Grave of the Munchkin Coroner, Meinhardt Raabe
Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery
Meinhardt Rabbe (1915-2010) was a native of Watertown, WI. He was just 4’7″ tall, making him an ideal height to play the role of the Munchkin coroner in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. In that role as the coroner of Munchkin Land, Raabe declared the Wicked Witch of the East “most sincerely dead” after Dorothy’s house dropped out of the sky into Oz and landed on her.
Raabe only had 13 seconds of screen time, and his lines were overdubbed by a voice performer, but he has one of the most memorable roles in the film delivering his four famous lines certifying the witch’s death:
As coroner, I must aver
I thoroughly examined her
And she’s not only merely dead
She’s really, most sincerely dead!
Raabe was born on a farm in Watertown on September 2, 1915. He graduated from Johnson Creek high school and earned a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from UW-Madison. He got a job in the office at Oscar Mayer, but soon took on the role of “Little Oscar, World’s Smallest Chef” traveling around the country in the first ever Wienermobile to promote the company’s Wisconsin-made processed meats. He took a brief leave of absence in 1938 when he was cast as the coroner of Munchkin Land. Afterward, he returned and spent the next several decades representing Oscar Mayer until his retirement in 1971. He also made a few appearances at various expositions as a resident of “midget villages” where he was inaccurately billed as the 18-inch-tall world’s smallest man.
Raabe appeared on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007 along with six other remaining munchkins when they received their star near the Chinese Theater. He made many appearances at Wizard of Oz festivals around the country, including author L. Frank Baum’s hometown of Chittenango, NY.
At the time of Raabe’s passing in 2010, he was the last surviving Wizard of Oz cast member who had dialogue in the film. He was buried in the cemetery of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Farmington, WI, where he had been baptized and confirmed as a child. A theater in nearby Oconomowoc was one of several small Wisconsin towns to premiere The Wizard of Oz several weeks ahead of its world premiere in Hollywood. Oz Plaza was created to commemorate the occasion.
A 4-day celebration of Raabe’s life was held in Watertown in 2015 on what would have been his 100th birthday. The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was present, and attendees wore Wizard of Oz costumes. There was even a yellow brick road and a floor-to-ceiling tornado made of cotton to accompany the free screening of the iconic film.
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The Witch’s House in Milwaukee was the home of artist Mary Nohl, who filled her yard with weird sculptures, earning the reputation as the “Witch of Fox Point.”