(CBS/AP) DUBLIN, Ga. - Karl Slover, one of the tiniest Munchkins in the 1939 classic film, "The Wizard of Oz," has died at age 93.
The 4-foot-5 Slover died of cardiopulmonary arrest Tuesday afternoon in a central Georgia hospital, said Laurens County Deputy Coroner Nathan Stanley. According to friends, as recently as last weekend Slover appeared at events in the suburban Chicago area.
The Czech-born Slover, whose real name was Karl Kosiczky, was best known for playing the lead trumpeter in the Munchkins' band, but had four roles in all, including playing a townsman and soldier in the film, said John Fricke, author of "100 Years of Oz" and five other books on the movie and its star, Judy Garland. Slover, who was just 21 when he worked on the movie, was one of the last surviving actors who played Munchkins
After filming the movie, Slover appeared on stages across America with the "Original World Famous Singers Midget Show."
Long after Slover retired, he continued to appear around the country at festivals and events related to the movie. He was one of seven Munchkins at the 2007 unveiling of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame dedicated to the little people in the movie. Only three remain of the 124 diminutive actors who played the beloved Munchkins.
"He has a genuine immortality," Fricke said. "Of the 124 little people, he's one of the handful who got to enjoy this latter-day fame, to have people know who he was and be able to pick him out of the crowd in the movie."
"It wasn't until the Munchkins started making their appearances in 1989 that they all came to realize how potent the film had become and remained," Fricke said. "He was wonderfully articulate about his memories, he had anecdotes to share.'"
Slover was paid $50 for his work on the film and he used to joke that even the dog who played Toto was better paid.