Meinhardt Raabe, Munchkin coroner, dies

April 10, 2010 at 9:48 AM
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ORANGE PARK, Fla., April 10 (UPI) -- Meinhardt Raabe, who played one of the leading Munchkins in "The Wizard of Oz," has died at age 94 in his retirement home in Florida.

Bob Rigel, president of the Penney Retirement Community in Penney Farms, told The New York Times the cause of death appeared to be a heart attack.

Raabe made his only big-screen appearance as the Munchkin coroner who pronounces the Wicked Witch of the West "not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead." But he also spent decades as Little Oscar, the mascot of the Oscar Mayer company.

A native of Watertown, Wis., Raabe graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1937. He was unable to find work as an accountant -- he later said one interviewer told him to try a carnival -- and eventually became an Oscar Mayer salesman and the "world's smallest chef." He spent 30 years with the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

During World War II, Raabe was a pilot with the Civil Air Patrol. In 1970, he earned an MBA from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Raabe married Marie Hartline, a former member of a midget vaudeville group, who died in 1997.

Topics: Oscar Mayer
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