The Munchkin Town Lady Presides in Hollywood

Actor Ruth Duccini, the "Munchkin Town Lady," paid an Oz-sweet call to Tinseltown.

Hollywood hyperbole -- as in the "this film is the greatest, biggest, loudest, best!" -- had been invented prior to the making of "The Wizard of Oz," of course, but the 1939 film was one of the first movies to truly merit the all the glittery hype that swirled in its wake.

Not at first, of course; it took repeat television viewings for people to fall in love with Dorothy, her brain/heart/courage-seeking pals, and the Munchkins. But once that love sparked, "Wizard" took its rightful place at the top of the pantheon of Beloved Hollywood Movies, a place that has not yet been challenged.

Nor will it be soon. The film is launching its grand 75th anniversary with a little date at the TCL Chinese Theatre. We kid, of course: "The Wizard of Oz" will show, in 3D, on the landmark's new IMAX screen, which happens to be one of the biggest screens on the planet.

Yep. There isn't enough hyperbole in all of Hollywood to equal it.

Ruth Duccini, who played the Munchkin Town Lady, made a cameo at the theater on Sunday, Sept. 15. Ms. Duccini was 20 years old at the time of the filming, which commenced in October of 1938 at MGM Studios in Culver City.

Jerry Maren, another actor who played a Munchkin, will visit the Chinese Theatre on Wednesday, Sept. 18, to place his hand- and footprints in cement.

Mr. Maren and Ms. Duccini are dedicated representatives of the movie they acted in three quarters of a century ago. And much of the fandom's immense affection rests on their shoulders, in large part because all of the actors who played Munchkins have now bid us farewell.

Margaret Pellegrini, "The Flower Pot Munchkin," passed away in August of this year.

So true gratitude to both Ms. Duccini and Mr. Maren for continuing to support the cinematic wonder known for its ruby slippers and yellow bricks. And to round out the boulevard-based celebrations? Madame Tussauds Hollywood debuted a new Dorothy wax figure on Sept. 15. Yep, "and her little dog, too" is present and accounted for.

Opening date for "The Wizard of Oz" in 3D is Friday, Sept. 20. The film, which had its 1939 premiere at the Chinese Theatre, will run through Thursday, Sept. 26.

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