A few of them came from Texas. You'd never believe that. I always thought only big, tall men came from Texas and there they had about 10 little guys from Texas — I couldn't believe it. I met other little people from Germany, France, Italy — they were from all over. There were over 120!"
His other movie and TV credits made up a lengthy list extending back to 1938 and continuing up until 2010, when he appeared in a horror film called Dahmer vs. Gacy. He was also part of the classic 1997 "Yada Yada Yada" episode of Seinfeld, in which he played the father of Kramer's girlfriend.
In 2016, when he was falsely reported to have died, he took to Instagram to deny it. In April 2017, he posted a picture saying, "I'm still not dead kiddos!"
Maren was married to Elizabeth Barrington from 1975 until her death in 2011.