Meinhardt Raabe dies

Meinhardt Raabe, the Munchkin coroner, dead at age 94

Meinhardt Raabe worked vaudeville and expositions, but his part as Munchkin coroner in 'The Wizard of Oz' gave him a lifelong career.Raabe has died, in Florida, at age 94. His retirement home caregiver says he complained of a sore throat, then apparently went into cardiac arrest.Raabe was 22, and a show business veteran, when he was offered one of the 9 speaking parts for Munchkins in the 1939 film classic.His words, referring to the witch who Dorothy's house landed on:: "As coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her, And she's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead."Raabe was a frequent visitor to Chittenango's OzFest, and is credited with bringing other Munchkins to Central New York, as well.He was born in Watertown, Wisconsin in 1915, was a member of the Midget City cast at the Chicago World's Fair in 1934 and at other fairs, including the San Diego Exposition in 1935. Raabe was three and a half feet tall when The Wizard of Oz was made, and grew a foot afterwards. After the movie, he toured the country for 30 years in the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, promoting hot dogs as "Little Oscar, the World's Smallest Chef." He earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin and, years later, a master's degree in business administration from Drexel University. He was married to Marie Hartline, who worked in a midget vaudeville show---she died in a car crash in 1997.