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

Entertainment

Blake Lively Shines as Surfer Stranded in Shark-Infested Waters

  The Shallows Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams Blake Lively Shines as Surfer Stranded in Shark-Infested Waters Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) was so shaken by her mother's (Janelle Bailey) untimely death that she's dropped out of med school. In order to feel closer to her dearly departed mom, she's decided to vacation at the same exotic Mexican retreat where she was reportedly conceived back in 1991. An avid surfer, she also plans to search … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Keep Walking in Prayer… Until You Can\’t Come Back

  Keep Walking in Prayer... Until You Can't Come Back by Reverend Dorothy Scott Boulware Xulon Press Paperback, $10.99 104 pages ISBN: 978-1-4984-7454-2 Book Review by Kam Williams “By way of introduction, I'm a Baptist Methodist Pentecostal Evangelical non-denominational retired pastor, retired newspaper editor, former minister of music, former fingerprint technician, wife of 47 years, mother of four, grandmother of five, … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

More Than a Score

  ACRONYM TO FOLLOW by Peter Brav   Finally Our Day has come There’s a Day for everything For doughnuts, siblings, eight track tapes Grilled cheese, daughters and sons to work Encouragement, Alzheimer’s Coffee, math, chewing gum Blasphemy, yo-yos And now finally One for us Truly a Day to celebrate National Don’t Shoot An Unarmed Brother Doctor King Not Seeing Progress George Orwell Laughing It Is So About the … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

New Home Sales Jump in April

  New Home Sales Jump in April By Burt Carey Sales of new homes hit their highest rate since 2008 in April, according to the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau. April sales increased 16.6 percent over March figures, which correlates to a seasonally adjusted rate of 619,000 home sales projected for the year. The median price of those new homes was $321,000, the highest median price ever recorded. That’s up 9.7 percent … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Jahking and I!

  Jahking Guillory The “Kicks” Interview with Kam Williams Jahking and I! An undeniable young talent on the rise, actor and rapper Jahking Guillory is already a veteran in the entertainment business at the age of 14. Born and raised in Long Beach California, ‘King’ started pursuing his dream at 9 years-old, landing jobs in national commercials, music videos and national print campaigns. Graduating to larger roles in film and TV, 'King … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

230 LXF from Tidewater Packs A Punch in a Small Package

  230 LXF from Tidewater Packs A Punch in a Small Package By Ted Lund Are you looking for a family-friendly center console that’s got the luxury of a larger boat in a smaller package? Then look no further than the 230 LXF from Tidewater. The 23-foot, center console has the same features as the rest its large LXF brothers, including comfortable full upholstery, stainless steel cup holders. And a newly-designed console with glove box and … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

The Season Begins

  The Season Begins by Amy Lignor   Yes, it’s finally time to get down to some real business when it comes to the world of sports. (No offense to Serena at the U.S. Open, but her constant winning is not exactly new.) All this rain across the country has assured that lawns will be overgrown come Monday morning, unless citizens decide to use Saturday to mow. Why is that? Because football is back and Sundays are no longer “nothing to … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Scholastic Announces Sales of More Than 3.3 Million Copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

  Scholastic Announces Sales of More Than 3.3 Million Copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two New York, NY (August 10, 2016) — Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two script book, the eighth Harry Potter story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, published in the U.S. and Canada by Scholastic has sold more than 3.3 million copies in North America to date.Scholastic announced a first printing … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Vacation Time Has Turned “Spooky”

  Vacation Time Has Turned “Spooky” by Amy Lignor   Myths and legends, both spooky and surreal, are becoming the subject of many books and newspaper articles lately. And the location of many, oddly enough, happen to be in the Southwest. It used to be that a nice white sandy beach was the one place we yearned to go on vacation to get away from it all. Now, however, people are searching for places to travel where legends still exist, and … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Doing Our Part

  Doing Our Part by Amy Lignor   There are books being published as of late – wonderful books telling the stories of amazing wildlife rescues, as well as neighborhoods and communities across the U.S. that have taken on projects to save the wildlife in their own surrounding areas.   We always talk about these “success stories,” yet never actually give information on exactly how these “problems” turned into “victories.” … [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 […]