Google+

Judyth Piazza Visits the Land of Oz with Meinhardt Raabe

judyth-piazza-and-meinhardt-raabe1

Judyth Piazza chats Meinhardt Raabe Wizard of Oz (Click here to listen to audio)

If you watch the 1939 movie classic, The Wizard of Oz with a stop watch, you’ll find that one of its most famous one-liners – (the Munchkin Coroner officially confirming the demise of the Wicked Witch of the East) – took a mere 12 seconds to recite.

Yet it remains, 66 years later, the most repeatable, unbeatable death announcement ever recorded.

Meinhardt Raabe – nor its star Judy Garland- had any clue just how successful the film would be; how it would translate into dozens of languages; be watched in theaters, on television and on videotape by millions around the world year after year.

On the day of the MGM audition, Raabe was a shoe-in for the part. ‘I had done a considerable amount of public speaking which started by winning a declamatory contest in which I had to speak as loudly and forcefully as possible. After that I went on to study phonics, learning to pronounce each syllable clearly. Distinctly.’ The four foot tall 21 year old boldly walked up six steps and said: ‘As Coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her…and she’s not only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.’ The casting director said: ‘OK! Meinhardt. It’s you! You are the coroner!

‘For the past 66 years, you can’t believe how many people have asked me what ‘I aver’ means,’ laughs Raabe. ‘It is simply the legal equivalent of ‘I swear.”

Raabe, of German descent was raised on a Wisconsin dairy farm. ‘My pituitary gland which regulates growth, didn’t work adequately, so each year, from the age of five to 20, I grew only 1/4 of an inch. Raabe remained four feet tall until the age of 35. Now at 89, Raabe stands four feet and seven inches tall. He not only survived – but thrived – in a world of taller folks.

The Chicago World’s Fair of 1934 included among its attractions – a Midget Village. Raabe worked as a barker, calling out to get the attention of the crowds. ‘This was the first time in my life,’ he explains, ‘that I actually witnessed little people, with friends their own size, falling in love, marrying and raising families.’ He went on to work the 1935 San Diego Fair, followed by Cleveland’s Great Lakes Exposition in 1936, and a host of others.

Then, opportunity of a lifetime knocked when MGM was on on the prowl for little people for the Wizard of Oz. In 1938, Raabe took the challenge – along with a two month leave from his full time job. During two months of a grueling production schedule, Raabe met 124 other little people – who were to be known and loved forever as the Munchkins.

Raabe’s continuing education never ceases. Under his belt is a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting, a Masters of Science and Business Administration, along with a recently gained certification through the Florida Extension Service as a Master Gardener.

He’s a volunteer teacher of math, German and horticulture and continues to gives motivational speeches. His advice as he lectures to children is ‘…study as hard as you can. Study every subject available to you.’

While travelling during his full time job, Raabe met his wife Marie, at the time who was a cigarette girl in a large Akron, Ohio hotel. ‘She was all show business,’ smiles Raabe. ‘From the ages of 14 to 17 – even before high school, she travelled the vaudeville circuit, performing in a midget troupe.’ The two began dating. Their time together was interrupted, however, by World War II. Gas rationing made visits to Marie few and far between.

During that time, the young man wasted no time. Raabe earned his pilot’s license and became the smallest licensed pilot to fly during World War II. ‘I served as a Ground Instructor for the Civil Air Patrol and flew every single engine plane that existed at that time.’

After five years of long distance courtship, the two tied the knot – a knot which lasted for 50 years. Both continually worked: Marie for a discount chain. Meinhardt for a food corporation for which he did cooking shows, promotions and TV spots. In 1970 Raabe took mandatory retirement from the food company and began teaching German in Philadelphia schools. He was again forced to retire by the mandatory policy of the Board of Education.

In 1986, the Raabes became Floridians, residing at Penney Farms. Tragically, Marie lost her life in a car accident in October of 1997. ‘I dearly miss Marie,’ he says, ‘but I’m surrounded by beautiful friends. This is a wonderful place to live.’

His advice to seniors is ‘…all I can say is you may run out of steam as time goes on, but never, never retire to a rocking chair!’

DEE DUNHEIM
DEEDUN Public Relations
Phone 219 929 1038
Fax 219 929 4483
www.deedun.com
DEEDUN@comcast.net

For More Information: www.memoriesofamunchkin.com

REQUEST INFORMATION

Entertainment

Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale Co-Star in WWI Docudrama

  The Promise DVD Review by Kam Williams Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale Co-Star in WWI Docudrama It's Eastern Turkey in 1914, which is where we find druggist Mikael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac) plying his trade in his half-Armenian/half-Turkish village where Christians and Muslims get along swell. The ambitious, young apothecary would really rather be a doctor, so he strategically courts a neighbor (Angela Sarafyan) from a relatively-wealthy … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Book of Black Heroes

  Book of Black Heroes Political Leaders Past and Present by Gil L. Robertson, IV Foreword by Myrlie Evers-Williams Just Us Books Paperback, $12.95 80 pages ISBN: 978-1-933491-21-9 Book Review by Kam Williams “The first African-American political leaders began to serve following the Civil War...Known as Reconstruction, this period represented a window of opportunity for African-Americans... Many [Black] political leaders emerged … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the days of pain, the days of sorrow. We are in mourning. The sky looks down and sheds its tears for … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

Real Estate: Refinancing Rates on the Rise in 2017

  Real Estate: Refinancing Rates on the Rise in 2017 by Amy Lignor   The term ‘meteoric rise’ usually applies to something fun. Think: A Hollywood actor who has been ‘discovered.’) Unfortunately, when it comes to this article, ‘meteoric rise’ is something that will not bring a smile to one’s face. To put it simply, if you wish to refinance your home, you need to do it ASAP. If choosing to wait too much longer, homeowners across the … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Healthy Living: The Cellphone Guide

  Healthy Living: The Cellphone Guide by Amy Lignor   Much like the political realm, there will always be debates and disagreements when it comes to the technological realm—especially when it comes to your health versus the almighty cellphone. Now, it is a fact that communication in the 21st century literally brought about a revolution. Mobile devices are being used and will remain at the top of “must have” lists for all ages for … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

Choosing Binoculars for the Ultimate 2017 Hunt

  Choosing Binoculars for the Ultimate 2017 Hunt Any hunter will tell you the most important choices to make when going for that ultimate successful hunt comes from the little things. Yes, the guns, the location for the hunt, the clothing that’s best for the winter and/or summer hunt – all of these things are on the hunter’s ‘must-buy’ list. But there is one other thing that is just as important: the binoculars. As you slowly develop … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

Esports on a Meteoric Rise in 2017

  Esports on a Meteoric Rise in 2017 by Amy Lignor   Okay…we all know that football is America’s favorite sport. Or…is it? NASCAR has a wide following. People still love to go to the ballpark in the lazy summer days to watch a Yankee hit a homerun. There are those who love to practically melt in the summer watching the Williams’ sisters prove that tennis is a ‘cool’ sport. And, there are gazillions of soccer fans all over the globe … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Is Social Media Still Growing?

  Is Social Media Still Growing? by Amy Lignor   It was in 1999, Bill Gates wrote a book titled, “Business @ the Speed of Thought.” Within these pages, the man who became the computer world’s wizard made massively bold predictions that, at the time, sounded ridiculous and outrageous to those who read them. But when you look at how the social media realm has grown over the past few decades, it is important to take note that not only … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Vacation Locations: Knowledge is Fun Too!

  Vacation Locations: Knowledge is Fun Too! by Amy Lignor   Most children (and adults, too) will either roll their eyes or sigh when, while speaking about vacation locations, the word “learning” just happens to be mentioned. Yes, it is a fact that school trips take all of us during our younger years to everything from museums to libraries to historic locations in order to teach us things we should know. But when thinking about your … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden

  Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden by Amy Lignor   Many are still dealing with that wintery mix Mother Nature just loves to toss down from the sky this time of year. Yet, that gardener living inside the soul – the one just dreaming of the sunny skies and lazy rainy days that are must-haves in order to grow the best vegetables possible – is already jotting down the facts, tricks and tips they need to know in order to make that … [Read More its Good for You...]

Trackbacks

  1. […] Collectors Edition,” which has all kinds of extra goodies, like interviews with extant Munchkins (check out this feature on Judyth Piazza`s Staugnews). But silence all you extras! Let`s pause for a solemn moment to recognize the wonderful songs of […]