'Wizard of Oz' Munchkin Karl Slover Dies

Karl Slover, one of the last surviving actors who played Munchkins in the 1939 classic film, "The Wizard of Oz," has died. The star, who passed away on Tuesday with heart problems, was one of the last surviving cast members.

The 4ft 5in actor died of cardiopulmonary arrest yesterday afternoon in a suburban Atlanta hospital, said Laurens County Deputy Coroner Nathan Stanley. Deputy Coroner Nathan Stanley said the four-foot five-inch Slover died of cardiopulmonary arrest and was pronounced dead in a suburban Atlanta hospital.

The 4-foot-5 Slover played the lead trumpeter in the Munchkins' band. He appeared at a "Wizard of Oz" festival in Chesterton, Ind., in September and signed autographs. The actor was originally cast to play a lesser role in the movie, but was made lead trumpeter when another actor got stage fright during filming. In 2007 seven of the surviving Munchkin stars were honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.

Slover had been cast to play the second trumpeter but switched when another actor got stage fight during filming, said longtime friend Allen Pease, the co-founder of the former Munchkinland Market Days outside Chesterton, Indiana.

He was buried in the backyard, immersed in heated oil until his skin blistered and then attached to a stretching machine at a hospital, all in the attempt to make him become taller. Eventually he was sold by his father at age 9 to a traveling show in Europe, Fricke said.

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