Margaret Pellegrini, who staked a claim in cinematic history when she was just 16 years old as one of the residents of Munchkinland in "The Wizard of Oz," died Wednesday at the age of 89 in Arizona. According to a spokesperson for the few surviving actors who appeared in the 1939 classic, Pellegrini was best known as one of the "Flower Pot" Munchkins who greet Dorothy (Judy Garland) when her house lands in Oz.
Pellegrini told CBS5 in Phoenix that she was spotted by a talent scout at a state fair when she was only 13, and a few years later she was invited to take a train to Hollywood to appear in the movie. She actually shows up in the Munchkinland sequence twice, once with a hat shaped like a flower pot and later as one of the "Sleepyheads."
Pelligrini continued to take part in "Oz" related events throughout her life. She was present in 2007 when the remaining Munchkins were given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was also named the Grand Marshall of this year's annual "Oz-Stravaganza" parade in Chittenango, NY, but health issues prevented her from attending. Pelligrini was a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
Of the 124 actors who appeared as Munchkin's in the original production, there are now only two known survivors 95-year-old Ruth Duccini (who played a villager) and 93-year-old Jerry Maren (who was the green-clad middle member of the Lollipop Guild).
Of course, "The Wizard of Oz" the film goes on in perpetuity. In fact, it will be back in theaters in IMAX 3D for the first time next month. The new, large-format 3D version will premiere at the remodeled Chinese Theater (the same place the original film premiered 75 years ago) on September 15, and it will be in IMAX venues for one week starting September 20.