Ruth Duccini: Actress who became the second-last survivor of the 124 Munchkins in the 1939 classic 'The Wizard of Oz'

 

Ruth Duccini was the last of the original female Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz. Uncredited, Duccini, who was four feet tall, played one of 124 Munchkin townspeople in the 1939 classic. There is now only one surviving Munchkin, Jerry Maren.

Duccini recalled how isolated she felt during her childhood in Minnesota. "I didn't know there were other small people," she said. At the age of 20 she travelled to California with a troupe of little people and was cast by MGM in The Wizard of Oz. "It was long hours and heavy costumes," she said. "We didn't have much time for ourselves."

During the Second World War she worked at Douglas in Santa Monica as a riveter, making use of her short stature to squeeze into hard-to-reach parts of the aeroplanes. "The one thing that I'm most proud of, I worked on airplanes in a defence plant. I was a Rosie the Riveter. I'm really proud of that," she said.

Although she appeared at Wizard of Oz events over the years, most of her life was spent outside the film business; one of her few other appearances was in the 1981 Chevy Chase spoof Under the Rainbow. She complained that the Munchkins received no royalties from the sale of toys and memorabilia. "Ted Turner's [who owned the film rights] got enough," she said.

When Margaret Thatcher died, those who had hated the former Prime Minister tried to propel "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" into the charts. Duccini and Maren both opposed the campaign, describing it as "terrible".The actress met her husband, Fred, while working for MGM, and the couple had a son and daughter. They all survive her.

Ruth Duccini, actress: born Minnesota 23 July 1918; married Fred Robinson (one son, one daughter); died 16 January 2014.

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