19 February 2007

Not Crushed by Farmhouse After All

Bit of a scare yesterday to see a photo of Meinhardt Raabe on the front page of the New York Times under the headline “Cause of Death: Crushed by Farmhouse.” Ten years ago, Oz fans learned that Raabe and his wife had been in a car accident, and she didn’t survive. More recently, another former MGM Munchkin was hurt in a tractor accident. So I first thought Raabe himself had been killed. The headline turned out to be a supposedly wry allusion to Raabe’s cinematic role in declaring the Wicked Witch of the East sincerely dead.

I thought Dan Barry’s profile of Raabe (perhaps only available to Times Select subscribers), while laudatory, didn’t reflect his lifelong go-getting initiative. Raabe not only worked as the Oscar Mayer spokesperson “Little Oscar,” but he created that role to make a place for himself in business. Too short to serve in the US armed forces in WW2, he became a Civil Air Patrol pilot, training men for those forces. So of course he’d still be granting interviews to the Times at age 91. He does, after all, have a book out. (See my earlier comments about it.)

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