Garland Slatton, better known to the world as Earl, was born in Walters, Oklahoma, on February 17, 1917. Though only three and a half feet tall when he played a Munchkin, he grew to four feet, ten inches - the maximum height for one to be considered a dwarf - at the end of his life. After The Wizard of Oz, Earl joined up with Henry Kramer's Hollywood Midgets (see below). He died at Pascoe, Washington, on April 30, 1995.
"Duchess" Leona Megest was born in Alsemont, Belgium, on April 10, 1897. She allegedly stood but 29" tall and weighed a scant 31 pounds, although the weights and heights of performing dwarfs are notoriously exaggerated. She appeared at Coney Island's Dreamland Circus Sideshow and was a member of several midget troupes, including Marechal's Midgets (alongside the Bernadet family and "Baroness" Simone Flament) and Johnny J. Jones' Midgets. She spoke five languages, played the piano, and excelled at needlework. Somewhere along the line she was married and became Leona Parks.
Theodore "Teddy" Boers and his brother Henry came from Cologne, Germany. Teddy was born in 1894 and Henry two years later. The brothers immigrated to the United States in 1922 with Curt Starke, another German-born dwarf actor. Henry, who stood a full four feet high, married an average-sized woman, Mildred. In 1948 she filed for divorce, claiming he had stood on a chair and punched her in the eye!
The 4-foot, one-inch tall Dolly Kramer was born June 24, 1904, in New York as Henny Fischer. In 1921, sixteen-year-old Dolly married impresario Henry Kramer, who made her the star of an eleven-piece jazz ensemble. Remarked the Cedar Rapids Republican in 1926, "Miss Dolly Kramer is one of the tiniest prima donnas in the world, but her voice is the voice of a real singer, an instrument of power and sweetness. It is an unusual accomplishment that a Midget songstress is capable of singing in vaudeville in accompaniment to a jazz band, but Miss Kramer, a chubby little maid, dashes off the latest syncopated numbers with the ease and spirit of a baby Sophie Tucker." Kramer's midgets were among those chosen by MGM to appear as Munchkins. After the film, several of the cast members regrouped under Kramer's management as Henry Kramer's Hollywood Midgets. Dolly was also part of the Midget Swing Revue at the 1939 World's Fair. She retired to Florida and died on July 9, 1995.
Tap dancer Crawford Price is the only member of the "Jamboree" who didn't appear in The Wizard of Oz. Why? MGM wanted an all-white cast.
Special thanks to Caroline Shapiro for information regarding these performers.
Photo: Real photo postcard by Orcajo Photo Art of Dayton, OH, 1938. Signed on reverse by Dolly Kramer. Author's collection.
From left: Charlie Starke, Dot Wenzel, Harry Klima, Teddy Boers, Henry Boers, Cecilia Stephon.
Little people historian Kevin Hoglund tells me that "Cecilia" Stephan is none other than MGM Munchkin and Ringling Bros. Circus clown Carl Stephan in a dress: the troupe required another female performer, so Carl took on a female persona.
Photo: Real photo postcard by Campbell's Photo Art of Dayton, OH.