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The Persistence Of Munchkins:A Conspiracy Theory About The Hanging Man In THE WIZARD OF OZ

--- If you can't beat 'em, join em.

I'm now perfectly ready to believe in mass hypnosis. In previous Savant entries, I've done my best to debunk the rumors of a hanged corpse in the background scenery of THE WIZARD OF OZ. But I still get honest-sounding letters from folk convinced they're seeing a little man being hung, sometimes with the addition of a second man holding a rope. Most of them are totally impervious to any of my explanations why there simply is no such thing happening fifteen feet off the Yellow Brick Road.

Maybe I'm taking the wrong tack here, being so caught up with the facts and common sense and my closed-minded belief in cause-and-effect rationality. After all, these are the X-Files years. People will believe anything that reaffirms their political/philosophical stance. And in an age where information is all around us, the silliest of rumors has the same weight as proven fact - nothing. Perhaps The Hanging Munchkin indicates that people don't believe anything anymore, have come completely unglued from any buoying system of belief, and seek their individual identities by collecting bizarre 'themes' to believe in, as if they were trading cards.

So there was a murder, or maybe a suicide, of a Munchkin actor, on the forest set of OZ in 1939, on the MGM lot in Culver City, California. And it happened just as a take of the famous 'We're off to See the Wizard' song commenced: Dorothy, The Tin Woodsman and The Scarecrow skipping merrily on their way after a close encounter with the Wicked Witch of the West. That second man holding a rope is either the murderer, or a stagehand trying desperately to either rescue the suicidal little person or reel him in before he ruins the shot.

Somehow, nobody on the set sees this evil scene buried in plain sight in the shrubberies. With a full MGM Technicolor lighting and crane crew present, there might be over a hundred personnel within fifty yards of the corpse. Many of these crewmembers would be in the overhead riggings, with a birds-eye view of all transpiring below. Yet, nobody catches a glimpse of the Munchkin actor hanging himself, or his body being removed.

And the crime/suicide goes unreported. Given, there's enough bizarre activity going on in a movie studio that a pair of thugs hauling a dead Munchkin actor out in broad daylight might not be given much attention. Especially if there's a high-level conspiracy afoot. Yes, if studio doctors can rush about 'prescribing' whatever drugs keep the productions on schedule, and potential scandals can be successfully covered up, why not kill a Munchkin Who Knew Too Much?

Perhaps the hanging fellow had a big mouth, and was going to spill the beans to the press about the legendary hanky-panky at the Munchkin hotel two blocks away. Many of these specialty actors were fun-loving circus veterans whose newly found fame as MGM stars had gone to their heads. Or maybe there was some illicit love affair that had to be squelched - was our victim a Romeo involved with someone big at the studio? - a star? - a relative of Louis B. Mayer?

Maybe he realized there was a price on his head and decided to end it all with the protest gesture of stringing himself up in full view of the Technicolor camera, sort of a movieland-public relations statement, like the luckless actress who flung herself from the Hollywoodland sign. If the death were suicide, then the coverup would be a simple case of sweeping a tragedy under the rug, to keep the image of MGM, OZ, and Hollywood in general, as clean as possible. What if the death were to bring about a new wave of censorship in films, as had happened with Fatty Arbuckle in 1922? They might be taking tape measures to every actor in town to make sure they were over five feet tall. Instead of a Blacklist, the town would have been in the grip of a Tape List.

But what if it weren't suicide? Why not Murder with a capital M? Some group of Hollywood bigshots might have decided to off the luckless Munchkin actor as simply as you or I would plug in a bug zapper. How to keep people from talking would have been the easy part. If it means not risking his job, the average studio employee will keep his trap shut forever. All the killers had to do was make sure the word got out that the Hanging Munchkin was a forbidden subject.

Which is precisely why the victim was killed on the movie set, and not back at the hotel in his sleep, or at the races or wherever the Munchkin actors hung out. They made an example of him. He was killed in front of dozens of potential witnesses just to prove how powerful were the Bigshot Hollywood Conspirators. Johnny Grip on the set sees the Munchkin actor get it, right in the middle of 'What a wonderful Wiz he was', is shocked for a moment, but then realizes that if he doesn't play along, he'll lose his job. Sure, for his forty dollars a week he works as long into the night as the studio wants him to and Saturdays as well, but, hey, this is Hollywood. Why let a little murder get in the way of Show Biz? Such a show of naked arrogance would let the average studio employee know who was boss. Heck, if the life of a Munchkin actor was forfeit, who would be next? Mickey Rooney?

In the ULTIMATE OZ special edition, there is preserved a memo describing the firing of a couple of troublemaking little people who apparently got drunk and started some fighting on the set. What if that were really a coverup for the killing? Did the Hanging Munchkin have a buddy who was liquidated too?

Like the pieces of a movieland puzzle, it all fits. These aren't just bizarre, impossible allegations. The more ridiculous the theory, the more obvious it is that it has to be true! This is borne out by what was before the clearest evidence against the Hanging Man story: If there is a corpse in the middle of a scene in the most famous children's story, and possibly the most-seen movie of all time, why, why did they let the take with dangling dead guy make the final cut - to be displayed on movie screens all around the world, for all time, as evidence of the crime?

Clearly it is because the Hollywood Bigshot Conspirators behind the murder knew quite well that, holding the reins of the most influential media machine on the planet, they had the power to create and mold the truth in any way they saw fit. Not only the studio employees, but the public at large were so convinced of the absolute power and goodness of MGM and OZ, that they were inclined not to see the Hanging Man, just like the citizenry 'saw' the Emperor's New Clothes. The image of MGM and Hollywood was so idealized in the psyches of the audience that they refused to see the criminal truth, even when it was hanging right in front of their eyes.


Hopefully this complete and sincere expose of the FACTS will elicit pangs of conscience in a surviving crewmember to COME FORWARD with the truth, which is, of course, out there. Then we will get the evidence to support what Video Savant KNOWS to be the ultimate fate of the Mysterious Hanging Munchkin. The two little bodies were kept frozen for seven years. Then they were placed in a piece of bric-a-brac scenery from the Emerald City, launched in a weather balloon and made to crashland in Roswell, New Mexico. When the bodies were identified as dead aliens, the Hollywood Bigshots would be ready with a slew of fifties' science fiction films to cash in on the Outer Space Invaders craze!

Remember, You heard it first from DVD Savant.

Text © Copyright 1998 Glenn Erickson

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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