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Memories Of A Munchkin: An Illustrated Walk Down The Yellow Brick Road

2005
Author(s):
Raabe, Meinhardt
Kinske, Daniel
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Illustrator(s):
Various
Publisher(s):
Backstage Books
Genre(s):
Autobiography

Comments:
Memories of A Munchkin, written by Meinhardt Raabe with Daniel Kinske, almost feels like three books in one. Part one is a memoir by Raabe who stepped into film history at the age of 23 when he played the Munchkin coroner in THE WIZARD OF OZ. It’s a charming and inspiring story that begins on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, moves to his appearance in a special "Midget Village" exhibit at the 1934 World's Fair and on to Hollywood. Through an agent, Raabe was cast in THE WIZARD OF OZ and much of the memoir is devoted to his account of working on the most beloved film of all time - enduring tough auditions, watching as the glorious Munchkinland set was built, putting up with long days of rehearsal, being costumed by legendary MGM designer Adrian, hob-nobbing on the set with the stars, witnessing various mishaps during filming, being visited on the set by curious Hollywood royalty such as Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable, and much more. Here, too, is Raabe's life after THE WIZARD OF OZ: His career as an accomplished pilot with the Civil Air Patrol during World War II; more than 30 years as "Little Oscar," spokesman for the Oscar Mayer company; his charity work and his role as advocate and kindred spirit to Little People everywhere. Mr. Raabe’s memoir is lavishly illustrated with the most incredible material such as blueprints of the Munchkinland set, Adrian’s costume sketches, MGM’s original Oz matte paintings, and many rare, behind-the-scenes photos from director Victor Fleming’s personal scrapbook. Part two of the book is the most complete collection of OZ movie posters and lobby cards ever published. Included are a beautiful watercolor painted by the legendary Al Hirschfeld, and the jumbo window card that was originally displayed in Mr. Raabe’s hometown theater of Watertown, WI! Part three is a collection of specially commissioned Oz art from some of the world’s best-known and best-loved illustrators – people like Al Hirschfeld, Frank Frazetta, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis and Frank Kelly Freas. I especially like Ron Dias’ painting of what he imagines the interior of a Munchkin house would look like, and Philo Barnhart’s piece that combines the main characters of Oz with those of Snow White. Duck Edwing’s piece, Hearse of a Different Color, could not be more colorful or more charming. And you won’t believe all the detail – and clever humor – in Tom Bunk’s piece depicting the Kansas tornado at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Put it all together and you have a treasure trove of Oz stories and memorabilia. No fan of this beloved Hollywood classic will want to be without Memories of A Munchkin.

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