Karl Slover, one of the last surviving actors who played Munchkins in 1939 classic film “The Wizard of Oz,” died Tuesday in Dublin, Ga., of cardiopulmonary arrest. He was 93.
The 4-foot-5 Slover played the lead trumpeter in the Munchkins’ band.
He appeared at a “Wizard of Oz” festival in Chesterton, Ind., in September and signed autographs.
A native of what is now the Czech Republic, Slover was 2 feet tall at age 8, and the next year his father sold him to a traveling show in Europe.
Slover continued to perform into his late 20s, when he moved to the U.S., changed his name and appeared in circuses as part of a vaudeville group known as the Singer Midgets. The group’s 30 performers became the nucleus of the Munchkins. He changed his last name from Kosiczky to Slover, the name of the family that owned the carnival where he worked, and became an American citizen in 1943.
Slover, who was 21 when he appeared in “The Wizard of Oz,” also had roles in “They Gave Him a Gun” (1937), classic screwball comedy “Bringing Up Baby” (1938), “Block-Heads” (1938) and all-midget Western “The Terror of Tiny Town” (1938); he played a baby a few years later in Billy Wilder’s classic alcoholic-bender film “The Lost Weekend” (1945).
In “The Wizard of Oz” Slover is the first of the three trumpeters to herald the Munchkin mayor when he makes his entrance.
Much more recently, Slover made appearances in a number of “Oz”-related documentaries, including “We’re Off to See the Munchkins” (1993), “I Married a Munchkin” (1994) and “Memories of Oz” (2001). He also appeared on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “Entertainment Tonight.”
He also continued to appear around the country at festivals and events related to the movie. He was one of seven Munchkins at the 2007 unveiling of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame dedicated to the little people in the movie. Only three remain of the 124 diminutive actors who played the beloved Munchkins.
(Associated Press contributed to this report.)