Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin coroner in "The Wizard of Oz," died yesterday. He was 94. My brother and I met Raabe in the early '60's when he rolled up our parents' driveway in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile (!!). It turns out Raabe was a friend of our father -- they grew up together in Watertown, Wisconsin, and both attended the University of Wisconsin. One of his post-Oz gigs was as the Wienermobile "pilot," but of course it was his brief appearance as the Munchkin coroner that is his lasting claim to fame.
Raabe was the last surviving actor with a speaking role in "The Wizard of Oz," and among the last surviving Munchkins. As the coroner he pronounced the Wicked Witch of the East dead (death by squashing, by Dorothy's house). We're sure he would smile at the lines he said then, applied to himself today:
"As coroner, I must aver
I thoroughly examined her
And she's not only merely dead
She's really, most sincerely dead."
Rest in peace.
(UPDATE: Here's his NY Times' obituary)