Munchkins Receive Star in Walk of Fame
HOW THE MUNCHKINS GOT THEIR STAR!
help of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas,
Ted Turner, Hugh Hefner, Roger Ebert
many, many more!!!!
Blvd Cinema has hosted an annual Wizard of Oz Festival for many years and as
part of those festivities we always have the remaining actors who actually
portrayed Munchkins to host the screenings and meet the public. We now have the most attended screenings of
that film in the United States every November over Veteran's Day Weekend and Munchkins are always in attendance.
Six of the remaining Munchkins, now ranging in age
from 86 to 92, became very dear friends of mine and I discovered much to my
surprise that they did not have their own Star on the Hollywood Walk of
Fame. Not to take anything away from the
Olsen Twins, Eric Estrada, Ryan Seacrest, P. Diddy, Donald Trump, Rin Tin Tin,
Woody Woodpecker, The Rugrats and Godzilla (the big lizard actually has two stars), but the
Munchkins should have a Star. Upon
investigation, I found that there is an extensive nominating process including
a fee of $25,000. I nominated the
Munchkins in 2005 and even more to my surprise they were passed over. Of the 624 people who were nominated that
year, only 22 were selected. While the
Munchkins are great, the odds of success weren't.
is a traveling movie projector showing "The Wizard of Oz" on huge screens to
audiences of 30,000 to 60,000 in refugee camps the world over. These camps provide enough food, shelter and
medical care; but those trapped inside mentally stagnate in these awful places
and "The Wizard of Oz" on the big screen crosses all language and cultural
barriers to entertain, bring light and inspire those in some very desperate
circumstances. Nothing speaks more
forcefully about the power and timelessness of this great American classic
film, it touches the heart and spirit of people the world over, it always has
and it always will. Who doesn't know the
Wicked Witch, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and Toto too? Is there a more famous pair of shoes anywhere
on the planet than the Ruby Slippers?
Everyone knows you ride up in a tornado to get to Munchkinland and who
doesn't know that the Emerald City is at the end of the Yellow Brick Road? What is Kansas more known for? Who can't recognize the classic songs of
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "We're Off to See the Wizard" on hearing the first
three bars? Where did we all learn that
there is no place like home? Who has
never heard of a Munchkin? They needed
Never one to be easily defeated, we redoubled the
effort by contacting the many Wizard of Oz Festivals across the land; distributing
large banners and petition books, enlisting the help of the International
Wizard of Oz Fan Club to make sure they were signed as well as setting up a
display in my theater lobby. Almost
50,000 signatures were acquired. We
asked long time friends Jane Russell, Mickey Rooney & Tippi Hedren who all
have stars (Mickey has four) to personally approach the Mayor of
Hollywood. Calls were made from Disney and Paramount.
Warner Bros., who now owns
the rights to the film, agreed to be our co-nominator. We know the heads of some of the other major
studios; usually fierce competitors and certainly not conditioned to endorse
films of rival companies. Happily all
but one agreed with the righteousness of the cause and cheerfully wrote endorsements,
including Universal, MGM, Sony and the Weinstein Company. I also started approaching some of the major figures in the industry,
some whom I had met before and others who are friends of friends, seeking
additional support. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ted Turner, Hugh Hefner, Leonard Maltin,
among many others wrote personal letters; Roger Ebert
even writing from his hospital bed.
Organizations like the Hollywood Heritage
Museum, the Nederlander Organization
(producers of the play "Wicked"), the National
Association of Theater Owners, the American Film Institute
and even the Little People of America stepped up
to the plate and called or wrote letters.
Even Roger Baum, the grandson of the
Oz author, L. Frank Baum who back in 1910 opened one of the first movie
production companies in Hollywood
also wrote the committee.
first involvement with California's version of "Hollywood Blvd." has a happy ending. With the overwhelming help of the film
community this important piece of Americana was finally recognized when, on June 22, 2007, the committee unanimously voted to honor the Munchkins, now
represented by Margaret Pellegrini, Karl Slover, Meinhardt Raabe, Mickey
Carroll, Jerry Maren, Clarence Swensen, Ruth Duccini, Olga Nardone, Lewis
Croft, Joan Kenmore, Betty Ann Bruno & Priscilla Montgomery with a Star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame. Their was a special screening of "The Wizard of Oz" at Grauman's Chinese Theater on Monday evening November 21, 2007 as a benefit for Hollywood Heritage and the Hollywood Historic Preservation Trust, "The Wizard of Oz" first premiered at the theater in August 1939. The star was unveiled at a ceremony the next morning, Tuesday November 22, 2007 and is located right outside Grauman's at Hollywood Boulevard. A luncheon was held immedialetly thereafter at the world famous Roosevelt Hotel in the Blossom Room where the first Academy Awards presentation took place back in 1929.
Owner, Hollywood Blvd Cinema
Special thanks to the Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant and Ana Martinez-Holler of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for all their help !
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