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Harry Monty; Munchkin in 'Wizard of Oz'

Obituaries

December 31, 1999|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Harry Monty, one of the last surviving Munchkins from the classic 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz," has died. He was 95.

Monty, whose real name was Hymie Lichenstein, died Tuesday in Beverly Hills.

A physically capable stunt man, Monty was also one of the flying monkeys in the landmark "Oz," which starred Judy Garland. He considered his role as a Munchkin the most memorable of his half-century on stage and in front of the camera.

Born in Dallas to Polish immigrants, Monty grew to be one of the "Little People" and parlayed his short stature into a long career in show business. He began in vaudeville and appeared in motion pictures from the late 1930s to the late 1970s, often uncredited.

With or without billing on his films, Monty, according to Steven Cox in his book "The Munchkins of Oz," made "a great contribution to the motion picture industry."

Monty also had frequent roles on television, whenever an actor or stuntman of his size was required by a certain script. He appeared in such popular series as "Bonanza," "Lost in Space," "Bewitched" and the children's program "H.R. Pufnstuf."

Among Monty's films were a version of "Swiss Family Robinson," the 1954 "River of No Return" starring Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe, "Three Ring Circus," "The Court Jester," "Planet of the Apes" with Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall, "Hello, Dolly!" with Barbra Streisand, "Papillon" with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, and "The Lord of the Rings."

The diminutive actor is survived by five nieces and three nephews.

After private family services, Monty will be buried near his native Dallas.

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