The Last of the Munchkins

karl_slover_2karl_slover_3karl_slover_4karl_slover_1It’s amazing to me how a simple “Google” can lead to a two days of digging around the internet. For me it has been learning more about “The Wizard of Oz” and more particularly “The Munchkins” than I ever expected to know or care.

What started me on this quest, was a search on the name Karl Kosiczky. Which was the name signed on a photograph I found in an aunt’s old photo album. He was a little person. He later went on to change his name to Slover.

You can find an article about him at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Slover

“Slover was born as Karl Kosiczky on September 21, 1918 in Prakovce, Slovakia. Diagnosed at an early age with pituitary dwarfism, Slover was barely two feet tall by his eighth birthday. Dwarfism was not a family trait; his father stood six feet six inches, and his mother was just a few inches shorter. Slover’s father went to great lengths to make Slover taller including taking him to Hungary where doctors fixed stretchers to his arms and legs.

When Slover was just nine years old, his father sent him to work for a traveling midget show based out of Berlin, Germany. After working with the show for several years, Slover moved to the United States where he joined another traveling show.[2] It wasn’t long before Slover began appearing as midgets in films like The Terror of Tiny Town, Block-Heads, Bringing Up Baby, and They Gave Him a Gun.[3]

Slover was working in Hawaii when his circus manager sent him to Hollywood, where “little people” were needed for an upcoming film called The Wizard of Oz. At the age of 21 and standing just 4 feet 4 inches, Slover played the parts of four munchkins in the movie; the first trumpeter, a soldier, one of the sleepy heads, and was among those who sang ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’.[4]

After filming ‘Oz’, Slover began working for the ‘Original World Famous Singers Midget Show’ where he sang and danced throughout the United States. When the show ended in 1942, Slover joined the Royal American Carnival in Tampa, Florida. It was at this time that he took the last name, Slover; the last name of his stage manager.[5]”

124 little people were cast in the “Wizard of Oz” The rest of the Munchkins were played by children. Toto made more money per week than the Munchkins.

Leo Singer who used his own midgets and recruited others for the film, made more money than the Munchkins and he was reported to have not always paid them in full. Many of the Munchkins were European and did not speak English very well and were easliy misguided.

I also discovered another Munchkin in the photos in my Aunt’s photo album. His name was Eddie Buresh. He had two sisters who were also little people and all three of them appeared with Singer’s midgets and in the “Wizard of Oz” All of them have passed on.

Karl iseems like an old friend and I think I would have liked to have met him. He looks like a happy person who enjoyed living his life as a Munchkin And who kept it alive for all of his 92 years. There are a number of video clips of interviews with Karl on youtube. I have selected one interview he did with 3 other remaining Munchkins including Meinhardt Raabe (The Coroner) who died just this year. It is a must see. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5s8LURnmpc

So that has been my visit to the wonderful land of Oz and all of its inhabitants. After, reviewing what is on the internet in terms of information, it is amazing to me how a movie made 71 years ago is still a live entity for many who were involved in the movie (those that are alive, that is) and all the generations of fans that keep it alive.

This is for Karl and Judy Garland whose birthday is today and because I liked her movies and the Munchkins spoke highly of her.


LINKS

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny-miller/meinhardt-raabe-a-death-i_b_533657.html


Karl Stover in the all midget movie \”The Terror of Tiny Town\”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQECeV5nwz A Video about the myth of a Munchkin Suicide

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “The Last of the Munchkins

  1. Hi Bobbie,

    I come from a small village in eastern Slovakia – Prakovce and I have discovered your blog when trying to find information about Karl Slover (Kosiczky/Kasiczky/Casitzky – the spelling differs, yet I believe it`s Kasiczky as this surname is still very common in Prakovce).
    Reading your blog, I saw, that you also came across the information about Karl`s place of birth being Prakovce, however, there are still many people here, who do not believe this and are convinced he was born in Germany, as some sources say his place of birth is Prakendorf, Germany (which actually is a German historical name for Prakovce). Nevertheless, we would be very proud to be living in the same village Karl was born in and would very much like to confirm our belief with a reliable source. That is why I was wondering, whether you, by any chance, have come across some contact information for Karl, as you seem to have conducted quite an impressive research. 🙂
    Thank you for providing us with interesting info, we were very glad to find your blog.

    Sasha

  2. Hi Bobbie: Do you still have your aunt’s photo album with the picture of midget Eddie Buresh? I collect photos of the munchkins who passed away before those still living. Thanks and God bless you. Larry In WV

  3. I was looking for photos of the dog Bobbie from Silverton on Bing when I happened to run into your article here. I have a Facebook friend, who personally knew Karl Slover. He was either a good friend of the family or was part of her family. I don’t remember which one. When he passed away, not to long ago, she posted pictures of him and her family and spoke very fondly of him.

    • Thanks for reading. I tried to contact Karl Slover through his agent but I never got a response and this is before I read that he passed away. It was a unique pleasure learning about him and his story was so special. Amazing that he could remain so active and happy despite his somewhat tragic beginnings. If you are in contact with your friend, let them know about the pictures.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s