One of the actors who played a munchkin in the Wizard of Oz has passed away. Karl Slover was 93.
The 4-foot-5 Slover died of cardiopulmonary arrest Tuesday afternoon in a central Georgia hospital, said Laurens County Deputy Coroner Nathan Stanley. According to friends, as recently as last weekend, Slover appeared at events in the suburban Chicago area.
Slover was best known for playing the lead trumpeter in the Munchkins’ band but also had roles as a townsman and soldier in the film, said John Fricke, author of “100 Years of Oz” and five other books on the movie and its star, Judy Garland. Slover was one of the tiniest male Munchkins in the movie.
Long after Slover retired, he 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.
“He has a genuine immortality,” Fricke said. “Of the 124 little people, he’s one of the handful who got to enjoy this latter-day fame, to have people know who he was and be able to pick him out of the crowd in the movie.”
Slover is the first of the three trumpeters to herald the Munchkin mayor when he makes his entrance. Slover had been cast to play the second trumpeter but switched when another actor got stage fright during filming, said longtime friend Allen Pease, the co-founder of the former Munchkinland Market Days outside Chesterton, Ind.