MUNCHKIN LAND -
$30 A WEEK, 14 HOUR DAYS AND JUDY GARLAND
It was a hit Broadway musical before it ever became a classic movie - the star was a replacement -
and the cast was underpaid and overworked.
Judy Garland's hometown of Grand Rapids, Minn., will roll out the yellow brick road to welcome
one of the largest gatherings of Munchkins since the film they helped make famous debuted 61
years ago, and the legions of fans from around the world who will be attending the 25th Annual
Judy Garland Festival June 22-24.
JUDY GARLAND AS DOROTHY
The festival will mark the 100th Anniversary of the publication of L. Frank Baum's beloved
story, The Wizard of Oz. It will also celebrate the 61st anniversary of the "Oz" film that
rocketed Judy to fame although the studio's first choice had been - Shirley Temple. Casting
Garland etched Judy forever in the hearts of generations of children the world
On June 22, the anniversary of Judy's passing in 1969, a Candlelight Vigil will take place at dusk
outside in front of the Judy Garland House. Fans will join in an emotional tribute to "America's
Treasure," Baby Gumm.
Mickey Rooney, one of Judy's closest pals when they were teen-age stars at MGM, will be
making a return engagement to Grand Rapids with his singer-actress wife, Jan.
Last year, during the town's Tall Timber Days celebration, they rode through town in one of the
original carriages used in the 1939 film. The shiny black carriage that carried Judy, as Dorothy,
Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion into the Emerald City, is housed at the Children's
Discovery Museum in Grand Rapids. Among the many attractions to be featured at the
festival, the carriage was bought in a 1995 auction by Minneapolis businessman Jonathan Miner,
a major supporter of the museum.
MICKEY ROONEY riding through town in last
A highlight this year will be a special matinee performance by Mickey and Jan on stage at the
town's Reif Performing Arts Center.
There will also be an exclusive screening of The Legend of O. B. Taggart written in 1994
by Mickey Rooney and starring Mickey Rooney, Randy Travis, Ned Beatty, Ernest Borgnine,
and Gloria DeHaven.
Although The Wizard of Oz made cinema history the production wasn't a roll in the
"We got paid $50 a week," said Munchkin Ruth Robinson Duccini. "That was a lot of money in
"Yeah, but Toto got $125," added Jerry Maren. "He had a better agent."
Maren remembers that filming the movie was a tedious and exhausting job. "We had to wear
these skull caps to make us bald, and they laid the glue on pretty thick," said Maren. "The
make-up guys didn't want to be disturbed during their coffee breaks to fix the caps. 'Dance
more--sing more,' they told us. It was very uncomfortable."
The Munchkins regularly attend conventions and are
frequent visitors to Las Vegas where they do interviews, sign autographs and help promote the
legend of Oz.
The 124 Munchkins pulled 13 to 14-hour workdays for six weeks to perfect a movie sequence
Maren calls the greatest in film history. While the work was relentless, the Munchkins have many
fond memories of their brief time with the Wizard of Oz in Culver City, Calif.
"We didn't have much room when we all converged there," said Maren. "We had to double up. I
had two other little guys with me in the same bed. We got in late one night and I heard a big band
start playing. We looked out and saw a parade. I thought it was for us - a welcome. I looked
closer and saw it was Armistice Day."
The personable Duccini remembers that she met her future husband while on the set of Oz. "He
was there with the World's Fair. He came to visit the little people he knew and I met him in our
MICKEY ROONEY and the cast greeting the fans at
last year's convention
A Minnesota native, Duccini lived in Sawyer and McGregor during her childhood and graduated
from Rush City. "You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of
the girl," she said.
After filming was completed, the war started and Duccini became a riveter, working on C54s for
Douglas Air Force Base. She got married and had two children.
Margaret Pellegrini and Meinhardt Raabe, remembered as a sleepyhead and the coroner.
A Wisconsin farm boy, Raabe went on from movie life to become a horticulturist.
Pellegrini said that Judy Garland was a very sweet girl. "Judy got her own private dressing room
on wheels," she said. "We got to look at it, and she gave each and every one of us an
autographed eight-by-ten photo. She just went on down the line."
"I think she was more amazed at us then we were of her," added Maren. "We were 124 little
people running around and she was just a typical teenager. She would just sit and watch
JUDY GARLAND introducing daughter Liza Minnelli
on stage at the Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas May, 1957.
Before being turned into a classic movie the book was turned into a successful Broadway musical
called The Wizard of Oz: A Musical Extravaganza in Three Acts. The song and dance
team of David C Montgomery and Fred Stone played the Tin Woodsman and the Scarecrow.
They were successful vaudevillians who were on their way to Broadway stardom.
The musical's hit song was Hurrah for Baffin's Bay. Baum had brought in composer
Paul Tietjens, a serious Chicago musician, who wrote the main score and the show's
original shows with Baum supplying the lyrics.
This theatrical version was based upon the Baum book and the author was instrumental in bringing
the story to the stage, thanks to Chicago producer Fred Hamlin, who enjoyed backing
blockbusters. He also enjoyed changing things and he replaced most of the songs with tunes
by A Baldwin Stone, a popular but critically scorned composer.
The Broadway production was expensive and awesome. There was even a cyclone conjuring up
objects, appearing to blow through the air, thanks to a magic lantern projecting slides onto a sheet
of gauze. A series of curtains opened to reveal the progress of the cyclone, working its path of
destruction. When the cyclone ended the lights faded to blue and Munchkinland rolled onto the
The director padded the cast with 100 girls in tights, who portrayed most of the Munchkins.
Harlin also sank an unheard of $30,000 into special effects. It was a winner, opening in Chicago in
l902. In its first 14 weeks the show netted $50,000 and made a profit every single night. It arrived
on the Great White Way in January 1903, inaugurating the Majestic Theatre on Columbus Circle.
The production ran for nearly 300 performances, at a time when 100 constituted a hit.
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DONNA REED FESTIVAL
A remarkable gathering of professional talent from Hollywood to Broadway descends upon
the small rural hometown of Academy Award winning actress Donna Reed for one week each
June to contribute their time and expertise to students from across the nation.
Committed to encouraging aspiring young talent to reach for their dreams, the Donna Reed
Performing Arts Workshop Program offers an authentic look inside the exciting, elusive,
extraordinary world of the performing arts. Beginning today and continuing through the June 24
a week of workshops will involve participants in creating live TV specials, musical theater
productions, talk shows and documentaries; honing auditioning and acting skills for stage and
screen; studying improv, commercials, soaps, sitcoms and Shakespeare; directing, writing, and
shooting videos; dancing, preparing for fashion and photo shoots; learning stage presence and
stage combat; writing scripts for comedy and drama; singing; composing songs and learning how
to sell them; getting the inside track on what it takes to break into show business.
SHELLEY FABARES President of the Donna Reed
Foundation played Donna's daughter on The Donna Reed Show.
Born Donna Belle Mullenger in Denison, Iowa, at age 16, she left Denison by train for Los
Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Her dream became a reality as she
captivated the country with her sensitive portrayals in films like the great American classic
It's a Wonderful Life and From Here to Eternity for which she won the coveted
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Donna is perhaps best remembered for her work on her own television series, The Donna
Reed Show, which aired from 1958 through 1966. Behind the cameras, she was the
uncredited producer and director of the show, studying and mastering both lighting and
cinematography--roles rarely handled by women of that time. She also raised four children and
was the founder of Another Mother for Peace.
Notwithstanding the fame and fortune she found in Hollywood, Donna never forgot her
hometown of Denison. She was proud of being an Iowa farm girl, returning to Denison often
throughout her career. Following her death in 1986, her Oscar was left to the City of Denison
to be displayed at the historic McHenry House. The Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing
Arts continues to perpetuate her legacy of helping other young artists and developing a cultural
heritage in Denison.
The Donna Reed Festival and Workshops for the Performing Arts is regarded by students,
parents, teachers, and professionals as one of the most unique educational experiences in America.
Students have a rare opportunity to interact with some of the entertainment industry's most gifted
artists in theater, television, movies, music, and dance.
A hands-on workshop with the newest digital video equipment used in film making led by
director Gary Graver, who was Orson Welles cinematographer for 20 years. Graver has also
worked with such notable directors and Stephen Spielberg and Ron Howard.
Hollywood talk show producer Dan Weaver, who has produced for Good Morning America,
Donahue, Montel Williams and Geraldo (to name a few) will discuss the exploding
opportunities for directors, producers and filmmakers on the internet.
He created the talker, Jim J & Tammy Faye. His first book, Breaking into Television, is
just out, offering students insight into television networking. Dan is based in Los Angeles where
he resides with his Dalmatian, Tammy Faye Barker.
Actress/producer Jillian Kesner (Happy Days, Mork and Mindy) will talk about what goes on
Behind The Magic, the Nuts and Bolts of Production.
The filmmaker series continues through the week, featuring Mad About You director
Gordon Hunt who will teach acting for voice overs and commercials. Hunt was recently
recognized as the 1997 Director's Guild Award Winner for best director of a TV comedy show.
Hunt has also directed episodes of Frazier, Coach, Caroline In The City, and Hudson
Street. As director of the Voice Department at Hanna Barbera Productions, Hunt directed the
voices for hundreds of hours of network and syndicated cartoons. He has directed plays and
musicals in New York and Los Angeles and also teaches scene study classes. He is the author of
the best-selling theatre book, How To Audition. And - yes, Gordon is the proud father of
Joan Darling, creative advisor to the Sundance Film Labs and director of MASH among
hundreds of other credits has a seminar entitled From Sundance to Iowa.
Regional filmmakers will join Iowa Film Office Director Wendol Jarvis to discuss opportunities
and challenges of creating independent films in the Midwest. Brady Bunch writer/producer Lloyd
Schwartz will discuss creating independent films v.s. working in a major studio production.
Producer Jimmy Hawkins offers a seminar which introduces how a motion picture is
created, Alan Young and Eddie Foy 111 are among the other notables teaching classes.
MOO YORK, MOO YORK, AN
UDDERLY WONDERFUL TOWN
Destined to be the biggest event of the Moo-llennium, CowParade New York 2000 kicked off
June 15, when 500 life-sized fiberglass cow sculptures stampeded through the five boroughs of
New York City.
The cows are uniquely designed by area artists and sponsored by corporate and individual
patrons. The cows will graze in the urban pastures of New York City through Labor Day.
This fall, they'll be put up for auction, with net proceeds to benefit New York area charities
supporting children, education, the arts and the Parks.
The bovines can be found in a myriad of locations around New York City, from rooftops to boats
and landmarks like Shea Stadium and the Coney Island Boardwalk. Outside the Peninsula Hotel
on Fifth Avenue at 55th Street, a cow is dressed like a hotel page in a jaunty white pillbox hat.
Another, at the South Street Seaport, mimics Lady Liberty.
There'll be a Broadway cow decorated with marquees, a taxi cow and one named Radio City
Introduced in 1998 in Zurich, the organizing body that was to become CowParade Holdings
developed the concept as a unique event to showcase the local arts community. The Swiss exhibit
started with 400 cows in the retail centers of Zurich, and by the time the event closed, more than
800 cows were roaming the downtown streets.
While in Zurich on business, a prominent Chicago businessman saw the cow parade and decided
to bring the concept back to the United States. The Chicago herd of 340 cows set off summertime
cow-mania on North Michigan Avenue and across the city, with over 10 million people seeing the
decorated bovines. The local business community got in on the craze and milked the exhibition
for the benefit of its customers.
Official cow merchandise, hotel packages offering cow tours and restaurants serving black
cow ice cream specialties were just some of the offerings.
Mr.Elbaum, a former lawyer who "has always liked cows," is now full-time president of
CowParade. He says it's "first and foremost an art event," reflecting local culture and history
through New York themes.The Roebling Cow, for instance, honors John Augustus Roebling,
designer of the Brooklyn Bridge. Roebling, the cow, is wrapped in 5,000 feet of rope of varying
diameters and painted the gray of the bridge so "it gives the appearance of cable."
UNCLE SAM COW
Future CowParades are planned for Honolulu, Kansas City, Houston and Australia. "These are
new events and they're totally different, except for the cow shapes," says Elbaum.
The cow forms come in three poses - grazing, sitting or standing - and each weighs about 100
pounds, is about 7 feet long and is attached to a concrete base. Some famous artists such as
Peter Max and Woody Jackson, who designed bovines for Ben & Jerry's containers, are among
the creators of the New York cows.
Stamford, Cow-necticut and West Orange, Moo Jersey will also host herds of these beautiful
bovines this summer.
"One thing you should know," says Elbaum, "is that the cow is the right animal." Its bone
structure, for instance, presents some very interesting angles for artists to use. Cows are happy
animals. They're benign, quirky, whimsical and lovable."
TONY BENNETT was back in Salt
Lake City last Friday, his first performance there since a standing-room-only audience in
Abravanel Hall three years ago. Bennett no sooner walked on stage than he received a standing
ovation. The charity event included a pre-concert reception, dinner and auction. Bennett won his
ninth Grammy this year in the Best Traditional pop category for "Bennett Sings Ellington Hot &
Cool," his tribute to the late Duke.Ellington. All proceeds from the concert will benefited the
Caring Foundation for Children, which will go toward sending Utah children and teens to
YMCA Camp Roger.
OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY
KELSEY GRAMMER currently
starring in Macbeth at the music Box Theatre, looks like he's dropped 30 pounds and
"He walks like he's had orthoscopic surgery," said a friend who has had the
procedure. Then again, maybe the star of the hit Frazier TV series looks and walks
differently because he's removed as much as $1.5 million from his pants' pockets. The actor, who
hasn't been on Broadway in 14 years, is putting the greenbacks where his performance is. In
trouble and ready to close out of town, Grammer saved Macbeth- and the jobs of fellow
performers - by coming up with the desperately needed funds. It's a non binding loan. If the
production doesn't make it, Grammer loses the money. Bravo to Kelsey and we're hoping if
he doesn't make a profit he at least recoups most of it. Macbeth has never been known to
be a get rich quick production - but Kelsey knows that.
CELEBRATION OF THE LIZARD Break on through to the other side in this world premiere of a new musical
based on the music and lyrics of The Doors. Through July 2nd at the San Diego Repertory
Theater. It's getting its act together taking it on the road to Broadway. The Celebration of the
Lizard,written by Joel Lipman, has been five years in the making. The production is based on
a musical poem conceived by Jim Morrison and the Doors in the 1960s.
Produced with the cooperation and support of Door's keyboardist Ray Manzarek, this
extraordinary musical journey takes its hero - and you - on a wild rollercoaster ride through the
glittering wreckage of a futuristic urban landscape in search of a deeper humanity and The
Dream. You can't help but hear Jim Morrison's voice in your head as scenes unfold
around his poetry and 36 songs by The Doors including Light My Fire, Riders on the
Storm and L.A. Woman. For a growing legion of Doors fans, this event promises to
be a blinding catapult into the 21st century.Said to be a post-apocalyptic look at Los Angeles,
Joel and Ray are currently courting financial backers to mount the production. "The whole point
is to get to Broadway," says Manzarek, who is also the artistic director of the show. "Think of
San Diego as Hartford. We're just trying out." Manzarek says Lizard" is "just another way
of interpreting the Doors. "It beats the hell out of the Oliver Stone movie," he insists, referring
to the controversial director's 1991 film The Doors, starring Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison.
Manzarek says he never a fan of Stone's take on the band.
a new black
comedy concerning the conflict between artists and critics, premiered June 16 at the
Malibu Stage Co.'s theatre. The play, starring Nan Martin, Alan Mandell and Jeremy Lawrence,
is written and directed by Charles Marowitz, Malibu Stage Co.'s artistic director, and is produced
by company co-founder Jacqueline Bridgeman. Originally presented as a staged reading at
Pepperdine University several years ago with Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfus,
Nan Martin and James Whitmore, Stage Fright will be the company's first full-fledged
production in nearly a year.Stage Fright opened June 16 for the first of four
consecutive weekends at Malibu Stage Co.'s theatre, on the Pacific Coast Highway
THE CRUMPLE ZONE a new play
by Buddy Thomas, will open off-Broadway on Wednesday, June 28th at The Rattlestick Theatre
(formerly Theatre Off Park), 224 Waverly Place. The Crumble Zone, directed by Jason
Moore - Associate Director, Les Miserables - is presented by Marcus Kettles. The cast
includes; Mario Cantone, Joshua Biton, Gerald Downey, Paul Pecorino and Steve Mateo.Set
design by Dawn Robyn Petrlik, costume design by David Mills, lighting design by Ed McCarthy,
sound design by Laura Brown, choreography by Peter Kapetan and fight direction by BH Barry.
CRUMPLE ZONE (N.) - An area of the car that is designed to compress during an
accident to absorb the energy from impact.Winner of the 1998 New Voices Play Award, The
Crumple Zone is a dark, fast-paced comedy that follows five very different men as they
confront questions of love, infidelity, and friendship over one frantic holiday
EAT THE RUNT by Avery
Crozier, produced by the Mefisto Theatre Company has been extended at Altered Stages, NYC
as an open-ended Off-Broadway production. Eat The Runt concerns a surreal interview
which leads to the hiring of a grants manager at an art museum All 8 actors have learned all 8
roles in this comedy, and at the beginning of each performance, audience members will choose
which actor plays which character. Under the direction of Peter Hawkins and ready to meet the
challenge of audience casting the cast included: Kelli K. Barnett, Lora Chio, La Keith Hoskin,
Katrishka King, Myles O'Connor, Weil Richmond, Curtis Mark Williams, and Jama Williamson.
Prior to the beginning of each performance, the audience will be given a brief, written description
of each role and will be able to look at photos of the cast. It has been calculated that there are
40,320 casting possibilities.
ANNIE replaces the postponed
Annie Get Your Gun at the San Diego Playgoers.
LES PAUL celebrates his 85th
birthday by playing his usual Monday night gig at Iridium in NYC.
LES PAUL performing at Iridium
It's Les Paul that made
rock 'n' roll possible by inventing the solid-body electric guitar and also helped develop
revolutionary recording techniques, such as multi-tracking and echo delay. During the almost
eight decades that he's been in the business he's had a string of 1950s chart topping records
-Vaya Con Dios and How High the Moon, wife, Mary Ford -who died in 1977-,
and along with his late wife, had a hit TV show The Les Paul and Mary Ford Show. Paul
is also a member of two Hall of Fames- the Rock and Roll one and the Inventors Hall of
For more than 60
years the pianist affectionately known as "The Great Dane" has been filling audiences with a
unique mixture of mirth and passion for classical music. He did just that last night at the
California Center for the Arts in Escondido.
REBA MC ENTIRE to replace
Bernadette Peters in Annie Get Your Gun The Oklahoma born singer, who has sold more
than 40 million albums, will reportedly join the hit revival in January, playing sharpshooter Annie
Oakley. This will be Reba's first Broadway musical. Tom Wopat will also leave the production
when Peters departs. His replacement has not yet been announced.Wopat may reprise his role in
the national tour with Marilu Henner.
JOSH BROLIN AND ELIAS KOTEAS now starring in True West Circle in the Square Theatre, NYC.
They are in the interchangeable roles for 10 weeks. Brolin plays Austin and the soft-spoken
screenwriter and Koteas is Lee, his drifter brother. The two will switch roles in July and begins
alternating the parts in August.
DAVID SHINER the delightfully
talented gent last appeared on Broadway in Fool Moon is set to star as The Cat in
Seussical, the Dr. Seuss musical which opens in October at the Richard Rogers Theatre
NYC. Since this is Shiner's first musical, David will be spending the summer taking singing
MATTHEW BRODERICK on the
short list to join Nathan Lane in the Broadway version of The Producers.
LINDA ASHER brings her new show
to Don't Tell Mama in New York City, accompanied by her Bistro award winning musical
director Jeff Waxman. June 24 and June 30.
DIANE KRALL JVC Jazz Festival
appearance, on June 21 at the Supper Club, NYC.
THIS AND THAT
LEE ANN WOMACK didn't let a
little thing like - her bus smashing into a jack-knifed truck, running off the road and falling onto
its side, forcing the singer, her daughter and her husband to crawl out the bus windows - bother
her. The spunky performer, who was returning to Tennessee from Houston, climbed into the band
bus and made it to Fan Fair in time to put on 4-inch Lucite heels and signed autographs for four
ELVIS ADDITIONS The
Elvis-A-Rama Museum in Las Vegas has added more personal items of the King of Rock and Roll,
bringing the total value of the museum's display to more than $3.5 million. New items include the
Cisco Kid black and green leather trimmed jumpsuit that was pictured on the sleeve of the 1971
album He Touched Me, another jumpsuit that Elvis wore in 1975 at the Las Vegas Hilton,
and Elvis' 1956 black address book that includes the names and telephone number of Natalie
Wood and Nick Adams. Also added is one of only two Army trunks Elvis shipped from Germany
containing fatigues and eight pages of correspondence. Those blue suede shoes Elvis didn't want
anybody to step on, signed by Presley, are part of the memorabilia.
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Next Column: June 25 2000
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