I chaperoned a field trip this week to a high school production of The Wizard of Oz, which was fun because kids love getting out of school to see plays. This one had winged attack monkeys roaming the audience, the Wicked Witch singing Michael Jackson's "Bad" and a climactic scene involving water guns.
At the end, they brought a surprise guest on stage: Meinhardt Raabe, the 90-year-old who played the Coroner in the movie.
Raabe, who lives in a retirement community south of Jacksonville, may be the oldest living Munchkin. He's a former Civil Air Patrol pilot during World War II, 30-year Oscar Mayer spokesman and teacher who still makes Oz-related appearances.
Dressed in character, Raabe delivered his famous declaration:
As Coroner I must aver,
I thoroughly examined her ...
and she's not only merely dead,
but really most sincerely dead.
When he finished, several hundred schoolkids roared so loudly I thought it might knock him down.
That's fabulous, thanks for the lift.
Now, now Don, as we learned from Seinfeld, lifts are not to be used!
It was actually Harry Stanton (1901-1978) singing a voice-over for the coroner.