(Chittenango, NY – Aug. 7, 2013) Margaret Pellegrini, who played the flower pot Munchin and one of the sleepy head kids in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” died this morning around 7 a.m. near her home in Phoenix, Ariz., according to Colleen Zimmer, one of the organizers of the Oz-Stravaganza festival held in Chittenango annually.
Pellegrini was named this year’s parade grand marshal but suffered a stroke and was unable to attend the event. “She never really recovered,” Zimmer said.
In her honor, three replica costumes of each part she played in the film and a banner were made. A local Girl Scout troop wore the costumes and carried the banner and a picture of Pellegrini in the parade as a tribute to one of the last remaining original Munchkins.
“It’s like an end of era,” Zimmer said. “Munchkins have been coming to Chittenango for over 20 years. Recently it got down to just [Pellegrini] coming. She was more than somebody who came to Chittenango every year. She was my friend. My kids grew up with her. Everybody loved her. I’m going to miss her, dearly.”
Zimmer said Pellegrini was the glue that held all the Munchkins together.
“She was concerned with the museum and getting the memorial done,” Zimmer said.
Fundraising has been going on for the past two years to erect a permanent memorial to the Munchkins and L. Frank Baum, the writer of The Wizard of Oz and many other children’s books who was born in Chittenango.
Next year marks the 75th anniversary of the movie. Zimmer said they are hoping to have the memorial complete by then.