I read today where another actor who played in the movie "The Wizard of Oz" passed away. Soon, like survivors of the Titanic, we'll have no more around to honor.
Here's the text of that article for those of you who may be interested. This was copied from the Austin American-Statesman
Clarence Swensen of Pflugerville, who played a Munchkin in the 1939 motion picture "The Wizard of Oz," died Wednesday. He was 91 and had been in poor health since suffering a stroke in 2005.
Swensen was one of nine surviving members of the 125 Munchkins in the classic movie who were honored in November 2007 when a star in their honor was installed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
"He will be forever in the hearts and minds of his family, many friends and loved ones," Swensen's daughter Donna Geohagan said Thursday on behalf of the family. "And he will be greatly missed by loyal 'Wizard of Oz' fans."
Swensen, who grew up in Austin, said it never occurred to him when he was a boy living near Ridgetop School, in what was North Austin during the 1920s, that he would enter show business. He was not allowed to attend public schools until he was 9, he said, because of his size. As an adult, his height was 4 feet 6¾ inches.
But in the late 1930s, he joined a troupe called the Stanley R. Graham All Midget Circus, which performed at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. His job with the circus led him to join a network of smaller-than-average actors who were in demand for character roles in Hollywood.
Eventually, Swensen answered a call from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer casting officers to play a Munchkin for a salary of $700. In a 2007 interview with the American-Statesman, Swensen said the most astonishing experience he could recall during the shooting of the film was the first day he walked onto the expensive, multitiered set the studio had erected to depict Munchkin Land.
"It was huge," Swensen said. "And we worked hard — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — but it was fun."
Swensen left the entertainment business and worked as a civilian radar installation and repair specialist during World War II. After the war, he moved back to Austin and joined the staff of the University of Texas as an electronics technician for 27 years. He later worked for the state as a mail clerk and messenger before he retired in 1980.
"I just love it when people talk to me about the picture," Swensen said in 2007. "That movie will never die. It will go on long after the Munchkins have all passed away."
Along with his wife, Myrna, he is survived by three daughters: Nancy Setliff of Sugar Land, Carol Hendricks of Pflugerville and Geohagan of Laurel Hill, Fla.
Swensen's funeral will be at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Cook-Walden/Capital Parks Funeral Home in Pflugerville. Burial will be in Cook-Walden/Capital Parks Cemetery.
Please give our regards to Philip, Frank and all those who have passed before across the Shifting Sands, Mr. Swensen. We'll miss you.
James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison to Princess Ozma