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Last female Munchkin from 'Wizard of Oz' dies at 95

Paul A. Hebert / Today
In a photo from September 2013, Ruth Duccini arrives at the world premiere of "Wizard of Oz" 3D at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

Ruth Robinson Duccini, one of the two surviving Munchkins from "The Wizard of Oz," died Thursday of natural causes in a hospice care center in Las Vegas. She was 95.

Of the original 124 actors who played Munchkins in the 1939 MGM classic, the final surviving little person is now Jerry Maren, who played a lollipop guild Munchkin. He is 93.

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The 4-foot-tall Duccini was a guest of honor in September at Warner Bros.' world-premiere screening of "The Wizard of Oz" in Imax 3D at the newly converted TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The film had its premiere there in 1939 when it was known as Grauman's Chinese Theater.

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She also appeared with six other Munchkins at the 2007 unveiling of their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

A native of Rush City, Minn., Duccini also was in the 1981 film "Under the Rainbow," starring Chevy Chase and Carrie Fisher. That poorly received comedy revolved around the little people who came to Hollywood to audition for "Oz."

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"'Under the Rainbow' was nothing like our experience at MGM," Duccini recently told Stephen Cox, author of the book "The Munchkins of Oz."

"They played it for laughs and it didn't happen that way at all. We worked very hard on the original movie. It was long hours and heavy costumes. We didn't have much time for ourselves. It was all new to me then and I loved being a part of what is now a classic."

Survivors included her son Fred and daughter Margaret.